Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Part of "Be Careful........."

.........don't Britches and Freddy understand?

Yay! the snow has stopped!

No problem that its 8 degrees out there!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

No, this is not the week before this past Christmas.  This is today!  We are still in Spotsylvanina, aren't we?

Eyes On

Never assume.

We’ve had colder nights this winter. We’ve had wetter nights this winter. We’ve definitely had windier nights. And through it all, Josh was as happy in his natural winter woolies as he would have been on a quiet day in May.

This morning, however, Josh was shivering during the breakfast service, perfectly illustrating the need to set eyes on each and every horse several times each and every day. What was taken for granted last week – or even yesterday - may not be the case today.

Not to worry, though. A little warm mash, a bucket of warm water, a dry though somewhat dirty Weatherbeeta, and Josh is happily quidding his hay as if today is no different than any other day at TREES.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Many Horses?

A volunteer new to TREES said something last weekend that took me a little by surprise.  She seemed surprised by how many details we collect about our residents' health, histories, temperaments and personalities, habits, and "personal preferences."

I can't imagine doing this any other way.  A related discussion revolved around how many horses TREES can care for at one time.  Valid question.

The answer may change from month to month and year to year.  In terms of physical capacity, herd size is limited by shed or stall space.  Every horse in the sanctuary is fed separately so we can be sure he or she gets the amount of food required and any medications that might be included, with no competition from other horses.  Feeding spaces are all under cover so no horse stands out in bad weather while eating.

Manpower and finances are obvious factors in determining herd size.

A more subtle, but perhaps the most important, consideration in how many horses TREES houses is how well we can "customize" each horse's care.   If the sanctuary takes in so many horses that we can't care for each in a way that meets that horse's unique needs, we aren't necessarily doing any of the residents any favors.  We need to be able to note small differences in condition, attitude, soundness, appetite, and behavior - something that would not be possible with a larger number of horses - and make changes accordingly.

A side benefit is that learning as much as we can about unique management regimens allows us to help other owners of senior horses adapt their routines to their own horses' needs.

In the end, the more we know about each horse, the better we can apply a holistic approach to preventative health care.  And you know what they say about "an ounce of prevention......."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Loose Teeth Be Gone!

Today was Dentist Day for a few of TREES' residents.  The team of Dr. Tracy Brown and Meredith Barlow, C/EqDT, paid a visit to Sherman, Mona, Nate, Delphi and Fitz.

Both Nate and Fitz need some attention, but will require a little advance planning.  More on them as we get them taken care of.

Delphi and Mona both had "routine" floats.  (In quotes because every horse is different, but meaning all they required was the removal of sharp points.)

Here, Mona is being "floated."  Note that the speculum is open only wide enough to allow Meredith to work.  It is not cranked all the way to its widest position.

Delphi had to give her opinion of the idea before even getting started.

But Sherman........Sherm needed a little extra attention.  Not surprisingly, Sherman had a few loose teeth.  We've heard from some owners of senior horses who were told to leave loose teeth in the mouth because the horse had so few to spare.  Aside from the discomfort that must cause, here is an excellent illustration of why that may not be a good idea.

These two teeth are shown exactly the way they came out of Sherman's mouth with little to no effort.  You can see no blood, no tissue, nothing that would indicate these teeth had any kind of physical attachment to the gum.  They were, more or less, just sitting in the socket.

The teeth are shown sitting on their chewing surfaces, roots pointing up.  Notice the green-ish material packed between what is left of the roots?  That is food that had worked its way under the tooth, between the tooth and gum.  This can cause irritation and enlargement of the pocket around the loose tooth.  If something as large as food particles can become lodged under the tooth, so can something as small as bacteria, leading to infection.  Untreated infection under and around a tooth can eventually lead or contribute to infection in the jaw bone itself, or even in the sinuses.

With all this in mind, our rule is "If its loose, its gone."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Heroes

Forget Barbaro, Secretariat, and Zenyatta.  Never mind Rugged Lark, Bright Zip or Impressive.  These are our heroes;





.......and the thousands like them who either taught new horsemen, young and old, to ride or toted "weekend warriors" up and down the trail via rental strings.

These are "the working man" of the horse world.  Give 'em a hand!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Various Photos on a Warm Winter Day

A "January Thaw! "  Here are a few random farm shots as we were enjoying the outdoor work today.

Freddie - not too bad considering all the recent mud.  We're not wild about the new mane "do," though.

Sanctuary housing we hadn't noticed while the leaves were on the trees.

The first step in solving some of our drainage problems.  See that little white pipe on the upper right?  Somehow, former property owners thought that would carry all the runoff from the field east of the driveway to the ditch west of the driveway.  The current pipe is the professional version.  According to the weather forecast, it may get its first trial this weekend.

Wade and Marye.  Still a couple and going strong.

Jubal enoying a lunchtime beverage.  Ahhhhhh.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Apologies to Josh

For several weeks we've been finding the same board popped off its middle fence post every two or three days.  Notorious for bouts of itchiness from as yet unidentified origin, poor Josh stoically took all the blame.

But this morning...........AHA! 

Its not Josh fault.

Henry, my boy, we have proof!  Now to look into what's causing this big guy's troubles.

Then, we must apologize to Josh for jumping to conclusions.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not Gone & Not Forgotten

Sherman had visitors today!  Visitors who came specifically to see him.  Before he retired, Sherman held a job at Hazelwild Farm, where he was known as "Jake."  Apparently Sherman, aka Jake, taught quite a few area children to ride in his day.

When two of Sherman's former students learned he was at Traveller's Rest, they decided to stop by for a visit.  Rachel and Katelyn's first horseback rides were on Sherman!  He must have done a good job since both are still involved with horses. 

When the ladies mentioned visiting Sherman to another Hazelwild (adult) member who had ridden Sherm as a child, his response was "He's still alive?" 

You bet!  He may be a little more frail in body, but still strong in spirit.  You're only as old as you feel, dontcha know. 

Thank you for stopping by, Rachel and Katelyn.  We love it when old friends come to re-visit and pay tribute to our residents. 

Its the "little guys" who have the biggest impact on the horse community.  Very few people outside of the Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg area have heard of Jake or Sherman, but there are quite a few Virginians whose lives were impacted by this horse and hundreds of school horses like him.  Give your Schoolies a hug today.  They've earned it.

Get a "Disney Day" by helping Elder Equine!

More on the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" program:

Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary has been approved for participation and is actively listing volunteer opportunities with Disney's program designed to encourage people to get involved with community non-profit organizations. 

From the Disney site:
We want to inspire one million people to volunteer a day of service to a participating organization in their communities. So we're celebrating these volunteers' good works by giving each of them a 1-day, 1-theme park ticket to the Disneyland® Resort or Walt Disney World® Resort, free. There's no better time to make a dream come true for others and let us make a few come true for you.

You must pre-register and sign up through this site to volunteer and complete your service at an eligible volunteer opportunity in the fifty United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico or Canada to receive a ticket after verification of such service. Ticket quantities for this program are limited. You must be at least 18 to sign up. You may only sign up a maximum of 8 members of your household. Children must be at least 6 to participate in the program. One ticket per person, regardless of the number of times you volunteer. Program begins January 1, 2010 and continues until tickets are distributed or until December 15, 2010, whichever occurs first. Your voucher for a free ticket must be redeemed by December 15, 2010, and used on the same day of redemption.
If you are interested, please visit Give A Day. Get A Disney Day.  Type either "22553" or "Spotsylvania, VA" in the Search For An Activity box, and follow the instructions.  Easy! 
TREES' list of activities includes general farm work, grooming horses, cleaning donated tack, painting barns and sheds and other more specialized tasks like electrical, erosion control and landscape design.  Other activities may be listed throughout the program.
See you soon!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Volunteer at TREES, Get a Day at Disney!

Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary has just been approved for participation in "Give A Day.  Get a Disney Day!"

By volunteering at TREES for one day between now and Dec 15, 2010 (or until all tickets are distributed, whichever comes first,) you can get a 1-day, 1-theme park ticket to the Disneyland® Resort or Walt Disney World® Resort, free.

We've just been approved and are not yet showing in the database, but stay tuned over the next few days as the list is updated and we add specific sanctuary volunteer opportunities.

"When you wish upon a star.............."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Free Webcasts Address Horse Health

"Colic: Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention" - Jan. 19 at 7 PM  - will feature Dr. Elizabeth Carr, MSU associate professor of large animal clinical sciences.

Respiratory Disease: Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. EST presented by Dr. Hal Schott, MSU professor of large animal clinical sciences

Lameness in the Performance Horse March 16 at 7 p.m. EST presented by Dr. Ann Rashmir, MSU associate professor of large animal clinical sciences

Rehabilitating the Lame Horse March 23 at 7 p.m. EST presented by Narelle Stubbs, visiting research associate in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine

Equine Emergency First Aid April 20 at 7:00 p.m. EDT presented by Dr. Judy Marteniuk, MSU associate professor of large animal clinical sciences

For more information, visit

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Aha! Its NOT Just Our Imagination!

TREES current herd consists of 7 horses with confirmed Cushings, or PPID, diagnoses, and at least 3 other horses than show some symptoms, but had "normal" ACTH levels when tested.  Several times, we've discussed with our vet the possibility that the parameters defining "normal" may need to be re-evaluated.  If we had several horses showing clinical signs of PPID even when testing as Normal, it is likely that other owners experience the same thing.

Now, from the Jan2, 2009 article, "Equine Endocrine Disorders Discussed at AAEP," we see:
"It was pointed out that PPID is difficult to detect in its earliest stages, while advanced disease is relatively easy to recognize. The two most commonly used tests for PPID--resting adrenocorticotropin hormone( ACTH) concentrations and the overnight dexamethasone suppression test--can be used to confirm the diagnosis. However, these tests are less likely to yield positive results when PPID is first developing, so clinical judgment must be relied upon in these cases."
So, it's not our imagination.  Some horses exhibit clinical symptoms even though the test results do not confirm the diagnosis.

"New diagnostic tests are being developed for PPID and might allow earlier detection of the disorder. These include the combined dexamethasone suppression/thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test, TRH response test (with ACTH concentrations measured 10 and 30 minutes post-injection), and oral domperidone challenge test."

It may seem odd to be so excited about these little advances but, considering that ten years ago Cushings was often viewed as a terminal illness, these "little" things can mean a lot to people caring for long-time equine family members.  The sooner a PPID patient is started on treatment and modified management techniques, the better the chances of preventing serious complications, which translates into a better long-term prognosis.