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Pasture renovation and Paddock Paradise in one foul swoop

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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

They had a good run around

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

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The Beauty of Winter

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 This week we had about 8 more inches of snow.  Sure it is pretty to look at and the horses love to play in it but it makes everything more difficult:  Walking out to the barn, opening doors, gloved hands can’t do anything.  Enough complaining, because it also make for some very pretty pictures.

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A couple of days after the snow storm we found ourselves in the the midst of Frozen Rain and slightly Warmer temperatures.  A layer of ice coated everything.  I had some fun with these pictures, as it is really quite beautiful.

Day 9: No change

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I wish I had better news but there really is no change.

They performed the tracheal wash to obtain a sample of the fluid in the lungs.  Then set up the culture, yesterday.  As of today nothing is growing, which is not a surprise as sometime it take 2 days for bacteria to grow.  So they are keeping him on the current antibiotics (SMZs) and added Metronidazole (yesterday).  The second ABX is one that is commonly used for pneumonia.

This morning his fever spiked over 104 but again responded to the bute and came back down to 101.  He said that high of a temperature is usually viral and only lasts 2 – 3 days.  Also he doesn’t look or act like a horse with a 104 temperature caused by pneumonia. He does have slightly and occasionally elevated heart rate and respiratory rate but if it was true pneumonia he would look and act sick.  He would be coughing, but instead he is still eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom all normally.

With the additional ABX they were really hoping for improvement this morning and are really not sure as to the cause of the high fever.  They are starting to think something else is causing the fever.  Maybe something related to the swelling in his legs.

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So we wait some more for them to figure this out.

Day 6: Nash update – Fever

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I woke up this morning to a phone call from the vet helping Dr Parente.  She had not so good news… Nash has developed a fever.  His temperature is 104. Normal body temperature  for horses is 98 – 101 F.  They think it is is viral infection but would like to keep him in the hospital over the weekend.  She said he can probably go home Monday.  While this is very disappointing, I understand it is best for him to stay in the hospital where they can monitor him closely and react quickly should he worsen.  She did say he is eating a drinking as normal, which is why it is probably a viral infection.

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Lover boy

Lover boy

Day 4: Recovery going well

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Dr Parente just called me.  It was great to talk to him after seeing Nash as I was able to ask all my questions.

How did he get the hernia?

DrP. found scar tissue below the hernia which lead him to believe that the hernia was caused by trauma.  Perhaps from  a horse kicking him (before I rescued him) that caused a tear in the muscle wall.

How was the surgery performed?

The surgical mesh was attached to the muscles surrounding the hernia hole.  Usually they try to pull the muscles together  and put the mesh on top but due to the location this was not possible.  So the mesh was attached with some tension (like a trampoline) to the muscles.  There is also a layer of fat between the mesh and the intestine so there will be no complications there.  Over time scar tissue will form over the mesh and reinforce it.

How is his recovering going?

He is doing very well.  Pain seems to be down a bit today.  Dr P. took the bandage off and was very pleased by the look at the incision site.  It was very dry indicating not much puss or fluids forming.  The swelling is less than the expected and Nash let him touch it (which indicates less pain).  They are going to re-bandage it and keep that on for a while.  Nash will be switched from IV antibiotics to Oral Abs.  They are also reducing his bute (pain meds).

When can he come home?

Nash can go home Friday or Saturday.  Which works out great because we will be picking him up around 4 on Saturday.

What happens when he comes home?

Nash will be confined to the stall for 2 weeks and hand walked only.  Then he can be let out in a small round pen for 1 month. During this time he is not allowed to run around or interact with the herd for fear of tearing open the surgical site.  I will continue the oral Antibiotics and pain meds as needed.

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Day 1 Nash arrives at New Bolton Center

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Pre-Surgical work up day

I got to the barn early and fed him his two cups of grain. He was such a good boy this morning. I told him the plan and about going in the trailer. He followed me right in to the trailer. He was definitely nervous and shaking a little, but is so trusting. When we got on the road the anxiety started and my stomach was in knots.

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It took us about 2 hours to get to the hospital.  20131118_101304Look at that face, he was so upset and confused.  Poor guy.

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After going to admissions someone meet us at the trailer and escorted Nash to his stall.  He we so good; but very nervous and looking around, taking it all in  and trying to figure it out.    I led him into the stall that was filled with straw bedding.  I guess he has not seen that before as he wasn’t sure about walking into it.

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Then they put a muzzle on him due to this dietary restrictions (only a little bit of grain).  He didn’t like that at all.  And thought is was very unfair that there was hay in the hay rack and straw on the ground.

20131118_103624 20131118_103627 2013-11-18_10-29-36_885 2013-11-18_10-37-06_25 It was time to go and leave him there.  I left feeling so bad for him, but knowing it is for the best and the surgery will give him a long life with no worries of the hernia getting bigger.

Dr Parente called me this afternoon.  He had a look at him and said we are all set for surgery tomorrow.  The hernia is of a good size and shape for the operation.  He is going to have the ultrasound done to have a look at the margins and determine the procedure for anchoring the mesh.  The surgery will be done tomorrow afternoon and he will call me after.  So now we wait.

Thank you to all the Facebook friends who have already sent us positive thoughts, prayers and wished Nash good luck.

Sunset Trail Ride

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What a great way to end a long Saturday of lessons.

Thankful

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On Facebook I started a post a day about things I am thankful for during the month of Thanksgiving.  this is today’s post.

#8 Today I am thankful that I have the facility and ability to share my horse world with others. My colleagues enjoy hearing my tales of farm life (from throwing bales of hay to rolling study horses over). My lesson kids and adults enjoy experiencing it first hand. I get the joy of watching them grown in strength and courage as they learn to trust and communicate with a 1000 lb beast.

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