Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Musings

Today will definitely be random topics as I try and catch up with life. Since I teach and write plus take care of family and critters and volunteer, the workload sometimes gets hectic. My husband was gone all week and now this weekend all the kids plus significant others are here, so life went from quiet to crazy. Thus, random musings.

First: how do pets help keep you sane? There are many articles on pets=mental plus physical health, and I totally agree. We have three dogs and all contribute to the family, but our Chihuahua, Fang, is a constant source of love and entertainment. Until Fang we always had large dogs, but when my daughter headed off for college, I knew I needed a lap-lover to help fill the void. Fang was a rescue, and she has done the job! The other bloggers on this site have discussed the benefits of horses and donkeys, and I wanted to chime in about dogs. Chihuahuas are much maligned due to Paris Hilton-type owners, but the breed is incredibly smart and loyal and--at least Fang is--hardy.

Second musing: winter grooming. Virginia has mud this time of year and since my horses are very shaggy, keeping them clean is a nightmare. By the time I've finished currying, I am clogged with dust and they are, well, not much cleaner. It's too cold for baths and I don't believe in blanketing unless you ride/show all winter. Rain scald is a problem with my one horse. Any suggestions?

Third musing: Lord of Misrule. We've had some terrific book reviews on the blog, which is perfect for horse loving readers. Lord of Misrule won the National Book Award. I was pumped that a horse book 'won' such a great award, but after reading it, I was somewhat deflated. There is so much violence depicted in the racing industry, especially at the end, that when I finished the book all I could remember was the horrible crash instead of remembering the interesting characters and real horse details. Anyone else read it and react the same?

Fourth musing: news. I cut out a brief article from the paper. "The House of Delegates approved legislation making failure to feed and water farm animals a misdeanor . . .Offenders would be subjefct to a $250 fine." HUH? Did I miss something all my life? Do you mean before this, you could starve your cattle or sheep without penalty? Please, someone explain this to me!


Laura Crum said...

Alison--I enjoyed your musings very much. My critters are a comfort to me, too--including my one old dog (half Jack Russell, half Aussie Shepherd). The big lapsitter around here is the cat.

As for the mud/rain rot I hear you. I don't have mud right now, but it is supposed to rain all next week and I will be back in the muck again. I do not try to get the mud off my horses during these sessions. I tend to clean them up and try to keep them clean when nice weather comes again. But the ones who get rain rot (which seems to be something certain individuals are prone to) are a problem. I don't blanket either--except my oldsters during winter storms. I have found that if a horse is a little underweight it is more prone to rain rot, and sometimes bumping the nutrition up on such a horse will make the rain rot go away. The other thing I do is pick off all the scabs--this seems to help them heal. My son's horse, Henry used to get this--but he is slick and shiny right now with no scabs, so I think improved nutrition and lots of exercise has helped him. Its hard to exercise them in the mud, I know.

Topaz said...

One of my greatest joys is sitting on the couch with my four dogs. Three of them are larger: 70 lb golden retriever, 60 lb golden retriever and 60 lb hound mix. Then there's my heeler, he's only 35 lbs. He's like a tiny lap dog compared to them (though they all think they're lap dogs.) I love that little dog. I can take him out to the barn with me and trust him not to run off. He's really taken to agility, which pleases me greatly (the first dog I tried hated it, and the hound is just never doing to exceed at it.) He's just a little lover dog. There is never any doubt in your mind that you are the most awesome thing in his world. He was found on the side of a busy highway at six weeks and six pounds. The people that found him brought him to the horse show I was at and as soon as I laid eyes on him I was in love. The people that dumped him were idiots; he's the best dog I've had yet.

As for rain scald, the best product I found to work on Fudge's skin crud was Equiderma. The skin lotion is an every other day application and totally useable in the winter. It doesn't sting or smell nasty like MTG. In theory, you're supposed to wash with the special shampoo first, but you might be able to get away without. You might also consider a skin supplement to help the skin stay healthier. I like SmartShine (it's reasonably priced) and SmartShine Ultra.

Linda Benson said...

Alison - first I have to just say "Fang?" What a great name for a chihuahua. Made me laugh ;)

Also, I read Lord of Misrule as soon as I heard about it. Like you, I was excited that the National Book Award went to a book about horse racing. I believe a lot of readers will have trouble with this book, not only because the style of writing is a bit hard to digest, but because it's so dark, depicting violence to humans even more than horses. I liked it, and didn't like it, at the same time.

As to the last, I think abuse or cruelty to animals should be penalized by much more than a misdemeanor. Hanging, perhaps?

Amy said...

I enjoy reading your musings too, I have to agree. Animals give so much to us, they have so much unconditional love. There's a lot us humans can learn from them.

I don't have horses anymore, so I can't really help with the keeping them clean or the rain rot.

Talented K9

Kokomo said...

I use a vacuum on my horses in the winter. Takes the deep grime as well as the nasty mud (dry) right out of their coats. Works a treat. I believe it was instrumental in getting my mare's rain rot under control without having to bath her. Best invention ever. I thought the scitzy mare would be the biggest objector but non of my horses were hard to train. I found it easier than clippers.

Francesca Prescott said...

Err...what's rain rot??? Is it like mushroomy scabby things on their coat (not mushrooms, really, but that what we call those scabby things in French!)? Is it contagious? If it's what I'm thinking of, we usually wash them with a antibacterial shampoo, but that's in the summer of course. And we don't share brushes when some horses are affected. But maybe I'm thinking of something else.

I can't imagine life without my animals. My two little dogs (a big Yorkie and a Cavalier King Charles) are constantly glued to me, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Leo (the King Charles) loves to lie on me while I watch TV, he keeps me warm in the winter months!

Alison said...

Laura and Topaz--thanks for chiming on your pet stories and rain scald solutions. I hear ya about the nutrition but this horse is definitely not underweight. He gets wonderful hay, some grain (not much since he does little) and Biotin for his hooves (I don't shoe) I hate to add one more supplement. Topaz suggested SmartShine, but Biotin is already $$. I do think I will get the Equiderma if there is another breakout.

PS I agree, anyone who dumps a dog is an idiot!

Alison said...

Linda--I think we had the same reaction to Lord of Misrule. It was like watching a train wreck--I couldn't stop reading, but after finishing, I can't honestly recommend the book to anyone!

My husband named Fang saying such a tiny dog needed a tough name.

Thanks Amy for your own 'musings'!

Kokomo--I love the idea of a vacuum!

Francesca--yes, rain rot/scald is mushroomy scabby things. EUW. That sounds far worse than rain rot. Give your two pups kisses for me!