The Great Muzzle War has ended folks. Sadly I lost although I’m not sure there is a winner here as Eeyore is currently on stall rest from his latest muzzle induced injury and I may need to call the vet out soon if he doesn’t start to show signs of improvement.
The first injury occurred the second day he wore the darn thing. He came in with the entire right side of his nose swollen twice the normal size. I panicked thinking he would suffocate on his own stupidity, but it quickly went down and he was fine by the next morning. I still gave him a few days without it, so point for Eeyore.
Round #2 happened last week. He looked a little funny coming in for dinner and then I noticed it. He had somehow managed to get the bottom two velcro loops undone which loosened the bottom half of the muzzle. Ok, kinda smart dude. But then he got the stupid bottom lip of the muzzle STUCK IN HIS MOUTH and couldn’t get it back out. Who knows how long he stayed with the muzzle stuck inside his mouth. I almost gave him a point for this, but it still did the job of not letting him gorge on the spring grass, so I’m taking it. 1-1.
All went calmly for 5 days until yesterday. He was chilling by the water trough instead of at the gate with everyone else at dinner time. Odd. I looked closely and noted that the halter was no longer over his nose, it was hanging around his throat only. And the muzzle was missing. He was happily eating all the grass he wanted. I went to get him, cursing his name slightly, and then my heart dropped out of my chest. He was not putting any weight on his front left leg. He limped miserably and slowly back to the barn for dinner and inspection and there he remains today.
Best guess as to what happened: the muzzle was found inside the water trough and the spicket that fills the trough was torqued 90 degrees the wrong direction. I’m betting he wedged himself into the small space between the wooden pole protecting the spicket and rubbed his face on it to lever the darn muzzle off. He succeeded in ripping the muzzle off and into the trough as well as removing the bottom half of the halter. I’m guessing he then tweaked the front left leg trying to get out of the spot he wedged himself into. He has a very angry muscle attaching the upper leg to his chest and a swollen “knee”/carpal joint. He got bute and will remain on stall rest for the weekend. If he isn’t better Monday, I will call the vet.
Point for Eeyore. He wins. I’d rather a fat horse than a dead one.
This now raises the question of what do I do both short and long term to keep him fit and protect against laminitis/founder? He shows no signs of either but he is obese and the lush spring grass won’t help any. He needs managed sooner rather than later. I really wish I was at a boarding barn and could throw him in a lesson program or ask a barn rat to hop on him a few days a week when I can’t ride. But that isn’t the case and no way can I perform enough wife mathematical gymnastics to make it make sense to go from free care to $600/month.
Dusty and I spent the evening stewing over various short term options first:
1). Use the arena as a dry lot. This was the most obvious to pop out at us, but it also quickly got thrown away. Yes, there is no grass to eat, he would remain outside and it is a large enough space for movement. It also has no shelter, no water source and I have spent hundreds of hours turning it into a nice arena. The thought of hay and poop in it makes me want to cry.
2.) Stall him during the day/out at night. The solution most barns employ is simply reducing time in pasture. It goes against all my own personal horse management beliefs to leave him in a 12×12 box for 12 hours a day. He also cribs and is ulcer prone.
3.) Fence in the barn yard to create a dry lot. Not an official one with perfect footing because we don’t have time/money for that at the moment, but the grass is a weird variety that doesn’t grow very tall and the horses don’t like it much. A water source would be easy to come up with as it is in front of the barn, but shelter would be an issue. Thankfully it isn;t super hot at the moment.
4.) Sell him and buy a hard keeper who could use the grass. Only partly kidding here. It crossed my mind. I won’t do it because I adore him but he could try even a little bit to make my life easier.
At the end of it all, I think he is going to get the barnyard for the short term once he can leave his stall again. It only needs one cross line of electric strung from the barn to the existing wooden fence to make it a smaller area without any of the barn equipment reachable. I can drag a spare trough for water and hang a hay bag on the fence. It will be a bit of a pain to get in and out of the barn and use the tractor, but hopefully we get to the long term plan soon and reclaim our barn yard.
The long term plan is harder. I went down some pretty deep rabbit holes researching my options here. One even included buying a bunch of sheep as they are known to eat the pasture down enough to limit horse use and keep weeds at bay. But they seem to be a PITA to keep up and ignore electric altogether, so that won’t work.
The truth here folks is two fold: I LOVE green grass and large spaces for movement is of utmost priority for me in the way I manage my horses. It makes me immensely happy to watch Gem pick up a full blown canter and race the others across the pasture. This happens daily. They love the room too. I also get joy out of looking out at my farm and seeing fields of green. I don’t want large patches of dead dirt staring back at me. I also don’t want a dead laminitic horse, so I have to come up with a happy medium.
My solution? One that really makes the Hubby unhappy. Oops. Sorry Honey. You see, he has spent the last 2 years moving fence line. I’d come up with a plan, he would spend hours moving the long fence rows and then a few months later I’d realize and error in my planning and make him move it somewhere else. He is tired of moving fencing. My plan includes a whole lot of fencing.
We are going to build a Paradise Track System around the property. It is going to take some serious planning and maneuvering because I would like it to include as much of the acreage as possible versus creating three separate ones within each pasture. It would be super simple to just place an inner fence in each pasture to create an outer track and an inner field, but that isn’t what I want long term. If I’m going to do this, I want it to be great. We have woods we can incorporate into the track, plenty of natural protection and easy access to water sources everywhere. If done how I imagine, there should be enough grass to allow some grazing without gorging, lots of room to roam still and I can take them off the track and use it for conditioning. A win-win.
Poor Hubby though. It is going to be A LOT of fencing.