Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Argus Spring Update: Knees, Teeth...And A New Brother!

For everyone that has been emailing and asking for updates, here you go!

After a very wet winter, spring is starting to emerge at Watermark Farm. For the most part, Argus has whiled away the long, bleak days with Odie and Ridge at his side. He continues to learn new things, and experience new things.

Argus loves to eat his nightly bucket of pelleted feeds in his stall, which is attached to a paddock which is attached to the pasture. He panics when we shut that paddock gate, so every night, Ridge and Odie come in from the pasture into their paddocks. Argus' gate is left open, so he can move in and out. This winter, for the first time, Argus was able to not only tolerate eating his meals inside his stall, but he LIKES it! Go figure. Each night, we we bring the horses in from turnout, Argus waits patiently in his stall for me to bring him his dinner. It amazes me that even after more than two years with us, Argus still makes changes.

Argus had his teeth floated and knees injected recently. His knees are extremely arthritic and so joint injections every 9 months are the only way to keep him pasture sound. The difference with those knee injections is incredible.

Argus goes from quivering knees that he can't straighten fully to being almost normal. Big thanks to his friend Dr. Miller for providing this service (which normally costs $500) to Argus at no cost.

Good news! When Argus arrived in foster care, his front teeth were a mess of black cavities. I'd never seen a horse with cavities like that. During Argus' recent teeth floating, Dr. Miller worked on the incisors. He noted that the cavities are disappearing! Since a horse's teeth constantly erupt, as the vet has filed them down each year, combined with Argus' good diet, the decay has stopped and now with time will simply be ground off. Dr. Miller says the cause of all this decay is because Argus was fed bacteria-laden rotting produce ---- lettuce, bell peppers, etc. The constant stream of bacteria in his feed also rotted his teeth.

Argus has had a hard time adjusting to Ridge, who is now being ridden regularly and has healed from his fractured pelvis (yay Ridge!) being taken out of the pasture and going on rides. At first, Argus panicked so much that we had to lock him in his paddock so he wouldn't run around and hurt himself. He ran himself into a lather, even if he could SEE Ridge in the arena right next to him. When we removed Odie for a ride as well, it was awful to see how miserable Argus became. With no Half Pint to stand in the pasture and calm him, this was a different experience for everyone.

Over time, and with a lot of patience, Argus is now able to tolerate our taking Ridge and Odie away in the trailer for a trail long as our sole mare (Angel) stands in the paddock next to him, AND as long as I ply him with alfalfa. It's taken several months to get to this point, but Argus is slowly getting used to having his friends come and go.

Argus' bond with Ridge and Odie is very strong, but at the same time, it's important that horses don't become so "herd bound" to each other that they cannot ever be separated for grooming, riding or farrier or veterinary care.

On New Year's Eve, we had a scary night. It seems that every person in our rural area decided to light off entire packs of firecrackers, or illegal fireworks, or shoot their guns. From 10pm to 1am, I stood in the barn, on guard. The horses were all calm, except for poor Argus, who was simply terrified of the noise and flashing lights. I could not catch Argus to calm him. A funny thing happened. I noticed that Ridge and Odie kept moving themselves so that Argus was sandwiched between them in the pasture. They stood very close to him, touching. He shook very hard. They calmly stood for hours, moving slightly to keep enclosing him. Thanks to those two sweet and brave horses, Argus made it through the night without panicking.

On a sad note, we lost our dear Shetland pony, Ginger, in February. She had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure last fall, so we knew it was coming. She lay down in the barn late one night, and could not get up. The vet came at 1am and put her to sleep. Ginger was about 35 years old, and we miss her terribly.

On a happy note....our little shrinking horse family just expanded. "Indiana Jones" is a 20 year old Dutch warmblood/Arabian cross that has joined us as a Pony Club mount for our 12 year old daughter, Shelby. Indy is also a rescue horse! It is entirely coincidental that he is also white. So this year, we'll have three white horses and one partially white mule out in the pasture. It should be fun!

(NO! This is neither Argus nor Ridge!)

Love and hugs to everyone from Argus, Ridge, Odie, Angel and their new "brother" Indy!