Feb 27, 2011

Vetting Horses

Sorry the prior post was all over the board. I should have gone on to say that while I am sad that we lost Pretty Kitty, I wasn't that attached to the cat. It can be said that I'm a dog person. I enjoy the 24/7 companionship I get from my dogs; their unconditional love. Cats? Not so much. While I enjoy having cats around the farm, I am not keen on having them indoors. But I'm a softy and when it gets so cold out, I feel better when they are inside, too. And that little one-eyed Mickey kitty has tugged at the heart strings a bit.

But about the horses….

A few weeks ago, my friend, Anita, found a skunk in her corral. It was literally between her horse's legs, biting at the pasterns. She quickly shot the skunk and called the vet. The skunk would be tested for rabies, but she was to assume it was rabid and take appropriate precautions. Luckily, her horses were all vaccinated for rabies, although she was advised to vaccinate them again that day.

I've always been good about vaccinating the horses each year with what I deem appropriate vaccines for this area. However, last year was the first year I ever vaccinated for rabies. In retrospect, that should be one of the top things I vaccinate for as it is always fatal. When I heard about Anita's horse being attacked by a skunk, I quickly checked my records to see when it was time to revaccinate, as horses need boostered once a year. I was surprised to find Windy was past due; the others were due this next month. Windy always seems to get on a different schedule; she travels more, so I use the vet more often with her because she needs health papers more frequently and sometimes it is just easier to have him do it all. Most often, though, we buy the vaccines from the local vet supply store and administer the shots to our horses.

The rabies vaccine can be purchased at the veterinary supply store. A 10 ml vial costs $22 and will vaccinate all five of my horses. It is probably one of the most inexpensive vaccines. We picked up a vial along with the other shots and today was vetting day in the barn. The weather was cold and damp and the wind blowing. The horses were all fresh but settled down to get their shots. And I am glad to have all 5 of them on the same schedule now.

Please consider vaccinating your horse for rabies or at a minimum, visit with your vet about the risks. Anita could have lost all her horses the day the rabid skunk entered her corral had they not been vaccinated for protection against rabies.

Vetting Animals

Today's blog was supposed to be about vetting the horses. But when I started writing it, it took a weird turn and before I knew it, I was telling you about my dog, Macy, that I lost in 1998. Although I was truly devastated at the time (and still am), having her illness hit so suddenly, I found myself three paragraphs into the Macy story when I realized I would never get back to what I wanted to talk about today. It's kind of like when I go out to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee and notice the kid's socks on the floor and pick them up and take to the laundry room and then see the laundry from two days ago is still in the dryer. So I start to fold those and decide I should start another load. So then I start wondering from bedroom to bedroom picking up clothes to complete the load and stop at the computer on the way through to check email and then before I know it, the coffee I poured 40 minutes ago is now cold and long forgotten.

Now if you are still with me after that paragraph, I congratulate you for hanging with me. And the true intent of this post had to do with rabies and horses but somehow, I got sidetracked on the cats. So let's go with it.

Tom was born in a feed bag the same month and year as Windy. So that makes him 9 this year. A neutered tom cat, he stays outside mostly and will come in the house every few weeks for a little human comfort and warmth and then off he goes again. The longest he was ever gone was probably over a week; long enough that I noticed. He came back skinny and weak. Spent several weeks in the house and then was off again.

A few years ago, we had this kitty hanging around. He was a black and white tuxedo kitty and very, very pretty. We appropriately named him Pretty Kitty. It took a while for the kids to catch him, even longer for them to tame him. We had him neutered and treated for some bad congestion and he stayed inside any chance he got.

The other cat is Mickey, the one-eyed cat. He came wondering out of the cornstalks and into our family. Another male, another clipping (you'd think those boys would learn!). Mickey lives in the barn most of the time, but comes in on cold days. He is laying behind me on the wing chair as I type.

The there are the dogs: Maddie, Ritz and Bo. I think you are familiar with them – they seem to be more blogworthy than their feline counterparts.

Okay, where was I going with this? Vetting.

Last week or so, Pretty Kitty was once again going through respiratory problems which had plagued him most of his life. Treatment would work for a little while and then he would get all congested and snotty again. Truth be told, he wasn't very pretty when he was like this. This last bout was worse; he was listless and wouldn't eat. I decided he had suffered enough and called the vet to take him in to be euthanized. I realized at the time, the dogs were in need of vaccines, too. So I put Pretty Kitty in a laundry basket and loaded the dogs in the Durango and made the short trip to the vet. He gave Pretty Kitty a sedative first and then went to the car to take care of the dogs. (We are pretty casual with our vetting here.) And then we went back in and put Pretty Kitty to sleep. Being a lifelong pet lover, it was the first time I ever watched euthanasia.

There was a point to this post - and it was horse related. But I realize now I have missed it and once again, my coffee is cold.

Feb 24, 2011

The Extreme Cowboy Race

I've been knee deep in finishing the Expo schedule and getting it to the person handling the event program. You would think by now it would be a well-oiled process. It is, mostly, but there are always issues: before, during and even after the presses roll.

We also wrote up the dreaded work orders that need submitted to the event center. We need x amount of bleachers here and x amount of bleachers there and a microphone here, a sound system there and tables and chairs every where.... Our facility has 3 arenas, 1 round pen presentation area, a lecture hall, a large exhibit hall, a vendor pavilion and my favorite place, the barn. The complex, The Lancaster Event Center, is huge.

It was down to the wire, but Craig Cameron has agreed to do his Extreme Cowboy Race on the Saturday night of Expo. The event is limited to 20 riders and there are still some rider spots open if you want to join the fun. If you enter yet this week, there is a good chance you'll make the cut.

You’ve seen it on RFD-TV.

Now it’s your turn to play.


hosted by the legendary Craig Cameron

is coming to the Nebraska Horse Expo on Saturday night, March 12.

Twenty horse & rider teams will run a course of obstacles.

Riders are scored on their time and horsemanship.

Don’t miss the opportunity to ride in or watch this SPECTACULAR Expo Event.

The Extreme Cowboy Race flier

Limited to the first 20 entries. No contestants under age 13.

Complete the Registration Form & Waiver found online & send it in

for your chance to ride with Craig Cameron!

I know this Expo stuff must be kind of boring for you out-of-state readers. I'll get back to my regularly scheduled horse life soon!

As usual, the weather report: We had 4 inches of snow in Lincoln today. Driving home was treacherous until I reached the highway just 2 miles south of me and found it totally dry. The snow missed our place. I should go out and buy a lottery ticket! It was our lucky day.

Feb 19, 2011

The Cattle Drive

Our neighbor called last night and asked if we wanted to help move one hundred plus head of cattle from the cornstalks to their farm. They will start calving soon and it is easier for them to manage when the cows are dry-lotted. (I have no idea if bringing cows up into a large corral is called dry-lotting like it is called with horses, but since most of you are horse people, we'll go with it.) I was excited to give it a try. I have moved a big herd with Blue many years ago but other than moving our little herd of cows, Windy doesn't have a lot of experience doing cow work. Being Pitzer bred, she has the blood for it, but does she have the guts? And do I have the guts to ride it out should she decide this isn't such a good idea? I was nervous, much in the way you anticipate a roller coaster ride.

We were to be at the field where the cows were located at 9:00 this morning; just a mile and a half down the road. With John on Ginger, we left the yard about 8:15. I wanted to give the horses plenty of time to see such a big herd before we actually started moving them. As we approached the field, Windy did get pretty big eyed over the cows, especially when they started moving as a herd toward us! We stopped and moved off to the side of the road to wait for the others. We certainly didn't want any crazy shenanigans our horses might exhibit to spook the cows and have a stampede before the drive even started.

It wasn't long before the rest of the crew showed up. There was one other horse & rider, a couple of trucks to block the intersection, a gator, a tractor with a feed wagon as "bait" for the cows and about a half dozen ATVs. We were quickly given instructions: the ATV's would go flush out the cows and bring them toward us. We were to head out to the west cornfield, the only side of the road without fencing, and keep the cows from coming into the cornfield. He assured us that a few always stray, so not to worry about it.

Flashback to WKRP in Cincinnati – remember that show? Remember when Les Nessman was on the ball team and he stood outfield and prayed that the ball wouldn't be thrown to him. Well, I felt kind of like Les. Oh, please God, don't have any of those cows stray into the field. I had visions of Windy rearing and falling over on me and the ATVs whipping around with cows stampeding. What had I gotten myself into? I looked at John and Ginger thinking perhaps I should switch horses with him Right.Now. But Ginger didn't look any safer than Windy at the moment.

There was a tree line blocking our view of the approaching cattle. But Windy could make out the movements and her ears were up and she was bracing. I'm pretty sure she grew to 17 hands in that first moment. "Keep her feet moving," the little voice kept saying in my head and I would move her off my leg, circle her around and approach slowly. Those bossy cows were moving fast! If they were horses, they would be doing a road trot! And then "whizzzzzz"! Here come the ATVs around both sides of me. Windy held her own with those, but when the other lone horse came galloping by, she had a moment of confusion. She's never been one to be rushed by the energy of other horses, but no doubt she was a little overwhelmed. I snugged up the reins and kept talking to her, "easy, easy, Poo," and we started trotting toward the cows. I thought if she kept looking at them, we would be alright. And we were.

We ran along the field parallel to the herd of cows. Occasionally she would move into a lope, but most of the time we were long trotting. None of the cows strayed nor did my horse bolt. She was excited, but was not out of control. I'm not sure how John and Ginger faired; most of the time they were behind me or out of my view. From the comments made by the ATV riders later, I think I had the calmer horse. J I did get a bit nervous when we trotted out of the field, through a road ditch and needed to drop back down into the next field. Windy and I had just fallen on ice in one of the road ditches yesterday, and I was worried about the footing. I pulled her in a bit as we dropped down into that next field, relieved to find it dry.

After another quarter mile, the road narrowed to minimum maintenance and there was fencing on both sides. John and I dropped to the back of the drive. Windy wasn't ready to quit; she continued at a fast walk, passing the gator and coming up between a couple of ATVs. I kept her pretty collected at this time as I found anytime I loosened the reins, she would try to break into a trot. I really think she was having a good time. This was also the only time I managed to get a few pictures taken.

After those cows were put in the dry lot, we continued to the next field about ¾ mile down the road. I remember galloping down the road next to an ATV, feeling a bit more horse than I am used to riding, but fun in a way that a carnival ride makes you feel. There were only 50 cows in this next field. Once again, we rode along the cornfield next to the herd. When the road narrowed, Windy worked herself up nearer and nearer to the cows until we were almost flanking the last slow cow of the herd. Again, it surprised me was how fast the cows moved. Up until that point, we had long trotted or loped most of the way. Once I set my fear aside and let my horse have her head a bit, it was really invigorating and quite a rush.

After the ride, we put our horses in a small stall in the farmer's barn. The matriarch of the farm provided coffee, burgers and donuts. Everyone was pleased with how the drive went and we never lost a cow. I found out the other rider's horse was a 23-year-old rope horse; had been there and done that around cattle. And even as seasoned as that horse was, he had a little spring in his step. It must be in his blood, too. As we were leaving, our neighbor asked if he could pay us for our time. We said he could, by inviting us back the next time! I had a blast!

Feb 17, 2011

Crunch Time

We are just three weeks away from the Nebraska Horse Expo. Usually by November and December, I am tired of meetings, tired of planning and swear this is my last year on the committee. And then we have our meeting at the event center where the Expo is held, and the smell of horse and the ambiance of the barn (yes, barns do have an ambiance) brings it all back and I am once again happy to be involved with Expo and working with such a fine group of other horse people who make it all happen.

The first year I was on the committee, I was responsible for clinicians, round pen demos, lectures, scheduling and t-shirts. Plus I bought two horses to have worked with by the clinician and I did a couple lectures on trail riding. I really did bite off more than I could chew.

The next few years, we got more volunteers and I started cutting back on my responsibilities. This year, I am still doing the scheduling and somehow, I also ended up in charge of the dance on Friday night. Now you all know I am the dancin' queen (not)!

This weekend I am working on the schedule to meet the deadline for our program. In addition, I am also working on the Saturday night feature and we are relying on a lot of assumptions and a little prayer. So considering I work best under pressure, I should be producing my best work yet. (Nervous laugh.)

Check out the Nebraska Horse Expo.

Our special guests are Craig Cameron, Van Hargis,

Jimmie Gibbs Munroe and Monte Bruce.

There is still time to submit your favorite photo for the Expo Photo Contest.

Or, you might want to participate in the NBHA Barrel Racing on Friday night

or our Youth Rodeo on Sunday.

Follow the above links for entry information.

And thank you for continuing to support the horse industry in Nebraska by attending our Expo.

Feb 13, 2011


It is 64 degrees today.
In February.
In Nebraska.
You all know what I did today!

Feb 12, 2011

Life on the Farm

Having missed the arctic blast, I arrived home to a chilly, but fair, 22 degrees. The only casualty from this last weather assault was the death of our rooster. Since he made it through the winter of hell (2010), I can only surmise that he meet his demise by hoof, not climate – most likely that of Butter, who I saw go after him on more than one occasion. I can’t say I blame Butter, if she was truly the perp, as he was a mean rooster. He had become a somewhat infamous barnyard icon around here making his mark on more than one of my kids’, their friends’ or cousins’ legs. He will be missed, for no other reason than we were so used to walking softly around him to avoid an unprovoked attack.

And for those who wonder if perhaps Bo finally got his rooster? He’s got an alibi. It happened overnight when Bo was tucked warmly in the house.

Ritz has become such a pest when I am grooming or saddling the horses, his impatience showing by circling my work area, trying to herd me along. So yesterday, when I tied Windy up to saddle, I also put a lead rope on Ritz and tied him to a post. I ignored his crying while I took no more than 5 minutes to quickly brush the grime off Windy and toss on her saddle. When I turned my attention back to Ritz, I noticed him wrapped in the lead rope with it in his mouth. “Cute,” I thought, as I pulled out my Blackberry to snap a picture of him. Before I could put the camera away, Ritz had gnawed through that lead rope and was free. I guess he showed me. Ah-ha! We’ll see how well he works a chain next time! Brat dog!

It was nearing 45 degrees and the big thaw was on. I picked out some dry spots in the pasture, driveway and arena to ride, but quickly bored of the mud and the muck and a somewhat feisty mare. When I came in to grab a bite to eat, I had an email from a friend, Mary, who was riding at her place not far from me and asked if I wanted to join her. She didn’t have to ask twice. I hooked up my trailer, loaded my horse and drove the short 20 miles to meet her at her home.

Mary’s rides and drives Morgan horses and has a good eye for horse flesh. She had her gelding, Duke, tied to the hitching post when we arrived. He is coming off an injury from last season and she is slowly trying to get more time on him now that he is sound. I saddled and we headed over the the CRP land across the road, blasting through some pretty deep snow drifts. When we got back onto the road, I noticed Duke had a cut on his foot, so we took him back and she quickly saddled her mare, Sarah, and we rode off once again.

This time we rode through the cornfields, the dirt (muddy) roads and up an old railroad bed. The wind was getting stronger, but the sun felt good on both our backs and for our disposition. My mare had settled down and I got the good ride I was looking for. We looped our way back through her nearly unincorporated home town, riding down its main street. We rode just shy of two hours, beating the sunset by only a half an hour or so.

I have decided I am going to send Windy over to my trainer, Brenda Messick, for a few weeks this spring. There are some things I would like fine tuned with her that I know Brenda can help with. It’s always fun to have someone else work with your horse, especially when they come back better as a result of such training.

Feb 9, 2011

A Little Relief

The last few days have been bitter, bitter cold.

One night it was close to -25 wind chill.

Or so I'm told.

I missed it!

I spent the last three days in sunny Florida!

Dinner on the beach last night.

Lunch on the veranda this noon.

Every midwestern girl needs a little Florida

Especially in February.

I love my job!

Feb 5, 2011

Highs & Lows

What started out a bone chilling, blustery week ended up rather pleasant. The temperatures reached the mid-thirties yesterday which seemed like a heat wave in comparison to what it had been earlier in the week. Yesterday afternoon I took the blankets off the horses and delighted in seeing such clean coats underneath.

I saddled up Windy and took her into the arena for awhile. There were some deep drifts at the north end that she wasn't real keen on going through. So we would go a little farther into them each circle we made. It made me want to laugh out loud as she lunged through the belly deep snow. In places where there wasn't snow, the arena was getting muddy from the thaw. Overall, the footing wasn't wonderful, but good enough for a short workout. After I put her up, I slipped her bridle on Ginger and rode her bareback in the corral for another 30 minutes, having to stop once and rescue the rooster from the jaws of Bo.

I have never seen a lazier St. Bernard, so he sure must be sneaky to be able to grab that rooster so quickly. It also makes me question Bo's intentions or skills. The opportunity to get that rooster is there every day, but it's been almost two years, and the rooster still lives. Is it a catch and release game with Bo or is he just a poor hunter?

Ice is expected later today and the first part of the week is supposed to be in the single digits and teens once again. Ah, shucks. I'll miss it. I leave Monday for Florida! Sometimes these blasted business trips come along at just the right time.

Feb 4, 2011

Easy Peasy

If I'm going to have horses, I'm going to ride them.

To keep me focused on the task at hand,
each year I set a riding goal:

x amount of hours in the saddle.

To help me achieve that goal,

I often refer to what I rode the same month in the previous year.

I just checked my riding log from 2010.....


I rode zero hours in February 2010.

It was so cold and miserable last year,
I am not sure I even fed them!
(Just kidding, of course...)

Wow! I really set the bar high last year, didn't I?

I am pretty sure I'll end February 2011 ahead of plan.


The picture in this blog has nothing to do with riding. I was traveling yesterday and got to see the sun rise from the air. I can't believe I got such a shot that is so true to color with my Blackberry -- through a window!

Feb 1, 2011

Snow Day

The "worst storm this winter" was predicted to hit yesterday afternoon and carry its wrath through Wednesday. When I left for work that morning, it had already started. My windshield kept icing over and the first time I went to slow down, I felt ice underneath me and this at 6:30 AM. I have a thirty mile drive to work and knew it would continue to get worse as the day progressed, so I turned around and went home, choosing instead to work from my "home office." I can do pretty much everything I would do in the office from home, but couldn't do it every day. I enjoy the interaction with others. It is nice to have that option, though, on bad road days.

Before they got really wet yesterday, I enlisted John's help in blanketing the herd. I know I have mentioned it before; I blanket for me, more than I do the horses. They made it ten years without a winter blanket. But after last year's winter from hell, I got them blankets; even Baby inherited one this year, so why not used them. They have new round bales in the corral, but I dropped some alfalfa in the barn feeders just because. And they were ready for the storm.

We got a few inches of snow, which combined with the 20 – 40 mph winds, is causing drifting and white out conditions. I stayed home again today. When I went out to check on the horses this morning, I found four of them in the barn out of the wind. Butter was not with them. I was glad to find her in the portable shed, but sad that she was there by herself. Being the lowest in pecking order, she is seldom allowed in the barn, but usually hangs out nearby. She'd obviously had enough of that and found her own shelter. I dropped some more hay in the feeders of the barn and took a bale over to her, as well. I snapped the picture of her (shown at top of blog) with my Blackberry - she looked so brave to be there by herself. Poor Butter-butt.

The winds are expected to continue to blow with wind chills dipping down to almost -30* tonight. Although there are fresh round bales in the corral, I'll bundle up once more at dusk to feed the horses inside, keeping them out of the bitter wind. Although I enjoy barn time, horsekeeping in this weather is not fun. But every day is a day closer to spring – one day at a time.

On another subject, I like to change my header picture every month. I took this picture of the herd last week or so - liked that they were all in the same picture looking up this way - but I don't think I like the picture very well on the blog. It is not a "good" picture and photoshopping it didn't really help. So this month, there were two header pictures, though the first short-lived.