Monthly Archives: August 2015

Lightning – You’re Damned If You Do, You’re Damned If You Don’t

So really, what is the answer.

We have had an unbelievable year for lightning strikes.  Yes it’s Florida.  Yes we’re the lightning capital of the world.  (This is such a great thing to be known for)  But how do you deal with it.

There are two schools of though.  Neither of which I can believe in.

One says – Put the horses in the barn.

The other one says – Leave them out.

Well I’ve seen horses killed in the barn and out of the barn.  It’s really a crap shoot.  Here we go, Russian Roulette.  Do you feel lucky today?

I was always told that if your horse had shoes on they’d be dead.  Two shoes, injured.  No shoes, okay.  Well that’s not the truth.  I’ve known horses with no shoes on, and they are as dead as the ones that did.

Do I have the answer to this?  Not at all.  I guess it’s all a matter of what you can do, and what you can live with.

Have you seen horses that have been hit by lightning directly or indirectly?  You don’t want to.  Some have the skin pull away and gas forms under the skin and the skin actually crackles.  They can be paralyzed on one side of the body.  It’s like a person who has had a stroke.  They can be perfectly fine on the outside and their internal organs and intestines can be cooked on the inside.  It’s just plain horrible.  You want to talk about the walking dead?

I’ve never seen this, but if they take a direct hit, their feet can blow off.

I can’t tell you how to handle a lightning situation with your horse.  I don’t know what to do with mine.  All I can tell you is that if they get hit, pray that they die instantly.

The Nose Knows

They used to advertise a program and say “Only The Shadow Knows.”  Well I’m putting a new spin on it.  “Only The Nose Knows.”

I think I border on Obsessive Compulsive.  I can be dirty as anything, but I can’t be sticky.  When I was a kid, if I had Ice Cream, and it got on my hands, I would walk over to where there was dirt, and rub my hands in the dirt.  No more sticky.  I’m still like that about sticky.  I don’t do sticky.

There are just some things in my life that I’m very intent on (putting it nicely).  One of those things is a clean barn.  My house can always use a dusting and vacuuming (I have no idea where the dirt comes from, but it’s there), but the stalls have to be clean and the floor swept.  Now that I have a 14 X 96 foot long aisle way, it’s not swept twice a day, but it’s usually clean.  I am a fanatic about clean stalls.  They have to look and smell like there has never been a horse in there.  Now we all know that is not an easy task.  Since my horses spend very little time in, it’s easier for me, but still drives me nuts.

Have you ever just finished the barn, stripped stalls, limed, new bedding, and you walk down the aisle and you can still smell it.  Yup, it’s stronger than ever.  The strong odor of urine/ammonia.  Well one day I decided that I had to find out where it was coming from.  Sniff, sniff, Aha! My corn broom.  You know those golden-yellow brooms that everyone has.  It was holding the urine along with that ammonia smell.  Well ever since then, after I’ve finished doing the barn, I take the broom, manure fork, and shovel out, and I hose them off.  Voila!!  Odor gone.  Urine, as we all know, will eat up anything if left long enough.  I’ve also found that by cleaning it, my broom lasts longer. When you put your broom away, put the handle down and rest the broom part against a wall upright.  Rotate the side and it will keep the broom like it was made.  Straight.  My friend suggested that, but it also kept the puppies from chewing on it at the time.  As Martha Stewart would say – “It’s a good thing.”

Urine and horse trailers, a big No No.  Before horse trailers were made of aluminum and had rubber mats, urine was the prime culprit for rotting out floors.  It’s still a good idea to hose out your trailer after every use and let it totally dry.  Don’t forget to clean under those mats.  It’s also the perfect time to check and make sure your floor is good and sturdy.  I’ve seen many horse trailer floors with holes rotted through.  It was cute on the Flintstones, but does nothing for a horses legs.

Now for the next thing.  Your wheel barrel.  I’m not kidding!  In the “good ole days” they were metal, and they rusted.  Back then I discovered that hosing them out made them last longer.  Yes they would rust once the paint was off them, but we had more productive years together.  Now I just hose them out to keep the smell at bay.  This way I can multi-use them without thinking.  If I want to throw a bale of hay into one, it’s already clean.  If I want to cart blankets or anything else I want to wash or hang out, it’s already clean.  If I want to tip the handles to the floor and use it for a seat with a nice back rest, it’s clean.  If my husband wants to use it to mix concrete in, yup, you guessed it, it’s already clean.  Not to mention if you are having a Wedding or Baby Shower at the barn, they make great Wishing Wells to hold presents.  My horsey friends would decorate them.  We’ve done this for years.  It even makes it easier to move the gifts to the car.  I don’t go to Showers unless they are held in a barn.

It only takes 60 seconds to hose everything out or off, but it makes a world of difference to your sniffer.  It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s a good thing!

It’s Just That Simple

Sometimes things are just so simple, we don’t even think of them.

My husband went to buy a new chain saw blade for his chain saw today.  The salesman asked him if he’d like him to dispose of the old one.  My husband said, no, I’ll keep that for when I cut a tree near the ground so the dirt won’t damage my new one.  The man stood there, looked at my husband, and said wow!, I never thought of that.  Dirt, rocks, gravel, really dull a blade fast, no matter what you are using to cut with.

So it is in the horse world too.  Most of the time it’s just plain old “horse sense”, but we fail to even think about things.

I love when I have a new student or boarder, they may bring to mind things that I just do normally, without thought.

We brought my boarders horse and one of mine into the barn to ride the other day, and put them on the cross ties.  Mine was on the cross tie in the center of the barn, hers was by the back doors.  I faced mine toward hers, and she faced hers toward mine.  Okay this made her horse more comfortable because he could see his pasture mate, BUT was it really safe.  I simply mentioned that when your horse is near a door, it’s always a good idea to let him face the outside, this way he can see what might go by that would frighten him.  I told her that you never know when my husband is going to come by with a tractor, or even just the golf cart.  The unknown flash of movement, and sound, going past the barn just could be a horse eating dragon, or it might not, but with him facing the door he’ll be able to see and hear it clearly, and make that judgement with more information.  She told me that it was a good idea.

When we went to turn both the horses loose, back into the pasture on another day, she asked about the best way to hang up the electric wire that goes across the gate. I said, “Oh just hang it anywhere so they won’t get caught in it.”  Her reply was, “well I just want to do it safely so I don’t get shocked, I got shocked all the time at the other barn”.  I explained that the wire over the gate wasn’t live until it was connected to the side where the electric is coming from.  You just have to run the wire from the dead side to the live side to let the electric flow to the rest of the fence line.  All our gates are like that.  She said she was an Art Major and didn’t get what I was trying to say.  So I explained again.  The wire in your hand is not electrified until you connect it to the live wire.  Any of the fence past the disconnected wire in your hand isn’t electrified either, until you connect that wire in your hand.  The light bulb went off!  “Why didn’t my other barn owner know to do that?”  We were both amazed for different reasons.  All she has to do is reverse the wire that goes across the gate.  No big deal.  People want to disconnect the wire and open the gate at the same side.  But what really determines where the wire opens, is where the electric is coming from.  It may be easier to have the gate latch and the electric handle in the same place, but I’ve been fried enough times to know that it really hurts.  We’re talking about a person who reached through a fence every day to turn on the water, and every day got nailed.  I just truly believed that I could do it today without getting shocked.  Never happened.  The one I have now doesn’t just curl your eye lashes, it’ll put you on the ground.  Ask my husband how he knows this.

There are just so many things, both in life and horses, that people just don’t think about.  How many times have I watched people try to open a gate up hill.  They push, they lift, they struggle.  I just calmly stand there, watch and say, “Open it the other way” and it swings in with no problem.  Ideally you want a gate to open both ways so that you can get one horse out, or in, without letting them all through.  Unless you are on a hill, then you only have one option.  But if you see that the ground rises, doesn’t it make you think?  Even a little?  If you are trying to lead one horse through the gate you want it to open toward you, so you can swing it shut behind your horse before the others get out.  If you try to open it out, chances are that the other horses are going to want to push through also.  Unless you have horses with manners that won’t do that.  Chances are if the one and only friend they have in their life is leaving, so are they.

I’ve covered many simple ideas in my previous posts, but they don’t always come to mind unless someone reminds me, the hard way.

It’s not rocket science, just plain old horse sense.

We’re Rounding The Far Turn

Not so much here in Florida, but summer is half over, and fall is coming into view.

Oh those beautiful crisp mornings to take your horse out for a romp.  They are slowly approaching.

Now is the time to think about what will need to be done.  Yes it’s my yearly wakeup call.

While the days are still hot, and hopefully dry, get those winter blankets out.  Dislodge all the bugs and rodents who have taken up residence, and get them washed and hung out to dry.  (The blankets, not the bugs and rodents.)  Let them dry in the beautiful fresh air and sunshine before the weather turns cold.  You don’t want to be cold and wet doing this sort of job.  I hate when that happens.  You still have plenty of time to send them out for repair, or do it yourself.  This needs to be done before everyone and their brother sends their stuff in, and you are stuck trying to put your husbands thermal underwear over that shaved neck, and your brand new comforter strapped around their bodies with duct tape.  Don’t ask me how I know this.

It’s still too early to worry about the other winter preparations, but blankets need a little more time.

Posts like this one are more of a reminder to me, rather than anyone else.  Although I am getting better, I do have a habit of waiting until the last minute.  When it’s in the 90’s I certainly don’t mind using the pressure washer on blankets.  It really feels good when the breeze blows the mist back on me.  Not so much when the temperature starts to drop.  I did move to Florida for a reason.  No blood = always cold.

Just make sure you put the clean blankets somewhere where the previous occupants don’t move in again.  I’ve never known a bug or rodent to send a note to housekeeping and say, “thank you for cleaning my apartment.”  They are just so ungrateful.

But most of all, enjoy the rest of your summer.  Winter will be here way to soon.