Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Training of a Trail Horse - Skeeter

Well, we have had a few successful outings with GunDiva's horse, Skeeter.  We had to forego training for a bit while we took out the rides for Blue Sky (Bucky rides), so she got a bit of a rest.  Not sure she wanted the rest, as she was always the first to the fence when we entered with a halter.  Such a good sign.

Bill, Autobot and I had finally found time to try a short ride in the forest - Skeeter's first time 'out of town'.  Autobot led out on Washoe, I followed on Ranger and Bill brought up the rear on Skeeter, so she was among friends and could watch how the "old pros" handled all the trail type obstacles.  Skeeter can tend to get stuck sometimes.  When she sees something that is new to her, she just stops and stares - then it is like she has forgotten how to move her feet - so it was a slow beginning.  She does eventually remember that she should be moving.  We hadn't planned on going very far; just enough to see how she would respond to all the new stimuli.

Of course, Ranger and I had to add our share of suspense.  On the first downhill, Ranger's knees gave out and down we went.  Occasionally that would happen with Bill, but Ranger would catch himself and pop back up.  This time (maybe because of the downward slope) we went all the way down, with him rolling to the right and pinning my leg.  He was able to right himself, so I checked him out and climbed back on.  Of course, there was this huge new bruise inside my right knee.  Poor boy seemed so embarrassed.  Skeeter?  Just stood there and watched; no spook in her.

Not too much farther it was becoming apparent that she was working too hard at staying calm, so we turned around and headed back home.  She did a great job.
* * * * * * * * * *
A few days later, GunDiva came up and took her for her first official trail ride, completing what we call the 'short one-hour ride'.

 Again, a few stuck places, a few places of not staying on the trail, but overall a very successful, complete ride.

 She is handling some tough trail elements and learning to wear her boots.

She handled the switchback well and finished the circuit.
* * * * * * * *
Today, Autobot climbed aboard Skeeter and I rode Washoe.


The goal was again to complete the short one-hour ride.  Many parts of it were much smoother and we found a couple new 'sticking places', but not the small creek crossing.
video

She is going to be a super trail horse.

Bionic Cowgirl


Friday, July 14, 2017

Bucky

On Tuesday, May 30th 2017, I got a phone call I had been dreading.

I have been working on this post for months now.  It's not easy.

When Juanita and I moved up to Allenspark to run the lodge in December of 1997, one of our goals was to own horses.  The Allenspark Lodge is right across the street from what was billed as Colorado's oldest, continuously run riding livery.  (It opened in the late 1800's renting burro's for rides in the mountains.) We hoped that would help us learn about horses and gain some experience with horses before buying our own.  The first year the livery was run by Chris, and we learned some good stuff about horses.

On the second year, Bucky took over managing  the livery.

Now Bucky was a unforgettable character.  If you spent much more that 10 minutes with him, you would remember.  Up-front.  Outgoing.  Funny.  All "old west cowboy".  He could tell you a story that you knew could not possibly be true, and then bring in a witness to verify the story as true.  I know, because sometimes, I was the witness and had done that $#!T with him.

He became an integral part of our lives and our family.  Our kids and our grand kids all had favorite Bucky stories.

Miles Buckley,"Bucky" to his friends (and everyone else) was born a little over 65 years ago in Maine.  His parents were not poor, and I believe they expected great things from their son.  Doctor, lawyer, politician.  Something along those lines.  But from the time he was a small child, he wanted to be a cowboy.

And he never outgrew the desire.

When we met he had a small acreage outside Nogales Arizona.  He lived there with wife number 4, and he was coming up alone to Colorado during the summer to escape the heat, and probably his wife.  The first year he came up here he ran the Wild Basin Lodge Livery.  (Juanita and I ran that one for about 30 years one summer a few years back.)  The next year he ran the livery across the street from us in Allenspark.  We developed an unexpectedly close friendship.  That may have had something to do with the fact I had a liquor license and sold beer...

The next summer, Bucky tipped his hat goodbye to 'ol number 4 and rode up to Colorado on horseback.  He had one saddle horse, and one untrained 2 year old Mexican mustang that he broke to ride on the trail.  He rode from right at the Mexican border to the middle of Colorado in 9 weeks.  No support team, no cell phone, no GPS (I'm not sure the army was allowing civilian use of the satellite system yet), just him and his horses and a compass.  He had lost about 20 pounds by the time he got here in April.  He made me take him into town to buy some tennis shoes.  "I'm DONE with these boots." he said.

Over the following years we gave each other support or grief, depending on the circumstances.  We knew each others strengths and weaknesses and would respond accordingly.  I knew he was afraid of electricity, so if I saw him working on an outlet or switch, I would sneak up behind him and CLAP loudly by his ear.  He'd jump out of his skin, and I'd laugh.  But then, he knew I was afraid of heights so when I was challenging myself and looking off a cliff during a rest stop one ride, he snuck up behind me and grabbed my shoulders.  I got to ride home in soiled underwear.  Jerk.

Bucky introduced Juanita and I to our first horses.  He had a friend at a livery in Estes Park that wanted to unload sell a couple mustangs that he had not had much time or success in working with.  Bucky gave us a lot of advice on how to work with the animals, and some of it was good.  Some of it... well we still have Ranger Mustang, and he came out okay.  They didn't get along too well.  Every time Bucky would see Ranger Mustang, he would tell me "As soon as that 'sum bitch dies, you let me know.  I'll climb on and ride him then, but not before."

Bill, Juanita--------Bucky, 'Ol Number 5


When asked about the wife he left behind, Bucky would say "Wives are like fence-posts.  You just go on a little further, and you'll find another."  Well, Number 5 found him.  Andrea stayed married to him longer than all of the others combined, I think.  Which was something of a surprise.  One time he came over for a beer (or 3) and when Juanita asked how Andrea was doing.  He suddenly leapt up shouting "Oh no!" and ran out the door.  Turns out that as Andrea had dislocated a knee-cap in a horse related accident, she needed help getting into and out of the shower.  He forgot her.  For an hour or more.  The hot water had run out LONG before he remembered her.  Sitting on a short shower stool and not QUITE being able to turn the water off.

A number of my blogs featured Bucky, sometimes under an alias such as "Cowboy" or "Ham".
Vacation, Another vacation, Work related.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Early last January when Juanita and I went to pick up Alloy the mustang from the San Diego area, we stopped at Bucky and Andreas' ranch in southern Arizona both going out and coming back.  It was a nice, if short, couple of couple day visits.

Then, about a month and a half later we got a call from Andrea.  Bucky had gone into the doctors' office complaining of shortness of breath and thought he might have pneumonia.

Turns out he had cancer.

In his lungs, his liver, his stomach, his bones, all stage 4.

Shit.

The VA hospital made a good faith effort, but there wasn't much that could be done, really.

Bucky had a group of riders scheduled to ride in Monument Valley in northern Arizona/southern Utah from mid to late April, but he was in no shape to take the rides out.  So I filled in for him.  I stopped by his place and visited with Andrea and Bucky before picking up their horses and heading up north for a couple of weeks.  He did not look good.  He had lost probably 30 pounds in the 2 months since I had seen him.  Two weeks later when I brought the horses back, he was completely bed ridden and home bound.

On May 30th, I got that phone call from Andrea.  Bucky had passed away.

They had a ride scheduled in Colorado for July, so Andrea brought up the horses, and Juanita and I took out the rides.

Yesterday, after the guests had gone, Andrea and I took our horses up into the mountains just out of town and sat on a hill top and toasted Bucky with some good, aged, single malt scotch.

"Thanks for the time you spent with us, Bucky.  You will be missed."

Ranger had carried his ashes up with us in his saddle bags.

I got him to ride Ranger after all.

Bill

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I Love a Parade

B-  Hey Ranger!  You've lived here in Allenspark for 18 or so years and you've never been in the 4th of July parade.  You're about 30 years old now and there won't necessarily be many more chances for you. It will be fun!  Let's do this!

R-  Okay Beel.

B-  So let's clean you up a bit and put some tinsel on your breast collar...

R-  No Beel.

B-  Come on, buddy.  It's purdy!

R-  No Beel.  Ten-sell is very scary.

B-  Okay then.  No tinsel.

B-  All righty then, let's hit the road!   We'll just follow our truck and ride next to Washoe...

R-  Beel there is a monster on the back of the stinky truck.  I must not go there.


B-  Ranger, it's a banner.  It will not hurt you.  Just touch it.

R-  Okay Beel.  Oh.  It isn't very scary Beel.  You should not worry about it.

B-  Right.  So far so good.  Okay, it sounds like the parade is starting.  We seem to be DEAD LAST .  That's probably just as well.  Nothing will be chasing us.

B-  Okay, here we go!  Hey look!  We are just behind a truck with a killer sound system and some HUGE speakers!  They've turned it on just as we're rounding the corner in front of the post office and...

R-  NO NO NO NO NONONONONO

B-  CHEESE AND CRUST, RANGER!  It's just a bunch of people and kids!  And a little loud music...

R-  NO NO NO NO NO NO NONONONO

B-  OKAY OKAY I'll GET OFF AND LEAD YOU.

B-  Jeeze.  It may be about 500 people, but most of them are just kids holding plastic bags to catch candy with.  And a few pinwheels, flags, crazy hats and costumes and stuff.

R-  Say Beel.  These are just many many peoples!  You do not need to be afraid!

B-  Great.  Can I climb back on now?

R-  Okay Beel.

B-  Wonderful.  I just got a standing ovation for climbing back on my horse.  Thanks for embarrassing me in front of the crowds of strangers and neighbors, buddy.

B-  Okay, we've finished with the biggest part of the town and crowds.  Let's call it a win and go home.

R-  Okay Beel.

R-  Beel?

B-  Yeah buddy?

R-  How about no more parararades any more.

B-  Sounds good my friend.  You're  old enough to make that choice.  But at least it's off your bucket list.  That's a list of things you want to do before you die.

R-  I do not want any thing to do that will make me think I am going to die Beel.  Please empty the bucket.

B-  Okay buddy. But wouldn't it be fun to-

R-  NO NO NO NO

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Bad Thing Almost

This is Ranger.  The horse.

On the day before this day we the whole herd almost starved to death.

Many days ago more horses moved into my herd.  We barely had enough food before the new horses comed.  Then the new horses started to eat here.  We barely had enough food still.  We would run out of food just after the sun wented up and the peoples would bring more food before we died much.  I was not happy but it was okay.

On the day before this day the food was gone away before the sun EVEN WENTED AWAY!  We would have gotted dead.  I think the new horses eated too much of the food.

It was a good thing I knowed what I needed to do.

I yelled and yelled and yelled.  A people from the next door people barn commed over and gived me some grass so I stopped yelling while I chewed.  But I runned out of grass so I yelled and yelled and yelled.

Beel finally wented over to find out why I yelled.  I showed him the no food in the food places.

It taked a long time for Beel to understand and I had to show him a lot.  But he finally understanded.  Beel broughted more foods for all of us the horses to eat.

It is very hard to train peoples.  It is even more harder to train the doe-mestic peoples.   You have to be slow and con-sistant . 

I think they are not too smart.



Ranger.  The horse.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Skeeter's Fine Day

Bill and I set out with this plan of getting my horse Washoe 'legged up' for some upcoming tough rides.  We borrowed GunDiva's horse Skeeter, to be a companion horse on longer rides.  Neither Bill nor I ride alone in the national forest or park; not a good idea for a horse to come back sans rider and not be able to go find the missing party because you have people at the lodge, so our granddaughter, Autobot, serves as an extra rider.

In our last post, we had picked up the horse and transported her to our guest pen - which she now claims as her own.  The following day served as a day off for the horses so we could get the weekly 'town chores' done.

This brings us to Thursday and the plan was to just pony Skeeter around town so she could get used to the sights and sounds of mountain living.  We saddled up Ranger and Washoe and discovered Skeeter does NOT like standing patiently at the hitchrail when different stuff is happening, i.e., noisy trucks going by, bicycles, crazy people making strange noises, etc.  Welcome to our life, Skeeter.  She tried her hand (hooves) at taking down the rail, with no success.  Finally decided to just watch and check-it out.  Good horse.  Then we got hit with large raindrops which quickly turned to hail.

We waited out the storm and when everyone was calm, we took her lead rope and started out.  Hmmm.  Ponying is not a natural thing for this horse.  She had her own ideas of where she wanted to go and it certainly did NOT include being next to another horse.  We learned many things about ponying that day - long, slippery lead ropes are not the way to go.  The first time she yanked it out of Bill's hand before he could get a dally done; but to her favor, she didn't run off, just stopped to look at whatever took her interest.  OK, next time he was prepared and got her dallied but she almost pulled poor Ranger over.  He's just a little boy compared to her, so I took the rope as Washoe could compete with her size.  I got it dallied in time, but Washoe did not approve of her behavior and gave her a major stinkeye, which she did not even notice.

Rethinking this whole plan, we decided to back up to Skeeter's comfort level.  We dismounted and I walked the saddled horses back home - all of two blocks - then Bill led Skeeter around a couple blocks on foot.  She got a few nasty reprimands about who was to do the leading, but came back doing pretty well.

Friday,  I led Skeeter for a much longer walk through and about town, with a handy boundary stick and by the time we got back, she had figured out it was best to stay in the proper position. Then I hopped on Washoe and we walked and trotted the Ski Road loop just to loosen up.  I had planned on two times around, but that didn't pan out either.  By this time it was late evening and I was riding in a halter and short lead rope, so when Washoe was not in favor of another trip, we came home.

Saturday,  Autobot and I led Skeeter on a longer and different route through town; she only needed a couple pops on the lead rope as a reminder.  Much improved!  I sent Autobot out on Washoe for an hour and half ride - I thought.  They were back in minutes. "What's the matter?"  A:  "He won't go."  Me:  "You have long leather reins; insist."  A:  "I did but he only backs up."  Well....I think that Washoe has decided (in his teeny middle-aged brain) that if I didn't go, he didn't have to go.  I start walking down the road and sure enough, he follows along like a puppy on a string.  It's a nice day and he needs to learn to trust Autobot, as she will be riding him a lot this summer, so I just keep walking toward the Allenspark trail head.  Autobot rides part of the way, and leads him part of the way.  When we get to the trail head, I tell her to just keep leading him up the trail until she can find a place to mount him easily.  This time he followed her nicely and I sat at the trail head and waited for some hikers to get there.  Once mounted, Autobot rode back to us very nicely, then right on past.  She and Washoe came the 1.6 miles home on their own. (I can't blame my horse for this.  I am constantly putting some non-rider on him and walking them around town.  He just follows me and listens to voice commands, so it's not his fault.)

Sunday, we had thought we would try ponying Skeeter again, then decided maybe it would be easier for her to be ridden, since that was not 'new' to her.  Bill opted to be the trial monkey, so Washoe and Skeeter got saddled.  I had planned on going, but we had people we needed to wait for at the lodge, so I was to stay behind.

Bill took Skeeter to the small pen across the street to mount the first time.
video
She's not used to being mounted from the ground, so it took a bit of persuasion.
We had a 'new bit to Skeeter' on her and wanted to see how she would respond; bits are not her favorite thing.  She took to it like a fish to water and walked around the pen on a soft rein.  So time to try going down the road.

Washoe was in the lead but that didn't last long.  Again, he said, "wrong person on me" and came home.  OK, fine.  I threw a back-soon sign on the door, grabbed Ranger out of the pen and hopped on bareback.

We took the lead with Skeeter next and Washoe behind.  We needed to keep Skeeter slowed down.  Again, she took to the ride like an old pro, mostly just looking around.

We had cars passing us on both sides, dogs barking from cars, even a runner with earphones on who would not slow down or even acknowledge us as he ran up from behind.  Skeeter only had one instance of belligerence; when one of the cars came up on us from behind and Bill asked her to move over to the side of the road, she didn't want to give up her spot.  That driver was nice and stopped to wait until Bill turned her around to see the car and she moved over.  Otherwise, she did really well paying attention to rein cues as well as she knew how.  She is young and only has a very few hours of ride time, and has never been out on dirt roads like these before, so we couldn't have asked for more.

We finally let her take the lead and she slowed down on her own and led out very nicely. It was fun watching her want to smell the different trees and watch everything - all so different to her.
video
As we came around the final corner, there were llamas in the corral across the road.  I had noticed her staring at some earlier in the day, so I told Bill to watch her.  As they came around the front of a parked pickup, she saw the llamas, stared for a good two seconds, let out little snort and turned away to look at our old tractor in our own yard.  This horse is not a spook!  It was a very good day with Skeeter.
Bionic Cowgirl

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The New Foster Kid

Only this one has four legs.

Me:  "Hey, kid. How about loaning me one of your horses for awhile - like maybe a month?"

GunDiva:  "What?"

Me:  "I just realized I only have a couple weeks to get Washoe legged up for some long rides coming up, really soon.  Ranger has a one hour limit on our trails, so I really, really need a horse that can go out for 3 - 4 hours at a time.  Loan me Skeeter.  Please."

GD:  "Well, she does need a lot more wet saddle blankets and I am booked up with the Greeley Stampede for the next two weeks.  When can you get her?"

This conversation was a couple days ago.  Today, we picked up granddaughter Autobot and went to collect a horse.
video
All three of us walked into the pen with a halter.  We got met by three horses.  Pearl was closest so I just put my arms around her neck and Autobot slid the halter on while Bill reached for Skeeter.

Oops.  Not happenin' pal!  And off the other two went.  We were not the right people to be holding their halters and they were taking exception to that.  They spent a whole lot of energy running around the pen/track; we spent the time standing in the middle, shuffling our feet a bit every now and then.  They did eventually give it up.  In 92 degree hot sun, you can get really tired.

And the others?  Well, Pearl got to graze on the grass outside the pen.

And since it was that hot, I didn't want to leave Washoe in the trailer. (We had brought him with us to keep Skeeter company for the ride back up the mountain - a new experience for her.)
OK, so maybe getting caught has its benefits.  The trailer loading went pretty well; only a couple of mis-attempts, but with Washoe standing in the front stall, a large open window with ... wait ... do I see Grandma cookies poking in that window?  A flop of the flag as a reminder and in Skeeter went.
Where are we?  This is all new.

Skeeter will be in the smaller 'visitor pen' for now.  She knows all our horses except Alloy, who she met through the fence with no dramatics at all.  She unloaded better than I have ever seen her do, so I think having Washoe as a traveling ambassador worked well.  She was calm and quiet, and waited for the backup command before trying to step off the trailer.
She now has her own water tank ... which she promptly ignored.

... and her own feed bin, complete with slow feed hay bag.
... and of course, Jesse had to come visit.
video
After leaving them alone for an hour or so, Bill took a book and chair out to keep them company, but apparently Alloy is not used to that yet.  I guess only a couple pages got read, as Al kept poking and prodding at him for attention.

Stay posted.
Bionic Cowgirl

Monday, June 19, 2017

What Was Old Is New

Juanita and I have gotten a few.. odd... calls in the last few months.

"Oh, hi Bill.  You're still there?  We had read online the lodge had sold to new owners!"

"Hi.  We hear you are new owners and we were wondering if you needed our services."

And an assortment of strange calls of that sort.

We have owned the lodge since 1997.  Before the turn of the century.  We are at our 20th anniversary here.  We have owned the property longer than any other owner except for the builder.  He spent 34 or so years here, but he only lived here 3 months out of each year, so I think we have HIM beat, too.  The calls were leaving us sort of befuddled.

Yesterday I think I found the source of the confusion.  Google.  More specifically, Google reviews.

I used to watch reviews more closely.  Trip Advisor,  facebook, Yelp, Yahoo (remember them?) and Google.  But lately, not so much.  It had been probably 6 or 7 months since I had checked our reviews on Google, so I was surprised to find this review posted about 5 months ago:

********************************************************************************

(Edit to previous review. I have now found that they have new owners that were GREAT over the phone. They have done work to the lodge to address issues that I and others had. They also seem to be owners that will really care about hospitality to get us regular customers back! I look forward to being able to again visit this beautiful lodge again to rate it 5 stars!)

Have been coming here for MANY yrs., multiple owners/changes.
Perfect stopping off place between Denver and Estes/Rocky National Park.

The Lodge 'building' is AMAZING is why the 2 stars. Built by hand with native logs/lumber after turn of century to 1930's. (history varies).

Gorgeous! The perfect 'look' for rustic Colorado tourism.

Allenspark has been known also for a very exclusive 4-5 star eatery that is a limo destination from Denver in an amazing huge old long cabin w/gardens, reservation only type place that has probably helped keep the lodge in biz. Also has cabin breakfast place that is organic/4-5 stars with locals.

My family has been here through several owners over time.

It used to be always worth the price for friendly owners and the beauty of the original place even though has many shared bathrooms, dated furniture, creaky floors, thin walls on many rooms/floors.

The last/current? owners were the worst ever of anyplace I have stayed from Hawaii to NY. Somebody mentioned like staying at parents house! Exactly! He used to be Highway Patrol cop is what I heard.

We are not young party people, 50's-60's, upper middle class. Did not like his strict attitude/demeanor we got on phone and stay. Got lectured on his rules and 'why' he said was charging so many times higher was because other owners were idiots.

Yet, when I had loud people keeping me up all night, he yelled at me for disturbing his peace in his private apartment to move us to other end of empty lodge/other floor.
We knew all the rooms/floors over so many stays, and were only even asking to go to even lesser priced room too just to get sleep from crying baby they even acknowledged others had complained about too, etc.!

I have psych. degree/counselor, and can tell you this guy is the WORST personality for a hospitality business. Very controlling. Intimidating.
As a cop, he needed for that profession, but not this profession!

Heard he even closed off one of the neatest features for guests! A huge tall cedar hot tub in back screened addition with gorgeous old granite stone floor, etc. Very romantic. One of best part of stay, no more :(

Would not recommend for light sleepers if it is full. Floors do creak, some walls thin. Getting the right room is important!
Not recommended for long stay, or taking a risk for honeymoon when it could go so bad from perfect looking property.

Wonderful property, just needs right owners/hosts.

We did not even care they raised the price by several times X 4 if they would have been making worthwhile.

Writing review since looking it up to bring friend to mountains for first time, and wants to stay in 'real' log cabin type place for one night on way to Estes.

Called several times, no answer. Finally found may be closed for renovations/new owner?

Hate to say it, but would keep driving to Estes Park and get cabin rental on river/creek for same price and quiet, nicer owners.. We will just make stop to show him the place!

Such a shame, so much potential for a right owner to know how to price to compete with Estes, give appropriate rates since not in Estes/Aspen, market it/price right for that/what it is.
************************************************************************************************* 

Huh?!? 
 Reading the review makes me think that he was talking about the previous owner, probably on a bad day. They lived in the Apartment (we use it as a rental and just keep a bedroom), they had a locked door after 9:pm to the bar/hot tub area (we removed the door), they allowed children (we don't allow kids under 14, because of the noise), I had heard he was a cop, and I had also heard he was a fireman (I was a computer technician).
That means that he was thinking about this for 20 years! That's not holding a grudge. That's cradling it, nursing it and raising it to adulthood. I wonder if a psych. degree'd counselor would have a diagnosis for that sort of behavior.
I really don't feel much like a "new owner" at this point, but it looks like that's who we are. 
It does explain the weird calls.

Bill

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 2017 Snow Storm

I hear Bill muttering in the office; when I ask what's wrong he says, "We are under a winter storm warning for the next two days. 1 - 3 feet expected."  This time they were right.  Raining when we went to bed Wed. night; 14" on the ground in the morning - and not stopping.


Finally (Friday) this morning the sun comes out and we have a count of 36".  Wonderful spring storms.  Gotta love 'em!
The horses keep the corral stomped into baths, so all we have to do is shovel our way TO the corral, because you don't walk too far in thigh-deep snow.
We shoveled last night to get extra hay to the horses, and had an additional 6" in the track this morning.  The biggest problem we have found using our slow feed feeders is that they get packed with snow when it comes down this heavy and the horses can't paw the snow off to get to the hay, so when we went to feed this morning, the feeders themselves were still full after the snow melted off.
This is the horse's shed, which a couple of them actually used part of the night.  The horses themselves.....

....were happy to have their feed boxes back - except for Al, who has become quite the camera mooch.
Bionic Cowgirl

Monday, May 15, 2017

My Day

This morning I left Juanita fixing breakfast while I spent over an hour driving down the mountain for my annual physical.  I spent over an hour at the Dr's office.  Then I spent over an hour driving home.

Early this afternoon, I spent over an hour changing both radiator hoses on the mini-van.  (The top hose had blown out about a mile from home last night.)

Later this afternoon, I spent over an hour driving the tractor around the horse pen, heaping up the manure.

And then later today, I spent less than 5 minutes on Alloy.

There were llamas going down the road.
Alloy saw them.  There was snorting involved.
I climbed on anyway.
video


The horse time kept the whole day from being a total waste.

Bill

Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Horse Can't Walk

One of the most feared occurrences in a horse owner’s life.  You look out the window and see your horse in “that stance”; the one that signifies the lame foot you noticed two days before is really laminitis.

Jesse, the horse known for stomping things, as in rearing up and stomping down in a mud hole to splash herself and other horses.  Sometimes there are sharp objects and you end up with an abscess.  Gone for three days to a farm show.  Upon return, find lame horse on right front.  Check for punctures, stone bruises, abscess.  Nothing.  Next day looks like maybe a strained shoulder muscle.  Ok, a couple day’s rest.  Then you look out and see the awkward stance.  Yikes.

Call the vet, the wonderful man who always comes immediately when we call.  She gets put on heavy doses of Bute and penned separately until we can figure things out.  He says call the farrier.  Your horse has foundered.

Jesse has always been a bit on the chunky side; even as a very young horse.  She has also been very active.  She was the horse who could go day after day without tiring, do heavy work and not care.  Always wanted to be going.  The last few years (5-6) we have fought the weight battle, going to a slow-feed hay system and purchasing special low-carb hay.  This winter was the ‘killer’ so to speak.  Instead of turning them loose for six months on many acres to roam, we kept them home so we could introduce a new horse.  It was a particularly snowy, nasty winter, so not much in the way of good exercise. Starting in Feb., I put Jesse on a diet; 20 lbs. of hay in a slow feed hay bag and nothing else.  She had weighed in at 1130 lbs. at 14.1 hands, but she has some draft in her which is very evident in her build.

Wonderful vet called back in a couple days to say he had been thinking about the circumstances and Jesse’s build, etc. and said he wanted to try some thyroid meds with her.  He thought she had EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) or the same as type 2 diabetes in humans.  Too much insulin her body just couldn’t use.  Worked.  She started dropping weight.  In the meantime, our also very wonderful farrier put wooden clogs on her feet.  As soon as the clogs went on, she was able to move again.   
Just finished being put on.  Yes, those are deck screws holding them on.  Her hoof walls were so hard, the farrier broke a drill bit making the pilot holes.  Her foot looks small here, but it's a size 4.
Both vet and farrier said she needed to be walked 15 minutes twice a day, and kept in a smaller pen.
She’s been in clogs 5 weeks now.  We have walked in snow, sleet, rain, and finally, sun – missing only twice in that time.  Once due to ice packing up too quickly on the clogs, and once because Jesse just didn’t feel like it.  (The farrier had said let her make the decision on how far.)  At first, we did well going around one city block.  Improvements came fairly rapidly.  Soon she was walking faster, so the faster you walk the farther you get in your 15 minutes.
This is at the 5 week mark.  See how she has self rounded the toe with the rocker motion?
I started by taking another horse along with us for company in the mornings and so another one could get a bit of exercise.  At night, it was just Jesse and me.  What a struggle at first – she has never liked leaving the herd and even just one block was pushing it – but we prevailed and she now looks forward to the walks as much as I do. 

Bill was gone for two and a half weeks of this time.  Soon neighbors showed up to help until the mornings entailed all four horses going for the walk, with different neighbors leading them.  Super way to welcome the spring weather in the mountains.

Jesse is now at an almost svelte 990 lbs. since her diet started exactly three months ago.  Getting quite toned up and marching along faster than I can keep up.  We vary the route every day, zig-zagging around blocks but getting in at least a half mile.  We have developed a great habit.  One more week of clogs, but they are an amazing improvement in laminitis treatment.  Check out this website for information:http://www.thehorse.com/articles/26368/clogs-to-treat-laminitis


Next?  Start ponying her for longer times.  She seems to have stabilized at that weight.  She still gets an anti-inflammatory med for her arthritis but she is looking good and her great attitude is back.  She still has a way to go to get the feet healed, but we are headed in the right direction.  She turned 16 this year and I am anxious to keep her around for many more.

Bionic Cowgirl