Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Roll of the Ben

I wanted to check on how Ben's hock arthritis is doing, so I turned him loose in the ring today, figuring he'd take advantage of the opportunity to roll, and I'd be able to see (a) how easily -- or not -- he got back up, and (b) if he was stiff at first afterwards. When the arthritis is bad, he has to make more than one heaving attempt to get up and his hind end seems almost paralyzed at first once he's up, until he works out of it bit by bit.

No problem! He dropped, rolled on one side, got right back up, dropped to the other side, rolled on that one, got up and moved off comfortably. (No, Ben never rolls all the way over like a normal horse.) He also trotted along the long side freely and walked with an easy stride, stepping well under himself. You'd almost think he was ridable!

Ben did, of course, wander off to a far corner of the ring to paw and sniff and paw till he'd found just the right spot -- so close to the wall that if he had gone over he'd have been in a fair way to get cast. He always does that, the silly boy. I asked him, as I always do, "With all the ring to choose from, why there?" He answered, as he always does, "Cookie?"

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Today at the Barn

So today was warm and sunny, and I began the long hard process of cleaning Ben and Dora's paddock of the layers upon layers of manure and waste hay that built up over the winter. I took out five wheelbarrow loads, filled about three-quarters full since I'm not all that strong, and that stuff is wet and heavy thanks to the continuing meltwater runoff from the snow mounds along the barnside -- greatly diminished from their roof-lapping heights but still not gone. My hour of toil got down to bare ground in an area that must have been all of six, maybe seven square feet! Sigh. But I was working near the gate, where the worst of it is; once I've cleared about a 20x20 foot area, the rest won't be as bad.

When I'd had enough of that I took Ben into the fourstall and groomed him. Ran a stiff brush over him to knock off the upper layer of dust and shavings; dug deeper with the rubber currycomb, lifting mass quantities of loose fur; ran the medium brush over him to clean that off; took the Furminator in hand next and removed another layer of shed; and finished him with the soft brush. By then he was putty in my hands. I brushed and combed his long thick tangled mane and forelock till all the shavings flakes and knots were out, then girded my mental loins and began on his tail.

Now, Ben's tail, after a winter of blanket-wearing that causes him to fail to raise his tail very high when he relieves himself, is a mess you don't want to examine too closely. Or at all, really. It also likes to dreadlock itself if not combed out regularly, something I haven't done this winter. So working through it, level by level from the bottom up, handful of strands by handful of strands, with my special detangling brush was neither swift nor pleasant, but I did it; finished the exercise with a generous application of Cowboy Magic detangler/shine-imparter; and stood back to admire the glorious results of my hour's labor.

Then I turned him back out into his muddy paddock so he could roll and destroy all my handiwork.

He didn't, though, at least while I was there; no, there was lunch hay waiting for him, and so he set to it, far enough from his lady Dora that she wasn't likely to come attitude him off it, at least for a while. They munched companionably till a brouhaha over by the middle paddocks erupted. Dora rushed to the gate and watched, quivering, as things got sorted out. Ben looked up, decided it had nothing to do with him, and kept eating.


Five days later: Ben's paddock is clean! I've been pecking away at it for several days, clawing up the layers upon layers of ancient manure and waste hay, raking them into little piles, forking the piles into a wheelbarrow, and trundling them off to the manure container. Each day's labor saw several more square feet of cleared ground, and I figured if I kept at it and the weather held, I could get done in a week, maybe less.

Imagine my delight when I arrived at the barn yesterday to find Karen hard at work in the paddock, having taken over for Hilly, and a good three-quarters at least of what had been left to do already cleaned out! She took out one last big load, then had to leave, and I took over the job. With an hour or so of work, I forked the last load into my little wheelbarrow (I used a half-sized one so as not to overburden my feeble self) and trundled it off to dump.

And it was done! Oh, there are a few small spots where I want to tidy things up further, and there may be a bit more still hidden under the pathetic little strip of snow remaining along the wall where the giant slope once reared up to the barn eaves, but the paddock has been cleared of the horrible mess the melting revealed.

Thanks so much, Hilly and Karen! Couldn't have done it nearly so fast without you!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Memory of Belmont Past.

My word, as often as I've watched this, I STILL choke up every time! Screamed my throat raw when I watched it live. Secretariat was... Secretariat. The master of his era.

I used to think, how grand it would be if Secretariat could run a match race with Man O' War. But now I think they should each be the unique colossus of their own time, never to meet their equal, for in their own times there never was one worthy to claim that honor. Affirmed had his Alydar; these horses had no peer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ben's Choppers

Poor Ben, now he's got dental issues.

I got a call from the vet this morning, who'd just floated Ben's teeth and wanted me to know he'd found an upper molar cracked, partially missing, and a lower molar that was loose. Neither tooth appeared to be actively painful, and he's not having any problems eating his hay, in fact he gets extra and cleans up every bit, so we're not taking out either tooth just yet.

We'll have to keep alert for signs of trouble developing: not finishing his hay or eating in a way that indicates it's uncomfortable for him; dropping weight. Bacteria could travel up the crack in his upper tooth and brew an infection in his sinus, so a discharge from the nostril on that side would be another red alert. In any case, we'll have his teeth floated again in another six months or so and check on the problem teeth then.