Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dry and Warm

Our dry, warm California weather continues, a blessing for sick horses but a curse for thirsty reservoirs and crops. January was the fourth driest on record. I stand in the normally muddy winter pasture and feel a sense of dread as I gaze out over bone-dry, fluffy soil. The sky above is blue and clear, and I say a silent prayer for rain. Everyone is gearing up for 50% water rationing. We're blessed with a robust water table here, but still worry about our well. A day in the 70s is not unusual. The horses are quickly shedding their long winter coats, leaving patches of hair where they had a brisk roll.

This is what our pasture normally looks like in winter:


This is what the same spot looks like today. I'm busy building cross country jumps and spreading wood chips with the tractor --- in February!


Argus continues to do well and gain strength. He is cantering in the pasture now, and goes out with the whole gang: Caleb, Half Pint, and Odie (Ridge, who has a fractured pelvis, will be on strict barn rest for a number of months). Yesterday, I opened up the summer pasture, and watched the four horses circle happily around the big field. Odie did his "crazy mule run," where he runs fast with his head sticking up in the air, while Half Pint lumbered along behind. Argus broke a sweat, making wide circles around the pasture. He is such an elegant mover. As I watched him canter a big, balanced circle around me, I imagined him all tacked up with a rider on his back, confidently tackling a cross country course.

This week, Argus will have more blood drawn. Among other things, the vet will be looking to see if his white blood cell count has dropped to within a normal range. If that is the case, we will continue with the antibiotics for another 2-4 weeks. If his white blood cell count has increased, it may indicate the bacteria's growing resistance to the medications, and Argus will have to go back on more injections of Naxcel. Let's hope for a good test!

Argus now eats his medication twice daily in a bucket of alfalfa meal with molasses. He knows this routine, and comes into his stall each morning with an expectant look on his face. He is shy about eating in front of me, so I feed him and then leave the barn for a while. When I come back, his bucket is empty, and he's waiting at his paddock gate, ready to go out for the day. He always looks pleased when I reach for the gate latch to let him out. I think he finally realizes that he will never be locked in again.

I am working on an update on all the horses who were pulled from Argus' old home. All but one have found wonderful permanent homes. I am collecting photos and will share these warm stories with you shortly.


Anonymous said...

What happened to Ridge? He's such a nice horse and your story of how you ended up with him is just as heartwarming as your Argus story. I hope he heals and is able to work again.

Also, I see you often mention Argus's lovely movement. When he is fully recovered, have you ever thought of training him a bit? Just training him to lunge, groundrive, etc would provide a fun way to interact with him and could possibly lead to more...I'm a big proponent of training even minimally useful horses simply because it seems to be good for their mind/longevity. Maybe he could learn to drive or even be a light riding horse? It probably isn't that logical to bother breaking out an older horse (especially one with Argus's physiical compromises), but i've known some horses that were broke as 13 and 14 year olds that went on to be wonderful riding horses.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear the drama's have (at least temporarily) ceased; the sun is shining and all is good.

Fingers crossed that the calmer waters are here for a while.

It's a fine line though - your blogs written when things aren't going well are nothing short of hilarious - mainly because we've all been there at some point, you're just so eloquent in describing dramas. :) On balance though, I'd rather hear life at Watermark Farm is good than be entertained by your great writing.

C'mon Argie - you're nearly through this now... Just bring in some good blood results.

Jingles to your 'twin' Ridge too.

Tara said...

I sure wish you would post a video of Argus going around the field! I'd love to see him moving!

Anonymous said...

And a video of the crazy mule run - pleeeeaaasssse

Katie said...

Argus has learned to lunge, but honestly, I'm too busy schooling and training other horses to spend a lot of time ground driving him, etc. He can't tolerate a lot of lungeing because he has pretty advanced arthritic changes in his knees. He gets both knees injected to help him be pasture sound.

As for starting him under saddle, he has so many physical abnormalities that it would be unkind.

He's a bit of an aloof horse and he's not what I would call a "pocket pony," so he's happy having his routine and being turned out. I do have retired horses here who need more engagement to be happy, but I honestly think that Argus is still experiencing the world in such amazement that a day in the pasture is still full of wonder.

I do see what he could have been, under different circumstances: One heck of a nice sporthorse!

Katie said...

Oh, as for Ridge...

He's been intermittently very slightly "off" behind since last spring. It became more pronounced in the fall, and by October was very serious. Despite a complete lameness evaluation, we could not find the source. Finally, in November, he was diagnosed with a fractured ileum (pelvis) via ultrasound.

We think that he fell in pasture at some point and cracked his pelvis. As time went on, the fracture displaced slightly.

It's a long healing period --- 6-8 months to start, and 12 months to fully heal --- but the prognosis for Ridge to return to work is very good.

Lesson: Get a cheap ultrasound done on horses with mysterious hind end lameness! I am finding that pelvic fractures are far more common than you might think.

KD said...

Good wishes for rain and for a good report on Argus.....

rose said...

Praying for nice blood test results and for some rain! Mud, mud we want mud!

Sport's Mom said...

That freaks me out so bad! Our winter here in the Southfreeze has been just as wet as usual.

Amy said...

I have been seeing and reading environmental scientists discussing their fears of a bad california drought. i believe the western states are going to have a tough tough year. you need some rain dances.

Doodlebug said...

Glad to hear Argus and you are on the mend. I bet he's missing his daily giggle at you dressed up to the nines!

Oh, if only we could push the weather westwards, I'd happily donate some rain!

Here in the UK we're colder and wetter than we have been for a while. I'm really coastal so we haven't seen the snow that the rest of the UK has, just relentless rain.

My mom, who is American, has just been visiting family in San Mateo county, CA and it was really, really warm - which for the peninsular in January is pretty weird. My grandparents who have lived on the peninsular for at least 60 years are definitely under the impression this is one of the warmest januarys they have known.

I would offer to do a raindance for you :) but fear to in case more rain got dumped on me instead :(

Y. Sarah said...
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Sarah said...

Katie, first of all, congratulations on Argus's progress - let's keep hoping for that normal white count!

Second, I want to thank you for mentioning Ridge's ultrasound. Because of this, I will have my vet run an ultrasound on my older horse, who came up with an unresolved, intermittent hind-end lameness. Except for a slightly loose stifle, the hind legs came up clean - and we had narrowed it to "something" in the pelvis. Due to the situation where I had him boarded at the time, it's entirely possible that he had fallen, and damaged his pelvis, and I wasn't told - so, I'll have the vet ultrasound him. Your suggestion could save another horses a whole lot of pain - THANK YOU :)

Sport's Mom said...

Can we have an update on Argies please? :)

PaintedPromise said...

prayers coming for a good blood test result, and quick healing for Ridge!

and can't wait for the updates on the other horses, LOVE happy endings...