Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gas colic and a plan for pasture board

Unfortunately, Limerick colicked on the evening of March 25 (yes, our anniversary). But fortunately it was gas colic and easily treated, although it was clear that it was very painful for her (it's never fun to arrive at the barn to find your panting horse rolling in the stall, shavings everywhere).

After some consideration I have decided to try pasture boarding Limerick. However, this is something that has never been done in the years I have had her, and considering how delicate and anxious she can be, this is something we have to proceed with slowly.

Gladstone has pasture boarding on-site, but they feed the horses Nutrena Safe Choice rather than Nutrena Senior. I am okay with this because Lim will have 24/7 access to forage on the pasture, so that's fine. But this means that she would have to be slowly switched over to the new feed, and after some consultation and thinking I've decided that she should be switched to the new feed first, over the course of a week, and then we will start transitioning her to the pasture. Below is a plan I wrote out for myself and the barn owner/employees.

Fingers crossed that this works!!!

March 31 (Saturday) – Start switching Lim to Nutrena Safe Choice

April 7 (Saturday) – Turn Lim out with pasture herd instead of stall herd, and let her eat afternoon meal with them (she receives the morning meal in her stall as usual)

(I will give her late evening meals as usual, too)

April 13 (Friday) – Turn Lim out with pasture herd and keep her out there instead of bringing her in.

(I will continue evening meals and give her the supplements she needs then, as well)

End of April – If things still haven’t smoothed over reasonably well by the end of April then I will consider putting her back in the stall. But hopefully she will thrive out on the pasture!

If it works out...
--buy super tough fly sheet with belly band
--buy neck cover for winter
--plan for layering for winter

--no worries about losing shoes!
--mares settle in faster
--better for health (joints, digestion, etc)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

16 years ago today....

Dear Limerick,

We have been together for 16 years today. On March 25, 1996, I had no idea what my future with you would bring. I only knew that, suddenly!, you were mine--you, a spirited little firecracker of a Thoroughbred mare, a little bay thing with a huge white blaze. You were quite unlike anything I had ever sat on before--other Thoroughbreds included! At the time, I couldn't pinpoint why--I did not yet comprehend that comfortable yet giddy feeling.

But I can today. In sitting on your back for the first time, and each of the thousands of times since, I have been at home.

March 25, 1996

Riding aside, we had so many ups and downs over the years, as can happen when a young mare and a young girl grow up together. Only in the past six or years or so have we truly settled down and fallen into a familiar routine with one another. While we have had 16 years together, I feel like our time has only begun. Each day with you is a gift and a promise. Each moment is savored, and each goodbye for the evening is harder than the last.

You have taken me on quite a journey! Always interested in history, particularly Thoroughbred history, I have dug deep into your heritage and your past. I spent endless hours researching your family online. I wrote your breeder letters. I wrote people who knew your trainer, people who knew your breeder, people who knew (and loved) horses related to you (and apparently you are not the only Hot Oil filly to be hot-headed!). I found a photograph of your handsome sire, Hot Oil. I found photographs (and so much more!) of his famous sire, Damascus. I found so many photographs, and have folders full of color and black and white images of your ancestors--their blazed faces, strong shoulders, well-conformed, compact physiques reminding me of yours. And yes, two or three are also over at the knee!

I have found photographs of your lone full sister's sons and daughters--your nephews and nieces. All have blazes, and one--Cuchulainn's Honor--is the spitting image of you. I have taken an interest in other sons of Damascus, namely Ogygian. I call him your uncle and he is my favorite horse at Old Friends. He, too, has your compact, powerful body.

I have collected emails, notes, memos, and endless links to possible information. And my journey is far from done.

Also, thanks to you, I have renewed a dream I once had--a desire to live on my own little horse farm somewhere in the rolling hills of Kentucky. And prominent in that dream is you--your little bay, blazed self grazing in my backyard alongside an equine friend or two.

16 years ago today, as we looked one another in the eyes, who knew how far we would go together? Who knew just how important and central to my life you would become?

A couple months ago, I found a quarter while riding you--it was the only coin I had ever found while riding. When I dismounted, I picked it up and put it in my pocket. The next evening, when I put the same pair of jeans on, I found the quarter again. To my amazement, the year was 1991--your foaling year. What are the odds? In a flash, that coin went from being worth 25 cents to priceless. I cleaned it, mounted it in a sterling silver coin holder and added emeralds--the birthstone of May, your foaling month--to the pendant.

It is a tribute to you, as is this entire blog. It is the nature of the artist within me to try to capture through words, photographs and more just how alive you make my spirit. You have gone from a girl's first horse, to a valued training partner, to a hard lesson in equine hoof health, to an equally difficult lesson in managing a hard-keeping and particular mare, to a priceless friend, equine sister, therapist, and muse.

Love, your ever-grateful "person",

Thursday, March 22, 2012

THEraPlate session for Lim

I love trying new things for Limerick. Lately, one such thing--a THEraPlate--has been at my barn some days of the week.

I didn't know what it was at first, then I saw a printout in the tack room about it. I found it quite interesting because I have tried something called a Powerplate at my old gym (Madonna supposedly raves about it), and they seemed somewhat similar at first glance.

The THEraPlate has a long list of benefits, including stress relief. Since Miss Lim is always receptive to stress relief (it can be hard being a mare in spring!), I decided to give it a try. I thought it might also help the mild arthritis in her left hock, but maybe not with just one session.

To be honest, I didn't expect Limerick to stand still on the plate. She's the kind of horse that bores easily--she will start looking around for something to do. Furthermore, the bugs were starting to get bad...was she going to freak out and want to stay off the plate? Well, to my surprise, she not only stepped on it willingly (after investigating it closely), but she stayed quite still 98% of the time she was on there. What a good girl! Reva told me how gorgeous Lim was, and I know Lim had to be hanging onto every word!

Overall, I was very impressed; I knew Lim had to be enjoying the process--she wouldn't have stood so still otherwise. She certainly lets you know when she doesn't like something, after all. I didn't see benefits riding-wise because I didn't ride for three days after the plate was used (you can feel benefits if you ride shortly after, or with repeated use). Hopefully we can stand on the plate a couple more times in April!

Lim and I on the THEraPlate 
(I ran to the barn, so don't mind the outfit!)
Photos courtesy of Reva with THEraPlate-Midwest

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ten--almost eleven!--rides in February!

I rode Limerick ten times in February! I don't remember the last time I rode her this much in a month--possibly last May or June? But my gut tells me I didn't ride that much back then. I keep track of all my rides on a calendar, and the one I'm using right now is digital. Unfortunately it's not working well at the moment (kind of defeats the purpose, I suppose) so I can't flip back to the prior months to check.

I write short notes after each ride--sometimes just 'Good!' or 'A+'. Sometimes they say 'Spooky' or 'IN HEAT' and other not-so-glowing things. But every ride in February had a positive note. That tells me that Limerick is happy being ridden--she is a eager, pleasant equine partner. When she doesn't want to be ridden, she certainly lets me know.

So all in all, everything is going very well. Her bare feet are giving her zero issues, so props to my farrier for that.

If I had to note any downsides, it would be that Lim's arthritic left hock still bothers her at times, but this isn't obvious to me under saddle. Instead, I can see this by how much she 'rests' that leg during grooming and tacking up. Also, she sometimes overdoes it on the spookiness, particularly by that big closed arena door along the back wall. But after hearing about and seeing how badly other horses are reacting to that door then I've decided that Lim is not bad in comparison. (After telling a friend about this door and the fright it prompts in horses, she said "Maybe the Mothman is hanging out back there").

I nearly rode Lim yesterday, February 29th, but the winds were gusting at over 50mph and even I could hear the arena roof and doors banging around, so I decided it wouldn't be wise to ride, especially since I would be alone while doing so. Instead, my husband stopped by for a visit and we turned Lim loose in the arena to chase her. She had a blast! She flagged her tail, skipped, bounded, ran hard, and looked absolutely beautiful. I was also able to see that her dapples are emerging already!

I guess I'll just have to wait another four years to ride on February 29th. Knock on wood!