Thursday, August 18, 2011

Drift's Fan Club, Hoof Health and Mosquitos vs. Hock Sores

Drift is and odd little fellow sometimes - his personality quirks are interesting.  He's often very aggressive with other geldings, particularly when the mares nearby are in heat - that's why he's on solo turnout now.  It seems to arise from insecurity as he's not very confident around other horses, except for mares - he may never have been turned out with other horses as an adult except with mares.  There was an example of this yesterday that I saw from a distance.  Drift and Dawn were in two small paddocks with a 12' aisle between.  Another boarder was leading Fritz and Scout in down that aisle as a pair, rather than separately. Dawn and Drift were both hanging over their fences - talk about Scylla and Charybdis! - it was a great temptation for Dawn to flirt (she's coming into heat) and for Drift to lunge over the fence and try to bite Fritz, who skittered away.  I've been working on this behavior with Drift when I lead Pie by - I proactively shoo Drift away from the fence line by swinging my lead and even turn around and chase him away if he shows any aggressive moves - the boarder yesterday with two horses wasn't able to do this.

But then he often shows his sweet side, particularly with people.  When I came to the barn in the late afternoon, Drift had a fan club - several women and a bunch of children, all of whom were petting his face and nose - his head was over the fence and his ears were up and his eye was soft.  He was clearly soaking up the attention - they said that when they went to visit Dawn (who ignored them), he started pawing to get their attention so they would come back and pet him some more.  He was very good with the children, letting them pet him anywhere on the face or nose.

With all of our rain and recent moderate temperatures, our grass is lush and green - usually at this time of year it's pretty sparse and dried out.  In order to keep my horses' weight under control and to keep them off the grass in the mid to late afternoons when the fructans in the grasses are usually highest, I have been turning them out early in the morning and then bringing them in to a dry lot with a bit of hay (in the case of Pie) and small grass paddocks - really nibbles more than grass - for the other two.  I've also not been turning them back out on grass at night, both to help keep their weight down and also because the mosquitos are just horrible - some of the horses that are being turned out all night are peppered with the welts from bites in the morning.

This regime, combined with regular exercise, is really working - both Pie and Drift are at good weights and Dawn is reducing from her earlier overweight.  There are obvious mechanical benefits to joints and supporting soft tissues, but the most important benefit is metabolic - keeping their weight at an appropriate level and limiting their intake of grass when the sugars are highest is really helping with their hoof health - they all have solid feet and crunch over gravel with no problems.  This has not always been the case - Pie even had a mild laminitis flare up in the spring. I'm a believer that hoof health depends as much on how the horse is fed, worked and maintained as on the trimming/shoeing - hoof health comes as much from or more from the inside of the horse than from the outside of the hoof.  Our farrier was here today and all three horses' feet are looking great - Pie and Drift both have beautifully shaped and solid bare feet with good strong soles and frogs, and Pie's white line is completely tight again, and Dawn's feet are holding up well - she's got thin walls and does wear shoes in front.  And all three were very good for the farrier, which always makes me feel good.

Pie, though, has redeveloped hock sores as a result of being stalled at night - his bedding is thick enough but he seems to really grind his hocks into the ground.  One of the sores has gotten pretty bad - all raw and ugly.  So he's having to go out at night, but he's going in his dry lot paddock with some hay - the fact that he's not on grass reduces the number of mosquitos somewhat, and he also has a shed to escape into.  Last night was his first night back out in his paddock, and he did pretty well, although I did hear his long, high-pitched girly whinny at about 5:30 this morning (my house is about 200 yards from the barn), so I went over to check on him.  He was fine, just calling to the horses who had been out all night on pasture. He did have some bites this morning, but nowhere as many as the horses that were on the grass.  I brought him in and fed my horses and left them inside until a while later when the sun was up and the mosquitos weren't quite so bad and then turned them out.  This may be remembered as the summer of 100 degrees for days followed by torrential rain followed by mosquitos.

6 comments:

  1. Glad you have found a management technique that suits everyone's health and well being.

    The mosquitoes are voracious here too. Too much rain this year.

    Thanks for the classical reference to "The Odyssey." It was a perfect image for trying to lead a horse through that part of the aisle.

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  2. We have never had mosquitoes here - until this year. They are gone now, but the horses hated them!

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  3. seems like you are dang ed if you do and dange dif tyou don't . I am guessing the dry lot is better than the stall, a few bites as opposed to weeeping hock sores

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  4. We had a little rain last week, but not enough have any effect on our drought.

    Funny you should mention mosquitoes. When I went out with the dogs out at 4:15am — because they won't set foot off the patio unless someone does — I was musing that it hasn't been a bad year for mosquitoes. I'm usually covered in welts, but I've had only one or two bites all summer. Probably the heat.

    The flies, however, are another story. Not here because the horses aren't here but I've still been using fly predators. But at the farm, they are ruthless.

    That's so sweet that Pie was sucking up the attention.

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  5. Put your favorite salve on the hock sores and put duct tape squares right on them. I kept thinking my horse was getting hock sores from lying down in his stall. Turns out, he was whacking his hocks on the walls when he rolled in his stall. And, when he rolled outside, I watched how he sat up and he would sit like a dog and really grind his hocks in as he was getting up. Believe it or not, the duct tape, even with salve underneath, holds on for 2-3 days. When they start to fall off, just reapply and eventually, those sores will go away. Worked for me and mine has never had a reoccurrence since.

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  6. Some horses really seem to enjoy being admired and fussed over, don't they? I've always been very proud of my horses for "knowing" they should be especially tolerant around kids. Shows that Drift has a lot of good judgment--and a kind heart.

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