Exacting Measures in Horse Care

This episode of TLH brought to you courtesy of a bored Hudson, and the manufacturers of Valium.

Day 1

On the way to the barn, I make three stops:

  1. Hardware store: new trash can for grain
  2. Target: disinfectant dish soap, hoof scrub brush, cheap pail, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, spray bottles.
  3. Feed store:  Feed, over rail bucket, Sore No More, weight tape

Day 2

  1. Call vet to establish care and change of owner, and request a syringe of Bute to have on hand.  We all laugh.  They’ve known me for…15 years?  Dr. Bob is going to be taking the stitches out of George’s muzzle tomorrow, he’ll bring an extra.

Day 3

  1. Send out all points bulletin via text and email. AHHHHHHHH….what have I forgotten, what do I need??
  2. I should know his height and weight!
  3. I should know every detail of his existence!!
  4. I should know it RIGHT NOW!!!!

Yup.  Starting to sink in.

Sympathy cards may be sent to Bella, who is dealing with Extreme Owner Transfer.

I console myself by doing what I can: I have a weight tape.  I stand Hudson up, and throw the white tape over his back.  He yawns.  Spooky guy.  Oh look, cool, the tape has height measurement on the other side. It won’t be as exact as sticking him out, right?  But I can get a general idea of how tall he is.

I go back to weighing him.  Wrap firmly around the heart girth, it says.  Um.  Does this include his high withers, or do I compensate for that?  I don’t remember.  I do both.   Great!  Now we know Hudson is either 1130 lbs or 1360 lbs.  Helpful.

I put my toe on the line of the height side of the tape, right next to his hoof, and measure up to the highest point of his withers.  Good grief.  17 hands high?  No way.  Oh.  I’m bending the tape.  I straighten it, and use my arm as the top stick to measure over.  There. That’s more likely.  He’s 16.1, 16.2, or 16.3 depending on how still I keep my arm.

Good to know he’s 16.3 and 1360 lbs, or 16.1 and 1130 lbs.  Or somewhere between. Now that I have his inexact height and weight, I should be able to watch his weight, feed, and any vet med dosages with complete and total inaccuracy.

That worked.

I’m polling all the horse people I know, whether they own or not: what is the one thing you must have?  If someone already mentioned it in the comments, what’s the next thing on your list?

First response from Daisy:  “My vet’s number in speed dial.”

First response from Shaun: “Medication.  I’m putting it in your food.”

26 thoughts on “Exacting Measures in Horse Care

  1. It sounds like you have the most important things in hand; a sense of humor and good attitude about a ramen filled future. I would also add the peace of mind that comes with having a good relationship with the other boarders at your barn. Having people you trust eyeballing your horse throughout the day when you are not there can be a lifesaver.
    After a lifetime of worship from afar, I got my first horse at the ripe old age of 42. Never too late to begin yet another steep learning curve- it has been worth every second and every cent. Enjoy!!!!

  2. First, congratulations and good luck.

    My go to items are duct tape,vet wrap and Animalintex. Don’t leave home without them. With these three items you can cure practically anything. When needed your sense of humor will get you through.

    1. This is the year I discovered…
      The. Furminator.
      Holy cow does that thing WORK. I was able to shed out an older horse totally – as in thick fistfulls of hair – in under an hour. Prior to a barn mate having pity on me I’d been using a combo shedding blade and curry and getting no where. LOL she made me promise NOT to tell anyone where she hides it. They are expensive.

  3. Stethoscope. I didn’t know how essential until I’d owned a horse for years and years, now it’s an item I gotta have–not only for checking heartrate on a horse (to judge fitness if you’re an endurance yabbo like me, or to check “un-ease” in a horse you suspect might be ADR), but also for checking gut sounds. Know ahead of time what gut sounds are normal in YOUR happy, non-colicky horse (every horse is slightly different), so that if he’s acting weird you can listen in on the tum and instantly know if the gut is the problem.

    If you haven’t done this much, get your vet to coach you, it’s easy. (and it makes your vet sooooo much more confident in you if you call and say, “something’s wrong, but his heartrate is 38bpm and his gut sounds are pingy-er than usual”)

  4. Everyone else will state the obvious, so allow me to state the unobvious:

    Pool noodles.

    They come in handy if you have to for-real pad the horse’s stall/run (ask me how I know…). Or you can use them for sword fights in the barn aisle. This is not childish; this is bombproofing.

    I am so happy for you!

    1. Pool noodles. Brilliant. I can put them next to the hula hoops! (for real) A lot cheaper than pipe insulation, and fashionable color statement on the paddock rails. Paired with the new color-range duct tape, the possibilities are endless.

      Bella is going to hurt me. Hudson and Dinero are paddock mates.

    1. Trust Fund. The holy grail of horse ownership. A moment of silence while we all pause and dreamily reflect on the possibilities…

      Check: Skinny hoof pick with brush (for that skinny area of the frog near the heel) and Iron Man hoof pick for those tough boulders on the trail! Good one. Camera, sort of check. If I remember!

  5. Here’s my list of [absolutely necessary] stuff:
    1. An official Boo-Boo Box (ours has skin renovator – awesome stuff – bandages, ichthamol and peroxide in a ketchup bottle) and a “vet” book;
    2. Treats (for use during administration of any of the items listed above);
    3. Love and a positive attitude.

    Possibly a Xanax for the previous owner? Poor gal :o\

    1. *Ketchup bottles*!!! for easy med application. Totally awesome. Thank you!

      Treats: awesome also. Hudson gets gonzo on sugar feed, so his treats are carrots, but a jar of sugar treats for emergencies, brilliant.

      Tell us more of this…skin rennovator….? Have I died and gone to horse recovery heaven?

      Drugs for Bella. Now why didn’t I think of that? Oh Bella, yoo hoo, I have some brownies for you….

  6. This may sound weird, but salt water is one of the most important things that I keep in my tack box. I use a regular water bottle and put a tablespoon of table salt in it. I use use salt water on the insect bites, cuts and scraps that my horse regularly has. To avoid thrush, I also rinse my horse’s feet with it and take a brush to the nooks and crannies if it looks a little funky around the frog area. It really works, it’s inexpensive and is not as messy or caustic as some remedies.

  7. Things I had to own as soon as I owned Tucker… let’s see, I went out and bought him a halter and lead rope (he was 5 months old, it was as close as I could get to tack). I also immediately had to have first aid supplies — vet wrap, non-stick gauze, saline, betadine, duct tape. (He’s a little accident prone). I had some leftover brushes from the last horse…. the rest of it I accumulated over time. It now fills three trunks. Huh. How did that happen? (I still keep those same first aid items on hand, btw.)

    Hudson is going to LOVE having his every minor detail attended to!

    1. This made me laugh, because I went into panic mode over not having “stuff”. Um. I have my own section in the tack room. Where, not owning a horse, I keep boo-boo gel, polos, fly spray, shampoos. Pretty much everything but the horse, and the vet supplies, but I wanted to get all ideas! So many new products have come out.

      Hudson loving every minor detail: I gave him a total detailing-him-out bath yesterday. Polished the chrome, trimmed the whiskers. Cranky face. Clean, sparkly, dry, gorgeous I put him back in the paddock, where he immediately dropped and rolled. Cracked me UP.

  8. AHAHAHAH! Sounds like me when I brought Solo home. My first horse and I was as freaked as a 10 year old. Only I was 26. My favourite horse ownery things are (1) All Horse Systems Go – best vet book EVER and it’s CURRENT (2) Google (3) lack of attachment to my paycheck, which is handy because I never get to see any of it (4) hay string. What else do you need? Oh yeah — BUY A HELMET!!!

    1. OOOO0000000….a great vet book recommendation. On it! Thanks!
      Google, on my cell now. Yay!
      Lack of attachment to checkbook requires in depth therapy, but I don’t think we can afford that now? 😉
      Two helmets!

    1. Because we’re worried I’ll hold up a feed store? I did ask Dr. Bob what he’d recommend having on hand. His answer was eerily reminiscent of yours: if I had to seriously be more prepared than I already am, two things;
      1) bute &
      2) a stethoscope
      he said we just buy the rest in a panic when we need it. 😉

    1. Awww. So true, huh. See Hudson rolling, above. Two hours of scrubbing, 3 seconds of knees dropping. I burst out laughing. What else can we do? They’re horses.

      I did picture doing that amount of work on my car. Then I pictured my car rolling in the dirt. Ah, the imagination of a sick mind.

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