I have about 6 drafts that I decided not to post for whatever reason. Who knows why? I’ve ridden, I just haven’t had anything interesting to say.

I recently switch the boys to overnight turnout. No one is thrilled, I’m not sure it’ll stick, but I’m trying it anyway. They’re not really out any longer than during the day, but it’s something new to try. Plus, it makes it a lot easier when we have daytime appointments like the farrier, dentist, and vet.

This past week, the dentist was out for the boys’ annual visit. Yep, that’s right, they’ve officially graduated to annual visits. No more every 6 months. Nay was very good, but that was to be expected. He LOVES having his mouth played with. He’s a weirdo, what can I say? And Jiminy? He had one quick fight in him where he hit is butt against his water bucket, got splashed with water, and then was an angel the rest of the time. Truly the best he’s ever been. We didn’t sedate. Maybe that’s a bad thing, but I prefer not to if we don’t need to. Nay thinks it’s all fun and games and Jiminy is just as likely to fight with drugs as he is without. Minis are fun. But, they’re both actually very good for their teeth.

This week? Farrier. We’re having some issues with Jiminy thanks to an over consumption of grass. He’s feeling pretty good now, but I’ve pulled them both off grass for the past couple of weeks, I’m soaking his stall hay, and just double dosing his supplements plus bute as needed. Last thing I needed was another founder. But, James broke the fence, helped himself to the lower field of grass, and well, yeah. Too much for him even muzzled. But, he’s not fat and probably doesn’t even need to lose weight. When my dentist saw him, her first comment was, “I wish my minis were as thin as he is!” He just struggles with sugars even when muzzled. Meanwhile, Nay Nay follows rules and would never walk onto the grass through a broken fence. He’ll only step foot into the lower field when the gate is open for him… Someone has to balance out Jiminy. Anyway, I need to figure out a way to give Nay Nay some grass time now that I’ve revoked Jiminy’s privileges.

Jiminy dressed in a pink panda fly sheet and mask with his grazing muzzle
All dressed up with no place to go…

Riding wise, we’ve been getting out, but less than I’d like. Jiminy is NOT appreciative of being left alone, but he survives. He just screams a lot. Hopefully he doesn’t annoy the neighbors.

Nay Nay though has been good. Generally quiet though he’s had his days where he’s feeling spicier. It just depends. He’s not necessarily into flatwork and prefers we don’t drill flatwork two days in a row. Me too, Nay, me too. This past weekend, I really worked on the flat on Saturday. I haven’t pulled out the draw reins (I know, I know, but I do use them VERY loosely) in about a month so I tossed them on so try and sort out some leaning issues we’ve been having. The goal was they were there if I needed them (aka a tool), but not a crutch. The past few rides I felt like I was driving a 2×4 and while I could get him to soften, it was a lot of work and we were both frustrated at times. So, with the reins, I was able to make a couple of light corrections early on, help him get rebalanced, and then pretty much not touch them and leave them loopy (I mean, they’re long anyway, but they were loopy when I wasn’t actively using them). This served the purpose I needed, showed me what I needed to work on (left leg, OMG left leg), and we had a fabulous ride. We actually worked on a bunch of figure 8s at the canter, trotting the diagonal (so not quite a simple change), but he was fabulous at waiting for me to ask, getting the lead (sometimes we circled instead), and getting sharp transitions. Overall, it was a great ride.

Nay Nay (bay thoroughbred) tied to the trailer ready to get tacked up
His weight is looking really good this year! And his dapples are coming out!

Sunday was jump day. I tried to do some flat work and we did, but neither of our hearts were in it. I started off with adding the left spur and ended up feeling off balance so I added in the right as well. We also had a million motorcycles fly by and thankfully we didn’t car. We spooked hard at a motor bike on Saturday so this was huge. Then the jumps. We worked on a cross rail and Nay just would not try. I tried to canter and nope. It was pathetic. From here I did a small flower box and we put a touch more effort, but again, boring. We socialized for a while with another horse, rider, and owner that joined us before trying some straw bales. We did just one before going the other way. My plan was to just do one and circle, but we landed and Nay locked in on the second so I made him trot and we continued down to that fence. He was perfect. We did it a second time holding the canter in between and then the other way. Still trotting in, but whatever.

So the landing the second direction…. There was some interesting happenings across the street. There was a sign with Live Crabs 4 Sale. But they were also steaming crabs. And the air smelled like crustaceans. So, Nay was pretty convinced that the corner was death. He wasn’t exactly wrong…

Avoiding killer crustaceans!

All in all, a good weekend. Hopefully more to come!

First ride(s) of 2023.

I’ve really sucked at blogging. This should just be a blanket statement across all my posts. No apologies, no explanations, just facts.

A couple weeks ago, after we got the new truck, I finally hauled Nay out (of retirement) for his first ride since November-ish. He was shocked. Jiminy was shocked. He had a mild meltdown in the trailer (I need to add a mat to my back door), but he got over himself the second we arrived at the barn. Honestly? For a horse that has done NOTHING all winter, he was pretty great to groom and tack up.

I had low expectations. The plan was groom, toss his saddle on, then toss him on the line to see what I had. The bulk of my work was intended to be on the line. If it went well, MAYBE I’d jump on. If it didn’t, there was always another day.

He was pretty darn good.

And he was honestly a gentleman. I can’t explain it. He was relaxed, happy, and just good. He seemed to like having a job, but did express very clearly that MY MAIN JOB should continue to be a human stack dispenser. Noted Nay, Noted.

My actual ride was pretty uneventful. He was tired from the work on the line. And he felt a bit like steering a bus. But we walked around, trotted a bit, made sure our buttons sort of kind of worked, and called it a day.

We were stylish with one bell boot…

The next day I can’t remember? Easter? He got the holiday off. Then I worked him at home in the round pen. We free lunged on a super hot day (lunging was a near death experience — for me) and actually ended up having some fun with different cues. And Nay had his first bath and first toss himself on the ground post bath of the year… (missing bell boot still not located)

Then I came down with the world’s worst 4-day migraine and he had a weekend off. Plus the week. Which brings us to this past weekend.

Working is hard.

I planned to try and ride during the week. It didn’t happen. I was sure I’d ride Friday. I decided to binge The Diplomat instead. Motivation was lacking. Bringing a horse back into work is hard.

So Saturday morning I hitched up the trailer and decided to get this done. The weather was nice and sunny. The wind and storms hadn’t started so all was good. I drove the mile to the barn, pulled Nay out of the trailer (no loading issues this time) and BAM. Wind gusts took over. It was like living in a wind tunnel.

Nonetheless, we pushed forward with the same plan as our last ride. We groomed, tossed on a saddle, boots (missing bell boot has since been found), and headed to the ring. All the jump standards were down. But whatever. I decided to lunge by the road as it’s the scary end. Nay isn’t actually spooky, but there was a tractor parked near that end and the remains a of a burn pile smoldering so I figured it was a good place. There was one lunge whip but I grabbed a dressage whip instead (I have 2 in my trailer, but…lazy). As I’m getting ready, someone else walks in to lunge and immediately grabs the whip (I figured I’d be sharing) and it was in the prime lunge spot… So we start lunging and other than giving the fire remnants the evil eye, he’s fine. Anti going left (it’s always something), but we fixed it. And all was going well…

…And then another horse joins to lunge (and swaps with the other one in the ring). I think I’m finished as a buggy trots by. Buggies are Nay’s kryptonite. He gets very distracted/bothered by them, but doesn’t spook. If he’s working, I can usually channel him into work, but we had just stopped. He was fine. And then as we walked to the center of the ring, he unraveled. The new horse lunging was a touch exuberant. So we were reactive to that. And joined by a 4th horse. And Nay decided that it was too much to handle. He decides to do his best impression of a stereotypical Arabian. Tail in the air. Snorting. Stomping. Snorting. Complete embarrassment. I pretty much wanted out of the ring. But, you can’t leave on the note of horse being an idiot (as he tries to bolt with me while I’m holding the line.

Always looking for food. Always.

So, I decide if he has that much energy, we’re lunging again. I mean, I’m not getting on. I tell him to walk forward and in response, he rears. Lovely. Straight up, but no danger of flipping. Just an f-you type of rear. I had dropped my whip so I just tapped him with the rope, growled “get up” and sort of surprised him into walked forward. He thought about being a turd (this is when I realized he stopped being scared and was just working on scaring me) but a slight swing of the line and he was walked forward. And we lunged for maybe 5-6 minutes and he did… absolutely nothing. No buck, not bolt. He changed direction every time asked. Trotted, cantered, halted, went forward (with pace when I yelled “get up” because lazy was his MO when we started). And that was that.

And those riding told me to just get on, they could bail if he was stupid. But he was fine. One horse flew backwards when his rider hopped off for some reason so we jumped a bit (he was fine), but 5 minutes later when a huge gust of wind blew a chair across the arena? He didn’t even move an ear. Yeah. I know. It appears flying furniture is completely normal. (this was a call for everyone else to leave. It was a sign that my horse was quiet) We also cantered for the first time which was a slight disaster. Mostly in that I couldn’t keep my horse moving. Crop or spurs needed and Nay concluded my leg was a joke.

Sunday we were back at it. Cooler temps and wind still going, but less crazy. More lunging but on the other side. While it’s the side everyone likes (close to the in gate), the footing is deeper and Nay hates the deep corners. Tough. He was spicier this day on the line. Just wanted to canter, but did trot when asked. Both sides were equally spicy.

When I got on, he was again fine, but definitely spicy. I had to work for pace as he was looking for trouble. I just worked through poles randomly set throughout the arena and changed direction constantly. It seemed to work well with his brain. We had one spook/startle (there was a lot of activity going on around the arena), but I was able to leg forward through it vs stop and panic. The only unraveling was the canter. I was definitely sitting on a cannon. I had a crop and was able to keep going, but I did think I was going to be launched if he got his head down. The left was ok, but but the first time to the right? Hahaha. Pogo stick. The second time, I added more left, lots of tug tug with my inside hand and inside heel, and it actually resembled a canter. I could only keep it for a full circle around half the ring (it was hard) and Nay squealed about 7-8 times, but we did it.

And on this note, it appears boot camp has begun. We’re taking our first lesson this week and then we’ll be back, chugging away on our won.

The great fall of an old frenemy

Laramie (2006-4/5/2023)

It appears I have few photos of Laramie so we’ll take this photo of Laramie, Batt, and Michelle.

Laramie joined the family in July 2015 to replace a 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie. A total rust bucket that tried it’s hardest but was doomed from the start. That truck was my mom’s but lived out its last years with me as a farm vehicle. But, as (one of) our mechanics said, “Do you actually like your horses? If so, don’t tow with this thing.” So, at the end of the day, that thing died. It was low mileage. But, it sat prior to our ownership (look for a theme).

In July, we found a 2006 Toyota Tundra (Fun fact, we got the tundra 2 days before Jiminy). Our budget was low. But, we liked the Tundra and didn’t know about the rust years. Lessons. Lessons. I learned to haul with the Tundra. Erik named him Laramie after the Ram. All was good.

And then it wasn’t. We put money into it. Lots. Had a frame scare that I really don’t wish to relive. Had a gas can leak from some squirrel eating a hole in the gas can. Replaced muffler. Replaced ALL the brake work. Multiple times. It was a sinking ship at times, but we went with it because it worked and buying a new truck wasn’t it the cards.

Then we ended up with a fuel leak.

Except Laramie wasn’t leaking fuel. You see, it was transmission fluid or something. And they also found that the frame needed to be replaced. And let’s just not go there.

So, this is where we bit farewell to Toyota (at least for now). There was a time where my driveway resembled a Toyota car lot. But, alas, I no longer own ANY Toyotas and for that I am extra sad. So, yesterday, I drove Laramie for the final time. And we left with a new vehicle. New used vehicle, but whatever.

Goodbye Laramie. I’d liked to say you were good to us, but let me instead say, you were a money pit. You were like a horse. Vet bill after vet bill. But, you taught me a lot. You taught be how to haul and now I move on. And I caution everyone else, NEVER. I repeat NEVER EVER EVER name your truck after a previous rust bucket. It won’t end well.

But for now, please meet Big Blue.

Maybe I’ll take more pictures, but I haven’t bothered since we test drove it… Oops.

Big Blue is a 2016 Ram 1500 and RUST FREE. Higher mileage. But corporate owned and only serviced by the dealer. He has more bell and whistles than I’d ever need and I still need to think through the process of turning him on let alone using all his extra features (though his backup camera is very much appreciated). Anyway, hopefully he’ll be in the family for a long time to come.

He’s all set up to haul, I just need to pick up a new ball hitch and we’re good to go. And I even learned how to turn off the back up sensors in advance! Lol. I guess this means Nay Nay’s 4 month vacation is coming to an end?

A visit with an old friend

I can’t talk about certain things right now (especially things involving transmission fluid and rust and lots of money I don’t have), but I can talk about the fact that I rode a horse for the first time in 4 months.

Last week I decided it was time I learned how to ride again and I reached out my trainer about a lesson. She questioned why I didn’t want to ride Mr. Nay Nay, but there was this whole thing about a fuel leak (oh how naïve I was back then) and I was temporarily lacking transportation. And he was feral (minor detail). So, we agreed on a time and a place and a lesson was scheduled.

Because I am the luckiest person in the world who happens to also be the most unluckiest person in the world, I was given the opportunity to ride the world’s best horse. And when I say the world’s best horse. You ALL should know exactly who I mean.


No one is better or more perfect.

He has long since earned his title as world’s best.

I am lucky to get to ride him.

It has been much too long.

I had 3 goals for the day:

  1. Get my boots on without breaking the zippers
  2. Remember how to tack up
  3. Get on without falling/dying

And while getting on was dodgy (Ranger needed to make sure I was serious about this, after all, his mid morning hay was about to be delivered), I did in fact get on and we meandered around at 6mph until my lesson started and I was told (not so politely) to pick up the pace. So with that, I began to ride.

I’m not going to bore you all with details of my not so exciting lesson, but one thing I found was, Ranger listened to my cues. All those cues that Nay Nay doesn’t necessarily understand, Ranger actually listed. Inside leg? Oh I’ll move off it. A little bend? Oh I can do that. Without riding for 4 months, I’ve retained a lot more and Ranger somehow listens to me way more than before at the trot and canter. Circles at all sizes? No issues.

We moved pretty quickly into over fences work. And other than a quick adjustment from some too big two point (oops), it went really well too and before I knew it, we were stringing fences together. We had one hiccup at one fence where I made the weird turn but stopped riding to the base and Ranger noped out of it, laughing the entire time. I swear, you could see the glint in his eye, knowing the power of his ONE trick. But, we took our time, picked up the canter, and I actually steered to the jump, not letting him get heavy on the right rein. And the second he realized I was riding? He was game to jump. No point fighting when his rider is actually riding. We finished up with a nice line, aiming for a 7, but getting a nice even 8 (the 7 would never happen without galloping). In the end, I couldn’t say enough nice things. For my first time riding in 4 months, we had 1 less than perfect jump (I could have ridden it better) and 1 duck and dart and everything else was perfect. Nothing was more than 2’3″ but who cares. I did hurt for…4 days. LOL.

We decided that ever 1-2 months we’re including a Ranger lesson because I need it (confidence) and it’s just plain fun. I haven’t had fun like that in forever. No pressure no stress just fun. I love Nay, I’m challenged by Nay, but Ranger just makes you feel like the world’s best rider. Sometimes you need that.

I got to end my ride with a wander-round the property. Who doesn’t need that?

updates on the bay crew

These two are best buddies and Jimmy loves his stall

I’ve been meaning to blog for… like a month. I’ve actually been meaning to do a lot of things and most of those things haven’t happened. It’s all good. I’m trying not to beat myself up when I don’t get things done. Stuff happens. I mean, I’ve been planning to toss grass seed out for 2 weeks and been planning to walk down to the bottom of the field for 3, neither has happened. So, not blogging? Yeah, stuff happens.

In all honesty, I’m just in this weird rut with horses and life right now. The rut started well before I lost Subi, but when I felt him start to decline. I just got overwhelmed but things and riding has just taken a backseat. I miss it, but I don’t? I don’t know how to explain it. I needed something off my plate and riding was easy to cut. I’ll get back to it, but for now, it’s easier to just be lazy and not bother. Maybe I’ll take some lessons on lesson horses for a little while and that will get the spark back. This happened after losing Hayley. After Batt I just jumped right in, face first with Nay Nay and never looked back. So I’ll be OK. It just takes time. Plus, I’m still dealing with covid fatigue and life fatigue and I’m just taking my time, getting strength back, and going from there.

Nay pulled AND destroyed a shoe 9 days after he got it

But enough about me, the horses. How are they doing?

Jiminy. Jiminy is pretty good. I’m struggling a touch with him and sugar. The last thing I want is him to founder again, but I fear it’s inevitable. Jiminy is NOT FAT. If fact, if I’m being honest, he goes back and forth between being perfect and being a touch on the skinny side. But, he also gets into a bit more of Nay’s feed than he should. More of that in a moment. I’m trying to find a balance between keeping Jiminy healthy and keeping Nay Nay healthy and it’s HARD. It might just come down to cutting back Nay’s feed more with his mash. Or, changing Jiminy’s feed to something like Hygain Zero. He’s currently on TC Lite. He doesn’t actually get the required amount and mostly just gets a half cup as a carrier for his supplements (Jimmy does really well with his v/m) so a bag would last forever. BUT I could put a cup in his morning mash and not worry if they swap buckets. If Nay would eat it, I could give both a cup…

My Subi horse hair pendant

Nay Nay. After losing Subi, we started doing morning mashes outside. Nay loves his mash and attacks it, but doesn’t always finish it. Jiminy does. They also play musical buckets. The bulk if this is fine. They currently prefer timothy cubes and this is fine for both horses. Nay gets carrots and peppermints in his and makes sure he eats every last treat. But, he also gets some feed. I’ve tried putting it on top, but it gets mixed in. He’s down to 1 quart to keep Jiminy from getting a lot, but the NSC is still higher than Jiminy needs. For 3-4 days, Jiminy was getting 1 cup of his TC Lite and Nay was getting his feed. They must have swapped buckets because on day 2, Nay was a freaking anxious mess. I had no idea what was going on. Soy. Just from a few bites of soy, Nay turned into an anxious, uncomfortable mess. On day 4/5, I replaced Jiminy’s TC lite from his mash with 1 cup of Nay’s grain and cut Nay’s down (so that if they bucket swapped, Jimmy would get less) and within 24 hours, Nay was back to his old self. So, this soy intolerance is real.

Anyway, other than making my horse sick, he’s doing OK. He’s getting whatever hay he wants (chopped TC alfalfa forage blend, the good hay outside even though there is an amazing round bale outside — which FINALLY I’ve caught him snacking at) and it looks like we might be coming through his latest colitis flare. Nay and Jiminy are good buddies and both are ready for GRASS. Jiminy… he might not get grass. Lol.

Happiest little member of the bay crew
Cutest bay thoroughbred

What’s going on with Nay Nay?

First off, thank you all again for your kind words about Subi. Very much appreciated. I still can’t believe he’s gone and yet I have no regrets. I know, 100%, it was the right choice.

Nay Nay has had a bit of a rough time without Subi. He was the saddest thoroughbred every for a few days. It’s funny. They weren’t best friends, but he very much depended on having him around. The first several days were rough, very rough. We moved Jimmy into Subi’s stall where Nay Nay could watch him like a hawk and that made things better. It took a few days (and a stall guard), but Jiminy likes his new quarters.

Nay Nay is better in some ways. He’s stopped calling for Subi or running around when I first turn him out. I have stopped feeding breakfast since he’s not eating it at the moment and instead I feed a morning mash of cubes and soaked pellets. He and Jiminy both enjoy this. But, in the last few days he’s stopped eating hay at acceptable quantities (he was eating for the first week) which tells me his gut is bothering him.

I had started him on ulcer treatment in preparation for losing Subi and in hindsight, I think this was the worst idea possible. I don’t think Nay can handle proton pump inhibitors. He seems to flare up every time he’s on them. So, we’re in the process of weaning him off and quickly and safely as possible. If he needs further treatment, he does ok with Sucralfate. So we can do that. In the meantime, I’m giving him extra chopped hay (he’s cleaning that up) and alfalfa outside and he seems to be eating that.

He’s definitely uncomfortable (nice job, Sarah), but hopefully he’ll start feeling better as the PPIs leave his system. I was so determined to help him out and I did the opposite. Next time, if I want to pre-treat, go the sucralfate route. This horse does NOT tolerate PPIs! Of course he doesn’t.

Meanwhile, he’s missing a shoe. He’s been missing a shoe. I need the farrier out but I’ve been waiting for him to normalize a touch then these gut issues came about. If it’s not one thing, then it’s something else! I almost wonder if I should just do a full cycle barefoot. I’m definitely pulling shoes next winter… But, the way life is going, he might be off for several more weeks anyway…

Finally, to top things off, I finally got covid. So, I’m trying to make all my chopped hay, cubes, and pellets last, but I may need to order from Tractor Supply to make do until I can get to the feed store. They don’t have Nay’s preferred chopped hay, but they do have chopped hay. Some is better than nothing?

Subliminal (April 1, 1997-February 7, 2023)

We said goodbye to Captain Hoagie Man, Mr. Subi, on Tuesday morning. If you’re on my social media, you already know this, but for whatever reason, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write this post. I also should probably share that Subi is pronounced Subby which confuses just about everyone. I didn’t come up with it or the spelling. He came that way.

After almost 17 years together, Subi was ready to go. He was tired. He went very quick and peacefully, but he leaves behind a huge chestnut sized hole in my heart.

He was the original chestnut. The original horse. My first horse. He taught me just about everything I know about horses and the thought about him no longer being here is just… there aren’t any words.

I still don’t have many words so instead, here are some photos throughout the years.

When is it time?

Well, this is a post I didn’t exactly plan to write today. But, I have some thoughts I need to work out on paper and maybe I’ll start here vs a series of separate emails.

The question is always when is it time? How do you know when it’s time? When do you say enough is enough? I’m not doing this anymore! He’s had enough. He’s ready? It’s an easy decision in theory. I always say when there are more bad days then good days, it’s time. 

But in practice? In practice it’s harder.

Batt was an easy decision. There wasn’t a decision. He was slipping away before us and in so much pain and had ruptured and there was no saving him. The best we could do was to end the suffering. 

Hayley was harder. She was 14. But, she was wasting away. It didn’t matter what you fed her, all the nutrients just came right out. The decision just felt right despite a group of people around me encouraging me to try more and more treatments that never worked for her mystery condition. It hurt like hell, but it wasn’t hard. Harder, but not hard. 

But, now I’m facing a real dilemma. I honestly don’t know what to do. 

I told myself that this would be Subi’s last winter. He isn’t exactly a fan. But what I didn’t expect was that this winter/non-winter (rain/mud/muck) would be so hard on him. Eating has been a challenge. It might be his teeth (dentist is scheduled, but not until February — I’ve asked if they can come out sooner), but it might be that he’s just not interested. I mean, he isn’t interested in cubes either. 

The last few months he’s become very… quiet. He has moments where he runs around and acts crazy or even senile, but the rest of the time he’s quiet. Or even dull. I don’t want dull. I don’t like dull. Dull scares me. 

Last night, I was convinced he was colicking. He was that off and quiet. No temperature, but very listless. He worked out of whatever it was. But mostly he just stands outside and stares out in the distance. 

But, that wasn’t what scared me the most. What scared me was, when I actually did convince him to walk up to me (I had his left over cubes), he just seemed half there. Subi has always been full of personality and opinion. This horse was just.. there.

Which brings me to the point of this collection of words. When is it time? When is it time when there is nothing outwardly wrong but, at the same time, the horse you know just isn’t there? 

Do I try and get him until some nicer weather? See if he perks up and let him have a couple of nice months?

Same goodbye now?

See the outcomes of teeth and try a combination of the 2?

Chatting with the vet isn’t out the question and that will likely happen, but I’d like to see if the dentist gets back to me first. I don’t want to run unnecessary tests or toss meds at him. But, for the horse who was always terrible to medicate (we both almost died last year when he needed 3 meds 2x/day for 10 days or even his steroids for swelling this summer), he’s decent right now…which is another sign that he… not all there anymore.

StableFeed Equibiome Test 

Back in November, I ordered an Equibiome Test Kit from StableFeed (the test kit isn’t on their site, but you can email them if you are interested). Nay Nay was having yet another hindgut/colitis flare and quite frankly I didn’t want him to head into winter not eating. Just a year ago we ended up in January with him basically a shell of a horse, picking through chopped hay and maybe eating the carrots and peppermints out of his grain. I did NOT want to go through that again. Thankfully, he never got that bad and never stopped eating. But, he had a few uncomfortable weeks where I had PTSD and decided to try and find the root of the problem. (I also vastly changed his feeding routine since last January and he has stuff he’ll ALWAYS eat, even during a flare and he’s been back on Succeed since last March which has helped immensely).

Anyway, at Fair Hill this fall, I chatted with the StableFeed folks about the Equibione Test and had it in my back pocket for when I was ready. Ready just came sooner than I was expecting.

The test isn’t cheap. It’s $300+.

Nor is it fast.

But, I was hoping for answers.

I received the test kit in early November. Basically, you collect a small sample of manure and put it in the collection tube with the solution, package it EXACTLY HOW SPECIFIED, and ship it off to a lab in Wales. Yes, Wales. This requires correctly filling out a customs form which appears to be a problem for many folks. But, I chose to go to, not my local rural-ish post office(s), but rather a busier post office in the college town where I work. The postal worker checked my form, asked a few questions (what are you sending? horse poop. OK, this looks fine for agricultural samples.), and sent my poop sample on its way. I signed up for my tracking text notifications and literally checked each update until “arrived” appeared. Customs thankfully was not an issue. But, supposedly Royal Mail rejects a lot of samples when the form isn’t properly filled out (StableFeed tells you exactly what to write and I did have the postal worker confirm everything).

And then I waited. They said 12+ weeks, but I received my report at the end of December. A nice 32 page report that killed my brain the first 3 times I read it.

There are 3 potential outcomes:

  1. Stable microbiome — this is the best outcome — everything is good. , with a well constructed and defined core community.
  2. Imbalanced microbiome– the right bacterial exist, but all the levels are wrong which leads to lots of issues
  3. Imbalanced and missing microbiome — some of the right bacteria exist at the wrong levels while others are missing

Nay Nay had an imbalanced microbiome. I mean, I knew he wasn’t stable so the question was, was he imbalanced or imbalanced and missing?

Part of the test included a consultation with StableFeed to…explain the report. LOL. So, I ended up having an hour phone call to discuss the entire report and next steps. While I won’t go over the entire report (this could be a 10 week series), I will share some interesting findings.

From the report:

…imbalance may be reflective of disease elsewhere in the body such as allergies, food sensitivities, headshaking etc. Horses with this type of microbiome are sensitive to changes in management and diet…

That pretty much describes Nay… lol.

One area of high concern was biofilm bacteria:

“Most bacteria reside in a fixed area as part of a biofilm community, for protection and an improved chance of survival, though biofilm formation is implicated in many chronic disease states. Biofilm bacteria commonly reside in the gut wall and aggravate/cause  ‘leaky gut’. Colonising gut bacteria tend to rob the host of nutrients, reduced levels of good gut bacteria linked to a strong immune response and produce toxins linked to inflammation.”

This likely plays a direct role in my of Nay’s gut inflammation issues so it was very interesting to read. This area also directly corresponds to EGUS.

Another area of interest was the section on skin allergies. According to the report, Nay is at high risk of skin allergies. My first thought was, he has no skin allergies. Then, I started thinking about bugs and flies and the reason he wears fly sheets all summer (hives) and then the fact that he is basically allergic to all chemical fly sprays (skin sloughs off). So yeah, this fits.

We delved into this a little more. Nay and chemicals.

So, I have mentioned before that Nay is the most ridiculously picky eater ever. Especially when it comes to hay. Right now he IS loving my local cut of orchard in round bale form. Square bale is decent, but the rounds are better. But, alfalfa is his drug of choice. He loves western alfalfa and will murder you for it. I was getting it from a local dealer but he stopped getting it in. He had some lovely PA alfalfa that even my hay guy said looked nicer than my western. Nay… doesn’t like it. In fact, I can’t consistently get him to eat any PA/east coast alfalfa. There is nothing wrong with it. Subi and Jimmy attack it. Nay picks at it, but eh. I finally got him western from a local tack store and he’s back to inhaling his alfalfa. My hay guy has said it multiple times (Nay refuses a lot of hay, rarely ever his and never the western), a lot of hay this way is sprayed. And Mr. Chemical Sensitive doesn’t like/won’t eat/is sensitive to chemicals. This report pretty much says that.

So, next steps (I could talk more about the report but… I’ve typed enough):

We add in different probiotics for different lengths of time. Ultimately he’ll end up on a maintenance probiotic.

For now? He’s on month one of 2 of biome food 5. It sounds strange, but I see a difference. He has the stinkiest poop and it’s already less smelly and harder (he always has softer manure). He gets this tiny 1/2 teaspoon type scoop, but…? Or it’s doing nothing, but manure consistency has changed.

He has a 5-6 month protocol and at some point after that, I’m sure we’ll retest. At the recommendation of the report, we also added some oats into his diet. He’s big on food right now so he’s quite happy with that.

Pig Gate and Other Full Moon Happenings

Was a pig involved in this tale? No, well, I don’t think so, but there was a full moon.

The other morning, I went out to feed. The horses were their normal, happy selves. I fed them breakfast, gave them pats, and went inside to get ready for work. When I went outside an hour later to turn them out, all hell broke loose. Nay Nay was a nervous wreck in his stall. He was anxious, spinning, and lathered in sweat. Honestly, I have no idea what had happened. Subi was fine but kept looking at Nay Nay with alarm.

I got halters on (at this point Nay was rearing in his stall) and we attempted to turn out. Nay tried his best to hold it together. He was terrified. At what, I don’t know. But he was terrified. He reared and spun a few times on the way to the paddock but otherwise held it together. He didn’t bolt when I turned him out but was very very very alert. I went to work and completely forgot about it.

That night after we cleaned stalls, I went to bring in and noticed Nay Nay was NOT at the gate (I mean, dinner is the most important meal of the day and he have to be prompt). Nay Nay ALWAYS is waiting at the gate (add that it was raining and he HATES the rain–all the more reason he usually NEEDS to come inside) and if he isn’t, he comes the second he sees you (at a gallop) or if you call him. Instead, he was at the hay feeder, glued to Subi. So, I walked to hay feeder to put his halter on and Subi decided that if Nay wasn’t going to the gate, he’d take the moment to go to the gate (it’s Nay Nay’s gate, Subi doesn’t like to hang out at the gate if Nay’s there because Nay is a little… devoted to dinner time). Nay was anxious and just about melted down when Subi left. I did get his halter on and thanks to the chain, prevented him from bolting. But, wtf.

We got them in and the walk wasn’t actually bad. I had a carrot and both boys. Nay Nay instantly relaxed thanks to Subi and his carrot. But, in his stall? Instant tension. Spinning and snorting and general anxiousness resumed (I did close his windows). He took some bites of food but was a mess. I went inside and came out an hour later armed with a tube of succeed (I hadn’t given it in the morning due to antics), half a tube ulcergard (I use it sparingly with Nay since it exacerbates his hind gut issues), and a treat. He seemed better at first but then started stressing. 1 hour later, I came back with some ace. He was a little more relaxed so my hope was that he’d relax enough to make it through the night.

Unrelated, but Jiminy got a new rain sheet and it’s adorable even if he wouldn’t stand far enough away to let me get a good photo.

The next morning he seemed better. He hadn’t finished all his food, but definitely ate overnight. I was able to change blankets without incident (Nay was definitely a little warm but I hadn’t wanted to risk it the night before) and just in case, I gave him a touch of ace so I could safely turn out an hour later. At that point he was ultra relaxed and we went outside without incident. Since then? He’s seemed OK.

Best thinking, something scared the shit out of him (perhaps Fat Squirrel who visits his stall during the day tried to visit while he was still in his stall? Maybe the neighbor’s cat came in his stall? Or, it’s possible that he unintentionally ate some soy. That is the ONLY thing that has ever turned him into an anxious mess like this. But, usually it has to build up in his system. But, he’s been off soy so long that I wonder if I accidentally dumped something of Subi’s in Nay’s bucket and didn’t realize it? I have no clue. Usually he’s fine with a small amount of soy in human treats (most likely oil vs soy meal), but honestly, no clue. So I’m being ultra careful for a few days. He doesn’t get a lot, but the occasional oatmeal cream pie has never bothered him after a ride. Or maybe it was a pig.

Then yesterday. Subi got loose on the way to turnout. Right by the gate he did a duck, spin, and rear move. He’s patented it. Anyway, he got away from my husband. Usually if this happens, he stops and grazes. Honestly, he does it to get to the good grazing spot. But, instead he went galloping around like a lunatic. It’s happened once before. The last time, he did a loop and ran into the field. This time, he panicked, galloped around my neighbor’s yard, and finally made his way back to the paddock. But, he was in panic mode. He came back and was galloping around near the gate, rearing, and otherwise panicking, until he responded to my voice and ran in to where I was holding Nay Nay (who held it together while his buddy was losing his mind) and Jiminy. But, he did do some damage to the neighbor’s grass.

Thankfully, my neighbor runs a lawn service and does not treat their lawn like their clients. They drive and park on the grass and told me they didn’t care at all when I texted after this happened. The ground was so soft that there were quite a few hoof prints (also quite a few tire tracks lol) and we stomped them back as best we could,

But, Subi is definitely a bit senile. It’s getting worse. And he’s lost all leading privileges without a chain. He spooked this morning and the second he felt the chain, he kind of came back to earth. So, hopefully it helps.