Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Typical Morning Eldercare Chores

I don't know that there is such a thing as "normal" or "average" at an equine Sanctuary, but this outlines many of the common summer morning chores.

First, of course, is breakfast.  Between 6:00 and 6:15, feed is measured into individual feed tubs according to each Elder's individual needs.  Warm water is added to the feed which is allowed to soak to make a thick "mush."  Breakfast is served at 7:00, with each horse eating in a separate stall, paddock or shed.  Once breakfast is finished and the horses turned out, we:


Wash dishes
Since the horses eat "mush" feed tubs get nasty fast and, in warm weather, start to smell bad if not rinsed after meals.


Rinse Beau's place mat (a car floor mat he eats on to prevent him from eating dirt when he drops food, then picks it up -- if not rinsed after each meal, the mat is a huge fly party.)


Remove manure and wet sawdust from stalls and sheds.


Rebed stalls and sheds with clean sawdust


Fly Spray


Dampen shed floors to knock down dust


Shower Clara (because, otherwise, she won't go away)
(which of course rinses off aforementioned fly spray and as a bonus attracts a horse fly.)

Clara's shower then leads to this -



Okay - back to work.
Pick up manure in small paddocks and dry lots (the rest of the fields will be cleaned up this evening when the temperature starts to come down.)


Dump collected manure and dirty bedding in manure spreader


Finally, clean and refill water tanks and buckets


Meanwhile, the residents are all doing this:



As it should be.
They served us, now we serve them.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lindy Reminds Us to "Rethink"

Re-evaluate.  One of TREES’ cardinal rules.  Nothing is written in stone.  What worked last year may not be appropriate this year.  What works this summer may not be necessary next spring.

When Lindy first arrived at Traveller’s Rest, her history included “an old shoulder injury.”  No more detail than that – no clues telling us what type of injury, when the injury occurred or how it was treated or managed.  We could tell by the asymmetry of her front feet that she carried more of her weight on one side, keeping as much load as possible off of the other but had no additional information.

At rest or while grazing, Lindy appeared to be pain free but when moving at any gait faster than a walk, she was noticeably uncomfortable.  Most problematic was asking her to stand for hoof trimming.  Even though she is an extremely kind and willing mare, it was impossible for her to balance her weight on her “bad” foreleg while the other was lifted for trimming.

We added Previcox (COX II inhibitor anti-inflammatory drug) to Lindy’s daily routine. At about the same time, reluctantly, we began using sedation on Lindy’s trim days.  The first time we tried dormosedan gel (sedative/painkiller often used in “standing procedures” on horses,) using the dose listed on the label for horses her size, Lindy still struggled to stand on the affected leg.  During the rest of the trim, however, she seemed so deeply sedated that she was almost sitting on Ernie, her farrier.  For each subsequent trim, the dose was reduced. Even so, by the third trim using sedation, Lindy stood quietly, but was still leaning on Ernie for support.

Today, Lindy’s scheduled pedicure day, as I picked up the tube of dormosedan gel, I hesitated.  Something told me to put the box back on the shelf. I did.  When Ernie arrived, I let him know we were going to try trimming Lindy with no sedation this time.   

Lindy - Arab mare in her late 20's

The little mare was perfect.  No anxiety. No apparent discomfort.  No fidgeting.  Perfect.  Maybe her shoulder just needed more time to heal.  Maybe the healing was due to a change in pasture mates.  None of the other mares with her do anything to cause anxiety or sudden defensive movements.  Maybe it’s the Previcox keeping her comfortable.  The next step, I think, will be to attempt to wean her from the drug and see what happens.  Perhaps she no longer needs it. 

Nothing is written in stone here.  Sometimes changes are recommended by veterinarians. Some new ideas come to us by way of Facebook or Blog followers.  Other adaptations, like today’s change, seem to come from the horses themselves.  If we listen.


Wow! And just now, as I type while the sun reemerges after hours of rain………Blondie, Emily and Nellie cantered a big circle around their pasture, feeling quite fine…… and then comes Lindy, trotting behind.  Not far, not fast, but an even, relaxed trot.  Awesome.