23 March 2015

Life in the rain, or should we say climate change?

     If you've spent any time at all in America's Pacific Northwest, you know it rains.  A LOT.

     That's not to say we don't get downpours, which we do, but we get years where it rains a little, every single day, and the skies are gray and clouded for weeks on end.  The joke goes that when the sun comes out, everyone drags their kids out to see it, so that they, too, can tell their grandkids, "I Saw the Sun Once". 

    The rainy season starts on 1 Sep and goes through to mid July. Then it's hot and dry for about two weeks, just long enough to tempt the tomatoes (if you're so foolish as to attempt to actually grow them) into thinking they can finally ripen. They don't. If there was an agricultural market for moss, we'd all be rich as Bill Gates.

   If you suffer from SAD (seasonal affected depression), this is NOT the place for you. I had a friend who had it so bad she was literally hospitalized. They finally moved to Dubai, where I'm sure she will never see a rainy day again.

   I actually like it here, because when the sun DOES come out, it brightens what is already a lovely place. I can see Mt. Rainier from my kitchen window. We don't get a lot of bugs. (Slugs, though, we get thousands of). We don't need air conditioning.  It's really a nice-if expensive-place to live.

     Horse sports do well here. It's temperate enough that we can do just about anything throughout the year on horseback, as long as we don't mind getting wet on occasion. 

    But now, we have climate change, and rising sea levels to think of. I'm two hours from the Pacific Coast, but I live not far from an inlet from Hood Canal/Puget Sound. One of these days, not long from now, I wonder if the water will come to my doorstep from the Sound.

   We are humans. Humans are the most adaptable critters on the planet. So I'm not too worried about riding in a watery environment. I'm sure the riders of the near future will be able to adapt whatever sport they put their mind to. Here's how I envision it:

"From M, sidestroke to K."

Cross Country jumps will be listed as follows:

"Mildewed Meadows" Cross Country jumps:
1.   Water
2.   Water
3.   Water
4.   Water
5.   Stream
6.   Water
7.   Water
8.   Water
9.   Water
10. Water

Stadium jumping:

Polo: (will put a whole new meaning to 'water polo')


    Even today, with the sea level still at reasonable and historical levels,  you can see where riders' priorities lie. Just look at the corkboards in any tack/feed shop in the region and you'll see ads like this:

Upper Crust Ridge
A Premium Boarding Facility
List of Amenities
Individual Run adjoins each  box stall
Daily turnout
Groomed outdoor arena
Stalls cleaned daily
Blanketing and fly masking as needed
Heated wash rack
Organic alfalfa hay and oats
Climate controlled tack room
Rider's Lounge
Parking for horse trailers
Barn Concierge on duty 24/7

And then you'll have this:

Dilapidated Dell Horse Boarding

Box stalls
20 acre pasture turnout
Outdoor arena
Stalls cleaned (when we get home from work)
Grass hay and oats
Tack lockers
Parking for horse trailers
Managers live on site
Humongous indoor arena with lights and bleachers

Guess which barn never has an opening?


21 March 2015

Encouraging signs of improvement in Raven's feet

     While none of us (me, Sue or Raven) have a bit of the Irish in us, still, St. Patrick’s day brought good news. Matt, our farrier, came out to trim and shoe Raven.

    We’ve been faithful in applying the goop (60/40 iodine/Venice turpentine). This has resulted in an almost complete cure of the white line disease in his hind hooves. 

    Instead of putting shoes back on the feet, we decided to put them in 'easy boots'.

   This rubber slipper is well known to endurance riders, but it works just as well on a dressage horse with raggedy feet. This is perhaps the fifth or sixth generation of easy boot. First hitting the market waaaaaaaaay back in the 80’s, they were difficult to put on and remove, and made the horse’s hoof sweat. I remember pouring a cup of water from a horse’s easy boot.

 The boot technology has improved remarkably. This style is cinched down using Velcro. They seem to breathe much better, and perhaps the only problem is they are inclined to accumulate dirt inside. But we take them off every night, to let Raven’s feet breathe. We also apply the goop once his feet are cleaned off.

    They worked. Not only did they allow Raven’s hooves to grow out but they also kept his hooves dry. That helped the goop kill the white line. 

    They also protected his feet from sustaining anymore damage from our rocky soil. In fact, they did so well that his hind feet had developed a 'lip' (for lack of a better term) on the bottom of the hoof. 

   I took pictures of his feet on the 15th, before the trimming, and the 17th, afterwards. For some reason, some of the ones I took of the inside of his right hind didn't register on the memory card. 

   No matter. You can see a lot of new hoof growth coming down from the coronet. Matt is very encouraged at the progress that's been made on Raven's feet.

 If you look at the edge of the above photo of his left hind, you can see the 'lip". It's on the toe. This specific photo was taken 15 Mar 15. Below is the same foot,left hind outside, after trimming.

Compare it with the one below, from my post "A picture can cause a 1000 shrieks".
What an improvement!! And below is the photo of his sole, that I shot on 15 Mar 17. The odd coloration is due to the hoof goop's iodine, staining the tissue. I did NOT take pictures of the sole after Matt worked on it. Linea, the barn owner, has a sea of dogs who insist on being underneath one's feet.
When you squat down to take a picture of feet, the dogs take it as an invitation to kiss you. I hate being kissed by a dog. So the pictures didn't get taken.
But you can see that much of the 'garbage', as Matt calls the infected hoof, is gone.

 Below are shots of his right hind, taken last month (or was it January?), which wasn't as bad as the left, but was still not a very good hoof.

    And now, the same hoof as above, before trimming on 15 Mar:
I don't have pictures of this right hind hoof after trimming, but if you look closely, you can see a bit of the lip. Below is the right hind sole from 15 Mar, and you can see the lip on both the right hind and left hind sole.
   We are tickled at the progress that's been made. Even Linea came over and wanted to know what Matt thought. Matt, was..well, encouraged, but wasn't effusive. He's seen a lot of bad feet, and so he advises we stay the course. We'd love to take Raven out of shoes altogether. After coaxing these feet into growing better hoof, I cringe at the idea of putting new holes in them.

    Oh, I forgot to mention, we've also been feeding him a supplement called "Trifecta". It is way spendy, oh my gosh, but it certainly seems to be contributing to the new hoof growth. 

    It seems to me that the right hoof is growing out faster than the left. 
That's merely my pondering, though.

   I wish I'd taken pictures of the soles after trimming. Matt took off the bars. I don't think this is a good idea, but...what do I know. He seems to be fixing the feet, so....I'll keep my humble opinions to myself. 

    Next hoof trimming is on 5 May. The weather is improving and he's been on green grass for some time, so I imagine that will speed up hoof growth, a lot. We'll see.

09 March 2015

With Spring comes....horse hair

     It's spring. Far earlier than expected, but, that's climate change's influence. The orcas are calving, the daffodils are blooming, my allergies are kicking my butt, and Raven is shedding. 

   If only he would shed in one fell swoop. How nice it would be to merely give a good tug and the entire winter coat comes off, woosh, like a sheared sheep's. Several years ago, I read an article where some smart guy gave a sheep a hormone that encouraged just such a feat. The base of the wool was severed through some magic and off the wool came in one piece, leaving a naked and rather perplexed looking sheep without so much as shear mark. Not that sheep don't look perplexed to begin with. 

   It went nowhere, it seems. When one tinkers with hormones, unintended consequences happen.

   Ah, well. So Raven is shedding. He wants very badly to be out of the coat. He is itchy. Any sort of work makes him sweat. No matter which way the breeze is blowing, when I groom him, the hair hits my face. I swear, I could stand with a cyclone at my back and would still get horsehair in my face. And on my lips, and in my mouth...

   With the warmth of spring also comes high spirits. Or perhaps it's his feet feeling great. But Raven is full of yahoogiddyupGO. He's ready to rumble and tells Sue that in no uncertain terms. When she canters him in the arena, she must be ready for him to burst into a gallop on the long side of the arena. This wouldn't be such a bad thing save for the fact that there are sturdy walls on three sides of the arena, none that would be fun to be flung into, and the fourth is open. How tempting it would be for him to merely jump through the open, fourth side, and into the sunshine. Two days ago I approached his paddock after an absence of almost a week. He came flying, a flat out gallop, that was lovely to watch except that he was coming full bore for ME. Happy happy horse, but at 1200 or more pounds, not something you want to be collided with! 

    He's so full of P&V that Sue has had quite a time handling him. It's not meanness or trying to get out of work that he's acting up out of. It's just him feeling froggy. With me, though, he's still calm and gentle. I sort of give him a counterpoint. Sue makes him toe the line, I get aboard and drop the rein and use my leg aids to get him to stop, turn, go. The last two we do well. The stop, not so much. He doesn't want to Stop. He wants to GO. Sue says "you don't push his buttons". And I don't. I'm just happy being aboard a good horse, feeling him breathe, listening to his mind. 

   Ah, spring. It's lovely, even if it's covered in horse hair. 

06 March 2015

New Advice from the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization has issued a new proclamation today: We 're eating too much sugar.

On the face of it, that would make sense. We DO eat a lot of sweets. Pop (aka soda) comes to mind as the number one source, but of course, there’s candies and pastries, etc.
But the WHO is condemning not just the obvious sources of sugar, but foodstuffs such as peanut butter, fruit juices, salad dressing, and bran cereal.

It drives me crazy. The WHO is like a hospital full of doctors with just one patient, and they don’t talk to each other. So one says, stay off that broken leg until it heals up, another says, you’re sitting around far too much, get up and exercise!

And it got me to thinking of all the things the WHO is advising we eat, and don’t eat. They decided we are far too stupid to not eat things that taste good. So they invented the “food pyramid’ to make it easy for us to to obey them rather than the instincts that brought us from the African savannah to contemplating landing people on Mars. 

At the tip of the pyramid are oils and sweets, like sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Mayonnaise has so many bad things it’s not even considered edible by the WHO. Corn oil? Oh god, no. Butter? Even worse. Even the artificial oils are going to kill you. Olive oil is supposed to be good for your heart, but it’s an oil and therefore bad for your arteries. So no oil and vinegar on your salad.

Next is meat. Eat “sparingly”…the WHO says no more than once per annum. All meat is bad, in any form.  No ham or bacon-they’re processed with nitrates that make the flavor jump out and please you. Pork? Well, you better cook the flavor out of it; everyone knows rare pork will kill you with intestinal parasites, so just forego pork.   Beef is by far the worst. It was created by Satan in order to kill you slowly. That’s why he made it so tasty and muscle building. And it gives you colon cancer.

Don’t eat eggs as they will kick up your cholesterol (separated into Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol but no one can tell the difference). Plus one in several billion eggs might possibly carry salmonella so just to be safe, don’t eat the yolk, the best part, just eat the tasteless white of the egg, cooked to the consistency of caulking compound. In fact, don’t eat the interior of the egg at all. The shell is full of calcium, and calcium is good.

Chicken is bad, because it’s full of antibiotics and kept in horrid conditions. When a chicken is processed for consumption, apparently the bird is sprayed with salmonella, so don’t eat chicken. Turkey is even worse, in that it will make you so sleepy you will miss the entire second half of the football game.

Fish isn’t considered meat, so maybe it’s safe to eat fish? But no. Tuna? Nope, it’s full of mercury and besides, they’re going extinct from overfishing. Oh and don’t eat tuna if you’re pregnant.  Salmon? Well, the stocks have collapsed from overfishing.  Cod? They were destroyed years ago. Bottom fish like halibut? Oh my god, no, they’re full of PCBs. Small fish (usually referred to as ‘bait’) have been eating plastic, the only thing plentiful in the ocean. About the only fish species that is plentiful, if nasty tasting, is goldfish. Now you know why you should keep the fishbowl clean.

Milk and milk products: well, we covered butter. Milk is indigestible unless it’s been stepped on so much that is merely white water. The best milk to drink is “raw” (meaning, right out of the cow) and unpasteurized. The WHO doesn’t want you to risk that, because the big milk producers don’t want any little backyard organic dairy horning in on their turf. Cheese is supposedly full of calcium, but the WHO doesn’t want you to eat just any cheese. No, they want you to eat the stuff that doesn’t have all that moldy gunk on it. That’s probably loaded with germs, and germs are bad. Most commercial yogurts are loaded with sugar, so…no yogurt.

Then you have “fruits and nuts”. They want you to eat 2-4 servings of fruits and nuts every day. But not just any fruits and nuts. The WHO said today that fruit JUICES are bad. Yes, that nice glass of orange juice may be full of vitamin C but it also has sugar in it, so no fruit juices. Citrus fruits aren’t much better because there’s no fiber in them, just pulp. As far as I can see, the WHO’s sole choice for a fruit is an apple. The only apple that survives factory handling, packaging and retailing is a Red Delicious, the most over rated apple on the planet. Red it is but delicious, not. It was bred solely to withstand the rigors of factory handling. It has the consistency and taste of a wet paper bag. Washington State is the US leader in apple production, with Red Delicious being the number one apple produced. Washington State has the lowest per capita consumption of Red Delicious apples in the world. Behind every  school, hospital or any sort of institution that serves food are dumpsters, full of pristine, untouched and uneaten Red Delicious apples. They don't rot. They don't get wormy.  Even the crows ignore them. Every pastry company in the US buys Red Delicious apples and inserts flavors into the apple pulp. They then sell their product as “blueberry flavor” or “lemon flavor”. But it’s all still made of apple.

Nuts? Well, almonds would be nice if there were any bees left to pollinate the plants. Peanuts are NOT nuts, they’re a legume, and peanut butter is not only loaded with sugar but is an oil as well. Besides, you have to put peanut butter on bread. Which is bad. Most nuts are expensive, labor intensive, subject to blights and always seasonal. They go rancid like that because, after all, they’re mostly oil.

Vegetables: ah, there we have something the WHO likes. Eat 6 servings of vegetables every day. What fun! Celery for breakfast, brunch, lunch, midday snack, dinner, and bedtime snack. Oh, come on, there are other vegetables. Tomatoes! Whoa, not so fast. A tomato is a FRUIT, not a vegetable and hasn’t a lick of fiber, so no tomatoes. Potatoes are starchy, and starch is bad. Besides, the WHO knows that you’re not going to eat the potato raw. No, you’re going to deep fat fry it (in OIL) to a crispy, crunchy perfection, and everyone knows French fries will kill you. Besides, you will eat fries with that beef burger with bacon.  OK, spinach? Nope, it’s full of oxalic acid, which will give you gall and kidney stones. Lettuce? Well, okay…but no dressing. Beans? Not only do beans give you gas, but they’re impossible to eat by themselves. Which is why chili was invented: to cover up the taste of the bean. Pasta? Bread?  Nope, they’re made of refined wheat flour. Wheat is almost as bad as corn. And refining anything is Bad For You. In fact the WHO would prefer you don’t eat anything white.

Corn? Well, corn is a grain that is used in everything from food to paint to gasoline. It contains more sugar than starch. Sugar is bad for you as is starch. And, like the aforementioned French fries, the WHO knows you’ll make popcorn, drenching it in rich, salty butter. Sinner.

So, looking at the pyramid, and thinking hard about the WHO’s determinations of what is good for us, I’ve narrowed the Perfect Diet down to a simple four items, dispensing with the pyramid altogether. It’s eaten daily, for every meal, by gorgeous athletes that radiate health, stamina and happiness.

I call it the Horse Diet.

Hay (fiber!). Raw oats (whole grain! Gluten free!). Carrots. (root vegetable!) And those damned Red Delicious apples.