Saturday, December 30, 2017

God Bless the Old Horses


As we get closer to 2018,after reading a great post concerning old cows and how their owners watch over them so much during the winter, I got thinking that I have been doing the same thing with my old horses.

There are quite a few Teenagers here, but only two ancients left. Those are my two Percheron horses. At 25 & 27, they are considered OLD. Draft horses usually don't live as long as the little ones do. While a well cared for riding horse might get into it's 30s, a draft horse of that same age usually has more health issues than that horse and won't live as long. Again, this depends on how badly or how well a horse was treated during his long life. From being ridden into the proverbial ground, to lack of veterinarian care and more lack of good care, a horse won't live as long or be healthy as long as a horse who was carefully conditioned, having great internal care as well as mental care. That horse may well live into it's 30's.

At any rate, I look at these old horses of mine daily. It may seem as though I am just talking to them,or petting them, but I'm not just doing that. Checking to see for arthritic joints swelling, fluid in places there shouldn't be, creaks and groans from skeletal structures, their demeanor and more. They are checked walking across from pasture to stalls, listening to sound foot falls or lame ones. Heads' down in pain or a happy drafter coming in for dinner. All of these things are taken into consideration for my ancients.

They get extra fattening feeds, top quality hay that they Can chew easily, lots of fresh water, salt and a very carefully chosen diet just for them. Deworming right on schedule and proper hoof care too. The same with keeping a check on those teeth.
 When they get groomed, it is a gentle one due to old body parts being sore. I think these two enjoy a good vacuuming over a hard curry... it gets them cleaner and leaves them happier too.

The old horses have paid their dues in life. They have earned retirement just as many humans have. Used to be I'd think well they're paying for their keep.  Now ?  I owe Them. I owe them a warm comfy stall and lots of hay to keep their old digestive systems working properly. Each time these two are moving around outside, I check on them, making sure there's no limping or simply being "off''some how or another.

Wintertime is hard on old horses. They no longer can get out of the way from other horses wanting to steal their hay. My mare has gotten down 3-4 times and hasn't been able to get up on her own. So, she lays there, waiting for someone to come help her. And we do with no complaints... I understand how it feels to rely on others for help, and have them disappear. My mare will never be allowed to have those feelings of abandonment.

They patiently (haha- or not) wait to come inside in the evenings, no gallops now, but perhaps a trot towards the barn.Mostly a crisp walk...  I still get happy whispers of delight when I come into the barn and warm brown eyes looking directly at my face.

The most terrible part in keeping old horses is that their time on this earth is almost done. That to me, when they let me know, will just break my heart. When it's time, I'll be the one to call our vet for one last visit for them and my time to say a final goodbye.

My mare and I have been friends since she was 15 months old- we have been through hard times, heartbreaking times and a lot of wonderful times also. Yet I wonder- is it good to keep a horse til 'the end'? So many people sell their older horses ; they don't have to deal with a useless animal that needs special foods, or the heartache of saying goodbye- but is it good for the horse? I say no... if a person owns a horse ( or dog, or cat, even a hamster)- then try to be the best partner to them possible- til their last day.
But to keep an old horse until it is ready to leave this earth? 
I say wholeheartedly, YES.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Farm Stuff

In a few days, we will begin a New year. Not being one to make lists of resolutions, I do have one for 2018. I want to work w/ Briana enough for a debut at a "first" driving show for her. Stay tuned.

Alrighty then!! I am tired of living on a frozen tundra. TOOO damn cold for my toes now.  No more complaining - I'm done now. 
This morning water buckets in the barn finally got some ice on their tops so it was time to exchange them for the heated buckets. That took a good while but once it was done, I felt cozy knowing everyone would come into nice warm water to drink. This creates yet more extra work for us as we have to dump the heated bucket's leftover waters into another bucket, and carry THAT outside to dump.

Then a gal stopped by and by the time we were done talking, it was close to 11 AM. LONG past time for me to have stalls to clean out still. Didn't get into the house til around one or so, but things are set up more for this bitter cold crap called winter. Mixed up some beet pulp to soak for tonight's feed, mixed up dinner feed then tomorrow's feed, fed the kitties ( Simone liked being outside for about 5 minutes, then dashed back inside!) cleaned their pooh up. By then, I couldn't feel my right foot , my feet were so cold.
The hens got their heated water dish plugged in and filled, and a big dish of feed. I brought Bess n' Gracie over so they could be w/ the bigger hens. I placed a little barrier for Grace to be behind until the big girls remembered who she was but she was so frantic, I ended up leaving an opening for her to get out with... Hope they don't beat her up- I think she & Bess are my favorite hens.
I am tired out! It is so much harder when it's so cold out. Granted it's hard work but when it is warmer, it seems to be a little easier.
 Winter brings more worry for me- How are my ancient horses doing? Are all of the horses getting outside enough? Who is cold? How to keep them all drinking plenty of water during this cold time? Sheeeesh- then the hens n' the barn kitties worry me but not quite so much. So- yep, running a farm is hard work, come wintertime.
The good thing ? I can feel my toes again !