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Archive for September, 2009

An Upsetting Discovery


Well, I arrived today to find Elvis’s leg swollen around the scratches.  There was no heat and he wasn’t lame.  The swelling was definitely related to the new patches of scratches; After removing the scabs yesterday, I must have not cleaned the area well enough and allowed for some infection to develop.

I cleaned his leg, groomed him, and decided to set him up to be evaluated on the lunge.  Fortunately, he truly was sound and perky for work so we had a really nice session.

After working, I cleaned his leg again and applied his meds.  I had called the vet, but hadn’t heard from him.  Considering everything, I felt confident in leaving Elvis.  The swelling did go down with the increased blood flow, but he was still very sensitive in the skin.  Poor guy.

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Lesson Day!


I’m sorry you’ve not heard from me for a number of days, but I was out of town.  Boy, did I miss Elvis!  What with the flooding, closed roads, and travel it’s been over a week since I’ve seen his shining face!

I arrived at the farm early.  I was told that he’d need a good bathing before my noon-time lesson, as the barn owner has been treating him for the rain rot that developed when he was evacuated and exposed to the heavy rains and stressed.  I was so disappointed to find even more lumps of mud fever!  Yes, the original patch was healed but in the span of a day or so between that patch healing and my return four giant patches developed further up his sock.  Gah!

I cleaned him up, did the usual for his scratches, and headed over to the ring for my lesson.  I was nearly late, as well, after discovering that every single piece of my tack was covered in an inch of green mold.  Yuck!

The lesson went so well though, even though I felt as though Elvis wasn’t in top condition.  He looked ribby and a tad under weight.  I was concerned that he’d be distracted or excited with the cold snap we were experiencing, the wind, and the tractors running on the property but he was 100% focused.  Barbara was so impressed with his improvement.  I was floored that he had actually retained his lessons from his work before his forced hiatus.

As usual, the lunging portion of the lesson was the bulk of the time.  We worked him thoroughly in both directions, stopping many times to slowly shorten his side reins as well as drop them down lower.  He worked so well, and so hard!  In fact, he did so well we pushed him a bit.  He was a champ.

Our ridden work was fantastic.  This was my first ridden lesson with Barbara, and in honesty one of my first ridden lessons in 5 years..?  I’ve done a few clinics, but only in a group setting.  I was really pleased to see that Barbara, who is exacting in her standards, didn’t pass out when she saw me go.  That is good sign!

Barbara had us play a few “games” to work on moments of simple contact.  My favorite “game” was giving a tiny squeeze of the inside rein while releasing the outside a bit, just as the inside front foot fell.  It worked with the motion of his body and foot falls to ask him for a true stretch along the outside.  He softened so nicely, and figured out the “game” in no time.

Elvis received tons of praise from both Barbara and I.  She reiterated that he was the sort of horse who would work his hardest for me for just a smile and a pat.  I agree – he puffed up like a peacock every time I’d give him his rein, lean down, and hug him while Barbara would also fawn over him.

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… because he would have melted by now!

Actually, right now the sun is shining, for the first time in over two weeks, and that is not an exaggeration!  There are supposed to be storms coming this afternoon though.  I think the area can handle moderate rain at most, but any deluge or excessive periods of rain will likely start the flooding again.

This morning I planned on going up to see Elvis, but then realized that a ton of the interstates were still closed on the route I take.  Even though the traffic was very light (I’d say 50% of the average volume of traffic is off the road today) I decided that it wasn’t worth risking being stuck on the roads if the traffic bottlenecks onto detours.  I did speak with the BO though, and she’s likely going to keep the horses at the temporary farm until tomorrow.  I guess if rain doesn’t fall later today she will consider moving them back at feed time.

She said that the heavy wooden jumps and poles floated away to other parts of the jump field, and the waters carried away other random things from buckets to halters to dog houses. Tons of trees have fallen as well. I think the water peaked at around two feet, and covered 70% of the farm side of the property.  Other farms on the same road had water going over their four board fences!  I don’t know what the other farms did in regards to the flooding.

Where I live the water is double the height that it should be.  I drove down to look at the Chattahoochee which is only a few blocks away, and it was over the banks and moving fast. Many trees have fallen here as well.  My area has the greatest flooding, and I think a lot of property/cars have suffered damage.  Fortunately my home was untouched.  I’m on very high ground and have great drainage on the property.  In fact, this house is so solid that even in the worst of the rain, I didn’t realize it was truly as bad as it was!  That’s a blessing, for sure.

Sadly, so far 8 people have died and 6 are missing, but those are old numbers (as of 9 this morning) and they seem to be climbing all the time.  One of the deaths was a little boy.  He and his friend swam out into the flood waters to help a person in a stranded car.  One boy was saved, but the other was lost.  What is worse is that the car was actually abandoned already.  Bless their hearts.

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Elvis is wet, but safe!


I just received a call from the BO. Elvis is safe at the nearby farm. However, loading didn’t go as well as hoped for. She decided to try loading him first out of the group of seven horses, but he was nervous. This trailer is not very inviting for a young horse (dark, cramped, small entry way), it was storming terribly, the waters were rising, the other horses were nervous, and she had a non horse helper who was a bit tense. So, she decided to try and load him last, since time was an issue.

The other horses loaded OK, as they have all been on the trailer a million times, but they were a bit hesitant due to the storm. I don’t think they had any issues though.

Anyway, the second time for Elvis was unsuccessful as well. Both times, he would get on, but then back off quickly. He wasn’t getting super upset, but they were at an impasse. Time was running short, and she didn’t have any horse savvy helpers, so she really only had the option to hand walk him left. I’m glad she didn’t try to muscle him on.
So, she had her son stop all traffic and ask them to go slowly until they passed she and Elvis. She said that by the time she left, the water was up to her knees. Despite this, and despite the crazy storm, the cars, the ill fitting halter (his primary halter needs to be replaced, this was just a temporary one that I had for him!), he was a perfect gentleman. He was even a perfect gentleman when the fire house’s ladder truck came down the road at top speed with its lights and sirens blaring! (Later, her son told her that they just went by him, obviously going to an emergency). She walked him up the lane to the farm and put him in a field with his turnout buddies. He was happy to see them, and cantered up, but once there he realized there was great grass underfoot and began chowing down.

I’m so relieved. I wish he had loaded, but it’s understandable why he didn’t considering the circumstances. He’s been on that trailer a few times, but he really is much better with larger trailers (this one is just too cramped for him). I’m so proud of his sensible nature though on the walk down. That could have been disastrous! The BO took all the necessary precautions, but when hard pressed to get the horse out she did the best she could with what options she had, and I’m so thankful for her calm nature under pressure!

Last I heard the water was up to the third board on the four board fencing in the front pastures. The barns are still untouched, but the attached paddocks have rising waters. She thinks the barns will be OK (they were built up on solid foundations), but the horses would have been stranded in little stall-islands if not moved. Now, they have large pastures with lots of grass, so that’s good.

I’m so relieved that things were uneventful (except for the flooding, ha!) and that Elvis and the others are safe!

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I spoke with the barn owner an hour and a half ago, and was relieved to hear that the waters had not seriously overtaken the ditch systems or steeply banked stream.  However, I just received a call that in that space of time, flash floods had been coming through the area.  All of the horses were hastily moved from their paddocks and barns to the front pasture where the only dry land was left.  The BO and her family were going to begin the task of loading the horses in the two horse trailer to move them to a farm up the street.

I know that the rain won’t hurt Elvis, but I’m worried about his loading in the field with the other horses, the rain, the small two horse trailer that he has little experience with, and the rushed handlers.  Stalls and a large pasture will be available to the horses at the temporary farm, but I’m not sure what Elvis’ accommodations will be.  I’m worried about him being in a new field with the other horses, and deciding to run around on the slick hills acting like a fool.. begging to get hurt.

I’m praying that everything goes smoothly.  I wish I were up there, but Atlanta roadways are suffering from the flash flooding and the BO asked me to stay put.

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Sept-18-WeatherAgain, it feels wrong to be so upset by the rain after having had a few years of sever drought.. but I’m only human, and I need the sun to thrive!

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Will the rain EVER stop?


Today was another very wet, and very rainy day.  This weather is getting very tiring.  When it’s not pouring, it’s overcast and hot.  When it’s not overcast and hot, it’s pouring.  As a result, I admit to feeling pretty bummed out about things.  In regard to my horse life, I wish Elvis and I could work together again and I wish his mud fever would heal.

I knew riding would be out of the question today, as would any in hand work.  Even still, I made my trip as usual.  Yesterday I spoke with the vet about Elvis’ mud fever.  After listening to my update, he surmised that I’m going to have to battle mud fever annually with Elvis.  Apparently, he’s very sensitive to it and will be prone to bad outbreaks.  His advice was to continue use of the ointment, but to also scrub the leg daily with betadine, dry it thoroughly, apply the ointment and a wrap, and keep Elvis stalled when it is wet out.  What with the forecast being pretty grim for the next week, that would mean I’d be looking at consistent stalling for Elvis.. not something I was particularly comfortable with.  Also, I just don’t know if wrapping will work with his current situation (remember: he eats wraps).

Regardless, I went ahead and requested that he be stalled last night.  I arrived today to find a very bored horse, who looked at me with pleading hope in his eyes.  I also found a horse who was stocked up!  This surprised me!  After letting him wander his paddock while I cleaned his stall, I haltered him and hand walked him for thirty minutes, occasionally stopping to let him eat some particularly lovely grass.  I would have loved to have lunged for a bit, and almost went to the other side of the property, but sudden and threatening thunder had me thinking twice.  Not long after, the heavens opened up.  We made it back to the barn just in time.

While he munched on his hay, I snuggled both he and the barn kitty (I wish I could take her home with me!) as well as proceeding with the leg care routine.  I ended up leaving him out.  I made the executive decision that it would better to have a horse who was dealing with mud fever (that is holding), than to have a horse who has mud fever and is getting more and more stocked up.  If we were having dry spells, I think he’d be fine with stall time.  There aren’t any upcoming dry spells though, so I’m just going to have to deal with this situation until this low pressure system dissipates.  Since Elvis is obviously prone to mud fever, and I’m likely always experience periods of extremely wet weather, I decided to invest in a pair of Equilibrium Close Contact Equichaps.  I likely wouldn’t have any faith in the product if I didn’t already own Equilibrium Stretch n Flex wraps, which I love.  Let’s hope that they arrive soon, and that they make a difference for Elvis.

We made it to the barn just in time!

We made it to the barn just in time!

..and I wonder why my horse has mud fever?

..and I wonder why my horse has mud fever?

I love this barn kitty, and she seems to enjoy both Elvis and I.

I love this barn kitty, and she seems to enjoy both Elvis and I.

This seems to be as good as Elvis' leg gets, before all of the moisture in the environment starts the process over again.

This seems to be as good as Elvis' leg gets, before all of the moisture in the environment starts the process over again.

This photo truly captures the theme of the day.

This photo truly captures the theme of the day.

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