The heat index is over a hundred and five degrees, and there is no sign of rain or a break in the heat for most of next week. I’m not surprised. This is why I hate summer. I have to drag out to the barn three times a day to top off the horse’s water. Even if it didn’t evaporate or get drunk much more than normal (and a good thing too), sitting in the sun it literally gets to hot to drink.
They spend their time under the big fan in the barn, and only go out at dusk when there are long shadows. Then they spend all night grazing in the pasture. It’s always amazed me how well they can hide in plain sight at night. They stand still under a tree or even in the open. Unless the moonlight catches their eyes, you can walk to within five feet of them without seeing them. I think they do it on purpose. If horses could snicker (as opposed to nicker, which is a whole other thing), I think they would snicker at us human beings, who can’t see what’s right in front of our noses.
My big old Zoe mare has the remains of an abscess in her off fore hoof (that’s the right side). My farrier dug it out, but I think it may actually have graveled before we got to it. When a horse has a gravel, it means that the abscess, rather than going down the hoof wall until it bursts with a lot of nasty stuff, works its way up the hoof until it reaches the top and bursts out there. Same nasty stuff, but it takes longer and is harder to dig out.
That means that my friend Beverly and I have not driven Zoe in a month. We tried a couple of Sunday afternoons ago, and that’s when we discovered she was obviously in pain. One of the ways to tell is that a lame horse will nod its head when it steps on the painful hoof. And according to my nurse/driver friend Beverly, I should be treating the sore place in her hoof by soaking it with sauerkraut juice—something about the acid. I don’t consider myself a real horseman, but I have been around horses for a long time. Never heard of the sauerkraut cure. I do know about the caster oil ointment for arthritis, and the DMSO pain killer. I know about giving garlic and vinegar to horses in their feed to keep them from being bitten by flies and mosquitoes. I know about soaking beet pulp and feeding a handful of it in the winter with horses who suffer and lose weight during cold weather.
But there is a ton I do not know that the old timers knew and used when there wasn’t a friendly neighborhood veterinarian around.
And horses can be stupidly counter-productive. I would like to run the cold water hose over them when they are hot. I’ve had horses that love it. Not mine.
And the best way to draw an abscess is to stand the sore hoof in a solution of Epsom salts. My Zoe, however, who is never even tied when my farrier works on her, will absolutely not put her foot in a soak of warm Epsom salts. When Zoe does not want to do something, it is wiser not to ask her.
We will continue to fight the heat the best way we can.