Friday, February 22, 2008

Safe Rather Than Sorry

The boarding facility to which I moved the Arabian Prince in late December is on a property owned by an air conditioning installation and repair business. Gina, who works in the office, used to own horses and keeps an eye out on things in the barn during the day in addition to doing the evening feeding. It is so nice to have someone around who actually notices when things aren't quite normal. I'd rather have a quick call that turns out to be nothing than find a disaster on my hands later on.

Gina also knows to call my trainer first, since Gayle is likely to be only a few blocks away at either the boarding facility where she keeps her horse or the one where she's got Family Equestrian Connection set up at the moment (that place has a decent arena but can only house 6 or 7 horses in enclosed stalls--not big enough for all of us and not right for horses who are used to going in and out, so we are scattered throughout the north-west San Fernando Valley.) Gayle can be there in a few minutes where it takes me at least 15 to get there at the best of times. (I do miss having Ace only a quarter of a mile down the road at the college, which is a mile from my house.)

Last week Gina called because Ace was wet when she went to feed. It turned out that Gayle's assistant had sponged him down after his training session (where he acted like a butt-head) and Gina had been out when he came back from FEC. Gina was rightly worried about colic signs. Last night, Gayle called to say Gina had noticed Ace looked sunken in front of his hip so Gayle ran over and did wonder if perhaps he wasn't drinking enough and was slightly dehydrated, another colic sign. Fortunately, it was also another false alarm. I checked out his water bucket and, though he's drinking less than on a warm day, he was not drinking less than he does on many days. Arabs just don't drink as much as other horses and this one drinks even less. The water was pretty cold which may not have suited him on a cold day. Fussy boy, but it is a good example about why a water bucket is a better choice than an automatic waterer.

For the past year, Ace has been in stalls with working automatic waterers but I've always kept a filled bucket available for him as well. He certainly knows how to use the automatics, but he generally chooses to use the filled bucket. It's at a more natural place for him to drink, since most automatic waterers appear to be mounted at warmblood or thoroughbred height, and he can drink uninterrupted for as long as he wants. Purdue did a study which concluded that it is always best to keep a tub of water available for horses because the smaller the automatic waterer, the longer horses spent at them for what amounted to less total water.

As I cleaned Ace's stall last night and he ate, it was a lovely quiet time with no noise other than the rain beating on the roof of the barn. I like that sound when I know the horse is warm and cozy with a nice thick bed of clean shavings to curl up in. I gave him some extra carrots and apples for the additional moisture and gave him a couple of good scratches in his favorite places. The rain had held off for most of the day, so he had been given a training session and deserved the evening rest.

If it clears up today, the arena might be suitable for a lesson tonight. If not, I'll keep my fingers crossed for tomorrow. Rain and wind have conspired against us this winter in a big way.

1 comment:

Victoria Cummings said...

I had Silk in a barn where the automatic waterers broke and even though there were plenty of grooms and trainers, no one noticed. Two horses died. So, I always keep at least two buckets in my horses' stalls. Sometimes, they just don't like the taste of the water in one. I've also encouraged them to drink from a bucket while i hold it. Very useful. If I think that Siete isn't drinking enough, I just fill the bucket and offer it to her. She always slurps the whole thing down. Lucky that you have someone to keep close watch on Ace.