Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Trail Adventures: Katy Trail, plus bonus long weekend content

Back to back three day weekends in February is great, but even BETTER when it comes with nice weather! This is actually for the weekend before last, I'm just lazy about catching up. Working on it though!

First things first though - I got a new (to me) car! I have been driving a 2005 Malibu for closing in on a decade now (bought it in August of 2013 lol), and with 230K+ miles and a radiator leak, it's days are numbered. I was trying to limp it along until my truck is paid off in August of 2024, but having to replace DH's car in a hurry after his was totaled by the impaired driver really drove home to me that I don't want to HAVE to car shop on a tight timeline, so I've been casually browsing for a while now. I was actually planning to wait on purchasing anything until after the promotion (and accompanying raise) were official, but it worked out otherwise and I'm not sad about it. This is a 2017 Toyota 86 and it is fast and fun and sporty and I smile every time I climb in it. It's also a complete revelation to have like.... a back up camera and bluetooth? What is this sorcery?! Anyway, loving my foray into the 21st century tech, despite this car being super bare bones otherwise, lol. Hopefully I get a decade out of it like the Malibu!

Anyway, you're here for the horses. My bad. They're doing fine too. Ruby and Trigger both got to get out on the first of our two long weekends, and we all enjoyed the sunshine! 

Thank god I had a slight amount of leverage, homegirl was LIT. 

We all took turns leading!

Trigger had a good time and wanted to jog most of the trail, lol. 

Note to self, buy Trigger a lead rope with a bull snap. When I took him to Rudolf Bennitt last month, when his rider went to bridle him, the lead rope wasn't clipped to his halter. He didn't go anywhere because he had hay, but she commented on it. I knew it was clipped when I tied him (and a picture confirmed lol) so the best I could figure was he managed to snag the clip while he was eating hay. This time, when I went to load up to head home, I walked Ruby on and was just clipping her in when all of a sudden Trigger loaded himself up too - he must have gotten the snap undone again and just decided it was time to self load. Sigh. Glad he's so well behaved, but not going to count on that permanently, so I need something he can't accidentally open!

This little blue noodle turned 13!

Penny got mad she wasn't the center of attention haha. She also turned 2!

Hayden enjoyed some sunbathing. 

Cinna enjoyed a mud mask - blech. 

I did some major feed room cleaning and rearranging (AND THROWING JUNK AWAY)

Pulling everything out lol. 

Ick. So gross.

Another #anonymousoctopus in the mail, to hang in my car lol. 

Also enjoyed some good sunbathing!

We changed up our shavings storage so we could pick up bulk sawdust with a dump trailer instead of laboriously hand shoveling it out of the back of our truck (since neither of us have the backs we had 5 years ago, sigh). The dump bed doesn't go *quite* high enough for gravity to do all the work, but its definitely easier to do this than what we did before. 

Hopefully this works out long term - that $100 of shavings should last us 5-6 months, so fingers crossed!

I ran out of steam towards the end so I didn't get things as organized as I wanted, but it's definitely better lol. 

We wore the dogs out. 

So tired. 

Getting closer to caught up! Now I'm just one long weekend (and equine nutrition seminar and lesson) away from being caught up! :) 

Monday, February 20, 2023

2023 Vet Visit

I would feel bad about being so behind on posting things, but things on the horse front have been pretty quiet! I did have another lesson two weeks ago (and one yesterday that I hope to actually WRITE about), but between the weather and work, the horses have had some extra time off. Totally normal in February, so it is what it is. Things at work have been nuts because I got a new job - its one I've actually been sort of working towards since December and it's taken AGES to finalize (and will take even longer for the raise to actually hit my paycheck, lolz), but it's definitely eating up a TON of brainpower as I try to onboard. So. Content might be light for a hot minute. Or longer, haha. 

Anyway. So I don't get further behind when I DO have content, last Friday was my annual vet visit. Luckily, not TOO many unhappy surprises. 

Still the handsomest, even toothless. 

Jack was up first. He's a lightweight in his old age, but the vet has found a really good combo that keeps him quiet but on his feet, so they got to work. The students got to check out all his missing teeth, and we talked about how long ago they were pulled (almost 3 years ago now, wow time flies!). While one of the students was checking on her float job, she told the main vet that one of his teeth felt a little loose. The vet reached in and said "this one?" as it... fell out in her hand. Sigh. Old horses are great man. 

Just add it to my TOOTH COLLECTION ffs Jack. 


Aside from that, the vet/students were quite pleased with how Jack looks, all things considered. Sure, I'd love more rib coverage (STORY OF HIS ENTIRE LIFE), but for 28, with many missing teeth, and for historically being a super hard keeper despite trying basically every feed and supplement on the planet, it is what it is basically. 

Trigger was up next. He can be a slight dick about his mouth, but actually handled reasonably well on the new sedation protocol. He's missing three molars (which I knew, since they're the reason he quids so badly and why we chop hay now), but they cleaned up his mouth as best they could. I had them listen to his lungs twice, since he was showing mild symptoms of heaves a few years ago, and I find the chopped hay a bit dusty, so I wanted to make sure he wasn't having any flare ups since the change over, but they thought his lungs sounded great. The FFWS seems to be more or less under control with the chopped hay, so the vet told me again, keep doing what I'm doing. I'd love more rib coverage on this old asshole too, but I'm doing the best I can (and more than the average person, my vets frequently like to remind me). She and the male vet student were quite interested in the hay chopper, so I took them over and gave them a tour - hopefully that knowledge comes in handy if they come across anyone else looking to try chopped hay but the cost being scary ($25/40 lbs around here, so that chopper paid for itself in less than a week basically, since that's all Trigger eats in his stall). 

Getting the old men out of the way first meant we wrapped up with the girls, who are usually easy peasy! Ruby had some points, and one of them had rubbed a small sore on the right side of her mouth I feel like maybe she also did that last year, because it sounded vaguely familiar, but if so, I didn't write about it (BAD BLOGGER). 

Cinna also had some pretty sharp points, especially on the side with the weird offset molar she has - the students got a real kick out of that one! Aside from being a little on the heavy side (what else is new, girl I feel you), she also got a clean bill of health. 

I've been FB friends with the main vet for many years so we got to chatting about my tack shed and she wanted to see it in person, so after they got all packed up we trooped out to see it (one of the students seemed stunned by all my bridles and browbands lol). She was also so kind about complimenting our property and all the improvements (since she's been coming out for the better part of a decade) and how we care for the horses - it's definitely not fancy in any way shape or form, but I feel like our place is reasonably functional (except those damn dry lots, that might be a summer 2023 project!). I'm sure they see the gamut of properties, from little holes in the wall to palatial stables, so it's nice to have somewhere sort of in the middle lol. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

DIY: Chopped Hay

I think I mentioned it in one of last month's posts (but who knows lol), but we started chopping hay for Trigger. In 2020, he lost some molars, and ever since then, we've noticed increasing issues with quidding hay. He's always been pretty messy in a stall, but it got significantly worse, with him spreading hay EVERYWHERE and then peeing/pooping in it #horsesaregreat

Unrelated dog photo because no one likes text walls.

This is also compounded by the fact that he has been having intermittent issues with Fecal Water Syndrome and I wasn't happy with his weight last spring - I talked to the vet about it, and she advised that most cases (of FWS) are idiopathic and a cause can't be found, but that she thought he might improve once the spring grass came in. His weight did get better, but the FWS seemed to come and go with no rhyme or reason. And then winter rolled around, and he started to drop weight again. 

Another unrelated photo. 

I happened to be browsing CoTH one day last fall and noticed a thread questioning whether or not FWS could be exacerbated by stemmy hay, which then led me down a rabbit hole about stemmy hay/older horses missing molars/chopping hay. Our brome is quite soft and lovely, but when he picked through the alfalfa (which I was feeding him to help with the weight), he seemed to leave mostly stems. I started poking around to read more about chopped hay, and also browsed the feed aisle at our local Tractor Supply. Chopped hay seems to run about $20-25/bag, and since I am still a state employee in the state leading the nation in lowest pay for state workers (🙃), I started researching whether or not it was feasible to chop my own hay. I already DIY so much! Lol. There are some helpful threads on CoTH, and fellow blogger Stampy+the Brain also wrote about chopping hay for one of her lovely senior citizens :)

Example of the chunks of hay I would regularly pull out of Trigger's stall prior to the chopping.

It seemed to be universally agreed that wood chippers/mulchers worked, but as with anything, I could spend a little, or I could spend A LOT on this experiment. I decided to start small. 

Well, not THAT small, it still cost $100. 

We picked up a small electric chipper/shredder from Harbor Freight (I think it's this one? We had a 25% off coupon so didn't pay full price) to experiment with. I didn't want to throw money at something bigger until I was sure Trigger would eat the hay, as historically he is very suspicious of anything new or different. This was no exception. 

The first night we gave him chopped hay he very intentionally shit in the bucket 🙃
he hasn't done it since, so I know it was intentional, lol. 

Jack and Trigger are in my old foaling stall with a homemade divider (it's janky, I know lol) and Trigger has a penchant for yanking Jack's hay under the divider and making a massive mess with it. Sooooooo DH spent some time putting a stop to that. 

Lots of scrap wood on the farm thankfully lol. 

Eventually Trigger resigned himself to his fate and started eating the chopped hay. Then he started DEVOURING every scrap - yay! Meanwhile, the small chipper we bought was verrrrrrry annoying to use to chop the quantities of hay we needed on a daily basis. It has a very small hole to feed the hay through, and jammed up pretty easily, especially when I tried to chop the finer/softer brome to mix in with the alfalfa. So we started casually looking for something bigger. We had a couple of promising leads on FB marketplace, including one we arranged to buy and 5 minutes away from meeting the guy (AFTER DRIVING AN HOUR) he gave us a lame excuse and completely ghosted us, which was annoying AF. Finally after giving myself tennis elbow and a very sore wrist, I rage bought a SunJoe mulcher off Amazon with a much bigger hole, to see if that improved the time/effort we were spending on chopping hay.

DH was actually really impressed with it when he assembled it, lol. 

It arrived earlier this week, and luckily it seems to be doing the trick! Chopping hay is SOOOOOOO much faster/easier now - instead of spending 30-40 minutes chopping hay for just Trigger, last night I chopped enough for both Trigger and gave some to Jack (since he is also missing plenty of teeth), and also chopped enough extra to fill half a feed bag for tonight's feeding - all in about 15 minutes!

It is dusty, so eye/nose/mouth/hair protection is warranted unless you want to look/sound like you just ran a marathon through a dust storm lol. 

An example of chopping hay with the original shredder

And with the new one - don't worry, now we do it outside to cut down on the dust lol

Chowing down 

So - does it help? Tentatively yes - I am getting more hay into Trigger than I have in YEARS, and I haven't had to drag hot water out ot the barn to wash manure off him since we started chopping the hay. He's still eating off a round bale outside because there is no feasible way for me to feed him the chopped hay outside, but knock on wood, his stall has been WORLD'S easier to clean and the manure looks well formed (and isn't surrounded by sopping wet shavings like it used to be). Still a bit annoying (and messy) to have to chop the hay, but what the king wants, the king gets, lol. 

July 2023 update: the SunJoe suffered a catastrophic failure and stopped working last month. It was still very much under warranty so I reached out to customer service, who were complete and utter assholes. After exchanging about 8 emails over the course of two weeks and providing multiple videos of the unit NOT working properly, they told me they were out of stock and didn't know when they would get more so I'm basically SOL. So. If you go this route, I do NOT recommend buying a SunJoe. We're chopping his hay with a weed eater in the meantime which is significantly more annoying but I know the minute I drop $$$$ on another mulcher SunJoe will finally ship me the one they owe me 🤬