I'm not actually talking about roses, though they smell wonderful. I'm talking about manure & if it's smelling like roses, well in my opinion you have a real problem! LOL.
Everyone is so busy these days! Jobs, school, run here, rush there. How much time do you actually spend each day checking your horse? When was the last time you ran your hands over his or her entire body & felt to see if there was swelling, heat or even an abrasion? Catching something early can mean a world of difference. You've heard an ounce of prevention right? Taking the time to investigate your horses physical body, body language & attitude doesn't have to involve hours. It only takes a few moments to make sure everything is alright. As I said, we're all real busy these days & I'm sure a lot of us head to the barn throw the feed, speak a few words, glance our horse over & call it good. You may even do your barn chores while you're there if you have time.
Every morning, like clockwork my day begins with feeding, feeling, looking & cleaning. I note Cookie's attitude when I come out the door. Her usual greeting is head up, ears forward, lots of nickering & walking in my direction as if she has something very important to say to me. Which usually is, Hurry up & feed me already! lol. Today I took my driving whip with me to push her either up ahead or away from me as she has been getting too close & too pushy lately. The weather is still cloudy, cold, breezy & damp, but no rain. On the way, I see a head sling & a little prancing along with more nickering. Finally a bite or 2 of hay goes into one manger & as she begins to eat, I begin my exam. I rub her face, give her a kiss & note her eyes, nostrils & chewing. Then I run my hand down her neck, shoulder leg & feel of her fetlock, pastern & foot. Normal heat & I've noticed she's got more winter fur. Then I run my hand down her back, across her ribs & over her belly. No, cuts, open wounds, missing hair & she's a bit ribby still, so I need to up her feed intake a bit more. (She's on a gradual uprise in food intake & is doing quite well so far. I'll be adding beet pulp soon in low rations to avoid colic). Then I continue my exam, over her croup, hip & down her hind leg. All the way down to her hoof. No heat, swelling, cuts or abrasions. I then check her tail for debris & remove the leaves & twigs I find. I move on to the other side & start at her head & work my way back. Once I've done that side, then I go ahead & place small handfuls of hay in different spots in her paddock. This way I can watch her walk from pile to pile & take note of her general movement & attitude. Once I'm done with the hay, I close up the hay shelter & move on to manure removal. I make mental notes about each pile, color, amount & if it's in little balls or spread out in one big pile. Usually by the time I'm 3/4 of the way done, Cookie will leave me a fresh pile to examine. This morning, it's bright green, well formed, quite a big amount & pungent. Possibly because I have given her more alfalfa cubes to eat. I'll pay attention to her manure later this evening when I feed her dinner. While I'm removing manure, I'll note how much water she's drank & if it needs to be refilled. I've noticed the last 2 times I have filled it, it's green from her hay, but otherwise clean, no algea, bugs or anything else that shouldn't be in there. (Though I had thoroughly cleaned it 2 days ago).
Now I'm sure not everyone can take the time to go through all of that. It takes me roughly an hour to finish up in the paddock. If you can spare even 5 minutes to run your hands over your horse's body, it will save you a ton in Vet bills later on. It's especially important to feel your horse in the winter because their added layer of hair can hide all kinds of things that go unnoticed to the eye, even if you've been looking at your horse for years.
So, slow down & take some time to smell... both manure & roses. ;)
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