Monday, June 30, 2008

How much fun are hives? About the same as a barrel of lice covered monkeys...

Now that Canyon has finally stopped scratching and getting inflamed, it's clear just how much fur he's lost.

It's also clear that he's largely black, which is surprising given how much white fur he has. Not that there's anything wrong with that, to quote a Jerry Seinfeld episode.

The hives along his body have scabbed up, gotten prickly and are in the process of falling off, which is pretty darn disgusting. Dr. Blevins suggested washing him with an oatmeal based shampoo, which I could only find for dogs.

If you ever have to do this, you should be aware that one bottle of dog oatmeal shampoo, good for 6 medium size dog washings, will only get you one and a half horse washings. Good thing he's not a Clydesdale, I wouldn't have gotten past his shoulder.

So I know have the cleanest, most awful looking horse. But at least he's not itching.

Anyone know how long it takes to grow out a horse coat? Is there a wig service? Should I just have him wear a black bar across his eyes?

Now that he's better I'm ready to prepare him for some serious training. One of my favorite sites to keep up with is a guy out of New Mexico who volunteers at an equine rescue ranch. He's got a great post on "treats" for horses.

What do you think. Should you give your horse a treat? Is there a middle ground? I'll write up on this a bit more later...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Horse has HIVES

A week ago I got an email that I needed to check on my horse. I'd been out at a triathlon (no, I don't do triathlons, I was just part of a relay team) and it ate up my entire weekend. Anyway, I hadn't been out to the stables for a few days.

"He's broken out in hives!"

No kidding. Canyon looked like he didn't just have hives. He looked like he'd been through a beating by millions of tiny nasty things. Which is what horse hives is, I guess. Here's how he looked when I first saw him.

He was so itchy he had cut open his nose, rubbed most of the hair off his face and had a fever of 104.

I was stunned. All this had happened in the space of four days. Our vet, Dr. Blevins, had me bring him in and gave him a steriod injection. He gave me a special paste to shoot in his mouth and provided antibiotics for his feed because he had so many open wounds. Canyon had even developed a raw spot on his leg which he had used as a rubbing post.

Dr. Blevins also told me to give him regular oatmeal baths to reduce his discomfort. Gave me something to do, I suspect.

If you just came across this horse, you'd think he'd been horribly abused instead of being one of the most spoiled horses in Texas.

Two days later, his fever was down, but he was still itching up a storm. I called Dr. Blevins and he made a stable call, giving him another steriod dose then giving me some antihistimines to put in his feed twice a day and three syringes so I could give him decreasing dosages of steroids over the next three days

Prior to this I hadn't even learned how to worm my horse. Now I had to give him a shot. An intermuscular shot. I never gave anything a shot. I thought you had to have a medical license or drug addiction to handle needles.

Ah, the joys of horse ownership. You learn something new all the time. Whether you like it or not.

So I got my lesson on giving a shot directly into the neck. I'd suggest having someone show you how, but here's what I learned.

  1. Find the area of the neck where it folds when they turn back to nip at their side. It's just ahead of the shoulder. The spot is halfway between the black of his mane in this photo and the buckskin area of his coloring.
  2. Aim for the middle of the neck - too low and you'll hit the veins, too high and you'll hit the ligament near the mane.
  3. Clean the spot with alcohol.
  4. Stab the needle straight in, all the way to the hub of the syringe.
  5. Let it flow slowly.
  6. Pull out the needle and apply pressure to stop any bleeding.
  7. Go out and have tequila shot to celebrate. (optional)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How Did I Get Here?

Somehow I never got over my first horse. My horse, like my youth, was wasted on my younger self. She was bombproof, fast, and more sane than any horse I've met since. She had, as they say, "no bad habits."

She even let my dog ride on her. I'd be saddled up and my dog and erstwhile side kick would beg for a ride. Literally beg, sitting on his hind legs, front paws in the air, pleading. One little signal from me and he'd jump up into the saddle and off we'd ride.

Tough little poodle mix. Maybe he was a reincarnated cowboy.

Now I'm back with a horse, and let me tell you, it's suddenly way more complicated. I'm learning how to train with him, how to keep him from FREAKING out, and how to connect with him.

This is by far the most complicated relationship of my life. I'll be keeping a blog of how it's going and how I'm trying to apply natural horsemanship, Google, dozens of books, and more trainers than any one person should talk to, to my little Arab Pinto Gelding, Canyon.

So far he's darn resistent.