Monday, March 30, 2009

TREES to Receive Free Vaccine

Earlier this year, Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary applied for free vaccines through the Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign, coordinated by the American Association of Equine Practitioners and Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health.

Today, TREES received a letter informing us that we will be the recipient of 20 doses of PreveNile, 20 doses of Pres V and 20 doses of Rabies vaccine......enough to innoculate all horses currently in residence.

The vaccines should arrive the first week of April and will save TREES a significant amount in the Spring 2009 budget.

Kudos to Intervet/Schering-Plough and the AAEP for developing this program to help those who dedicate their time to helping horses in need.

.......And a non-Expo-related Thank You!

Thank You to Ruth G for the generous gift of 73 bales of mixed grass hay yesterday. We haven't offered any to the horses yet, but it smells absolutely wonderful to us. We're always happy to get good quality mixed grass forage........horses never evolved to eat only timothy, or only orchardgrass and seem to thrive on a little variety, just as we do.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thank you Piedmont Horse Expo staff, visitors and TREES volunteers!

Thank you to everyone who made yesterday's Piedmont Horse Expo, in Culpeper, Virginia, a terrific day.

Traveller's Rest, in particular, is more than a little excited to have met so many wonderful Expo visitors and fellow vendors. If you haven't been to this new annual event in the last two years, be sure to watch for the 2010 Expo and mark your calendar early.

There were speakers addressing everything from equine nutrition to training to animal identification. Vendors covered every imaginable aspect of horsedom as well: equine "spinology," boarding, feed dealers, vet clinics, leather care and repair, blanket cleaning, farriery, and of course, equine welfare.

At the risk of leaving someone out.....and please feel free to send me a nastygram if I do......I'd like to try and thank everyone who made our booth one of the busiest in our area of the barn.

We couldn't have pulled this off without:

Gene and Carol Craigo who helped haul every thing to the site, set up, staff the booth all day Saturday, then packed up and hauled everything home. The Craigo's also came to the farm Sunday to man the muck forks for two days worth of cleanup.

Deborah Caprio, candy artiste extraordinaire, got very creative with these horse lollipops. Very popular, we sold out by the end of the day. That buys seven 50-pound bags of senior feed. Deborah also took care of having many of our brochures printed in time for the Expo.

Valerie St Romain and her entire family derusted, primed and painted "Golden Horseshoes," also very popular!

Thank you , too, to Jill Deming of Integrated Animal Therapies for offering gift certificates to sell.

Karen Souder....hugemongous, delicioso chocolate chip cookies, home baked by Karen, appealed to those not quite up for solid chocolate horses. Karen, while manning her own real estate booth (anyone looking for a home in the Culpeper area? Please call Karen!) also sold animal puppets, donating a portion of the proceeds to TREES, and directed visitors to our information table.

Michaele and Jim Babcock, between the two of them, also helped staff the booth the entire day, provided hot coffee and pastries for volunteers and visitors and helped break down and pack up when it was all over.

Trish Hallier took over for Jim when he had to leave for the afternoon, greeting visitors and packing up at the end of the day. Trish has been helping out at TREES booths for a couple of years now and its always a great pleasure to see her again!

Amanda Blanton, DVM, of Rappahannock Equine Veterinary Clinic, wrote some of TREES' brochures, allowing us to pass along professional information on managing elder equine. You will also be able to see Dr. Blanton's articles on TREES' new web site, to launch soon.

To the Orange Madison Farmer's Cooperative, thank you for the bags of feed. Every mouthful is deeply and gratefully appreciated.

Thank you to Sherrie Minkes, the Expos' Vendor Coordinator organizing a smoothly run event for all involved.

And finally, a whopper Thank You to everyone who stopped by the Traveller's Rest table. Its always fun to talk with others who care for Equine Elders, and those who offer services that may help our residents remain healthy and happy. We hope to speak with you again in the very near future. We also look forward to talking more with those who are interested in volunteering with TREES, in having their clubs and 4H groups organize service projects, and in starting equine welfare organizations in other areas of Virginia. Please let us know how we can help.


Readers that might like to help, but may not be able to participate in booth staffing or prep, can help enormously by letting us know of other events in the area where our information on Elders would be of interest. We'd love to get out and meet more VA Horse Lovers. (If you know of a potential event, please email Traveller's Rest as Maybe we'll see you there!)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Manurology 101 - roughage

What can your horse's manure tell you about his diet?

In this case, it may tell you whether or not your horse is consuming enough roughage.

Any changes in manure consistency, color, smell, or amounts should be discussed with your horse's veterinarian. If no obvious reason for the change is found, you may want to look at roughage consumption as a cause, especially if your horse is dentally challenged.

Even though most senior feeds are high in "fiber," that fiber may not be a suitable substitute for roughage. Think of it as the difference between Metamucil powder and green beans. Both provide bulk, but of different consistencies. The "long fibers" in roughage provide mechanical benefit in the gut, keeping things moving along at an appropriate pace - not too slow, not too fast - and can help improve digestive efficiency and reduce risk of colic.

Our first Manurology photo shows a normal pile. Nice firm fecal balls, well separated, not too dry, but not overly wet or sticky.

Here, the fecal "balls" are becoming flattened and more sticky. This horse may be showing a slight roughage deficiency.

As roughage intake decreases, we see fewer distinct "balls" and more large "doughy" portions.

And here, subtle suggestions of individual segments, but mostly "doughy" feces. This horse is definitely not getting enough long fiber.

And finally......"cow pies." These piles came from horses unable to consume any grass or hay at all. This is what we see when functionally toothless horses are fed exclusively senior mash.

In a worst case scenario, a horse getting no real roughage can develop projectile diarrhea, and begin to lose condition very quickly.

To combat the inability to chew grass or hay, these horses may be offered a substitute such as well soaked forage cubes, in moderate portions, several times a day. Many do very well on these "processed" roughages and can return to normal or near normal manure production, a sign of a more normally functioning digestive system.

If you give soaked forages a try, remember to soak and serve only what the horse can easily consume in one meal. Soaked forages can spoil quickly during warm weather and will freeze solid in winter. At TREES, we soak alfalfa or timothy/alfalfa cubes in hot water for 30-60 minutes, then "squish" them with our hands to make sure no hard portions remain.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Basic Sanctuary Rules

As Spring begins, Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary always experiences an increase in visitors and new volunteers. In anticipation of new friends this year, we'd like to post our Basic Farm Rules, so you will be familiar with them ahead of time. While many of these rules apply to volunteers, many also apply to one-time visitors and tour groups.

The Farm Rules are intended to make your time at Traveller’s Rest both safe and pleasant and to keep the equine residents happy and healthy.
Previous “horse experience” is not required.

All volunteers must sign a Waiver of Liability before volunteering for Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary in any capacity at any location. A parent or legal guardian must sign a Waiver of Liability for each minor volunteer between the ages of 12 and 17 years.

Volunteers must be at least 12 years of age. All volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when volunteering for TREES, whether at the farm sanctuary or at off-site events.

Wear appropriate clothing during every visit. This includes safe footwear. No sandals or other open-toed shoes will be allowed. Most of the work at TREES takes place out of doors. Dress for the weather.

No Smoking! If you are on the farm, you are likely standing very near a horse, a pile of hay, a shed full of sawdust, or other fire fodder.

Be aware of weather conditions. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated during the summer. Take breaks to warm up in the winter.

If you are unsure of anything at any time, please ask what is appropriate. No question is “dumb.” We would rather you ask the same questions a dozen times than do anything to put yourself or one of the horses at risk.

Please call or email before coming to the farm unless you have a previously scheduled visit. On occasion, there will be no one at the farm. Letting us know before you come also allows us to organize a work schedule for the day based on the number of available volunteers.

Do not bring dogs or other pets to the farm. They will not be allowed on the premises for the safety of the horses and other volunteers. Please leave them at home. It is not fair to ask them to sit in the car while you are here.

Do not climb on, or allow children to climb on, fences or gates, farm machinery, vehicles or trailers. Climbing on fences, then leaning over to pet horses is particularly dangerous.

Please do not sit or kneel on the ground when in any area containing one or more horses. This includes, but is not limited to, fields, stalls, paddocks and sheds.

When grooming, take the horse with which you are working into a stall or private paddock. Never stand among a group of horses at liberty to work. If herd dynamics come into play, remember you are the smallest animal out there.

Do not take food of any kind into the fields where horses are at liberty.

When feeding the horses, do not take a feed bucket or pan into an area where more than one horse is loose. Make sure the horse for which the feed is intended is secured in its stall or paddock before serving a meal.

Do not offer the horses treats of any kind without specific permission. Some have very few teeth left and cannot chew well. Others are on special diets for health reasons. In other cases, “hand treats” may not be permitted due to behavior issues.

When approaching any of the horses, make sure they are aware of your presence before making any physical contact. Some have impaired vision, some doze more soundly than others. Talk to them, sing if you like, and watch for them to look at you or otherwise acknowledge your presence. Never approach a horse from the rear.

When you go through a closed gate, close and latch it behind you. Even if you will “only be a minute.” Some horses watch very closely for the opportunity to go exploring. If a horse does get loose, notify farm management immediately. Do not try to catch the horse yourself.

The farm house is a private residence, not a part of the Sanctuary. You are welcome to use the powder room, accessible through the door on the right at the end of the house near the parking area, at any time. There is also a refrigerator available to store drinks and snacks, accessible through the left hand door on the same end of the house. The remainder of the house is private. Please do not enter. In addition, please do not enter the chain-link fenced-area in back of the house. The dogs that may be in there are privately owned and not a part of the sanctuary.

TREES reserves the right to amend the Basic Farm Rules at any time. Updated copies will be provided to all volunteers as necessary.

Our intent in compiling these rules is not to make your visit overly structured or restricted, but to make every visit as safe and enjoyable as possible. The horses enjoy visitors and we want you to have fun and to return often!

The Reiki Digest: Wordless Wednesday: Reiki for horses

TREES' Grande Dame, Emma, was honored with a mention in The Reiki Digest. Well, not a "mention" in the literal sense, since it was Wordless Wednesday, after all. But this one's worth more than a thousand words.

The Reiki Digest: Wordless Wednesday: Reiki for horses

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hey, Good Lookin'!

We are so thrilled with this beautiful mare's recovery, we wanted to share:

Remember.....don't dwell on the memory of this:
Delphi - August 9, 2008 - Age 28

Instead, celebrate this!
Delphi - March 16, 2009 - Age 29

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bodywork at Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary is very fortunate to have Jill Deming, M.A., of Integrated Animal Therapies as one of our complementary healers. Jill is a certified Massage Therapist and member of the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork. Incorporating massage, acupressure, myofascial release and craniosacral therapy, animal Bowen and equine myofascial structural integration into her practice, Jill integrates elements of several types of bodywork into each visit, based on each animal’s individual needs.

In Jill’s words, here is a basic description of an integrated therapy session:

During my initial bodywork session with each horse, I carefully evaluate each individual. I keep in mind that at this stage in their lives my objective is not to address any dysfunction in the body of the older horse, but simply to help them to be comfortable. This is because many of these horses have dysfunctions in their bodies that they may have been living with for quite some time. They have learned to adjust to these difficulties and their body compensates accordingly. To make any major changes at this point could be catastrophic.

I begin by working at the junction of the head and neck, a neutral non-threatening area of the body, because predators will often attack the head. Initially, I also want to stay out of the kick zone (around the hindquarters), I want to establish that this experience is pleasurable and non-threatening. By allowing the horse to invite me into his personal space, rather than forcing my way in, there is a much better chance of having a successful bodywork session.

For this reason, I use a lot of CranioSacral Therapy and Myofascial Release in my work. CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle and non-invasive modality. The CranioSacral system extends from the occiput to the coccyx (tailbone) and is comprised of three membranes (the Dura Mater, Pia Mater and Arachnoid Layer) housed within the spinal cord that are constantly bathed in fluid. This fluid is known as the cerebrospinal fluid. It pulses throughout the life of the horse (also all other animals as well as humans) and influences the movement of the skull bones and the connective tissue (fascia).

Fascia is the layer of connective tissue directly under the skin. When you cut into a chicken, recall the stretchy, translucent layer? That’s fascia. It is similar to a body-stocking just underneath the horse’s skin—-encompassing all the muscles. It extends from the brain to the hooves and everywhere in between. If horses (as well as all mammals) didn’t have fascia, they’d be nothing but a bag of water. Fascia gives us our shape. It also contributes to the health of the horse by increasing transport between the cells, moving nutrients into the cell and toxins out.

In addition to its’ location just under the skin, the fascia extends 3-dimensionally throughout the body, encompassing muscles, organs, bones—in short, all structures inside the body.

Whenever the fascia has been disturbed in the body, it will be felt other places as well, because of the fascia is so interconnected. It is impossible to influence one area without also influencing others.

Because so many of these horses are in such fragile health and some of them have compromised immune systems I don’t try to change the structure of the fascia, as I would endeavor to do in younger, healthy horses. Instead, I work within their energy level.
TREES residents all respond to Jill’s therapeutic touch, but some are more appreciative than others. Each time Jill works with Betty, the mare afflicted with pemphigus, Betty tries to follow her out of the stall as she leaves. Betty’s bodywork is usually followed by a long nap. With so little known about pemphigus in horses, it’s heartening to see Betty respond so positively to these sessions.

In addition to horses and other equine, Jill also works with dogs and cats in Fredericksburg, VA and the surrounding area. Be sure to visit her web site for more information.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Clinics in MD including info on elder care

Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Md., will offer Horse Care Clinics I and II on April 18 and 19.

Clinics cover such topics as horse handling and psychology, safety, hoof and dental care, health problems, care of older horses, emergency care, nutrition, and parasites. Participants will get practical advice on trailering, boarding, and other details on how to provide quality equine care.

Days End Farm is located at 1372 Woodbine Road, at the intersection of Routes 144 and 94. The fee for the clinics (Horse Care Clinic Level I and II) is $50 for each level; $100 for both. To register call 301/854-5037 or 410/442-1564, or
e-mail Please visit for more information.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What the........???

Isn't the first day of Spring one week from tomorrow?

Are we still in Virginia? Toto?

"Um... wasn't it close to 80 degrees a few days ago?"

Trying not to complain about this beautiful gift. We've had a fairly dry winter, so this little snow will help replenish the ground moisture and get the grass growing soon. Several days in the high 70's spoiled us fairly quickly, though.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More thoughts on pergolide

After an earlier post about the stability of compounded pergolide, a few other points we thought worth mentioning came to mind:
One is that there is no "standard" dose as there is for most other meds. In other words, there is nothing that says every horse should receive X mg/100 lbs body weight. It varies from horse to horse. If your starting dose doesn't seem effective, your vet may want to recheck ACTH levels and adjust as needed. We've had to adjust 2 or 3 times on some horses to get it right, waiting at least a month or more between the time we change dose and the next test. Pergolide is not one of those things that works overnight.

Second, be sure you know what concentration your pharmacy sells. We've had some pergolide that was 1mg/ml, meaning the horse gets 1 ml of liquid to get 1mg of the drug. We've also had some that was 0.25mg/ml (4 ml liquid = 1mg of drug) and now use 0.20mg/ml (5 ml of liquid = 1 mg of drug.) One advantage to the more dilute form is a lesser difference in dose if you don't measure to the exact hair.

Finally, *when* you test ACTH levels has an effect on results. ACTH naturally increases as winter approaches and is lower in summer, so season will affect your test results.. Some people compensate by giving a different dose of pergolide in the winter than in the summer. We haven't done that, but it is something to be aware of.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mmmmm. Good Stuff.

If you have any doubts about Reiki as a relaxation/stress-lowering technique, take a look at a few of the photos taken today when Janet Dobbs returned with some Shoden students for a little more practice working with animals. Enjoy.

The March Hair

Imagine this:

...and this........

........and this.......

plus twelve more just like them, shedding all that hair all at one time.

After just one grooming session last spring, it looked like Sonny should have been bald, but looking at him, there didn't seem to be any visible difference:


If you are in the Spotsylvania, VA area and would like to spend a relaxing hour or two brushing, currying and generally helping our elders shed their very impressive winter coats, please give us a shout. or 540-972-0936. Dress for March Hair.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reiki II Workshop April 18-19, 2009

Janet Dobbs, of Animal Paradise Communication and Healing will conduct a level II Reiki Workshop at Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary Saturday and Sunday, April 18 & 19, 2009. A portion of the workshop fees will be donated to the Sanctuary, to support the care of resident elder horses and educational programs promoting humane care of equine seniors.

From the Animal Paradise Communication and Healing web site:

What is Reiki?
Reiki is a gentle, hands-on, Japanese healing practice and system. It is similar to Healing Touch or laying on of hands. It is not massage. Reiki is a very gentle energy that you must experience to fully understand. Some people feel heat or warmth, slight tingling or even coolness coming from the practitioner's hands. Reiki rebalances your energy so your immune system can kick in and you can heal yourself.

Reiki Level II

This class is for people that have completed Level I Reiki. In this class you will continue on your healing path with Reiki and continue your work with animals. The focus of this class is on more advanced meditations and Reiki practices. This course is unique because we focus on both humans and animals.

Day 1 Participants will receive the three level II attunements and will be taught three Reiki symbols and their mantras. Building on what was learned in Level I, students will learn more exercises to help increase the flow and level of energy in themselves. We will practice group energy healing, long distance healing and much more. Students receive the level II manual.

Day 2 Students will learn how to send long distance Reiki to animals as well as continue their practice and experience with in person Reiki with animals. Level II students will develop their intuition when working with Reiki. Upon completion of day two students will receive the Level II Reiki practitioner certificate.

Recommended reading: Your Reiki Treatment by Bronwen & Frans Stiene

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Arthritis study: Surpass better than bute

A study at Colorado State university concluded that Surpass cream is both safer and more effective than "bute" in treating equine osteoarthritis.

David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS sumarized:
"This is the only study published to date that demonstrates that a topical NSAID can not only ameliorate the clinical signs of (osteoarthritis), but is capable of altering cartilage metabolism. That is, diclofenac liposomal cream possesses disease-modifying properties."
See article

Monday, March 2, 2009

Whoosh! Real Snow!

For the first time in at least five years, some of Traveller's Rest's horses were confined to stalls due to weather. Under normal circumstances, our horses are always turned out, allowing them to move about at will, keeping up body warmth and preventing stiffness in arthritic joints. Last night, however the combination of very wet snow and swirling wind called for a change in management style.

The fence in the two photos below is black. This shows how "horizontally" the snow was blowing last night, sticking to everything it encountered.

Not only was the snow blowing sideways, it was swirling in every direction. Enclosed shelters all had snow inside. It came in under doors, between the top and bottom sections of dutch doors, through the eave vents and even beneath the roof ridge vents.

In one rare spot, seemingly protected from the winds, we got an idea of how much snow fell.

Guess old Punxatawney Phil was right!