Saturday, May 30, 2009

Out into the world!

Got mah hat on...
Somebody's pullin' on mah butt!
Whatz dis place, Mama Misty?

Checkin' out da green stuff...

Giddyup an' go!

First one way...
Den the udder.
Look out, Mister Camera Guy!
A little lovin' from Auntie Laurie.
A little snack...
A little nap....
Hi. Whazur name, baby horsie?
Mah name is Jackson!

First Outing in the Paddock

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baby Watch: the final chapter

I ate dinner in the bedroom Wednesday evening, because that's where my video monitor is. I cat-napped with one eye, while the other watched the little TV in the nightstand. By 11:00, Misty's pacing and circling was pretty much full-time, and any time she did stop, it was to paw, or kick at her belly. She was definitely in labor.
When I got to the barn, she stayed up for a little longer, then sank to the straw, got up, circled a few times, then down again.
She repeated this several times, then, about 12:15, a fairly strong contraction and the amniotic sack appeared. I could make out one foot and the nose, but I thought I could see a hint of the other foot a little farther behind. Three or four contractions and both front feet and the nose were well exposed, but with four more, there didn't seem to be any additional progress. Misty got up and plopped back down twice, still no progress. So I gently added just a little tension to the pasterns each time she pushed. Two more contractions, and it was obvious things were moving again, but Misty flailed and rolled over, and I had to back off.
No matter. With the next push, the foal's shoulders passed through the birth canal, and the rest followed quickly. It was now about 12:45.
After a very brief rest, Misty got up to start drying him off. This is when there was a major glitch. Usually, when the mare pulls away, the umbilical cord snaps off close to the foal, with the amniotic sack still attached. The weight of this tissue on the cord slowly works with gravity and a few secondary contractions to ease the placenta from the uterus.
However, when Misty stood up, the cord broke right at her vulva, and the placenta slipped back down into her body.
First issue: tie off the cord near the foal, and cut it. I also took this opportunity to "dip" the stub in betadine, as it is one common place for bacteria to enter the body. At this point I also checked the plumbing: it's a colt!
Now to wait and see if Misty would pass the placenta on her own.

Up in half an hour! He's sort of smoky/mousey brown, with his tail and forehead obviously black. It's the same color Maddie's foal coat was (she's his full sibling), so I think he'll shed out black. His face reminded me of Eddie. He's a big baby, too, and doesn't have that gaunt "I've been folded up for awhile" look so many foals have the first few days.

I apologize for the quality of the video--I took it on my little pocket digital and there's no allowance for "dark." This was about 30 seconds after he finally got to his feet.

Took him a little bit, but once he figured out the spigot system, he drank and drank and drank.

Baby finally laid down (after about two hours on his feet), and Misty was quick to join him.

Misty had still not passed the placenta by the time I went in to bed at 3:30 AM, which is cause for concern. I looked it up in my reference materials, and it was suggested that two hours was "officially" a "retained placenta," though it allowed for a longer period when the weight of the cord is not in play, as was the case for Misty.
So when it was still not in evidence this morning (5:00), I called the vet's after-hours line. He was here by 6:00, gave her a shot of oxytocin (the same drug that they give women to induce labor) to stimulate some contractions, a long acting penicillin (her temp was well within the "normal" range--97--so no infection had set in yet, but want to make sure), and some banamine, for discomfort. He then reached in and easily removed the placenta, which was completely free and perfectly formed.
"'Bout as straightforward as could be--that the way we want it."
"Thanks, Doc!"
Baby slept through the whole affair.

Baby Watch , Part three

Over the last 9 years, we have gradually built a system for "watching" when a mare is due, without having to camp out in the barn. It's not just cause I'm lazy: Mares have some control of when they go into labor, and will often wait 'til you're not there to watch--you think it's a coincidence that we miss so many births?
First item was a regular (audio) baby monitor, which is mounted high up in the stall. The reciever is in my bedroom window, about 130 feet away--about max for this particular model. This one is getting close to biting the dust, but this is the last foal I plan to have for quite a while.
The little video camera system was purchased in bits and pieces off of eBay for about $150 total. You can just see it's little circular lens, below the conduit and to the right of the outlet box.
When I started chores tonight (Wednesday) I noted that Misty's teats had waxed a bit--tonight or tomorrow should see some excitement. Her udder is fully distended and pretty hard.
So I braided up her tail while she ate her evening grain.

Wrapped it with a non-stretchy flannel wrap (so as not to risk a tight section cutting off circulation to the tail; the electrical tape that anchors the wrap is just below her tail bone).
By the time I finished with chores, one teat was dripping a little milk!
Looks like tonight is the night!
[Note: This post is being put up a day late--I was pretty busy last night. Next post on it's way!]

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Maddie, meet the mountains!

Kate! Auntie Laurie and me, we wentz to the mountins today!

View Larger Map

[Note: I couldn't figure out how to put exactly the right area of the map in the picture. If you move south on the map, until you find the junction of the two yellow roads, Hwy 903 and Bullfrog Road, and put that upside down "V" in the lower left corner of your picture, then the area shown will be where we were.]

I nu I wuz in trubble when Auntie Laurie came an gotz me urly in da mornin, an putz her big scary saddl on me, an leaded me up da driveway to her fren Pat's rattlebox-on-wheelz waitin on da rode. An dis rattlebox-on-wheelz got no walk-up-ramp like Auntie Laurie's, but der wuz anudder horsie inside named Rambler, an cause I don wantz my new fren Rambler to be loneliez, I stepded rite up into dat rattlebox-on-wheelz, and introdoosed myself to Rambler, an den we were off.

When we furst gotz der, der wuz dis great big passtur full uv horsies and rattleboxes (what a waste of a good passtur), an we got all dressded up an we started off with all dose udder horsies into da MOUNTAINS!
We rode mosley wit Auntie Laurie's frenz Pat's grup of horsies and der peeples called da "Kittitas Valley Trail Riders." An I wuz pretty eggsited to show off my prancin and dancin style to dose udder horsies, especially when we had to stop an wate r turn playin sumtin called "poker."

An den we started climmin da mountain. An climmin. An climmin! An der wer purty trees everywhere, but dey hid all sortsa sneeky predators an boogers. An der wuz places wher da trail was a littl rocky, an places wher da trail wuz really deep dusty sand dat tried to eat my legs! Sumtimez I wud follow Rambler, but sumtimes I wud leed him, just so he nose wher ta go. But even if I wuz leedin Rambler, der wuz always horsies in frunt of us dat it wuz importan dat I keep in site.

An der wuz a horse-gooblin streem! Rambler wated for me, but I wuznt goin neer dat creek. So Rambler said he wud goes furst to show me it wuz ho-kay, an he wuz standin rite in da water, so I sez, ho-kay, I'll tryz it. But den, wen I gotz my two frunt feetz in da water, it wuz WET! An I decided I bettr jus get my purty black an wite bodee outta der, befor I drownded, so I jumpded the whole creek is one humongus jump! Unfortunately, Rambler wuz still standin rite der in frunt a me, an I runded into hiz big sorrel butt. An Auntie Laurie's frenz Patz boot got in da way uv my face, so I stopded rite der--but I wuz on da udder side of the streem, so I decided it wuz ho-kay agin.

An we climded more mountain. By now I wuz gettin a littl tired, an not prancin an dancin so much, eggcept wen da trees wud thin out sum, an der wud be sum eggstra room, an da wind wud catch my purty wite mane--den I wud dance a littl for da rest of da horsies and der peeplez.

Wit all dat climmin, I wuz shure hopin dat der wuz sum goin down purty soon, and finally, after wat Auntie Laurie sez wuz bout 4 or 5 miles, der wuz. But it wuznt very fun eeder--sumtimez it wuz so steep I practly had to sit on my purty tale, an sumtimez der wuz big flat rocks, dat if I din go sloz I wud slip on dem, so I purty much had to trust my Auntie Laurie to get me down offa dat mountain. An da bigges trust wuz when we had to walk accrost a littl muddy bog. But Iz so tired by now, I dint really worry bout it, til I was purty well thru it, an den, well, I wuz purty well thru it, so it wuz ho-kay agin.

An suddenlyz we iz back at the passtur wid the udder horsies an da rattleboxes-on-wheelz, an I get all eggsited agin, but only til we get to our rattlebox an den Auntie Laurie loosens up my gurt an gives me a littl slurp uv water and a few littl appl-treets an tells me I wuz purty gud for my six-teenth ride an da furstest time out in da big wide wurld! An Rambler an I getz our saddlz off, an getz sum hay to share, an sum more water, an a NAP!

I not so eggsited anymore.
I iz jess plum TIRED!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baby Watch, part two

Misty continues to get bigger and bigger. She is spending more time laying down.
Her udder continues to fill, though not yet to the point that the teats are distended.
Her vulva is starting to soften up, and her tail muscles relax.
Looking at her straight on on Saturday, she is still very wide and lop-sided. Foals lay cross-wise in the mare's abdomen until about a week before birth, when they shift to a rearward-facing position (hopefully). The discomfort the mare experiences with this shift sometimes mimics colic, or perhaps their digestive system is disrupted some. When Misty had her first foal for us, the BO, who was an experienced vet tech and broodmare owner, "guaranteed" that she would foal exactly 8 days after this bout of "false colic"--and, sure enough, she did!Evensong, "Eddie," Spring 2000

Last night after Misty finished her grain, she stood pouting in her stall, gently bumping her butt against the wall.
"I want this baby OUT!"

I bedded her stall with the straw this weekend and will hook up the baby-cam sometime this week. It's still a little early, by the calender, but better too early, than too late. I figure at least one more week before I have to start the sleep-deprivation ritual.As soon as Kate is done with her antibiotics, and can go back out with the rest of the girls, old man RT will go in his pen again at night, so Misty can have some privacy. But for now he plays the doting surrogate father (when Misty feels like letting him).

Yee Haw, RODEO Time!


I wish I could show you pictures.
Or better yet, video.
Sorry... no funniest barn videos today.

Kate, Maddie and I trucked down the road to a little Eastern Washington QHA schooling show yesterday. I was hoping the trail classes were going to be over the new outside (natural) course the facility is rumored to be developing. Disappointingly, no: typical arena type obstacles, though set up in a pasture with real trees. Six foot square box to turn around in, L-back-up, bridge, sidepass to a mailbox, that sort of thing. We did the 40 and over class, and junior horse--better the second time through, though pretty sloppy both times. Because of her abscess, evening work commitments and the crazy E-burg wind, I hadn't been on her more than twice or three times in three weeks. It was good practice for her though. Her most important lesson, however, was to stand (I won't say patiently, 'cause it wasn't) at the trailer for most of the day. Suffice it to say that the ground was too rocky--she didn't make hardly any progress towards China--but not for lack of trying!

The real excitement was on Maddie.
Two English pleasure class (one walk-trot for warm up purposes, one junior horse w-t-canter) in the morning, then four western classes in the P.M. (walk-jog for warm-up, then 40+ (Jack Benny) and junior horse western pleasure; finally, a Western equitation command class). Plus I schooled her through the trail course (we went off course).

What was exciting was that throughout the day, in EVERY CLASS, we had several little fits of buck-fart antics! Not a "head-between-her-knees, I'm-going-to-get-rid-of-you" kind of buck; more of a "I-don't-want-to-be-here-doing-this" kind of kick-out behind.

She had done a little of this on Friday, but I figured it was the lack of work, or possibly my neoprene girth was pinching some hair on my thin-skinned black and white beauty. Or maybe she was coming into heat--though there were three (count 'em, three) studs at the show, who didn't come a-courting, nor did she bat an eye at them. And this was to be the first time I was going to try cantering her in the PSG saddle (I chickened out on Friday when she got snotty, as I am wont to do).

So we danced and pranced and snorted our way through the two English classes (couldn't chicken out here--too many people watching!). Actually placed third of four in the junior horse class, after some reasonable canter rounds, with only occasional buck-farts.

After doing Kate's trail classes, I switched the Western saddle to Maddie, and with no time to spare after the lunch break, went down to the arena for her walk-jog class. We entered on an energetic two-track worthy of fourth level dressage, and sputtered and strutted our way through.

Luckily this seemed to get the kinks out, and Maddie settled down for a decent go in the 40 and over class (which I didn't realize I was entered in until the gal called my number, after everyone else had gone in). Her jog was better, as she got wore out, and she managed some decent lope work, with brief intervals of buck-fart in the various corners, as she felt inspired. And was pinned second! The judge commented that we were all riding "young horses" so I guess her less stellar moments were less "less stellar" than the rest! (I wasn't paying attention to anyone else's rides--my focus was all on Miss Prima Dona).

I don't know if folks had decided to head home early (they were actually moving through their schedule very efficiently, it was only about 3 PM), but there were only two of us in junior horse, and again I was giving Maddie my total attention, so it really surprised me when, in spite of several (admittedly less energetic) kick-outs, she pulled the blue ribbon!

Finally the command class.
Forty and over was the last class of the day. In the other age groups, the judge had them doing figure-eights, at the lope, with a simple lead change in the middle. Now Maddie had been picking up all her leads correctly, but I didn't hold out much hope for us performing this particular feat. We started with rail work, and other than one spectacular buck in the corner (that would have unseated me if she had kept it up for a second bounce) Maddie did the best go of her day. The only other horse, a dependable campaigner, decided the noisy kids on the overhanging balcony were actually horse-eating predators, and totally lost it. I guess the judge had seen enough of each of our equitation skills, so no figure eights (whew!). And again, we got the blue! (I also think the judge may not have seen Maddie's buck.) Judge commented to me that she had definitely gotten better as the day wore on; he was surprised when I told him it was only her 15th ride, and said, considering that, she was doing very well!

My lesson for the day?
I CAN ride through such minor shenanigans, though I need to keep my weight deep in the saddle, and push her forward into my hands. I actually came to the conclusion at one point that if she had dumped me, it probably wouldn't have hurt as much as the knock-over in the driveway a few weeks ago, because the footing in the arena was very deep and soft. This may give me the impetus to haul Kate to the nearby indoor, and see if we can't get a decent lope going with her--I've chickened out each and every time I've tried at home, when she would swish her tail and grouse at me. Maybe I'll have to arrange for an audience, so I can't make any excuses....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Abcess update

After the trip to the vet's on Saturday, Kate has been an absolute grouch! I can't say as I blame her too much, as I've continued to poke and prod her twice a day.

She doesn't want to get caught (absolutely new behavior), even with food involved (!), but once she realizes I won't quit 'til she stands for the halter, she faces up and looks for sympathy. (I took this video on a day when she's actually getting better--tho, in the moment it took me to shut off the camera and put it away, she decided to take off again, with a buck-fart.)

Then what does she get?

More poking and proding!

She's gotten better about the syringe of meds (in an applesauce paste), and actually seems to appreciate the hot packs and a little massging of the swelling on her udder. But once I try to get the other syringe, full of dilute iodine, anywhere near the drainage hole on her udder to flush it out, she stomps, and dances, and kicks out--usually at the wall behind her, but occassionally a cow-kick in my direction. (She actually connected hard with the stall door yesterday, and broke the heavy duty latch!) Talking to the vet yesterday, pointing out the absurdity of my doing, by myself, what it took three of us (and a sedative) to do Saturday, he said if I just get plenty of iodine on the udder it should be okay. So I've taken to adding it to the hot water soaks.

With all this, how is Kate?

Judging from the bucking-leaping-airs-above-the-ground hissy fits that continue because she's turned out separate from her buddies, she feels fine! I do worry that she'll try to scale the two fences between herself and the rest of the herd, so I watch until she settles down to eat. (My principal has been very patient with my repeated, slight tardiness.)

The abcess still feels very hard, but seems to be slowly decreasing in size. The vet had said there was quite a bit of a fibrous scar tissue capsule around the infected pocket that he drained. I worry that maybe he didn't get it all out, but there certainly hasn't been much drainage evidenced on her white back legs, nor when I try to squeeze it out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Busy Saturday, but no ride!

Originally, the only things on the schedule for today was a 10:00 AM (not too early) trip back to the vet to check on Kate's lingering swollen udder [abscess?], and a work session with Maddie. The weather promised to be perfect (and it was).

Got a call Friday night from my farrier, and the only time before next week's show that she could come out and do everybody was this morning! She's not very much of a morning person, but could she make it by 7:30 (argh!)? I'll try to push the vet to 11:00.
She was here by 7:40 (that's pretty good for her), but the vet's booked solid for the morning. Okay, let's see if we can get the young ones done before 9:30 while I can be there to hold, and Mama Misty and old RT would both be fine standing tied.

Beth, who is usually a dancer, was on her best behavior, but little Amy not so much. Maddie stood like a pro, but now it was 9:15 and there's no way we have time for Kate. (I wish now we had done Kate, 'cause Maddie would probably have stood fine tied, as well as the oldsters.) Well, farrier's place is only about a half mile off the route home from the vets, how about we stop on the way back so she can knock her out, too? Sounds like a plan.

So young vet wants to sedate Kate a bit, and take a needle aspiration of the swelling on her udder. He pulls a syringe full of nasty putrid gunk out. He seems surprised it hasn't gone down any more than it has, so now let's shoot her full of local anesthetic and cut it open to drain. But by the third or fourth prick of the local needle, it's obvious that Kate's sedative has worn out...she's wide awake and, uncharacteristically, though understandably, starting to kick out. So she gets another dose of sleepy-time tea, but is still responding to the pressure of the needle (the area should have been plenty numb by now). A clinic assistant takes her head and I loop a length of cotton rope around her opposite fetlock and hold that leg up, forcing her to keep the other foot firmly on the ground. One pinky-finger sized hole and large puddle of blood and gore later, he flushes the abscess out and I take Kate out to the round pen to wake up, while I go inside for anti-biotics (again) and the bill (at which time I faint and have to be revived--it's a good thing I got my tax refund yesterday!). I decide Kate's had enough for today, and call and cancel the stop at the farrier's, and we head home.
I just get Kate comfortable and lunch fixed for Al and I, and I remember that I have to get my entry in the mail today for next weekend's show. I run up the driveway to put it in the box, and notice the neighbor ranch boys shooting the breeze in Hank's shop--AND Hank's oldest working on a mower deck with the arc welder! I had asked Hank back during spring break about bringing my trailer over to have the hinge on the tack room door re-welded where the bottom couple of tack welds had popped loose. In the meantime, at one of Maddie's little shows, the infamous Ellensburg wind had manged to catch the door and pop the welds 2/3 of the way to the top of the door! Well, they were welding, and the trailer was already hitched up....It was an opportunity not to be missed!
So back down the driveway and bring the trailer up. An hour later, not only was the door solid once more (if not purty), but the little crack at the corner of the ramp was not going to go any further either.
Thanks, Bentley!
The other thing that came up Friday was that a prospective buyer for Amy requested some current photos. I had been stalling until the little yak finished shedding (she still has more hair than most of the rest of them had in the dead of winter), but I couldn't put it off any longer. So, since it was nice, after a late (2:30) lunch I gave her a bath, trimmed up her jawline a little, and Al came out for a photo shoot.
I like her head and neck in this one, though she's a little camped out in back--she was reaching forward for a handful of grass I was offering--you can see her left fore just starting to step forward.
I should have worked her first, as she settled down after a few minutes, plus she was fully dry by the time we went back to the arena for this shot (and others). The dark shading on her chest and upper shoulder is remnants of her darker winter coat (champagnes are the opposite of most horses, who get lighter in winter), and, as near as we can figure, the spot on her hip is a Bend 'Or spot, though the gal at the International Champagne Horse Registry had never heard of one on a champagne before.

So now it's almost time for supper. Can I get in a quick ride on Maddie?
No. I've got to doctor Kate.
Hot soaks, flush the opening of the abscess, administer antibiotics and tetanus booster. Wash down her back legs and love on her a bit (she's feeling a little picked on).
Time to ride? Energy?
No. And no.
Give everybody their evening grain and turn them out for the night.
There's always tomorrow.
Mama Misty feeling a bit like a beached whale.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Baby watch, part one

Besides getting quick rides in on both Kate and Maddie, and every-weekend chores done, one major effort this weekend was getting in 10 bales of straw for Misty's foaling stall.
Misty is officially in to her final month, starting to look gigantic, and feeling sorry for herself. She got her final vaccinations and deworming last week, and I have started to add to her grain to build gradually to lactation amounts.
Though the Kittitas Valley is known for it's export quality timothy hay, we know of at least one forever farmer that grows wheat, and always has a supply of nice clean straw available.
I use pellet bedding through the winter, but straw is better for babies' eyes and respiratory system. It is slipperier (more slippery?), however, especially right after being saturated with foaling activities, so I will leave a light layer of pellets underneath for traction and absorbtion purposes. Because my foaling stalls are plenty big (16' X 18'), I stack the bales against the walls until needed. I'll bed the stall about a week before Misty is due (end of May).

(Thanks, Roger!)Misty is Maddie's mama. She was purchased when she was ten to be Al's riding horse and my first broodmare. Though Al doesn't ride anymore (bad back) and Misty has never been really more than green broke, she is safe for grandkids to get started on, and that will be her sole duty after weaning this foal. She was supposed to be retired three years ago, when she didn't take on a second breeding to Maddie's sire, Billywil Shineforever. She's now 22 years old, and we were going to transfer the breeding to Zoey the year Amy was born. But on the way to the trailer to go to the breeder's place, Amy decided to dive through a fence, and we went to the vet's instead (Amy adopted sis Kate's monniker of "boo-boo-baby" at that time). Last spring, we were going to try again with Zoe--and then I sold her!

So last spring it was "one more time around the block" for Misty, with a full-sibling to Maddie on the way. (I don't want to breed Kate or Maddie yet, even if the breeder had another stud for Maddie.) (I really didn't want to breed anybody any time soon, but didn't want to lose the stud fee. Don't report me to Fugly, this foal will be here 'til the right home comes along. I'm done breeding for awhile, if not forever.)

Her udder is filling up (unlike Kate, Misty's is supposed to!) She's no where near full yet, but you can see the "milk vein" along her belly.Another side effect of late pregnancy is cow-pie poops! Misty has been out on pasture during the day for a couple of weeks now, which also contributes to this phenomenon, but her manure always gets just gross at this point in her gestation (even the year Pete was born in March, well before spring grass).Joining her in the pasture (they have separate stalls/paddocks at night) is RT (Royal Tardez), the retired Arabian gelding we keep for a friend. RT has already claimed Misty as "his herd" and frets when he can't see her in her stall. After the foal is a week or two old, RT will hopefully go back in with Misty and baby, to take Corky's old role of "babysitter"--which makes weaning a lot easier on the foal, when the time comes.

So I'll keep you posted on all this developments as they develop!

Friday, May 1, 2009


Maddie was a perfect lady last night.
She came in from the pasture willingly (she will sometimes play "catch me if you can"), stood quietly in the cross ties, and only flinched a bit when the saddle came out.
I do not believe in "walking on eggshells" with horses, even young ones: they need to be able to deal with life. Yes, I give them time to learn and accept new things, but I'm not going to coddle them, because life happens--dogs appear out of nowhere, other horses will crowd them, I will get off balance (only occasionally), and they need to be able to deal with it. And a saddle coming at them is certainly something that they should learn to tolerate. Last night, however, I did move more slowly, lifting the saddle into place rather than swinging it up from my hip. Maddie watched warily, but stood firm.

So we went on to the next new lesson: the bosal.
I had decided that I would try it to see if I could establish a little vertical flexion without the fussing at the bit that Maddie has been displaying (though that was getting a little better).
It took her several minutes of bending left and right to figure out what was different, but once she did, she really responded to the new control! She broke at the poll and brought her nose in, and fairly quickly figured out that was where I wanted her to keep it, without constant pressure, just little bumps to remind her. She bent from nose to tail, much better to the left than the right, but we'll get it. (I didn't have my good boots and stubby spurs on, so my leg cues were less clear).
Only did maybe 15 minutes of walk-trot--I'm sore all over, not sure if from the fall or if it's general body aches from the crud (my friend has been telling me twice daily that it's the swine flu). But Maddie was willing and cooperative, so we called it good and I took her back in and gave her some lovin' (and dinner, which I'm sure she appreciated even more).
I was going to check out the video camera for the weekend, but when we got out of our Friday afternoon meetings, the librarian was already gone. Maybe next week I'll make my first foray into videography for y'all.

According to the vet tech, Kate's $75.00 culture came back as "no growth," but I never heard back from the vet as to what the next step is. I'm not sure the drugs are doing the trick, and if her udder is compromised, then her future as a broodmare is at risk (she is to be her momma's replacement, someday--after she builds a performance record).