Monday, December 17, 2012

Lena's Peroneus Tertius Tendon

About 10 days ago Lena came into the bar with her rear left leg swollen all the way above the hock.

Since then with a vet visit, wrapping, antibiotics (SMZ) and bute, the swelling went down, but there was still mechanical lameness in her leg. She looked like she was skipping at the trot. Or perhaps like she had a peg leg. It didn't cause her pain but she couldn't get her leg under her.

Lena has a history of hock problems. In the past she has had a septic hock (something that usually does not heal) and had a miraculous recovery.

Needless to say I was worried. This morning I took her to Cornell University for an exam.

Early into the exam, the vet had determined issues between the hock and stifle. He was doing a hoof-test exam just to show students protocol to rule out hoof injuries and the below photo is what we saw.

There is no way a horses leg should move like that! There was only one answer: a torn peroneus tertius tendon!

The wonderful thing about tendons is that the ends magically seem to be able to find each other and mend all on their own.

So now Lena is on a little more Bute, 8 weeks stall rest with 2x a day walks to make sure the tendons don't stick to any other tissues and ensure smooth healing. We will return in 6 weeks and ultrasound to see if the tendon has started healing itself.

The best part is that for only a road trip to Cornell, 1 hour at the vet and $88 we have not only a diagnosis but a treatment plan and positive prognosis. Who said Cornell has exorbitant prices?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pretty's Workout

Pretty is an amazing mare on my life. She was given to me as a freebie portion of a multi-horse deal because at the time she was half-blind. Since then she has become my favorite mare, by a long shot.

Pretty is now completely, 100% blind in both eyes. Her loss of vision has obviously not impaired her willingness or ability to work, move and play. She is still a capable and magnificent

That said there are major limitations - for instance when I guide trails I often have to spend most of my time looking backwards at my riders. This can often be a problem for Pretty - who is completely fearless and has more gumption than she deserves. Going blind didn't slow her down so she'll run right into a tree with full force if I don't tell her where to go (and she doesn't always think she should listen either!). She also tends to trip up on downed trees more, even with a "lift your legs cue" and she also has a harder time on the river banks and hills.

Due to the nature of my business, I haven't been able to ride Pretty as much as in the past. Her inability to see makes guiding trails on her difficult and even a liability.

As a result, while I still ride her on trails, I am not using her as a guide horse any more. If she trips and falls, which does happen occasionally and she goes down on her knees, it freaks out the novice riders. It doesn't matter that she's blind, or that she is 100% okay after the trip or that she still would rather be out there tripping than stuck in a field - it's terrifying to watch for novices. All they can think is "Will my horse do that? Will it happen to me?" As a result, we are more recreational riders, not a working pair anymore. Unfortunately that just means less time under saddle for Pretty instead of her daily rides.

As a result, she just hasn't gotten as much ride time as in the past so she is unfortunately out of shape. I haven't been able to do more than the occasional walk/trot rides with her in the past couple months. However, her natural athleticism and skill today left me flabbergasted.

To see for yourself, check out part of our 30 minute workout yesterday. Out of shape, out of practice and completely blind, the mare still has it in her! This is what makes her my favorite.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Love or Respect?

Everyone dreams of having a beautiful and loving relationship with their horse. I recently saw a post by a very renowned horse trainer regarding "touching your horse's soul" and not basing the relationship on merely respect. 

I have seen many horse owners (in and out of my barn) attempt this and then at the end have a horse that they are affectionately bonded to and is overly anthropomorphisized but has utter disrespect for their owner and other humans (not vicious, just disrespectful). 

When push comes to shove a human is a human, a dog is a dog and a horse is a horse. If I treat a dog like a horse and then a horse like a human it is bound to be just as disrespectful to the animal as if I treat a human like a dog. We all have unique needs as species. 

A relationship with a horse is more like a marriage than a teenage romance. Young romance is merely puppy love - they touch each other's souls as first loves but they have no respect for the person or the bigger picture. A marriage is 30% adoration, love and soul searching, 60% respect and the ability to accomplish goals together and 10% the inability to live without the other. 

Love can grow out of respect but respect cannot grow out of love. 

... and when it comes to horses, the absence of respect (whether horse or human) is incredibly dangerous.

Be careful just how idealistic you are because the best of dreams can easily become nightmares.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bad News Bear

Fracture in Left Hind Splint bone

Gator, then Zorba, is now officially named "Bad News Bear"

I had a strange feeling last night about Bear and decided to squeeze him in at Cornell for an ultrasound of his hind left today when we brought Cola for a farrier appointment.

On Saturday (5 days earlier) Bear had come in from his evening in the back field with a very swollen fetlock. It was so tender that he broke away from the wall. We buted him immediately hoping it was a sprained fetlock.

As the days passed, I wrapped him, iced him, cold hosed him and the swelling went down a bit in the fetlock. However he still had a little "overall" swelling and was definitely still lame. We tried stall rest in a 12'x12' stall but he was so anxious we decided to put him out at night.

Today during the ultrasound none of his tendons or ligaments had issues; so we probed deeper. As we were watching we uncovered a hidden puncture wound - very small wound. As we probed we saw what appeared to be a fracture in the splint bone. The fracture isn't even close to where he was swollen.

See a clip from the ultrasound:

Radiographs confirmed that he had indeed fractured his splint bone.

He is now on antibiotics and bute hoping to avoid any infection in the bone and avoid surgery. He has on a sweat wrap, which will come off tomorrow and be replaced with a pressure wrap. He will be on stall rest 24/7. Because he gets so anxious in a stall, we have him on the broodmare indoor-outdoor stall so he can have a little more space.

Frustration cannot begin to explain where I am at right now. Bear is a horse I just purchased merely 3 weeks ago for jumping lessons. He's a wonderful guy and I was eager to play with him and take him to the fall hunter paces. I went to Cornell to confirm that it was just a simple sprain and could have him on regulated turnout and I came back with something surprising.

He is officially a wonderful Bad News Bear.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What is the value of a horse?

A post online this morning brought up the concept of the value of a horse. I thought it was a great concept to ponder!

It is important to remember that there's no such thing as "real value." Just because you bought a great horse for $1000 or $10,000 it doesn't matter. The value is based off of so many factors that many people fail to understand:

HORSE: Age, Height, Training, Pedigree, Breed, Appealing looks, Pedigree, Personality, Safety, Potential, Conformation

FARM: Reputation, Trainer, Location

MARKET: Economy, Demand, Supply

SENTIMENTALITY: Connection of owner to horse, Connection of buyer to horse, Matchmaking for buyer

Undercutting your horse's value only devalues them for the future because VALUE IS PERCEIVED not innate and that low price will decrease the perception of your horse's value.

That said, over valuing your horse could simply be unrealistic. If the market isn't supporting it and there is no desire, then a price just isn't right.

If people will pay it, then it's a fair price. If the RIGHT PEOPLE will pay it, then it's a great price.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ithaca Festival 2012

© 2012 Dave Burbank I'm posting this so that everyone who might be interested can be involved.

I need help. And LOTS of it!! For the past 2 (now 3) years Painted Bar Stables plays a pretty big role in the Ithaca Festival. We march in the Thursday opening ceremonies parade and also offer pony rides during the weekend at the festival. In the past, we have only offered pony rides for Sunday when the festival moved to Stewart Park. This year, the festival is staying on the Commons for both days and we are invited to offer pony rides both Saturday and Sunday. I need people to help me with all aspects of the festival.

Beyond the Painted Bar Stables involvement, the Ithaca Fest is huge. They say that over 10,000 people attend the festival and there's at least 5,000-6,000 people in and attending the parade. This is an enormous event, especially for our horses!


© 2012 Dave BurbankTHURSDAY 5/31: Parade
This is the fun part where the kids get to really show off! We need kids to come and ride in the parade to show off our horses. We also need people (kids and adults) to walk along with us to hand out fliers, wave and greet people as we walk along, not to mention our infamous and well loved poop crew!

All Parade Walkers must either wear jeans, appropriate footwear, and a Painted Bar Stable T-Shirt or a solid red shirt!

Roles Needed:
  • Horse Washers: We need people to help groom our horses and get them on the trailer at the barn, then help to unload them and get them tacked up and ready at the festival.
  • Youth Horse Riders: we need a kid for every horse! These kids get to sit on the horses and wave to the crowd. This job is NOT as easy as the kids think it is - it requires them sitting on their horses for sometimes over 1½ hours! It's tough but it's glorified.I know that every kid wants to play this role but we will only have a certain number of horses and we found it too hard to switch riders. Priority will be given to kids that are current students between the ages of 7-12 but we will try to get everyone we can on horses. 
  • Horse Leaders: Every horse will be ridden by a child and lead by an teenager or adult. Leading horses is not a feat for the faint of heart. Your arm will be exhausted, it takes a lot of focus and is physically tiring. However, it's also a great privilege and INCREDIBLY NEEDED!
  • Banner Holders: we have a banner that gets strung on a pole. We need at least two people to carry the banner in front of us and to help maintain our distance from the parade floats in front so our horses don't get too close to the group in front of us.
  • Walkers, Greeters and Brochure Givers: These are the people walking alongside, helping out, handing out brochures, engaging the crowd and telling them about what they do at Painted Bar Stables, and answering questions. These are also the people that remind everyone that "These horses will be available for pony rides at the festival on State Street!"This role is much more important than you think. There are a lot of irresponsible parents it seems who like to let their kids walk out in front of the horses. Our walkers are the people who catch these kids and send them back to the sidelines.
  • Glorified Poop Crew: This is the most important job of them all!!! We need people to dance behind our horses and pick up poop and put it in a wheelbarrow. Last year this crew got the loudest applause from the crowd. They were famous. People still come up to me and talk about how cool the poop crew was. EVERYONE THAT SIGNS UP AHEAD OF TIME FOR THE POOP CREW WILL GET A FREE PAINTED BAR STABLES T-SHIRT WITH "POOP CREW" ON THE BACK!
© 2012 Dave Burbank

Horses Being Used:
  • 11-15 horses:Misty Belle, Mack(?), Little Joe, Maxie, Scotch, Dutchess, Dozer, Crystal(?), Mister(?), Chico, Kasper, Pepsi, Aspen, Beauregard, Dreamer(if Gary comes)
  • Not sure if Gringo is ready to make his appearance with the Poop Crew yet - that's a goal for next year!
Special Requests
  • Branden - Can we borrow your truck and trailer for the event? Can I borrow you too? I'll buy you ice cream and everything you want!
  • Rachel or Allie - If you're free I would adore your braiding skills! I'll owe you dinner.
  • Dad - Poo Crew Leader?
  • Ashley - I would love you to be responsible for Mister if we take him and we can talk about who we would like to ride him
  • Maxie ALWAYS leads the way. This year she may just be too pregnant. I think we should make a sign for her saying "I'm pregnant and my baby is due in a month!" and she should still lead the way. 
  • Last year we had a lot of success with "Synchronized Circles." The horses get too antsy and the parade goes too slowly. By doing a "1-2-3 Circle" and all the horses doing 1 spin it kept the horses engaged and less fussy, it made us look organized, and the whole crowd said our horses were "dancing!"

FRIDAY 6/1: Setup for the Pony Rides

Pony rides will be conducted in the gravel parking lot on State Street between Capital Corner Chinese and Medusa Tattoo Salon, across from the Cornell Daily Sun. So basically we are just off of the "Main Commons" in the area used for food during the Ithaca Festival. This is where we fit.

We need 3-4 people to come and help load the round pen into the trailer, and then unload it and set it up on Friday night. We will also bring with us: mounting blocks, tables, shade umbrellas, chairs, banner, signs, water jug, etc....

We need to set up a round pen as well as a "holding stall" for horses on break as well as a "chute" for kids that have had their ticket taken but need to get helmets on.

SATURDAY 6/2 & SUNDAY 6/3: Pony Rides and Learning Workshops

Pony Rides will be conducted all day, probably starting around 10:30am and going until 7:00pm or so in the round pen that we set up. 

Horses will be loaded up around 8:30am to be brought down to the festival for the day. We will be using 3-4 of the following horses: Pepsi, Dozer, Beauregard, Kasper, Little Joe, Chico.

Roles Needed:
  • Prep People: 2-3 people who will meet us either at the barn or the festival to unload the horses, tack them up and get everything ready.
  • Pony Walkers: Must be at least 14 years of age and we need 3-4 Walkers per shift. Each pony ride will consist of 5 loops around the round pen.
    • Shift 1: 10:30am-12:00pm
    • Shift 2: 12:00pm-1:30pm
    • Shift 3: 1:30pm - 3:00pm
    • Shift 4: 3:00pm - 4:30pm
    • Shift 5: 4:30pm - 6:00pm
    • Shift 6: 6:00pm - 7:00pm and help with tear down
  • Ticket Sellers: We need 2 ticket sellers at all time! Must be 18+ of age and meet approval.
  • Ticket Takers: Sellers will be selling tickets. We need 1 person (can be a responsible youth) per shift to take the tickets at the gate and send them into the chute. No parents will be allowed in the chute unless they are helping their small child as a "walk along." All walk along parents MUST HAVE CLOSED TOED SHOES. I would prefer that PBS people do the walk along if possible.
  • Helmet Giver:  We need someone (can be a responsible youth) to hand out helmets of the correct size and help kids get them.
  • Mount Up Helper: We need someone to help the kids up and onto the horses and to adjust the stirrups quickly.
If you haven't noticed, throughout the day we need about 9 people at a time! That's a lot of people. 



Friday, April 27, 2012

Landscaping Planning

Check out the awesome sketch that Lisa did for us! She's going to completely redo the landscaping at the farm.

Thank god, because I'm just obviously incapable!

What Owning a Horse Entails

A student of mine asked me to elaborate on what owning a horse entails. This list is an elaboration of the note on "Barn Mathematics" that I previously posted here:

Horse Ownership List:
  • Board
    • $40 - grain
    • $50 - hay
    • water
    • $40 - bedding
    • general labor / utilities
  • Farrier (every 6-8 weeks)
    • $25 - Trim
    • $70-120 - Shoes if necessary
  • Veterinary 
    • Annual yearly appointments (in spring)
      • Necessary
        • $15 - 4-Way Shot (Tetanus, Flu, EEE, WEE) 
        • $25 - Rabies
        • $25 - Coggins (every 2 years)
      • Recommended
        • $15 - Potomac Horse Fever
        • $15 - West Nile Virus
    • Dental
      • $65-110 - Dental exam, float and repair (annual or semi-annual check)
    • Emergency Care
      • Wounds
      • Colic
      • Fever/Disease
      • Lameness
    • Specialty Health
      • $30-60 - Equine Massage 
      • $60 - Equine Chiropractic
  • Tack and Supplies
    • $200-600 - Saddle (and rigging)
    • $50-100 - Bridle (and rigging)
    • $30 - Saddle Pads
    • $80-120 - Winter Blanket
    • $50-70 - Rain Sheet
    • $20-40 - Grooming Supplies
  • Insurance
    • Personal Liability (you do something wrong - like Car insurance)
    • Horse Insurance (something happens to your horse - like Health insurance)
      • Mortality Coverage
      • Colic Surgery Coverage
      • Surgical Health Coverage
      • Stallion Infertility Coverage
      • Loss of Use Coverage
  • Time
    • Working with ground manners
    • Exercise and Riding
    • Training
    • Attending appointments
    • Taking care of wounds or illness

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sierras All The Gold learns to mount the Phantom

Today we took Sierras All The Gold, our wonderful APHA stallion, to Cornell University's Equine Park to prepare him for his first season of semen collection for non-local mares to be impregnated through artificial insemination (AI). The goal of our visit was twofold:
  1. Sierra needed to learn how to mount the phantom for collection.
  2. We needed to analyze Sierra's sperm to make sure that it is viable for cooling and shipping.
The process can be a difficult learning curve for stallions as it requires them to do something that is completely non-instinctual: mount a phantom. A phantom for breeding is a padded dummy mount that looks quite similar to a gymnastic vaulting apparatus. When you think about it, there is absolutely no reason why a horse would naturally want to jump on top of this, let alone have sex with it!

How the process works is that a mare in heat is selected to be used as a tease, based on the specifications and preferences of the stallion. Yes, stallions have preference; for Sierra his preferences are the little ladies with the giant butts. The mare is then brought out to excite the stallion, causing him to drop his penis so it can be washed. The mare is placed behind a short wall just behind the phantom to encourage the stallion to then mount the phantom. As the stallion mounts, a receptacle is used to gather the semen. The semen is then tested for: presence of urine, sperm count, sperm motility and sperm preference of three extenders that will help keep the sperm viable during the cooling and shipping process.

The mare chosen for Sierra was a cute little buckskin quarter horse, Nina. And she was just perfect for him. He immediately took to her and dropped and was a very good boy about his penis being cleaned. On his first try at the Phantom, Sierra didn't quite understand what we were getting at. The phantom didn't even register. He knew his job: mount the MARE. He ended up mounting the wall and putting his feet over the mare's back instead of mounting the phantom. We were able, however to get a good collection from him, regardless. 

Sierra at the Cornell Equine Park with the Phantom

While testing his first collection, we unfortunately found that he had urine in his ejaculate. Urine kills sperm; almost everything kills sperm. This is a common issue. Many stallions, like Sierra, go years successfully impregnating mares through hand breeding and pasture breeding without issues. The mares uterus is amazing at assisting and supporting sperm. However, when breeding through AI it can be a another obstacle in the process.

Example of Equine Sperm Under Microscope (Not Sierra's)

His first collection had a good sperm count of 177 million per milliliter (average sperm concentration is 100-200 million per ml). However, when looking at his first collection of sperm under the microscope, the motility was low (20-30% instead of the average of 70-80%). This was a result of the urine contamination damaging the sperm and reducing motility.

After trying unsuccessfully to get Sierra to urinate before our second attempt, we gave it another go. This time, Sierra figured it out and successfully mounted the phantom. A fantastic learning curve!

In the testing of his second ejaculate, the urine content was greatly diminished. The staff at the Equine Park were also able to sustain the sperm by both centrifuge as well as use of the extender to dilute what urine was in the semen. The results were positive: concentration of 195 million per ml and a 75-80% motility rate. His sperm also seemed to work well in all of the extender options.

Sierras sperm are now undergoing testing to see how well they cool and more information will be available in the future.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Off to Lehman's in Rochester for a Impromptu Show

So, as a last minute decision I decided to take Little Joe to a hunter/jumper show in Rochester... TOMORROW!

Figured I might actually want to jump him before I arrived in Rochester.

He did a great job and as an afterthought I thought I would post a video of him. I was bummed that we had our leads all worked out until the video camera started, but I guess he was tired after our practice. I was actually shocked he got the wrong lead. He always gets the right one! However... The gate to leave the arena was also to the left.... Hmmm...

(BTW, when he got the proper lead it was a RIGHT lead and I marked it wrongly as a LEFT lead)

So now I am all packed up (and bathed!) and ready to head to Lehman's tomorrow morning with Little Joe.

I'm hoping that people see that I am pushing my boundaries and taking a leap of faith in my horse and our relationship and feel like they can do the same. We all know I'm a horse girl, but not a show girl, but I'm really looking forward to this opportunity.

For me it's a Lehman show.
For others it might be a trail trial, or a local fair!

I want people to get out more with their horses and have little moments of "win" for themselves, their horses and their relationships, even if they don't get a blue ribbon.

Tomorrow is just another trail ride... In an arena... With jumps!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"I'm an Equestrian": what your description of your riding says to a trail guide

A compilation of reflections and thoughts from years on the trail:

As an owner of a trail riding stable, I have seen many people come through my barn doors. Many are self-admittedly not riders. Others claim to have skills. And some truly impress me - in the good way. I have met some of my best friends on trail, I have seen some truly impressive riders, and I've made some good stories. 

One thing I have learned is that the way people describe their skills says more about what we are in for than what they actually are able to do on a horse. 

Here is what your classifications via email say to me:

"I am not a rider"
This means you ride Pepsi or Dozer. It's going to be a long and slow ride, even on the short trail. 

"I'm a recreational rider who can gallop"
This means you have gone on a handful of guided rides and the horse started trotting and you thought it was really fast (good or bad).

"I'm a recreational rider and I can trot and canter"
At least you know about the multiple speeds of a horse. You probably haven't taken lessons but you have been on a horse enough times to know the difference and you probably won't fall off. 

"I used to be able to post a trot, but it's been awhile"
Okay, you took lessons. You're probably really rusty and are going to get continually frustrated with your deteriorated skills and lack of riding endurance. You will be severely focused on yourself, but the horse won't care because while you pay attention to your form they can actually do their job, or better yet grab some grass. 

"I barrel race"
This means that you know how to accelerate but you probably don't know how to steer or stop without torquing on a horse's mouth. You let the horse's need for self-preservation act as breaks and you're going to always be testing your (and my) limits. 

"I do dressage"
This means that you are going to be under-impressed with my trail horses and they will probably be under-impressed with you too. You're going to expect a higher level of control from my horses throughout the ride that they might be able to do in an arena but isn't realistic on trail. Your constant vying for control might actually tick them off as the horse frames up and collects while continually telling you to "let go and let me do my job" (Unless it is Beau, however. He will like you). Now, if you aren't a dressage rider and think that riding dressage is the same thing as winning a blue ribbon at the county fair in an on the flat walk/trot event (class of 2 riders), well, it will be severely obvious. 

"I show jump and take weekly lessons"
What this tells me is that you can steer, you can post a trot, and you might actually have good form but that you can't really control a horse. You have probably always taken lessons on a push-button mount with an instructor basically free-lunging as you ride from the center of the arena. I know I do that unconsciously in the lessons I teach and that as soon as I step out of the arena the horses stop appearing to listen to their rider (they were actually listening to me). Out on trail you'll be pulling on the horse's mouth and vying for control that you're not actually capable of. The horse will get riled up and frustrated with your over-confidence. 

"I ride western pleasure"
You're used to responsiveness and smoothness that you just won't find in many trail horses. That push button horse you have been sitting on is a bit different than our rugged, indestructible trail masters. And while they listen up just fine, it's a 51/49 power relationship on trail and they know how to keep themselves (and you) safe and you're going to have to let them take the lead sometimes. And for heaven sake, please shorten up your reins. You might need to do some direct reining near that corn field. 

"I played polo"
This is probably the worst thing to tell me if you're not accurate! If you say you've played polo I am going to assume that you are comfortable on a hot horse, used to jigging and dancing, and capable of maintaining fast speeds around sharp turns. My horses will seem boring but they will love you and your fantastic seat and flexible reining. If you lie to me, you will end up on the very wrong horse. 

"I do three-day eventing"
Okay, a little jumping, a bit of dressage and some cross-country hacking; you've been both in the arena and out of it. You know the difference between a peaceful stroll and arena work. You also know horse's abilities and how to negotiate obstacles. Win for horse, win for me, win for you too (if you're accurate).

What you should actually tell me is more about your personality and what you are looking for from your ride. While it is important to mention whether you have only been on guided trail rides, taken lessons, or ridden independently, your personality makes a big difference in the horse I choose for you. All of my horses are safe but it's like matchmaking for the perfect marriage. 

Also, by only telling me about your past I won't know what you want from a trail ride. Giving me a heads up on if you want a simple ride, a couple challenges or a rugged experience will give me a better idea.