Monday, December 16, 2013

Fail - November Week 2 - Weekend Roundup

I swear I'll write the rest of the Moab trip up... I swear I will.

In the meantime, I keep thinking of things to write and never get them down because they are little bitty things, so I'm going to try this - a end-of-week sum up of "interesting events"* that occurred.

[Edited to Add:
* or not. This failed immediately... I wrote this the second week in November, and here we are, third week in December - still not written. Let's publish it anyway, shall we?]

* * *


After the hillside caught fire 1.5 miles from our house on Wednesday morning (70°F, 20% humidity, but thank goodness, dead still) resulting in a 10 acre blaze, I started listening to the El Dorado Co. public safety scanner online (via iPhone) as "background noise".

It has been interesting listening, to say the least. Nothing like hearing a constant stream of other people's problems, big and small, to put your own life into perspective.

Some of my favorite incidents from this week:
  • RP [reporting party] says there are 8-10 people going back and forth from Appt. #X to a vehicle. Thinks maybe they are making drug transactions. What makes him suspicious is they are all wearing wigs. [must have been very bad wigs for him to tell, unless they were Ronald McDonald wigs?]
  • RP says her daughter was just in a verbal with the renters in the upstairs appt. and they threatened her. RP says she thinks they're dealing in narcotics. [can you say "grudge"?]
  • RP says he went for a walk and found his stolen property on a neighbour's property. ["oops"]
There were also innumerable deer events - deer V car interface, dead deer in the middle of the road, deer injured by the side of the road, etc. The deer are extremely busy this time of year.

There were also mentions of a cow on the shoulder (never did figure out where) and a pair of horses having fun running up and down hw-20.

More sobering were:
  • A small boy wandered off from his house and his distraught mother spent what can only have been a horrendous 20 minutes before he turned up on a neighbouring street.
  • 15 yr old attempted suicide.
  • People banging on other people's doors, screaming in the night. 
  • And a request to transport a 78-year old, unconscious, man from hospice to a residence "to pass".
A glimpse into other people's lives.

Zodi Extreme

Once upon a time I got a Zodi propane shower. It was a wondrous object: all you needed was a bucket of water, a small propane canister, and 4 D batteries and in ten minutes you have a piping hot shower no matter where you were (memories of 2007 - Roo and I were at DVE on our own, trying to do all four days and I have NEVER been so tired in my life. But taking that hot shower in the back of the dark trailer on a 20° night was sheer bliss).

Admittedly, the propane shower didn't get used much. Most of the time you'd be too exhausted after an endurance ride to do more than poke half-heartedly at yourself with a babywipe [or "Babies Wiped", as one iPhone post translated it to] - afterall, you'd be home in 24 hours and could surely remain grubby for that long. It's not like the horse cares.

It also transpired that many times you'd fiddle around and set it up, only to find that the battery pack had stopped working, or the pump was stuck.

Finally during this last trip to Moab, the pump seized up solid and despite prodding and dismantling, it refused to play.

pft and I spent some time at the weekend looking at various pumps online to try and cobble together a bodge and finally concluded, after reading numerous bad reviews, that yes, battery water pumps aren't all they're cracked up to be.

But, by the Magnificence of Amazon, we did find a perfect work around - arm-power. We ordered ourselves a "Zodi Extreme" for Christmas. This may not have the technological advancements of batteries and pumps, but it's so basic it's almost impossible for it to break. You fill it with water, you light the propane underneath it (or you can balance it on your normal stove). When the water is hot, you poke the pump in the top and pump 10-20 times - and voila - a hot shower. No batteries. No pumps. No mechanical thingies to fail.

It's here! Ordered Saturday morning, arrived Monday morning. Not bad.
From Zodi video, it looks like you can build up quite the pressure on it. All that remains is for us to get a trigger-controlled squirter (as seen in the video) and we'll be set.

It's coming with us on our Christmas camping trip and I will report back how successful a device it is. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moab - A Most Excellent Road Trip - Part 1: Getting There

This was one of the more successful trips I've ever done - not quite sure why, but it seemed to go seamlessly with no real difficulties - and the problems we did have were pretty much non-events*. The driving was zen-like, travelling with Renee was fun, the pones seemed to thrive in each others' company despite long hours in the trailer, and the scenery was spectacular.

(* she said, clutching her iPhone, after shredding the trailer tyre on the way home) 

Friday 18th:
Having spent the previous weekend and all week putting things in the trailer, predictably still not everything was packed when I was finished with work on Friday afternoon. I'd managed to work at home that day and ran out around midday and to give both pones a bath - large amounts of scummy pink water came off so I was glad I was able to get that done. Afterwards they got put in sheets to try and stay clean. Uno looked quite smart in a large purple number that I'd acquired for Fergus, while Roo looked ridiculous stuffed into a tiny red sheet that was supposed to be for Small Thing. Lots of bucking ensued as soon as I put them away again (wondered if maybe those leg straps were just a little too tight for Roo) and both predictably rolled excessively but only managed to re-coat the bits that stuck out (more bits on Roo than Uno), not the all important saddle area.

Finally got done and loaded them up around 9 p.m. We arrived at Renee's in Reno at 11:30 p.m. to below freezing temperatures - erk - but the pones seemed pretty smug in their new temporary digs (plenty of food to eat, sand to run around on) and Uno had an admirer in Renee's new pone Jiffilube.

Uno and Jiffilube compare notes. Why does Uno look so butt-high? I swear he isn't.

Saturday 19th:

Being dynamic, Renee and I finally got going around 9:00 a.m. after installing her stuff, loading up the three horses, and filling up with diesel and Starbucks. We took nearly seven bales of hay with us... and came home with two and half. Apparently you don't need as much hay when Fergus isn't joining us.

We then proceeded to drive and drive and drive and...

I-80 headed east isn't exactly stressful driving - there's very little traffic and very little steering involved.

We got to watch the scenery go by - such as the interestingly-named "Pumpernickel Valley" which sounded like it should be full of dwarfs but in reality looked fairly barren (plenty windy on the way home, though):

and Death Star Valley (this I read while not wearing my glasses and thought "really?!?"):

A little east of Battle Mountain, after 260 miles, we stopped briefly at a rest stop to let them out to graze and walk. Unlike those in CA, NV rest stops don't have a manicured lawn on which to parade the horses and let them roll, so this was the best we could do, dodging the trash:

Although lacking in running water (trying to stuff a small bucket under the tap in the bathroom kind of worked, but in any case only Bite sipped from it), we did come across this interesting marker which made the stop worthwhile:

We stopped in Wendover, on the edge of the Great Salt Lake, for diesel and the pones got a drink and some carrots. The ag station was just after Wendover and we were duly weighed (I think 9600 lb ish for the trailer) and went inside to fill out the form for our Coggins information.

The Great Salt Lake is a strange source of fascination - something so big and alien. Whenever I've crossed it, I always think of the con-man Landsford Hastings telling the Donner Party "It's just a day's wagon ride to get to the other side"... yeah, right (it's 80 miles, give or take). 

By 7:30 p.m. the pones were safely ensconced in the free corrals at Cabelas in Lehi - perfect (we had a contingency plan to continue on to the fairgrounds in Spanish Fork if necessary, although the guy told us we needed to pre-book since they keep their corrals locked. We figured at worse we could pull in and hang the pones off their spring-ties). Staying at Cabelas was totally stress-free and they have running water right there. It was well-lit and there were maybe a dozen or so RVs also camping out, so we weren't isolated. In the morning we took the pones on a tour of the deserted parking lot before re-loading them.

Renee surprised me that evening by whipping up a supper of tortellini and I thought "I could get used to this" - and - amazement of amazements (and one of the best parts of the trip) - she did the cooking the whole trip. It was wonderful. I don't think she has any idea how grateful I was that she did this. Thanks Renee!!

Sunday 20th:
After a detour to "the last Starbucks in civilisation", off we went to find hwy-6, the road that cuts through the mountains towards Green River. I'd never gone that way before and it was absolutely beautiful - definitely the best time of year to take in the good colours.

Interesting sights along the way included:

Gorgeous tapestry of colours (somewhat muted by the grubby windscreen. We stopped at the first available opportunity to clean it, but those bugs were stuck on there pretty good.)

Wind turbines just outside Spanish Fork. We are pretty sure Siri on iPhone gave us bum information regarding the turn onto hwy-6 - telling us one exit number, then quickly changing it the moment we got to the inauspicious exit, but not soon enough to prevent us having to make a 3 mile detour south to turn around.

This was near the curiously-name Starvation Road

We saw a livestock guardian dog by the side of the road. Initially, Renee, who was driving, thought it was an abandoned dog and wanted to stop... but as we got closer we saw it was enjoying a hearty meal of road-kill deer entrails, totally oblivious to its at-risk flock on the opposite side of the road,  milling about by a steep creek bed and getting closer and closer to being obliterated on the highway. 

After Price, the road opens out onto a huge plain surrounded by high mesas.
Nearly to Moab - what a most excellent place!

Finally at Christoph and Dian's place in Moab

Stats (Mileage/Diesel/Driving Hours):

Garden Valley - Reno
130 miles
11.1 mpg (up over the Sierra)
12 gallons diesel

Reno - Lehi
565 miles
13.4 mpg
42 gallons diesel

Lehi - Moab
231 miles
13.2 mpg
17 gallons diesel

Garden Valley - Moab = Total 16 hours driving

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Packing for Moab

Currently in the midst of packing for the upcoming ten day trip to Moab. This is harder than usual—not just because we'll be gone for ten days—but also because there will be three horses in the trailer, so no front stall to dump "everything else" into. And the entire truck bed will be full of bales of hay (how much hay can three horses eat?).

Renee and I decided we needed to morph our trucks and trailers - I need her trailer hay rack, she needs my three Spring-Ties; I need the whizzy-doohickies* on her truck for better fuel-mileage, she needs my longbed for extra hay haulage. Anyway, it turns out my truck and trailer are the ones that fit everything we need, so that's what we're taking.

pft has been busy this week rigging up a cigarette lighter socket-thingy* in the trailer so that we can charge our phones in the comfort of the housie instead of having to leave them in the truck, and replacing the hinges on the housie door. We already did the tack-room ones a year or so ago when they disintegrated. Now the housie door ones are starting to "feel funny*" when you open and close the door. Anyway, as usual, the trailer gets its upgrade mere days before its due to do the latest long trip and I thank pft kindly for his time.

(* technical terms)

Yesterday Uno and Roo got their health certificates at the vet in Auburn - $53 each - ca-ching. Today the freshly-blued portapotty got packed, along with boots, blankies (one has gone AWOL... no idea where), and bags of shavings (and I also found—score—a new set of Skito pad foams in a defunct Woolback pad while looking for the AWOL blankie, which is good given the state of my current foam inserts - can you say "past their sell-by"?). Tomorrow I visit the library for a big pile of books-on-CD, and fetch suitable food items from the supermarket. And pack clothes. And...

We've got plenty of contingency plans about where to overnight and when, depending on how far we want to drive each day. I know Uno doesn't eat great in the trailer, so we'll need to stop periodically for him (although the other times I've hauled him long distances he was on his own, so maybe having a couple of buddies will help that). Roo, I'm not concerned about. He just seems to do well regardless.

It is 900 miles from my house to Moab, via Renee's house.

Our current plan (assuming we stay awake long enough) is for me to drive up to Reno after work on Friday evening (130 miles) to pick up Renee and Bite, then on Saturday we drive to a-bit-south-of-Salt-Lake-City (550 miles). Then on Sunday, we'll have a mere 220 miles to drive (through gorgeous Utah scenery, hopefully) - which sounds like a cinch.

Once we get there, it'll remain to be seen which days I actually ride. Ideally all three—endurance gods willing, Roo gets do Day 1 and Day 3, with Uno getting his turn on Day 2. But I still worry about Uno and whether I messed up his feet getting too ambitious over bar removal and that's why he's feeling a bit sluggish... Or is he just unfit... Or is he just not motivated... Or does he have some dread underlying disease... etc, etc... In reality, he was always sluggy when first being brought back to fitness and it miraculously disappears at rides (to be replaced with an "oh my" horse), so I should probably just ride him to get over that hump. This will be his first ride back since being pulled from NASTR 75 in 2011. Given the fact that Roo only just did his first 50 after a three and half year layoff, this probably makes me the slowest person ever to get around to bringing horses back from injuries (I get distracted).

* * *

In other news, my Yarn Bag Thingy™ is crawling along at a rate of about a row a week. It has about 250 stitches per round and will need to be about a foot tall. Once felted, it will shrink to the size of a Barbie shoulder bag.

But I'm sure I'll love it.

Assuming it ever gets finished.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sockses Report

About 45 minutes after completing the 50 at Red Rock on Saturday, Roo and I were both in the middle of our suppers when I remembered that I'd forgotten to "wrap his legs" - i.e. put on his new sockses (they arrived on Thursday).

So I popped back to trailer, whipped out* the ziploc bag containing the Special Plastic Bag (comes with) and the Sockses and put them on. 

* (from the very small storage space required to store them)

The good thing about the Special Plastic Bag is that when you take off the Gloves-that-went-through-the-cow-swamp, you cover the mucky hooves completely so you don't get goop all over yourself and the new sockses. ...well, OK, I did get some on me, but the sockses stayed clean.

The back sockses are easiest to put on - mostly because the back leg measurements are larger, yet the hooves are smaller. I ended up sort of wadding them up and sliding them over the bag-encased-hoof, then yanking up the wad to the top of his leg and smoothing it down. The front legs were only slightly harder, with the smaller leg-tube/bigger hoof combination (the biggest problem was having to avert my eyes from the offensive not-terribly-attractive "green" colour*).

* (the "green" colour would be fine if Roo wore earth tones. However, he does not.)

Funder-pic from the finish
I deliberately didn't walk him that evening (he was on his Spring Tie, however). The temperatures weren't freezing but it was chilly. Around 4:30 a.m. he woke me up banging around, so I got up and gave him a mush and checked his legs. Looking good. 

The following morning one of the front sockses had slipped down slightly (an inch or so) so I adjusted it, but the others were all where they were supposed to be. He had some light filling in the back legs and even lighter filling in the fronts. We walked around camp a couple of times before being put in the trailer and taken home. 

On the way home I had to stop at Starbucks to try and get rid of a nasty headache. And I had to stop to get NV-cheap diesel. And I had to stop at Cabela's to buy things because the last time I was there was a long time ago. And I had to stop at the Ag Station to fill out the quickie paperwork (more about that later). And I had to stop at the top of the canyon to make myself a sandwich because I was falling asleep.

So in all, it took me about five hours to get him home. 

He hopped off the trailer looking good, with almost no filling. Took out the Special Plastic Bag and removed them from his legs while he grazed in the orchard (had to get pft to hold him still because he kept wandering off) - legs look good and weren't warm the way they sometimes feel after being unwrapped.

My conclusion:
  • Super easy to use - take five mins to put all four on, and five minutes to take them all off again
  • Appreciate that you can check their legs while the sockses are on by feeling through the sock (or you can peel it up/down to inspect the leg)
  • Don't overheat the legs
  • When you take them off, you just stuff them back in the ziploc bag - no rewinding necessary
I'm not convinced they'd work so well with a horse that fills a lot after a ride. Be interesting to try them on Uno who is more prone to filling, but as far as offering light support, as well as massaging my guilty conscience, they did the job perfectly.

Monday morning, Roo's legs didn't look like they'd done anything. 

I'm a bit pathetically hobbly, though.

* * *

The Ag Station experience was interesting. I quizzed a bunch of people extensively beforehand about what was required, and was reassured it was all OK (despite dithering on my part). And sure enough, I pulled up to the Ag Station 'gate' and the lady said:

"D'you have livestock?".

"One California horse," I said.

"OK, she said, I just need a health certificate or a Coggins, and fill out this information [hands me a slip of paper on which to write my truck-n-trailer licence plate numbers, my name, address, and a contact telephone number] and take it into the office."

The man in the office was nice as can be - transcribed my information into his big book (presumably this is so when there's a major outbreak of horse-leg-falling-off they'll be able to contact me to tell me about it), stamped my Coggins with his dated Ag Station stamp, handed me back my slip of paper "for next time" and off we went again. 

It was the "health certificate OR Coggins" that was the important part. Up until then, I'd decided that my days of popping over to NV to ride for the day were over. 

Good to know.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Uno's Problem Feet - Cont.

Uno has always had great big platter feet - unfortunately consisting almost entirely of toe and overgrown bar. Two trims ago I decided it was time to really get on top of things with regard to the bar which had totally overtaken the back of his feet. Some aggressive hacking later revealed sole in the heel area, and I think we were on the road to recovery.

Since that post (16 August), I trimmed him again two weeks later (2 September – just before we went on vacation) and then again as soon as I could - four weeks later (29 September). Four weeks is too long for him as his toes overtake everything.

On Sunday after his trim, I rode him 18 miles - mostly slow, consistent trotting. Although he never took a lame step, he doesn't seem terribly motivated right now. This could be lack of fitness, but he seems flat...I'm wondering if his feet are generally uncomfortable?

Although the overgrown bar around the heel area is much more under control than in August, it occurred to me as I pared away at the stuff next to his frog that I actually have no idea what I'm doing.

I know bar should not overlay the sole (something that has caused Uno to abscess in the past), but as far as how far forward the structures should stretch alongside the frog towards the toe...? I'm thinking only about half way along the frog? ...<blank>.

Freshly washed left front the day after trimming and an 18 mile trot-on-hard-pack ride.
  • Note the bruising on the left heel. No idea how to fix that.
  • He has flaky sole, but it's not flaky enough to pare away without getting aggressive (admittedly his feet were dry and hard - but even when soggy, his feet are super-hard and not interested in exfoliating). Removing this flaky stuff seems more cosmetic than necessary?
  • He has a deep central sulcuus groove which needs thrush treatment (although it isn't thrushy - just a deep groove). Hopefully treating that would help him grow more heel.
  • I like how the bar around the left heel is shaping up (compared to August). The right side is still somewhat overlaid, though.
  • It looks like I was even more aggressive with his toe length in August (see below). 
  • The flare/separation at 2-3 o'clock isn't as bad as it looks on the photo
  • He's currently wearing size 2 Gloves, but has been in size 1.5s at times (when his toes were much shorter)
Left front on 16 August, six weeks ago

I don't love the side view of this left front foot. This is his "backwards foot" - ie. the one he places back when grazing - which is what is going on in both of these pics - he was eating off the ground and placing this foot back.

Looks like the back quarters are pushing up into the coronet band, but yet there's nothing to be trimmed from that area - it's already very flush. His heels look high, but they aren't.
And the toe is pulled forward.

I'm wondering if the overlaid bar from the past caused the back part of his foot to impact and that's why it looks like everything's jammed in that area? But the right front foot had more overlaid bar, and it looks much better than the left:

Right front–admittedly placed forwards while eating–but a better profile.
Crapola photo of right front, but pretty similar to the left.
Bars were originally more overlaid, but improving.

But back to my main concern - what to pare away and what to concentrate on. Here's my thoughts:

  • How far towards the toe should bar material be present? I'm thinking only about half way along the frog? Currently the bar material extends all the way to the tip of his frog on the right side and most of the way on the left side (turquoise lines). 
  • Should I continue to pare away slithers from this area? How deep can I go? 
  • The bar alongside his frogs (turquoise lines) is shallower than at the collateral grooves. Does this mean I can pare more away? 
  • The red line shows where the bar is still overlaid. Again, how deep can I pare down to remove this excess? The sole underneath needs room to grow in, but I don't want to thin the sole too much (even if it is made up of mostly bar material) and cause him to get sore.

* * *

And lastly, totally unrelated, but I noticed this "hang nail" area on his right front foot in his coronet band back in August. It is now growing down his foot. It isn't a crack per se, more like where the hoof has peeled away vertically from the top to the bottom about 1/8".

What would cause this and is there anything I should do to treat it? Or just pretend I never saw it?

Caveat: All the above was written when I wasn't 100%, so if something makes no sense, let me know and I'll try to rewrite.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Measuring for Socks

Knowing how blotto I can be at the end of a ride and how incapable of performing simple tasks* ("Simple Tasks"  Poulticing and wrapping legs with standing wraps), I was quite excited when Equiflexsleeves (available from SSTACK.COM) showed up on my radar. These are basically compression socks for horses. All you need is a ziploc bag to put over the hoof to drag the stupid things on, and, voila, your horse is "wrapped".

I can do that.

(* I could barely figure out how to get Fergus' T-clips on his blanket fastened at the end of NASTR 75 I crashed so hard)

So yesterday morning's exercise was to run around the paddock, measuring legs. Luckily, Sally is visiting at the moment, so I enlisted her as scribe and proceeded to chase the horses around with my tape measure.

This is what I found out:
(the measurements are in inches, the letters after the
measurements correspond to the Equiflexsleeve sizes)

Size Needed
Cannon Circ
Fetlock Circ
Cannon Circ
Fetlock Circ
10 (M)
8 (S)
10 (S)
12 (M) 
9.5 (S/M) 
11 (XS) 
11 (L)
8 (S)
10.5 (S) 
12.5 (M) 
9 (XS) 
11 (XS)
10 (M)
8 (S)
10 (S) 
12 (M) 
9 (XS) 
11 (XS) 
11 (L)
9 (M)
11 (M) 
12.5 (M) 
9.5 (S/M)  
12 (S/M)
8.5 (-)
7 (-)
9.5 (-)
11 (S)
8 (XS)
10  (-)

First, the exciting part - for once, it would appear that Roo, Uno and Hopi can all wear the same size, both front and back, meaning I only have to buy four socks instead of 12. And hopefully they won't ever need them at the same time. If they do, probably Uno gets dibs, since he's more prone to filling than Roo is.

Second, it looks like they still haven't come up with a size small enough for Jackit's legs, although an XS may work on his backs. I did hear a rumour they were working on smaller sizes, so maybe there's still hope. One of my goals for next year might be getting Small Thing to do some distance, so I'm planning ahead for him.

Regardless of that, just lookit Jackit's measurements - not too shabby considering he's 12:3 hh and the others are 14:2/15:2 hh. Go Small Thing!!

* * *

These are the sizes currently on offer:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Things I Learned at Virginia City 2013

  • You can get in at least a half-hour nap after the start and still make it to the highway crossing (19 miles) in time to see the front-runners. Take that 30 minutes - you will feel so much more human.
  • When applying sunscreen, try to avoid inserting it into your eye. It's quite hard to spot your rider with only one eye.
  • You will need sunscreen, hand lotion, and lip balm. Apply often, otherwise you will return from your weekend with peeling face and lips, and cracked fingers (I knew this, but still failed to adhere to this simple rule of visiting NV).
  • You have time to get from the hwy crossing (19 miles) to the first vet check (24 miles)—via Starbucks.
  • Rides that have Starbucks within accessible distance of the first vet check are very civilised for both crew and rider.
  • Always try to park your vehicle so that horse and rider are blocked from the wind.
  • There will be wind. (I knew that. Why should this year be any different?)
  • Kody can consume astonishing amounts of fud (OK, I knew that too, but I'm still always astounded by just how much he can get down in one sitting).
  • Bring binoculars to spot your rider coming across the sagebrush several miles away from Washoe Lake trot-by (especially when one eye is still full of sunscreen).
  • Despite numerical evidence to the contrary, you will not have time to sit/knit/read a book while crewing.
  • Three headlights aren't enough when you're crewing - they can and do fail.
  • You can never have enough fleece blankies (I knew this, but as usual, it was proven to me once again).
  • When you see them, buy many pairs of those $2 stretchy woolly gloves and then stash them in every nook and cranny of truck and trailer. They will get used.
  • Treat the first 50 mile loop with extreme care. It's tough, but not nearly as tough as the next loop and you need as much reserve in the tank for that section as you can muster.
  • Yes, that 51-76 mile loop will wipe you and your horse out. Even if it goes relatively smoothly, you'll come in from it feeling physically and emotionally on the edge. Do your best and this too shall pass.
  • Your rider will need extra special patting and propping up at 76 miles.
  • Horses that don't look quite right, gait-wise at 76 miles, can and do look fine by 92 miles.
  • Horses that don't look quite right, gait-wise at 92 miles, can and do look fine by 100 miles.
  • The hours between 1 am and 5 am pass much quicker when listening to Jamie Kerr telling stories
  • Enjoying the barrel stove inside the Ice House building is a wondrous thing between 1 am and 5 am.
  • Hot water bottles + tired riders = A Good Thing

Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting My Ducks in a Row - Fergus


In reality, I haven't actually got this duck in a row yet, but I'm working on it. Up until now there hasn't been any real hurry because Fergus has been on break since February (a product of having too many horses to ride, rather than not wanting to ride him), so like many things around here, it has been on the back-burner. Given that I hope to start him up in 100 milers again next year, I need to get the problem sorted out.

* * *

Unbeknownst to me, Fergus developed a couple of rubs either side of his withers during Tevis last year. At Foresthill, my vigilant crew distracted me ("look! Elephant!") while applying Desitin, and off I went again, blissfully unaware.

Keeping in mind I can't actually see Fergus' back from the ground, it wasn't until pre-Virginia City 100 prep six weeks later during the washing/primping/obsessing phase that I noticed that he had scurfy callouses on his withers and Crysta admitted "oh yeah, he got those at Tevis and we deliberately didn't tell you about them". This is what crew is for - to prevent you from obsessing over which you cannot do anything about.

The day before Virginia City 100, 2012. You can see his newly-minted wither callouses
I put his pad on and felt around underneath and concluded that in my efforts to protect his back and pad his Skito appropriately, I'd probably overstuffed the pad and it was causing bulges right about where he didn't need them. So the pad got destuffed and off we went and did VC100. No back soreness, no obvious rubbing.

Fast forward to 20 mule Team 100 in February - Mr Mild Manners became an overachieving GIANT HORSE and proceeded to move out as BIG as I've ever felt him move before. He rubbed the cr*p out of my legs in the first 12 miles (trying vainly to keep him to a subdued dull roar) and I knew that if he didn't calm down, my crippled body wasn't going to get close to finishing the next 82 miles. Luckily he did calm down and returned to his normal self, but not before skinning the insides of my legs.

What extra-special-BIG movement can do for you - the insides of my legs 50 miles into 20 Mule Team.
If it did this to my legs, what might it be doing to his back?.

Again, he finished with no back soreness or obvious holes, but the callouses were definitely still there. Come summer time, his fluffy winter coat shed out and, voila, two large white patches either side of his withers, a rear left-hand white patch, as well as some "frosting" either side of his spine. Not what I wanted to see.

Photo taken standing on the hay pile above him:
  • Pretty sure the wither spots are my fault from overstuffing the pad and two-pointing a good deal. 
  • Think that the patch in the left-rear was from when pft was still riding unbalanced from his broken leg. Now that he's more balanced and lost 20 lbs, think that problem has been remedied. 
  • The frosting along the spine - not sure, but wondering if it's heat-related from him building up friction from his BIG movement?
So I concluded that although I've been using Skito pads almost my entire endurance career, apparently it wasn't cutting it for Fergus and it was time for a change.

From looking at his back, I don't believe he's suffering from a 'saddle poking' issue - I don't see any atrophy of back muscles:
Curiously, the area that is "frosted" also has raised hair along it.
I didn't notice this until I was taking these photos.

Another problem is because his back is so long and there's SO MUCH real estate available, my saddle tends to slide back off the raised part of his withers onto the flat part of his back, causing the front of it to sit too low and tilt me forwards slightly (I don't have this problem using the same saddle with either Roo or Uno - where the saddle sits closer to their raised withers). So whatever pad we end up using, it needs to be able to be shimmed at the front to raise up the front of the saddle.

Instead of sharing a pad with the other horses, it looks like Fergus will have a special one of his very own.

Using Sensation treeless saddles, it made sense to go to the source, so I emailed Kate in the office and sent her some explanatory photos. She suggested either replacing the foam padding in the Skito, especially if it was more than three years old (, that would be a "yes"...); or getting one of their new endurance pads made with Eco-Gold padding ("Ultimate impact protection with a combination of shock-absorbing technology; Reduced friction, rubbing and pressure points" - yup, that would be what I'm looking for).

Since I'd like to try something different for Fergus—particularly with a view to the idea that his big movement may be causing some heat friction—the Sensation endurance pad is the route I'm going to take.

(as an aside, another thing she mentioned was the temperature sensitivity of the foam used in Skitos - that it tends to become "mushy" and loses some of its support when riding in heat. I'm thinking that if I like the Eco-Gold padding, it may be that I replace all the foam in my existing Skitos (in need of overhaul) with this kind of foam).

(and as another aside, Christoph Schork used one of these pads during Tevis this year and said he really liked how cooling it was).

Today I emailed Kate at Sensation to set the ball rolling so that Cinderella will be set up ready for Fall Training (if we ever get organised enough to start such a thing)(right now I have three horses lined up in my head for "Fall Training", so we'll see).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Getting My Ducks in a Row - Uno


Quite how Uno's feet degenerated into their current mess is distressing to me. He's always been a "bar" overachiever, but his feet got away from me without me realising that they had. During his last trim less than two weeks ago, it dawned on me that nearly the entire back of his front feet was now bar material ("bar pooling") and the seat of the corns had vanished underneath it. His feet were solid blocks of dense material. No concavity. No sole shedding. Just blobs of hard stuff.

My problem is that he grows a lot of toe, but very little heel, so it's a balancing act to try and not take anything off the back, while keeping the front under control. As a result, he tends towards spatula feet at the best of times.

I don't like to get too aggressive with sole trimming - which is probably also part of the problem - I suddenly realised it had all built up and it was time to get serious about getting it back under control. Not pretty.

Yesterday morning I put his front feet in boots and filled them with water (... and then went and fetched a third boot when I noticed the water trickling out of a hole in the toe of the boot). I topped up the water again last night when I fed.

So he wore his water boots for 24 hours and this morning I set to doing a hack-job on his feet. It's scary digging around in there like that, and I imagine he'll be a little footsore until things even out, but I think I got the job done. Sorta.

(Note I took the following photos with my iPhone so there may be some distortion due to it being close up. I know his heels aren't super-healthy, but don't believe they are quite that contracted.)

Left front, post-hack job. Talk about dubbed toe. :(
Right front, post-hack job. Not quite as extreme...

I don't love these feet, but need to avoid his toes getting long to protect his suspensories from over stretch
(Yellow outlines show the area of bar that I removed) The soaking in boots actually made it possible for me to peel the bar material away, sliver by sliver with my hoof knife. Towards the end it got harder and harder to tell what was bar material and what wasn't. I suspect I could have taken more off, but chickened out.

He had what appeared to be slight bruising either side of his frog near the front. 

I also spent some time opening up the central sulci (in his case, deep slits) to let air in and get No Thrush powder down in there. And did the same with the space between heels and frog.

Left heel: example of what happens when Uno decides to wriggle at the exactly the wrong moment as I'm nipping. The good thing is, even though this was only two weeks ago, by the end of this morning's trim, the rest of the heel had been rasped down to match the missing part (see next photo).

Towards the end of the trim, after I'd liberally powdered his feet, I noticed a black crack near the front of the frog on the right. Gentle poking with the hoof pick cause it to chunk off, so I got busy pulling off sole and revealed quite a bit of new sole on that right side. Like I said, normally I wouldn't touch this stuff - just let it come out on its own, but clearly in Uno's case, his dry, rock-like feet had opted to retain everything, resulting in flat, solid feet.

So the hour and 15 mins spent chiselling away at his two front feet seems to have been relatively successful. Certainly he wasn't lame at the walk and didn't show any discomfort while I was performing the hack-job. I'm hoping that the lessening of bar material will cause his feet to be able to flex more and in turn be healthier. And if I can eliminate the thrush in his heels, hopefully he'll start to land heel-first and grow more heel.

I may repeat this soaking again in a week and see if more sole material seems inclined to come off.

And if I can find somewhere non-smoky to ride this weekend, I'd like to take him out and see how he feels - hopefully more willing to move out once I get boots on.

Getting My Ducks in a Row - Hopi


In the last few weeks, Hopi started to look a bit funky - he's not thin exactly, but his hip bones were poking out, ribs peeked through, and his top line started looking very prominent. In addition, the hair on his rump got peculiarly tufty.

To complete the picture, he seems to be having an all-out war with "someone" (thinking Small Thing) and is covered in scuffs and bite marks. He's not bottom of the pecking (biting?) order - that spot is reserved for Uno who just wants the quiet life - and Hopi and Small Thing regularly eat together, so it doesn't appear to be that he's being chased off the hay. Hum.

The strange thing is, during this time he has become the most relaxed and cheerful I've ever seen him. He's talkative, friendly, and plays a lot.

Hopi's Tufty Butt:

After eyeing him for a while, I concluded maybe he needed a worm purge, so duly purchased 1,000 ml of fenbendazole (10% suspension) - enough to purge four horses should I feel the need to do so. Otherwise, enough to treat my five horses for about the next decade.

'Course, as soon as I ordered the stuff, Ann pointed out that I should probably get him a fecal exam to make sure that's what was really going on. She even gave me a kit* to do the deed.

(*Kit = small pill bottle with a pokey spoon attached to the lid. Instructions were "Take some poop off the top of the pile, keep refrigerated".)

Thursday was the day and I set about getting Hopi to poop on command. This used to be a simple matter of looking at him or putting a halter on him. But apparently nowadays that wasn't going to cut it. He ambled along behind me, quite happily, looking around at the world, totally relaxed.

Hopi acting like the highly-strung arabian he is...
Ah hah, I thought, and loaded him in the trailer. 

Most self-respecting horses, at this point, will poop within four seconds of getting in the trailer. Nope. Loaded and unloaded him several times and took advantage of the situation to impress upon him that leaping out of the trailer as soon as the door was opened wasn't appropriate. Manners about jumping out were instilled, but still no poop. 

I ran him up and down a bit. No poop.

Finally realised it was getting late and I needed to get to work, so tied him in the barn with a hay net and ran indoors to get ready. 

Wondering what to do now - to alarm him sufficiently into production,
but not enough that he wonders what he did to deserve such treatment.
Now nice and tidy, but still no poop in the barn, I decided to try and load him one last time and - voila, finally he produced the much desired substance. Put him away and then squatted in the dust in my work clothes with the pill bottle and the pokey scoop and retrieved a sample.

At Auburn Animal Medical Large Animal, I handed over my prize. Apparently if you send your poop sample to the lab, they will charge you around $200 for the privilege of inspecting it under a microscope. Auburn Animal Medical realised the stupidity of this - who's going to test for worms when you can pick up a tube of wormer for less than $10? So they purchased the necessary equipment and now do "fecals" in-house for a mere $25.

And here's the rub. The vet office called that afternoon - Hopi is negative for worms. 

So now what? I should test him again in a few months to make sure they aren't at the encysted stage. But in the meantime, this morning Hopi got stationed in front of a large pan of sloppy feed - Elk Grove Pellets and Ultium feed, with a helping of E-Se-Mag (Vitamin E, Selenium, Magnesium) and we'll try that for a month and see if it helps. And I'm waiting to hear from the vet as to whether I should go ahead and administer a five day fenbendazole purge anyway.

* * *
Edited to add 08.26.13:

Hopi tucking into his enormous pan of goodies. Note offending ribs in the background. He's been gobbling this stuff once a day for ten days now, and I'm not convinced it's done much so think that a worming purge is in his future. However, I'm going to wait until after we get back from vacation so I can supervise in an obsessive manner.