Noble has a hay bag in his stall. He is a very picky, as well as a very messy, eater, and the two things don't go together well. When his hay was on the ground (we don't use mangers because they can be bad for horse respiratory health), he would throw it everywhere, and once he stepped on it he wouldn't eat it. It made a huge mess and also meant he wasn't getting to eat all his hay. So I started feeding him with a haybag - it's not a net (I worry about those drooping down as they empty) - it's a pouch with an opening on the side for the horse to eat from and a wide opening at the top to insert the hay flakes. It hangs from a strap that has a snap on one side. I've been keeping the snap turned the right way, but it occurred to me that the large hole where the horse eats might be a perfect place for a horse to get a leg caught. Now Noble isn't a pawer or a kicker, so this is unlikely. The hay bag is made out of very sturdy vinyl, as is the strap, and unless the snap broke, the rest of the bag might not if a horse got a leg in it. So, just for safely, I added a loop of baling twine between the snap and the bag to improve its break-away capacity. You never know with horses!
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Maisie has started showing some signs of ulcers again at morning feeding time. (Read this earlier post of mine for my education on ulcers.) When her stomach hurts, she kicks and body slams until she starts to eat her hay, and often is reluctant to eat her pellets. This behavior had completely, and almost immediately disappeared, when we started her on U-Gard for the ulcers. I think the ulcers may be bothering her again because the horses are getting less to eat in the pastures due to the grass being poorer quality now due to our drought, and because she's getting less hay to eat at night due to being somewhat (or more than somewhat) overweight. Also, the dose I've been using is for a 1,000 pound horse, and she's at least 1,200 pounds and maybe more.
So a couple of days ago, I started upping her evening dose, and the discomfort has gone away - she is happy and patient again at a.m. feeding time and is eager to eat her pellets. If the ulcers come back again, I may have to do more aggressive ulcer treatment, but first we'll see if what we're doing now continues to work.
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This morning at turnout time, something very interesting (at least to me!) happened with Fritz. I was leading Noble out and one of our boarders brought Fred and Fritz behind me - their owner lives a long way away, so she has another boarder take them out on Sunday mornings, which is owner stall and turnout day. Fred, Fritz and Noble did their usual wander off to eat grass, but then Fritz turned around, walked purposefully back to the gate, stuck his head over and looked at me. You know how some horses just look towards you, but they seem to be looking through or past you instead of "at" you? This has always pretty much been how Fritz has looked at me in the past - we really haven't had much of a connection. This began to change after I held him for a farrier visit and gave him a massage - here's my post about that. Now when he looks at me, he "addresses" me instead of looking through me. It was pretty clear he wanted something from me - and mind you, he was in a pasture full of nice grass and had just been turned out.
Since our last, very pleasant experience had been a massage, I thought that's what it might be. So I went into the pasture (he was loose) and gave him a massage. That was indeed it - he seemed delighted and I worked for over 10 minutes. I started with his neck - he had a big, hard, knot on the right side towards his ears. As I kneaded and massaged, he began to ask me to work on different areas. The way he did this was to move his body so that my hands were where he wanted them to be. At one point he walked away, turned around and walked back so the other side was in front of me! In addition to his neck, he especially wanted the area just in front of his withers massaged, and the area just above and behind his last rib on the left side. At one point, when I was rubbing his chest, he gave me the "horsey hug", where the horse puts its head over your shoulder and then arches its neck, pressing you firmly but gently against its neck and chest with its jaw. When he was satisfied with what I had done - some of the knots were hard enough that they couldn't be undone in a single session and were probably starting to get sore - he started to graze.
It was one of those horse experiences I'll remember for a long time.