Saturday, May 30, 2015

35,000,000,000,000 Gallons of Rainwater

 If you've not been paying attention to the news lately, you'll be interested to hear that Texas, land of the perpetual drought, is absolutely drowning under a staggering amount of rain. This is the wettest May on record, and as of a few days ago was also named the fourth wettest month out of all the months on record. We've had nearly 8" of rain since then (and more in some places), so it is quite possible that this month may end up being THE wettest month on record in Texas ever. 

How much rainfall have we gotten? 35 TRILLION gallons of it. We've had nearly 20" of rain this month in my area. Here's a handy infographic on what exactly all that rain amounts to:

The devastation has been extreme. Entire families have been lost when their houses just lift clean up off the ground in the floodwaters and wash away down the swollen rivers. Farmers are calling this year a total loss. Businesses, homes, entire neighborhoods have been just plain washed away. Dams have broken, rivers are swollen so far beyond capacity that it's not measurable, and people are still  missing. An entire freeway in the DFW Metroplex was shut down for more than 8 HOURS yesterday when torrential flooding trapped motorists and left them stranded with no way out. 

As such - and I'm sure you're not surprised to hear it - working O has been just totally out of the question. We're finishing up the move to the new place tomorrow - which is SUPER fun to do in rainy weather - and after a torrential downpour this morning, the sun has come out and is supposed to stay out for at least a couple of days. Or at least, we can hope....

There's just no way to work O in our pasture right now - it's totally flooded out. However, our entire property is on a hill, and as such things dry out quickly. Or well, they would if our ground wasn't so completely saturated that there's nowhere left for the water to go anymore.

A wild snorlax appears

As of today we have a lovely river complete with waterfall flowing through our property. Does the property value increase now that it is waterfront?

Enormous shed... huge protective trees... and they choose to stand out in the middle of the deluge. Ingrates! 

We still have no internet at the new house (it comes Monday!), so I'll be back to a more regular posting schedule soon, but until then I'll leave you with the quicknotes version of how the beasts are all doing:



The tiny beast is 5 weeks old now and I can't believe it. Where does time go?? She was supposed to be trimmed for the first time last week, but it's just been so muddy and miserable that I haven't done it yet. A baby's first trim takes literally all of 5 minutes, if that... all I need is 5 seconds of sun to dry out a spot to do it. 

She discovered Monster Dog, and Monster Dog discovered her. Moo is about the derpiest and sweetest dog, so she likes to do that floppy play bow in front of Pax, asking if she'd like to come play with her (she does this to cats too - very gentle with all creatures). Pax thinks she's great, but I don't want to encourage the playing much. It will be a lot less cute when Pax weighs 1100lbs and squashes Moo under a striking front foot.


O is the most protective auntie ever. She spends pretty much every waking hour watching out for Pax, even when P is off doing her own thing totally ignoring her own child. She LOVES the baby and looks out for her all the time - but lays down the law as she sees fit. When Pax gets too annoying, she'll lay her ears back, push her over, and threateningly pick up a foot. She is very gentle otherwise - she's be a super momma herself. 
I'm desperate to get her back to work. Cowboy Country HDT is in two weeks, but we haven't worked in over a month now - we're just not ready. I was really hoping, but we're just not. I'm going to scrap that one, and shoot for the ADT at the end of June - it's an arena driving trial so there will be no marathon. We'll be ready for that one for sure! Unless there is more freaking rain!


P's had a crappy week. She choked twice, much to my total alarm and surprise, and then got an eye infection. She's been eating the same food for literally over three years, and it is always wetted, so I was floored to see her choke. It was easily resolved - I just stuck a hose in her mouth and washed it down, and she was fine in a few minutes. The only thing I can figure is that I wasn't putting her hay in nets for the first week, since the baby had tried to hang herself in an empty one while she was in the stall. Watching her eat hay, she gulps down enormous mouthfuls of it, shoveling it in as fast as she can. I decided that the nets needed to come back out (also they were trampling ridiculous amounts of very expensive hay into the mud), so I hung them back up and kept P off her grainfoods for several days. She's been back on very sloppy hay pellet soup as of three days ago, and no problems to report.
And her eye! Poor mare. She always tends to get one gloopy swollen eye whenever the bugs are out (which is year round here), so she wears a flymask pretty much 24/7, 365. For whatever reason, when I pulled off the mask a few days ago, her eyelids wwere hugely swollen and giant goobers were oozing out of it. When lavage and eye ointment failed to help it, we put her on an antibiotic and an anti inflammatory, and thankfully the eye is 90% normal again and getting better every day. Also thankful that despite going through this on a somewhat regular basis with her, it is never the actual eye that has problems - just the eyelid. We flush her ducts all the time and it does help some, but the problem comes back regularly. She's just a sensitive mare. 

A rare moment of sun, horses under the tree with their haynets. Pardon the overgrown lawn and garden, there's no way to mow when you have a river running through your property!


Wait, who is Darby??
Yes, there is a new face at our property, a 30+ year old mare named Darby who I have a long history with. Darby came home with me yesterday, because after all we've been through, I couldn't stand to watch the old girl waste away and die, forgotten and unloved as she was her whole life.
I'm sure none of you are surprised to hear that she is also red with a lot of chrome. Because apparently I'm collecting them now...!

Darby is either QH, Paint, or grade, nobody really seems to know for sure. She's also been 30+ years old for at least 3 years now, so nobody is really sure of how old she is either beyond "really really old." She's also a cripple with a deformed leg due to negligence.

When I first met Darby in 2012, she could barely walk she was so badly foundered. She was brought to one of the local barns I frequent with a fancy custom shoeing job, but was still crippled. She apparently had been turned out in a big lush grassy field for who knows how long, and she foundered out there and nobody noticed. At that time she also received a puncture wound to her left hind fetlock that compromised the joint, and nobody noticed that either. As a result, the joint got destroyed, and from the fetlock down on that leg, she is calcified into the crooked position like she is cocking a leg. It doesn't bend any other way anymore, but she gets around on it surprisingly well - it's amazing how well horses can adapt. 

Despite the fancy shoeing job, the owners didn't pay bills on her, and the shoes stays on until they fell off. Her feet were horrible and she could barely walk. The barn asked me to trim her, so I started with her in 2013. I saw her on a somewhat regular-ish schedule, when they paid their bill every few months - but I managed to fix her up pretty well.

She was super sound at the time of that last picture, in December.

That's her crippled leg, and she's not resting it, that's just how it is calcified - and that's the shape the foot takes, and how you have to trim it in order to support the limb. It's funky but it works for her.

This winter, we had a slew of neverending ice storms and mud. The ground would freeze solid into giant ruts, and the compromised horses suffered for it. Darby bruised so badly on both fronts that she could barely get around, and the owners didn't do anything about it. The other horses bullied her off the haypile, and she became too depressed and crippled to eat. About 200lbs fell right off of her. 

I stepped in at this point and started bringing some Thrive for her (with permission). I also futzed with her feet some, with Durasole and Magic Cushion and boots paving the way for me. She blew two giant abscesses, then started to get around better again. But the owners had vanished once again, not paying their bills. There was only so much the boarding barn could do - they have to run a business after all, they're not there to give out charity to pathetic old cripple horses - and they lamented to me many times about how they wished they were in a position to do more.

I made a promise to Darby that if we ended up with our own place sometime in the future, I'd bring her home to die at my place, happy and loved and well-fed. Yesterday, I fulfilled that promise to her, and brought her home.

She's really, really, really old. She's going to die in the not-too-distant future I'm sure, and I will cry for her and send her off to be buried next to Gogo. But she will at least have spent some small measure of her life somewhere that is soft and nice, with good endless food and brushes ever day, and cookies and love. She is about the nicest old bird you could ever have the pleasure to know - she calls to you, comes to you, loves to be brushed and soaks up the attention. After being forgotten over and over and over again, she deserves this.

Who are you, new friends?

Finally getting a good solid sleep in, who knows the last time she had somewhere soft to sleep!

I put her in with the girls for a bit today, and everyone was civil enough. Pax wants to run at Darby and play, and Darby wants nothing to do with her. O wants to keep Pax away from Darby, so she has chased Darby off a few times, which Darby is all too happy to oblige with. My pasture is mostly weeds, not really grass, but I'll have to keep a close eye on that with her history. The other pasture is nothing but rocks and weeds, so she has a place to be drylotted if she can't handle what's in my pasture. It's about what she had access to at the other pasture. She deserves some time to be a happy old grandma horse out in a big soft field though, so even if it is beyond what she can handle, I'm happy to let her have her time out there enjoying herself before she goes over the Rainbow Bridge. She really does deserve it. I'm not here to save her, just to give her a good cushy end to her life.

Here's hoping for some sunshine and dry weather... never though I'd be saying it, but we need it!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pax - 4 weeks old!

If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you'll know that Texas appears to be being biblically flooded out. I guess the deities saw that Greg Abbot got voted in as governor, and they decided to drown us and start Texas over again from scratch (not a terrible idea really). Unfortunately, so far our literal 40 days and 40 nights of rain has basically put a huge damper on not only the show season, but the thought of working the horses at all. Not to mention the fact that trying to move while it is raining EVERY SINGLE DAY is just awful. Everything is covered in mud, everything is dirty, and everything is wet. And it sucks.

May's show season was supposed to be thick and full - three shows right in a row. Then it started raining right after Sunrise Ridge, and hasn't stopped since. After Sunrise Ridge, I didn't work O for two weeks, then loaded up and headed right to the Games Day, where she did super well as you know. Then I couldn't do literally anything else, because it started raining even more, and every day. Even during the sporadic breaks in the rain, everything is bogged down in massive mud - there's no decent footing ANYWHERE you go, and even if you did try you'd either ruin the ground or ruin your horse's legs. There has been nothing that anyone can do really (at least not with the move. When the move is complete, I can trailer out again). 

The Carriage Classic at the beginning of the month got cancelled due to the weather. Then the Games Day, slated for the following weekend, also got rescheduled due to the weather. It was supposed to be held today, but once again, it had to be cancelled because of the weather. The last show I was supposed to do was Pine Hill, which is in fact running, but is also this weekend - and this is the weekend my parents came down to help us with the move and setting up things in the new house. Seeing as I literally haven't hooked my horse once in nearly a month - and have only been able to lunge her twice - it's not like we were remotely ready anyway. But, it sucks, there's no way around that.

I have no idea when or if it is ever going to stop raining. Tentatively we are going to the Cowboy Country HDT in mid-June, and hopefully the ADT in late June, but we'll just have to see how the weather holds! When I get my cart over to the new house, I will at least be able to drive up and down the roads, if nothing else. O is acting crazy possessive and protective over the baby though, so it might be kind of a rodeo to start.

In much better news, Pax turned 4 weeks old on Thursday! With my parents coming in and the move going on, I haven't really had much time to sit down and write about it. (Technically I should be up and showering right now, but oh well, I wanted to blog so I'm gonna do it!) I can't believe she is already a month old. She is growing like a weed and is just gorgeous.

When it was warm and sunny for 10 minutes, a million flies and mosquitos came out. Everyone got their flymasks, even Pax:

If that doesn't make you feel all warm and squishy inside, you might be a dead person, because baby horses in baby horse flymasks are adorable.

She also does many 'adult' things now, such as:


Oh yea that's the spot

Picking up her little feet (and she'll get her first trim in a few days!):

Standing 'tied' (meaning, the lead rope has one turn around the fence and she can easily pull free if something happens - but she understands pressure now and she stops if the rope tightens. Don't actually tie your baby horse, their necks are SO fragile at this stage - teach them about pressure first, and then everything goes from there!):

She is too wiggly to stand well for conformation pictures... this is about the best one I managed to get:

She also learned about blankies for the first time (although I did stick one on her as a neonate for a new minutes). The other day I pulled in to feed them breakfast, and Pax was absolutely soaked and shivering hard. P is a feral beast, and doesn't like to go in her shed when it rains, so she makes Pax and O stand out in the rain with her. Pax obviously isn't going to leave her mother, and O isn't going to leave either one of them, so they just stand there and shiver miserable next to P while she, blissfully unaware of the rain, eats or naps.

No, she's not massively roachbacked - just had the MAJOR butt squinches due to the cold rain! I conned them into the shed for some alfalfa.

So, we learned about wearing a baby blanket:

It's kind of like a mini skirt, but it works

As you can see in the pictures, O is always super concerned about her tiny friend, and P kind of doesn't care. O and Pax go off and do their own thing all the time, and P ignores them to eat. 

I did get to lunge O for about 15 minutes the other day, inbetween rainstorms... it wasn't much but it was something!

 And now it's pouring again.... sigh!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Welcome Home!

I apologize for my radio silence over the past few days - we've been running around like crazy people trying to get everything together for the purchase of our first ever home. It feels so awesome and weird to say that - we're proper adults now, with a proper piece of land to call our own! If you've been following this journey along since the beginning, you first met me as a broke kid who was barely out of college - what a crazy journey this has all been.

Our new property is awesome, and gorgeous. The house is plain on the outside but lovely on the inside, and the land and terrain is just awesome. I'll spare you all the gritty details of the property, but in terms of horse stuff, there are two pastures that are already fenced with good sturdy pipe, a huge run in shed, and a tack room/storage shed. The front pasture is good grass with lots of shady trees, and the top pasture is more rugged, complete with hills, rocks, grass, and lots of beautiful yuccas and cactus at the top of the hill. It's basically a tiny little piece of heaven.

They are super prickly and the horses don't go anywhere near them!

We officially closed on the house on Thursday, and Friday I brought the mares home. I trailered O over first, then went to go get P and Pax. Pax was a holy terror to lead to the trailer, and spent the majority of time walking around on her hind legs trying to punch me in the face. I'd be lying if I said she didn't get a solid little beating for her bad behavior. That said, it only took a moment for her to think about the trailer ramp and decide to hop right in, so that was great. She trailered super well, tucked herself right in front of P and stayed steady the whole trip.
When we got there, I released the hounds so to speak - everyone out together in the front pasture. It was the first time O had been out with P and Pax, and Pax's first experience with living out 24/7 (which should be the majority of the rest of her life). As expected, O went, "oh hello my tiny friend," and off they all ran. They ran and rolled and ran and roll, and grazed and ran and rolled. Everyone was very pleased, myself included.

"I love you, tiny friend"

I swear I saw the tiny red one come out of the big brown one!

Voila, ready to hitch!

Everyone weathered the night in the front pasture well. The following day, Future Hubs and I went and fixed up the top pasture to make it more horse-safe. 90% of the fence is good sturdy pipe fence with no climb, but there is a small section near the top pasture that is not. It had a strand of barbed wire above the no-climb at the top of the hill that had to be removed, the t-posts needed to be capped, and there was a pile of the old owner's fence posts in the corner of the pen that he still needs to come retrieve (everything is too wet right now to get his truck back there) that needed to be fenced off so the mares couldn't get in there and trash his stuff. Future Hubs and I did all of this in about an hour, and then opened the gate to let the girls go explore.

Pax is a brave little beast - she led the herd most of the way around. I love that we have a rugged little patch of proper Texas terrain for her to grow up on - hills and tough plants and rocks. She'll grow up strong and surefooted with this kind of land to live on.

I am super, super exhausted right now - I have a foster litter of bottle baby newborn kittens that is keeping me up all through the night with feedings. Between that, the move, and work, I don't have much time for anything else right now! Speaking of which, I should get to SLEEP! So much to to do, so little TIME!

By the way, here's a fun comparison: Pax on the left, O on the right. Both out of bay mares, weirdly enough!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Some Pax videos!

I am seriously, seriously sick of the rain. The barn property is literally underwater today - like, a 6" river is where the driveway used to be. I am therefore at home relaxing instead of with my beasts. We've been having severe weather EVER SINGLE DAY, and have had more rain this spring than I can ever remember at one time since I moved here. Thanks El Nino!

I know I was bragging on what a good baby Pax has turned out to be, but don't be fooled - that doesn't mean she is a perfectly compliant baby. As you can see, she likes to throw tantrums about stuff she doesn't want to do, such as learning how to lead in little circles around mom instead of follow right behind her. 

She threw several big tantrums about it (even though she has done it before, several times, without fuss), but once she tired herself out a little, she was a good baby who walked right along. 

Once the rearing game didn't free her from her predicament, she went, "oh well ok I guess we're walking now," and walked along nicely. Lesson finished for the day! She is a funny kid, when you take her halter off and let her go, she stays with you as long as you are still in the stall, but once you leave she goes right to mom. Instead of nursing and thinking it over like most babies, she rears up and pummels mom on the back with her front feet, or turns around and kicks mom repeatedly in the guts - like mom is her personal punching bag, and she has to take it out on her while she thinks things over. I can't believe that P of all horses is putting up with this. She just lets Pax kick her in the guts over and over, without care. I have a feeling that as Pax gets over, P is going to get *really* tired of this nonsense though. She'll only be little for so long!

Obviously this is why we start them early with kindergarden lessons. 5-10 minutes of this stuff a day helps cement the fact that "this is just what we do, this is part of life" into their malleable little brains. Keep it short and sweet, end on a good note, and you have a good citizen on your hands when they get a little bigger. Since Pax has made it pretty clear that she is a tough little booger, it is that much more important to me to start work on this right now. If I were to wait, she would not only be impossibly hard, but impossibly hard and huge. And that would just suck.

Speaking of videos, I have two more! These are from when she was 9 days old and in turnout. You'll hear her screaming for O, and O screaming right back. (O was back in the barn repeatedly ramming herself into the wall. Mares...) They'll all go out together at the new house. 

Pardon my witch cackling - but there are few funnier things than to watch baby horses running. Legs everywhere!

She really is a good baby. She is friendly and interactive, and while she is a huge fit-pitcher and drama queen, she is going to be a really nice youngster. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Two weeks old! Also, tornados

Pax (yes, I think we're sticking with Pax!) is two weeks old today! She grew another 1/2" in the past week, which is quite a lot slower than the week before thank god. Slow down tot! 

She is nothing but friendly and curious now - she wants to be with the people, pesting them and hanging out with them all the time. She wears her halter without fuss and leads well, picks up all 4 feet (even loose!), flysprays, gets brushed, had a booboo on her leg doctored with no fuss, and is generally a very good little tot. She is still a total pest and completely fresh - today she decided to buck and thrash around while I was holding her for her measurement. We made a half-hearted attempt to string test her, which was not remotely successful because a) she's too young and b) she's still over at the knee a bit. The string test said something like 14 hands which is definitely not going to be accurate. I have this hope that she'll stay on the small side so she can be my pairs horse with O - she came out perfectly matching!

Hi hooman

Wet from flyspray

So good at side-eye still

Flick and swish

Hard to take conformation pics of tiny red pest

I'm pretty pleased with how she came out. She's still a bit over at the knee, but definitely straighter and stronger. When she goes out full time, and when her tendons catch up to her bones, she'll be straight legged. 

She's not Totilas but I think she's about the nicest thing P was genetically capable of producing. I am super pleased. The stallion improved all of the things I was hoping to improve, and she definitely seems to have inherited P's temperament and boldness, which is exactly what I was hoping for! She came out SO violently feral that I was worried for the first week... but I'm not worried any more!

For fun, here's a shot of Pax and a shot of baby O in roughly the same pose:

O was older there, although I'm not sure her exact age in that picture. I really like the way O is put together now as an adult, but I definitely don't think I would have bought her as a weanling if that's the picture I saw! Sometimes an ugly duckling turns into a swan!

Aside from Pax turning two weeks old, the other news is that we're right smack in the middle of Deathstorm Season. We've been hammered with storm after storm, and more rain than I've ever seen since I moved here. We put one of our couches out on the back porch to be recycled, and tonight it was literally FLOATING around the flooded backyard - a huge storm came in, and it rained so hard that everything became a huge lake. At least we're not in a drought anymore..?

Today there was a 4.0 earthquake here in the afternoon, which was then followed by a tornado outbreak. It sounds like a bad thriller movie but it's the truth. Where else can you literally get big earthquakes and devastating tornados IN THE SAME AFTERNOON? Come on down to Texas, it's loads of fun here in the spring...!

Yes, that would be a tornado heading RIGHT for the horses. They actually had TWO tornados there, back to back. Thankfully it missed L's place (barely, by only a few miles!), but others were not so lucky. Remember the lesson I had back with G about two months ago? Their ranch got hit hard and all buildings are damaged, with some buildings totally gone. All the horses and people survived, thankfully.
I feel particularly lucky myself because not only were my horses and my friends all spared, but I was spared too. The first tornado crossed over a tiny country road, one that I drive on literally every single day, at that exact time of day - except not for today, because I had late afternoon clients and had to leave the barn early. Had I been there at my regular time, I could have very well gotten caught up in that tornado. 

I'm *quite* ready for spring to be over now, thanks very much. And we have SEVERAL more days of severe weather ahead of us....!