Oh Nash!


Poor guy, he has been through so much with his hernia surgery last year and now he is not feeling well again.

9/1 We first noticed something was wrong when the Farrier was out to trim the horses hooves.  Nash seemed to be in pain in the back end.  He didn’t want to pick up his back legs, especially the left.  His left leg muscles was also quivering. He was also kicking out when we tried to pick up his back feet.  (The night before he was noticed to be stomping he back left foot)

9/4 He was pain free and able to pick up all 4 feet with no problems

9/21 He was able to be ridden in a lesson.

9/27 He was showing signs of pain again.  He was wobbly on his feet.  I tried to ride him but decided he was too unstable.  During this past month he was loosing weight.  He was eating his grain but maybe not “fighting ” for his share of the hay with the herd (8 horse 2 donkey).

9/28 A chiropractor came out and gave him an adjustment.  He said his hips and left back knee were out of alignment.  The left hip was higher than the right.  He seemed to walk away with some improvement.

10/1 He was back to being stiff and sore in the back end.  He was put on a muscle relaxer and “bute” a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).  We thought it was a pinched nerve in the spine cause issues down his leg.

10/5 Medication did not seem to be working.  He stopped eating all of his grain and was only picking at his hay.  He still seemed to want grass but also started to chew on the wood.  Vet said this was because of the bute so now he is getting Pepto for horses and a probiotic, to settle his stomach.   He received a mild sedative and cortisone shots in his lower spinal area.  If it is a nerve issue this should improve the situation in 2-3 days.

10/6 He received a therapeutic massage. He tolerated it very well but was doing the stomp/kick with both back legs most of the time. No muscle issues found.  We have ruled out the issue being nerve related and and are pursuing neurological origins of the issue.  It could be:

  • Lyme Disease: A bacterial disease spread by tick bites. Read more about it here.
    • Clinical signs: Stiffness, lameness, muscle tenderness, Hyper sensitivity, swollen or sore joints, Behavioral changes – lethargic or “grump
    • Treatment: 30 days of Antibiotic
    • Testing: Blood test takes 7 – 10 days to come back
  • Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, is a disease caused by a protozoal infection that affects the central nervous system of horses.
    • Clinical signs:  stiffness, asymmetrical gaits and cranial nerve deficits, ataxia (incoordination), spasticity (stiffness, abnormal gaits or lameness, muscle atrophy, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, head tilt, seizures and collapse, abnormal sweating, loss of sensation and poor balance).
    • Treatment: Long term and expensive anitbiotics with, antiinflammatory therapy
    • Testing: We would have to take him to a local hospital for a spinal tap.  They would have to sedate and restrain him for this procedure.  At this point I am unsure he is safe to travel.

10/7 I gave him 2 grams of bute last night.  It seemed to help as this morning, while still wobbly, stiff and uncoordinated he seemed in better spirits.  Last night and this morning he ate a yummy warm mash of beet pulp, senior grain and treats.  This morning he even decide to escape under the chain guard (across the stall door) so he could help himself to some grass while I was making his breakfast.  As soon as he saw me putting it in his bowl he came back to his stall and ate all of it.

We decided the following course of treatment.

  1. Start him on doxycycyline for Lyme disease.  He should should signs of improvement in 2-3 days if this is what he has
  2. Send off sample for Lyme disease test.  This takes 7 -10 days for results.
  3. If no improvement then we will consider testing or treatment for EPM.

This is a video from today so you can see how he is walking.


How Horses Help Humans

Leave a comment

I started reading this article in the Huffington post online had had to share.

8 Reasons You Should Learn To Love These Under-Appreciated Animals

There are some great quotes in it:

  • “As a sophisticated herd animal, horses immediately begin building relationships with people as members of their herd.” ~Dede Beasley, M.Ed., LPC, an equine therapist
  • “One of the many psychological benefits of spending time with horses is the tranquil nature they encourage within us.”
  • “A pioneering 2013 study from the University of Kentucky discovered that spending time with horses can help people develop a sense of empathy as well as enhance their social and leadership skills.”
  • “A study commissioned by the British Horse Society in 2011 confirmed that regular horse riding and horse riding-related activities like mucking out stalls counts as moderately intense exercise and can help keep a person healthy. Additional research associates equine therapy with lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduced stress, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
  • “The horse is the perfect mirror, they are very emotional beings; we’re only starting to realise how intelligent they are,” Gabrielle Gardner, a therapy counselor of Shine For Life,

Selfies and Portraits

Leave a comment

Nash’s Portrait.  The sun is bleaching his coat.  He was black now he is turning brown.  He is standing in the area before we took down the fence last week to open up the ACA for more shade and access to the shed.


The Three Amigos.  Seriously guys how many horses can you fit in one stall.  They all came to check out what we were doing.InstagramCapture_e6813ee4-58e7-43b3-9e7a-467133efdc8d

Selfie #1 me and PiperWP_20140827_17_55_05_ProSelfie #2 me and HeatherWP_20140830_13_57_53_ProWarlock resting on our Ferrier’s shoulder while getting his manicure

Fun Lessons

Leave a comment

So the object of horse back riding lessons here at GSF is fun.  We don’t train you to get ready for horse shows, we don’t look for the most perfect form.  We learn the basics and have fun.  I love to watch the confidence grow in my students.  We learn at their pace. We are safe with helmets and heels down but I try to do fun things as well.  In this video is one of my students cantering for the second time.  Casey is such a good boy, he tries to get away with a lot but once he knows he can’t then he will do as you ask.

After lessons during the cool down sometimes we go on a a trail ride.  It is a great way for the horses and students to unwind.



Horse in Boots

Leave a comment

So you all have seen the funny cat videos of them trying to walk in shoe or socks.  Here is a good one if you haven’t.

That got me thinking how did they decide to make a cartoon Puss in Boots if the cats can’t walk. Well some how Puss figured out how to walk, run, dance and sword fight.

But I digress… I got Cuervo a pair of fly boots.  They are basically mesh leg wraps that go from the hoof to below the knee.  I was noticing he had a lot of bug bites and blood spots left from the bites because he didn’t stop his feet to get the bugs off.  Did mention he is old and lazy?  Well this video is the second time putting the boots on.  The first time was even more dramatic but he still walked funny this time.  Enjoy!


Sharing a video and an article

Leave a comment

Dismount video

I teach my lesson kids the emergency dismount. On little Heather we say it is easier to jump off than fall off.

Better equine communication article

If we stop focusing on performing specific techniques and start developing our intuition and feel we can gain really wonderful results. “

“To do this you have to ride from the heart.  You need to stay grounded and present with the intention of riding compassionately in partnership with the horse.  If you allow yourself to just breathe and sense the horse’s movements you can interact with the horse with timing and feel. “

Horses don’t understand this type of “sometimes” behavior.  They prefer “always” and “never”.  If you create a boundary and consistently and kindly reinforce that boundary then the horse knows what you expect.”


Pasture perfect


At long last the conditions are right for their first evening out in the pasture. They are loving every minute of that fresh grass.

Pasture renovation and Paddock Paradise in one foul swoop


We just completed the Equine Environmental Stewardship program with Penn State Extension’s  Equine Program.  In this course we learned about best management practices of pasture management.

Right now the horse are being kept in an Animal Concentration Area (ACA ). This area is also known as a sacrifice lot or a dry lot.  This is the area right behind the barn that the horses are out in when I am trying to preserve the pastures form over use, over eating and hoof damage. Now, after the winter snows and spring rains it has no grass and is all dirt and mud. See before pictures below.WP_20140420_11_06_02_Pro WP_20140420_11_09_19_Pro WP_20140420_11_11_03_Pro

As shown in the picture below the ACA consisted of the whole area within the blue lines.  This was a large area for the horses and donkeys and would never grow any decent grass due to over grazing. ACA

Last year we had members of the Equine Program (Donna and Sarah) out to evaluate our pastures and determine if the farm could be part of their pasture rejuvenation project.  See the post from August 2013.  We were invited to participate but it fell through due to the fact that we didn’t have the right kind of tractor.  Their recommendation was to fence off part of the ACA and plant grass seeds so that it may grow to a lush pasture by next year. Their only requirement was that we had to keep the horses off of it an only allow them limited access to prevent over grazing.

The good news is that Donna and Sarah were running the course we just took.  Donna told us we are still considered to be part of the pasture rejuvenation program and we are eligible for a  bag of grass seed.  We could use our on methods to seed the pasture and did not have to use their no till drill.  We received the grass seed mix on the last day of class.

Originally we were going to just fence off part of the pasture (like cut it in half) then I came across the paddock paradise concept.

“Paddock Paradise is an exciting new natural boarding concept based on Jaime Jackson’s research into how horses live in the wild. It is a ground-breaking idea which has many benefits including:

  • provides a more stimulating environment for the horse which discourages vices
  • encourages more movement which benefits overall health of the horse
  • enables easier grazing management”

So I decided to start my paddock paradise in the ACA area and create the pasture in the middle.  See yellow box in the above picture.

This weekend we completed phase I putting up the fence.  See below the pictures of the work in progress.

WP_20140420_11_30_24_Pro WP_20140420_11_05_46_Pro

After it was completed the horse got to try it out.  They actually enjoyed running around the parameter.

The next day we leveled out the field.  Now all we have to do is drag it to loosen up the dirt and plant the seeds.  Then hope our timing is right for rain and sun.  Be on the look out for more posts as we continue our progress.

Lessons are picking up

Leave a comment

I am excited that the weather is behaving and the lesson program is starting to ramp up again.  I have had a few new inquiries and some new students.  I am excited to see my students from last year coming back.


Cuervo gets out for a lesson.  It has been a while and some times he can be a big oaf.  But this time he seemed to enjoy himself and was good for her.


Can you see her mom saying hello to Warlock in the back ground?

WP_20140418_12_44_58_Pro WP_20140418_12_44_40_Pro

These are my helpers Shadow (dog) and Elvis (cat).

They had a good run around

Leave a comment

Some times they get a wild hair have to run around for a bit to let it out.  It makes for some great pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Older Entries Newer Entries