Monthly Archives: September 2014

What a Mess

Well please bear with me while all of this gets set up, we are going through our learning curves on getting this blog set up. Eventually there will be videos, lots of pics plus other articles about horses. This will be where a person can get their horse fix. But believe me we are much better at riding horses than setting up blogs. The other day we managed to erase 2 weeks worth of posts by accident. However we will be getting there.

Shizanee has pretty much healed from her wound. It will be interesting to see how much of a scar she will have. Unfortunately though, she has lost a bit of weight which is always a problem with her. She got fed more but could not graze with the others so now we need to get her weight back up, especially with winter upon us before one knows it. But the solution for that is one that she have no problem with, lots more feeding! Hopefully in another month she will be looking like her old self.

I have to say with the temperatures dropping down to the 70″s the riding has been fantastic, we are so fortunate to have so many trails to ride, it keeps it fun! Scout is really starting to get back to her “old trail riding self” with us running up hills , walking down them getting her in better shape each day. The rides are where we really have always bonded like I have seldom done with any other horse which is amazing.

The other day there must have been something dead back in one area in the woods as there are more turkey buzzards flying around than I have ever seen in one place before. Now these birds make Scout very nervous. When we first go fairly close to them on the way out she is a skittish, not really crazy about going on farther into the woods. She moves on but I can feel her hesitation. Well the other day we went on out with her not being real happy about this situation, I could feel her saying how about if we go back to come another day. Well when we came back after riding over 3 hours up and down hills all over for several miles with lots of running involved she had a very different attitude towards these buzzards! Obviously she can’t talk, (dang it that would really be fun if she could) but you can feel her attitude. Not a minutes worth of hesitation going past them. You can feel her attitude as you go by them that this is the closest, shortest, fastest way back to the barn so they better stay away from her as she is not about to go any farther than she needs to go to get there. She is not at all hesitant but down right defiant with an attitude showing that perhaps a good bite would be good for their attitude. Besides a snack right about now might be real tasty!

She is great, the ride goes as almost always really well to help continue our great relationship. I have ridden over a couple of hundred of horses but never have I had a relationship with a horse like the one I have with Scout. Now I love all of our horses a lot but there is just something there that is difficult to explain. We have our issues at times though. For a couple of years I let her get in the bad habit of walking off while I was getting up into the saddle, it is pretty easy for me to do it, clients thought it was funny. Kids thought it was cool so even though I know it is a stupid, possibly dumb thing to allow her to do, along with dangerous thing to allow, I permitted it. I would say I have got to put an end to that one of these days but then I would be in a hurry so just never dealt with it. I tell people all of the time not to do this (allow your horse to move as you are mounting) as someone could get hurt, it is really a very foolish thing to do. For reasons unknown to me I decided all of a sudden that this was not going to continue any longer she was going back to a horse who stands perfectly still while I mount her, not budging so much as an inch until I ask her to. Well let me assure you this was nothing that she agreed with at all.

How to stop this is really pretty easy as remember horses don’t want to do more than they have to do ever. So every time I would raise my left foot to put it in the saddle she would try to move, then each time she moved I held her reins in my left hand pulled slightly towards her left shoulder, then I chased her around in a circle until we were both dizzy, then I did the same to the other side, round and round we go, (this is so much fun). Well, not really at all for either of us but the best part is that it is never fun the horse, never. After about 4 or so times of doing this she is now a really great horse to mount, does not move her tail much less her body until I get on her, situated in the saddle, flex her and make her back up a couple of steps. It is really so easy to solve this problem, I have done so many times in the past I was really a little aggravated with myself that I had not taken care of this much sooner. Just a note for all of you out there that has a horse that does this it is truly one of the easier fixes with a horse, is foolish of you to allow plus is very dangerous so please take the time to fix this problem. You will never regret it. Remember to always have them back up a couple of steps as that tells the horse it is not time to take off.

Well that about rounds up everything for today, please check with the blog daily, hopefully there will be more and more interesting things on here. Feel free to make suggestions, comments or share information with me. I am not a tender foot but neither do I know all there is to know either, I crave new knowledge about horses! Give me some!!!

Happy Trails

Cowboy Bob


Why Horses should not be blanketed in the Winter

by Joe
December 11th, 2013
This is the best, all-encompassing science on why horses should not be blanketed or groomed in winter and fed free-choice grass hay 24/7. Well done! Natalija! All documented and referenced at the end.
By: Natalija Aleksandrova
Holistic Horse & Hoof Care
In order for a mammal to survive, internal body temperature is kept within a very narrow range. If the temperature exceeds these limits either above or below, the chemical reactions on the cellular level function improperly. Or they stop functioning at all. Fluctuations outside of the normal temperature range result in health problems or death of the animal. Mature horses maintain their internal body temperature at a range around 38℃. Foals, rapidly growing youngsters, pregnant and lactating mares have a higher norm of their internal body temperature (Hines, 2004). Most horse owners are aware of the damage and crisis inherent with fever states. Few horse owners realize how well adapted horses are to deal with cold when certain aspects of their lifestyle are in place for them.

Over thousands of years, the wild horse has spread over the entire world. Whatever place in the world they live, the horse was exposed to constantly changing temperature — through a day/night rhythm or a seasonal rhythm. Yet even today wild and semi-wild horses, as well as domestic ones, provided with species appropriate living conditions, survive perfectly any conditions Nature exposes them to. Whether it is the north of Europe, or Australian deserts, the horse is exposed to all of Nature’s changing elements — wind, sun, rain, snow, fluctuating temperature, etc. Never in nature seeking such excessive enclosed shelters as man-made stables and barns nor caves, never in nature seeking ways of covering themselves with fabric. The horse has naturally evolved ways of thriving.

Heat in the horse’s body is continuously generated as a by-product of metabolism, and a healthy animal has significant internal sources of heat from the metabolic processes (Bicego at al., 2007). To control internal heat loss during the cold time of year, the horse is provided by Nature with complicated and extremely efficient anatomical, physiological and behavioral thermoregulatory mechanisms. In order that the mechanisms are used in the most efficient way, or at all, the horse requires conditions equaling species appropriate lifestyle environments.
On a genetic level, the domestic horse is the same as its wild counterpart: it has the same abilities and needs to survive. Basically, they do not need anything more from the human than only to provide keeping conditions that this species is supposed to have by dictate of Nature: freedom of movement 24 hours a day, free access to appropriate food 24 hours a day, herd life, proper hoof care, shelter which it can enter and leave freely. Under human care that respects the horse’s natural needs, and provides it doesn’t make this animal a subject for anthropomorphism through stabling, changing eating habits, blanketing, clipping, shoeing, etc., the domestic horse is able to properly use its amazing natural thermoregulatory abilities exactly the same way as the wild horse.

Let’s take a deeper look into how the thermoregulatory mechanisms work in the horse, and how it can be interfered with and damaged through unnatural care and keeping practices.
Coat in an Arabian breed horse on a very cold winter day (around –27˚C/–17˚F, Central Europe.The piloerection mechanism in use — the hair is raised to increase coat insulation.
Cooling down after playing. Icelandic breed horse, Central Europe.
Photo © K. Jarczewski
First what is important to remember, is that due to some thermoregulatory factors such as the skin and coat being very good insulators, which prevent heat loss, and the muscles producing heat through their movements, it is far easier for horses to warm up in cold weather than to cool down in hot weather, or to cool down after intensive exercising. Cooling down is more difficult for the horse. Horses are adapted to handle cold.The horse’s skin is responsible both for protecting the interior of the body from outside temperature changes. As well as for not allowing heat loss in cold weather. Also it needs to be mentioned that the skin is responsible for dissipation of internal heat generated by muscle action to prevent the body from over-heating. The skins’ thermoregulatory mechanisms consist of four major factors, skin, coat, arteries and sweat glands, three of which are responsible for keeping the horse warm in a cold weather:1. The skin itself works as an insulating layer through its relative thickness.2. The coat.The coat insulation depends on the depth and thickness of the hair layer, the wind speed and the temperature and humidity gradients within the coat (Ousey et al., 1992).The coat, in horses, changes twice a year through the mechanism called photoperiodism, adapting to different seasonal base temperatures. Sensors in the horse’s skin react to the daytime light length changes. The horse is ready to grow their winter coat right after the summer solstice, when days start getting shorter. The horse is ready to change their winter coat to a summer one right after the winter solstice, when days start getting longer.In addition to photoperiod, environmental temperature also affects hair growth. Colder climates produce thicker and longer coats in horses than warmer climates do, when comparing horses who have the same body score and are fed the same amount of food.Also coat growth is affected by some other factors, for example, feeding and horse breed which will be explained later in this text.Additionally to growing its coat, the horse can increase the insulation of the coat through the mechanism called piloerection — raising, lowering or turning in different directions the hair in the coat via hair erector muscles. This way the horse increases or decreases the thickness of the insulation layer and efficiently varies the amount of airflow to the skin surface. Piloerection increases coat depth 10% to 30% in mature horses (Young & Coote, 1973). The hair erector muscles must be exercised regularly in order to work properly, as with any other muscle in the body.Hairs of the coat are covered with a greasy substance, which helps the horse not to get wet to the skin on rainy or snowy days. The coat has a water-repelling effect through the hair grease — water runs down the outer hair while the deeper coat remains dry. The longer the coat, the less chance water has to get to the skin.

Through regular coat brushing the greasy substance gets removed, and the water-repelling effect gets impaired.Not advisable either is to clean off the layer of dirt that rolling in mud ensures a horse. The mud has protective effects to the body.Needless to say that the popular practice of clipping the hair of a horse’s coat eliminates, completely, the thermoregulatory factor of the coat.3. Arteries in the skin.Arteries through muscle actions, called vasoconstriction or vasodilation, can be narrowed or enlarged, regulating blood flow to the skin. Constricting prevents internal heat loss by reducing the amount of warm blood brought to the cooler body surface. Dilation allows for a larger amount of hot blood from over-heated interiors to reach the body surface and to be cooled. The cooled blood lowers internal body temperature when it’s returned back to the interior of the body.4. Sweat glands.The horse uses sweat glands to cool down at a time when external or internal temperatures are too hot. When the outside temperature is too high for the air to cool the blood through the skin, the sweat glands secrete fluid. Evaporation of this fluid cools the skin surface and the blood in the surface arteries. In this way, bringing the cooled blood to the internal body, the temperature internally can be lowered even when it is hot outside. The horse stops secreting sweat as soon as the internal body temperature has reached it’s norm. Then it must dry quickly, since otherwise cooling would continue and bring body temperature below normal limits. A sweaty horse turns its coat hairs in various directions in order to avoid under-cooling and given freedom usually seeks a windy spot to effectively fast and safely dry itself. Mentioning the sweat glands mechanism is important because sweat glands are also brought into function through muscle action.

While those are the skins’ four major factors of thermoregulation mechanisms let’s now look into other thermoregulatory mechanisms available to the horse.
Frost on the coat — heat escaped the body.
Water running down the long winter hair, the undercoat staying dry.

The amount of fat in the body is also an important factor of thermoregulation. Since, in addition to being the body’s energy reserve, fat is three times more insulating than other tissues due to its low thermal conductivity and poor blood supply (Guyton, 1991; Davenport, 1992). Thus it is important for a horse to have a good layer of fat before winter. Wild horses and naturally kept domestic horses maintain the natural rhythm of weight change throughout the year with their weight growing up to 20% by the Autumn. Usually we can see that domestic horses with a thicker fat layer in their bodies grow a comparatively shorter winter coat than horses with less fat gain at Autumn, comparing the same breed and the same body score animals. Also fat gets distributed more evenly over the body surface in cold conditions instead of being concentrated in some particular areas as in hot conditions.
Kept in the same conditions, smaller horse breeds have a longer/thicker coat compared to larger breeds. Also we see a typically thicker coat in foals. This is connected to a great effect of allometry, the systematic change in body proportions with increasing body size, on heat balance within animal species. Changes within species occur as animals grow and develop but exist also between breeds of species (Reiss, 1991; Langlois, 1994). Generally, large body size is an advantage with respect to thermoregulation in the cold. Since, the ratio of heat-dissipating surface area to heat-producing/retaining body mass decreases with increasing body size (Phillips & Heath, 1995; Bligh, 1998). Therefore, large size horses have less relative surface area available for heat exchange, and thus importantly lose less heat in the cold than small size horses do. Small horses lose more body heat than large horses do. In addition to large body size, a spherical body shape reduces the surface area to body mass ratio (Langlois, 1994). To compensate for the bigger surface/mass ratio northern-type horses generally have evolved heavier rounder bodies with shorter limbs and extremities which are well protected by thick hair, mane and fetlock, therefore being more able to retain more body heat and cope with cold.
Increasing feed intake increases heat production in the horse’s body. This is connected to the fact that the process of digesting long fibers produces heat as a by-product. It is important that every domestic horse has unrestricted access to hay 24 hours a day. In cold weather having a chance of increasing heat production through continuously consuming and digesting long fiber. Especially when some of the other thermoregulatory mechanisms aren’t yet adjusted in suddenly changing weather conditions such as a rapid drop of temperature.

Such extra demand for feed is called climatic energy demand (MacCormak & Bruce, 1991). Horses have been observed to need about 0.2 to 2.5% more energy for maintenance per 1 degree Celsius drop in outside temperature below their lower critical temperature (Young Coote, 1973; McBride et al., 1985; Cymbaluk et al., 1989a; Cymbaluk, 1990). (Lower critical temperature is individual for every horse/group of horses at different times of year and depends on many other thermoregulatory and environmental factors.)
Importantly, smaller-sized horses have greater lower critical temperature values meaning their heat loss is relatively greater than for larger horses. Thus small-sized horses actually need proportionally more additional feed. To explain further, the greater that the lower critical temperature value is — the more heat loss the animal experiences. Small-sized horse breeds lose more heat than big-sized horse breeds in the same temperature conditions. The lower that the lower critical temperature value is, the greater the heat retention is that the animal experiences. Bigger-sized horse breeds stay warmer in cold weather.
Feral horses have been reported to reduce locomotor activity in winter compared to summer (Duncan, 1980; Berger et al., 1999; Arnold et al., 2006). Reduced activity in winter was an annual pattern related to decreased outside temperature and hence to a reduction in internal heat production and energy expenditure (Arnold et al., 2006). This adaptation mechanism of reducing activity helps wild horses to cope with the energetic challenge of winter. We can observe similar reduction of activity in winter in domestic horses kept naturally. Though the domestic horses aren’t challenged with a necessity to search for food in winter to the same extent as their wild counterparts. This slowing down in their activity obviously has the same purpose as in the wild horses — the reduction of energy expenditure in the cold. Thus, it is a normal seasonal rhythm in the horse to be less exercised in winter due to this cold adaptational thermoregulation mechanism, therefore it is not advisable to forcefully exercise horses in winter.

Along with general reduction of activity in the cold, we have observed in horses, short sessions of restlessness and locomotor activity (movement) during sudden acute cold periods and adverse weather. Short term beneficial movement that is a useful bridge until other factors of their thermoregulatory system adjust to the new temperature conditions.
Sometimes we can observe horses standing or lying down very close to each other, this way they reduce heat loss via radiation. By such positional closeness to each other they reduce the body surface area exposed to the external environment (Bligh, 1998). At the same time animals, who for some reason, don’t produce enough individual internal heat can use, as an extra source of beneficial heat, a paddock mate’s body-heat radiation via positional closeness.
Also by changing body posture and orientation, horses can increase absorbed solar radiation to use as another additional source of heat. Often we can observe that horses prefer to sunbath under the direct sun instead of eating on short sunny winter days, and as soon as the sun sets they are back to eating.
Snow which we can sometimes see lying along horses backs during winter also plays the helpful role of providing an extra protective layer against internal heat loss.

On windy, rainy days, we can see horses standing with their tails to the wind and their heads low. This way they effectively keep their necks, heads, ears and eyes, underbelly and sheaths out of water and wind. Their tails serve to protect their rear ends — the shorter hairs on the dock fan out deflecting both snow and wind. Also on such days, horses can be seen standing in the lee shelter of walls, or using natural windbreaks such as trees or hills to protect themselves from the wind.
When allowed free choice, it’s been observed that horses utilize enclosed spaces, such as shelters or forests, mostly to hide from summer heat and flies.
Under extreme circumstances, heat in the horse body can be generated by shivering. During shivering, heat is rapidly produced by breaking down ATP in the muscles (Langlois, 1994). Shivering is usually an acute response to sudden cold exposure, or sometimes it occurs during extended periods of exposure to cold in rainy weather. In healthy animals, shivering is replaced by normal internal heat production as they adapt to new weather conditions.
A different problem occurs with enclosed spaces when placing a hot sweaty horse into a stable. Due to a lack of air circulating in there, cooling already takes longer and a horse sweats for longer. The air surrounding the horse becomes saturated and drying also takes longer than normal, because the humid air cannot absorb any more moisture. As a result, the horse remains undercooled, again setting the stage for internal disorder: colic, diseases and infections by negatively affecting metabolism’s safe temperature margins.
Blanketing moreover can set the thermoregulation in a horse to a complete mess. The animal tries to warm up parts of the body left exposed to the cold such as head, neck, belly and legs, in the process they become over-heated in those parts covered by the blanket. A horse cannot increase heat in selected area’s of the body. The whole body cools or the whole body heats up. Sweating under a blanket is more of a problem metabolically to the horse than people realise.

Kept in stables or/and blanketed, horses lack stimuli (temperature fluctuations) triggering the activity of thermoregulatory mechanisms. They don’t need to exercise hair erector muscles, nor to dilate or constrict arteries, nor to activate the sweat glands, nor to prepare or deplete healthy fat reserves. All muscles atrophy without exercising for a period of time. If an animal in this state is suddenly exposed to the cold, they will not be able to activate necessary thermoregulatory mechanisms. As a result the internal body temperature could drop too low, that would lead to disruptions in metabolic processes. This can affect, for example, the production and migration rate of white blood cells and antibodies, with partial disabling of them. The result is a stressed animal with a disease or infection hosting internal environment. The germ is nothing, the terrain is all (Louis Pasteur). Consequentially germs or viruses in the body get a perfect opportunity to over breed.
Besides the fact that the natural thermoregulatory mechanisms can only be fully utilized when a horse is kept in their species-appropriate living conditions, there is an anxiety and stress factor that horses inevitably experience when cut off from their basic needs and kept in ways unnatural for this species (stabling, separating from equine companions, forced exercising, lack of continuous fiber uptake, etc.). This stress also makes them less capable of coping with cold.
To review all resources and references for this article click this link to it’s original source and scroll down:

Now… one last thing Natalija did not mention. If your horse has been clipped thus eliminating his ability to use his natural built-in devices and grow his winter coat, or if your horse has been blanketed since Fall so his natural devices have not developed, his winter coat has not grown, either start slowly and with good judgement or wait until next year, depending upon where you are and what your climate is. Then next year no clipping, no blankets, and let him develop his winter devices naturally.
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Beginning to Learn about Cisco

Sept. 15, 2014

Let me start this off by explaining that not too long ago I got my wife Kori a new horse, a Fjord named Cisco , 9 yrs. old a beautiful silver bay horse, 13.2 hands great horse. This guy is registered, a very uncommon color , great little athlete who is much better suited for her since as I have mentioned she is really a tall midget at 5′,1″. We were assured that he was a great horse, ridden frequently, quite the leader, loves to explore new territory, was a great trail horse. Well maybe that horse was but somebody switched horses as this guy is chicken, scared of his own shadow, stubborn beyond belief.

So just like with any other horse, the round pen is where everything starts. Just like all of our horses, this little fellow will not be any different. After a couple of weeks of exercises in the round pen it was time for Kori to get on his back to see how he would be. Not so great but then not so bad either, he was a pretty good student not always getting everything right but usually trying to please. Wow this guy is going to be a great addition to our herd. I was foolishly hurting my shoulder congratulating myself by patting my back for being such a fine judge of horse talent. Well you know how that frequently turns out, seems like it isn’t always as it first appears. Ever hear the phrase about fool’s gold, well we were about to go on an adventure here, we just were not aware.

Kori spent over a week riding Cisco all around the pen, all over the front pasture, side pasture with no problems to speak of at all. Wow this is looking really good! Myself I would have just ridden him off onto some trails right away but I am a much more experienced rider than Kori so she wanted to take a lot more time to make sure it would be a good experience. Myself I thought he was easily ready to get out there. I am a firm believer in long trail rides with wet saddle blankets to see just what type of horse you have. But Kori wanted to take more time to insure it would be a good experience. Good idea, whatever makes you comfortable.

Finally she announces we are ready to head out to the trails with you and Scout, my horse who is fantastic in all ways (me prejudiced?, no way) so off we go to the great outdoors on fantastic trails for a great ride. Well, not really! Cisco was a little balky at first but not very bad at all but he was setting us both up. After about 30-40 yards into the forest he decides this is not something he cares to do at all, in fact he is absolutely refusing to budge an inch backing up into bushes, small trees whatever to assure that he does not have to go one step forward anymore. Now Kori really does do most of the right things to try to encourage him to move forward which is a total nightmare, the more she asks, the more stubborn he is becoming. The situation is fast getting out of control. He refuses to take a single step forward while backing up constantly. This is not a good thing at all! Kori stop trying to ride him, get down right now this seems to be escalating to a possible bad ending with your level of horsemanship right now. Protecting yourself from falling is more important than getting hurt.

She agrees saying she just wants to go back to the barn while I just go on with Scout. So she has to walk back with this horse who is now at the very top of her list, I believe you know what list. When I get back from a long ride with Scout I am surprised to see she is still outside talking with the other horses. Have a nice ride? She asks. Yeah it was great, she was fantastic how was your walk with your horse I tease her. Okay now, since some kids will read this I won’t say what she replied. Let’s just say it wasn’t very polite at all. So now I tease her that instead of trying to be a dog walker she might get some clients as a horse walker, she is not the least bit amused!

Well what did you two do after you got back I asked? Well I put the little ####### back in the round pen so I could run his butt off. It may not have been a total success as he still has a butt, however I can assure you he was danged tired when I finally let him stop. There can be no doubt in his mind that I am so mad at him.
So what that means around here is tomorrow Cisco and I will begin lessons together on trail riding. To be totally honest I really didn’t think this would be much of a problem at all. Well let me assure you that would turn out to be totally different than I had thought it would be.

The next morning I have a few chores to take care of before it is time to ride Cisco. You have to remember I am still not at all sure why this should be any big deal at all. Surely it must have something that Kori got wrong that will be easy to correct.
I go bring him out, no problem saddling him, putting on his bridle everything is just peachy. Now it is time to get on him, which can be interesting to say the least. I have ridden him a few times around in the pasture but this time will be different and I believe he senses that for sure. Okay no problem time to get all situated, no worries here at all. Now it is time to ride only he isn’t going along with this picture at all. He is absolutely refusing to budge any, not a single step. Mostly standing perfectly still waiting for me to give up and get down off of him. No way Cisco that is not one of your options! After urging him to move he takes a couple of steps only to immediately stop, once again refusing to take a single step. Well now is where I tell you we use Mecate reins which gives us a long rein with a tasseled end on it, known as a spanker. It is just some leather about an inch or so long which when applied against his neck or rear end is supposed to resemble a spanking. Remember it is very light, hurts the horse not at all but hopefully pesters the you know what out of him, a real aggravation like a pesky fly that won’t go away. Does the meaning butt stubborn have any meaning to you? He is not even the least bit amused, tensing up positive that this will eventually go away as there is no way he figures I will keep this up. Yeah well guess what fellow your life is about to take a really big change, you will be moving, like it or not. You have no idea about what stubborn is compared to me with a horse acting like you. So off we go at this amazing clip of 2 or 3 steps, Cisco stops, I spank, he moves 2 or 3 steps, wow this is fantastic riding just what I dreamed of when I got you. You know Cisco this is not going to be a very good day for either of us like this! So off we go walk, stop, walk, stop all the way out the gate, oh boy is this fun or what?

You have to understand it is about a 150 yard ride along our property to the National Forest to a great abundance of trails with soft loamy soil that go on for miles and miles. It is what I love the most about this place! Even going really slow it usually only takes about 2-3 minutes to get there. Another factor one has to allow for is this is forest type land with trees, bushes, oh yeah barbed wire fencing here, nothing anyone wants to fall on. Do things get any better? Not a chance we are now engaged fully into a battle of who is about to give up first. He tries his best to scrape me off by trying to get into the trees, into tall brush, oh this is so much fun. He tries to go into a very large brush, I pull his rein with my right hand until his nose touches his right shoulder so now he can’t go forward, only in a circle but I control this fellow whether he likes it or not. Okay now we have another element in the mix, he goes forward 4or 5 steps now, tries to back up. Whatever you would like to do my little demon horse! If you would like we can back up for miles, I have a very good seat. I am telling you this is a very stubborn horse, one who in the old days someone would have hit him hard, abusing him into submission. Even though I am very staunchly against that lots of bad thoughts are running through my head about now. We continue this stupid game for about 45 minutes inching our way to the forest trail. Several times I had thoughts like it would be easy to sell this guy as he is beautiful, he would make several payments on the ranch. Now that is something I would never actually do but the thought is comforting in my mind at the moment.
Finally we reach the forest trails so now he will just settle down to behave like a great horse right? If you think that I feel sorry for anyone too foolish for words, but the steps are getting to be more of them, taking less time than before to get him to move. Oh he is an unhappy horse about all of this for sure but not as determined as he was 100 yards ago, although it has taken almost 45 minutes to travel a whole distance of maybe ½ mile. Right now I am still thinking thoughts like “I believe they still make horse hide glue”, however he is just beginning to think that maybe this might not be so bad. Besides it must be better than all of this constant struggle, this human evidently is really hard to train plus really stubborn. Then a great thing happened he started moving along like a horse, a real horse! We rode for about two hours with very little trouble at all, we trotted, we ran, we walked along just like it is supposed to be. Life riding this guy isn’t so bad after all.
So now we head on back to our next big revelation which has not happened to me very many times at all, he insists on trying to go the wrong way back. That almost never happens! When I ride my horse Scout, I could fall asleep and she would take us straight home with no stops nor any problem at all. Now here is the very best part of this, my wife, Kori is also direction-ally challenged. Neither one of them has a chance if they ever get turned around on a trail out here in this forest. The rest of the ride back was very uneventful as he was a very good horse, a little spooky over almost anything as this guy is scared of dang near anything from birds, to squirrels chipmunks running along, dang near anything.

He is really a good horse, not nearly as easy to ride just yet but this way a very big step as we walked in without any more instances of bad behavior. Kori is waiting for me wanting to know how it went? Terrible for a long time but it got a lot better, with a lot of work he will be a fine horse but he and I will have to do quite a few rides before I want you to try to take him out.

Shizanee’s injury

Friday early afternoon we had a terrible emergency here at the ranch. I was busy working on some tack when my wife Kori said Bob Shizanee has a cut on her you better look at. Now let me explain a few things, one Shizanee is a paint horse we rescued from a stable having financial problems outside of Denver Colorado where we used to live. She is my wife’s favorite horse of all time. This horse was so underweight when we got her it would break your heart to look at her, virtually a walking skeleton of bones with little horseflesh.
So since she is her favorite horse in the entire world every time she gets a scratch to hear Kori tell it, it’s a great giant emergency. So I hear Bob you better really get over here so I mosey over fully expecting to see a wound that probably does not qualify to be called a real wound. No big deal at all!! Well folks things changed the minute I stepped into the corral, this was a giant gash the type I have never seen on a horse before in my life. This is no minor thing at all!!! This horse has a gash under her head on her neck about 14″ long across her neck, 5 or 6″ wide and about 2-3″ deep. I was shocked she was still standing and not on the ground dying, it was too stunning to fully put into words. You could see down into her chest part way, she her windpipe fully exposed, tendons running up and down her neck. Not being an EMT I had never seen such an injury and the thought that she might survive did not enter my mind at all. But not much blood so maybe, just maybe there is a chance I think. So I yell at Kori to quick get a clean cloth and soak it in cold water while I try to calm her although she really was in shock. A vet, we need a vet so I call a large animal vet not too far away, only an answering machine, no one there. So each of us calls different ones but no one is available, one is sick, others at the only rodeo we have in Klamath Falls each year so we are on our own. So time to cowboy up, Kori who has a really special relationship with Shizanee is going to stay with her, holding this cold wet cloth on the wound while I am going to race to town, trying to get a vet while driving . Okay now anyone from the Oregon Police force don’t read this part, I am dialing people like it is going out of style, bottom line, and we are on our own. I race into our favorite store Big R a place where we spend way too much money on our horses to get lots of medical supplies.
Of course I am thinking why did we get so low on them, I can tell you why it’s been over 2 yrs. since a health problem so why would we be prepared for problems? Everyone reading this make a note this is a very stupid idea!!! So I frantically grab up gauze, Vetericyn my favorite wound and skin care, vet tape not as much as I expect to need but enough to get by for now as unfortunately I can see no way Shizanee is going to live. Those words cannot be spoken out loud as Kori will have a fit.
Now it’s off to the grocery store to get canning salt, and distilled water to make up a Saline solution which I really like for cuts. Now it’s off to the ranch, about 30 miles away and I promise I didn’t speed, not me no sir. That’s my story and I am sticking with it.
When I get back amazingly she is still standing, her eyes are glazed but she is hanging in there. Now it is time for Cowboy Bob to perform magic of some type of miracle, great just great. All I can think of is I hope I am never needing medical help from me, poor horse.
So Kori races in to make up the Saline solution and I am starting to really look at this gash, wow what a nightmare. So I try to start washing it out with water from out well which is great water and really cold, she isn’t nuts about it but reasons I can’t understand she is allowing it. After a little while Kori comes out with the saline and we start really pouring it in to flush out anything bad in there. Shizanee is fantastic just standing as still as she can stand while I do this. Now it is time to put in lots of Vetericyn in it,, then wrap it all the way around her neck several times, then applying vet tape to it. Then on top of that we apply the elastic tape to hold everything in place. Wow what a strange bandage this looks like! Now will it hold? Good question, I have no answer for it just hope.
Now some people say why didn’t you stitch it, I do know how but it is a puncture wound which would require drainage tubes plus where it was did not seem likely stitches would even hold.
Now time will tell Creator will have the say here now all we can do is offer prayers.
Now my mission is to keep it clean every few hours, rewashing it, new bandages more medication everything all night long. But the next morning she is still standing, not looking really good but still standing. Now it’s time to pull off the next miracle and that is to get antibiotics to give her a shot with as I believed we stand a chance if infections is controlled since she is no longer bleeding and while it looks beyond horrible it really doesn’t seem life threatening. But infection could be a real problem, one I don’t care to deal with.
Back to the phones to try to get a vet, no luck anywhere so Kori calls our dog’s vet knowing they probably can’t help but we are desperate. Upon hearing our story the vet said sorry but no can do, but being butt stubborn we keep on until she relents and agrees to call a large animal vet in another town to see how much to give to a horse. Yahoo finally some luck, until we hear the price but that is not a consideration if I want Kori to ever speak to me again, actually I totally agree also. So we call her daughter who lives in town, she’s happy to go pick it up and bring it out saving time. The vet was great there was everything we would need for now and enough medicine for another accident just in case. The medicine arrives, I give it to her and now I feel we have done all we can do, the next 48 hours should tell us what is going to happen. Our routine is to clean it out, more saline, more Vetericyn, more bandages we now have it down to a system that works really well for us. We are now on day three and she is acting frisky, I can no longer see down her chest the gash is still big but not as big and she is starting to feel frisky and is tired of being without the herd. Oh yeah Saturday I threw in a tetanus shot for good measure.
This morning when we went to change the dressings the cut was full of maggots which caused Kori to just about puke. But that isn’t all bad it means they are eating all of the dead flesh, that wasn’t very helpful to Kori at all. But a good cleaning and they are now gone, gone, gone.
I guess really anything could happen still but we are feeling like with the gash staying clean, constant cleaning, and some signs of healing just maybe with the help of lots of prayers from our Facebook friends she is going to be okay. She is already acting like she feels great, just probably wouldn’t want to see it.
Now Kori’s story is part of the important healing process I forgot is she sings “Tulles was a baby rabbit”, a John Denver song to her all of the time which she says is very important to Shizanee’s healing as she loves it because it gets her through the heat of the afternoon each and every day.
Happy Trails
Cowboy Bob