Archive for the ‘Equine Health’ Category

Started the day with vaccines today. By and large, no problem.  Jax was more concerned about the fly spray.

Dakota was a bit fussier. Not naughty; just has been a little needle-shy since all the injections during our breeding attempts last year. And HATES the Strangles vaccine, which goes up her nose. Good news is, just like last year, she blew it all over me, so looks like I won’t get Strangles either.

AND…Jax took treats! Woohoo! Finally found one he likes. Broke it into small pieces (we’ve been adding little bits to his food to get him used to the taste), and today he took a few from my hand.

We’ve also been getting used to the Jolly Mega Ball. Not afraid of it at all; just not sure what to do with it.


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Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”  And it’s true – something about spending time with them, bonding with them, and the feeling of freedom that comes from riding, is very, very good for those who know it.

Humans – especially women – are drawn to horses in a way they are drawn to few other species.  I don’t know too many little girls who grow up wanting a pet elk.  Those who grow up on a farm may want their own goat, or sheep, or cow.  But city and farm girls alike can identify with the desire for a pony.  Many of us can identify with the way the breath catches when watching a horse – or a herd of them – gallop freely across a field.

Almost everyone who meets Dakota – or sees a picture – remarks that they’d love to have a horse, and then asks “How much does a horse cost?”

The answer – it varies, but in short – a lot.

Owning horses is deceptively tempting, in that it isn’t buying them that necessarily costs a lot.  It’s keeping them that is expensive.   So if you’re thinking about bringing one home, be sure to do your research on whether you can afford it.  And remember, a horse can live to the ripe old age of as much as 40, so you should plan for your horse’s retirement as you would plan for yours.

Here are some great places for information on how to calculate the real cost of a horse:

Learning Horses



Lucky Pony

Bear in mind that the board costs they give in these are nowhere near the top end farms around here.  One of the fancy-schmancy show barns in my area charges nearly $1500 a month for board.  Many seem low initially, but charge extra for everything other than food, turnout, and shelter (changing blankets, worming, feeding supplements or medicine, etc.)  While you can find barns that charge very reasonable fees for the care provided (I’m at one), you really need to do your research.

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Several weeks ago, my father-in-law brought his (relatively) new girlfriend to the barn to see my horse.


So I go to get her, and from 10 feet away, the smell nearly knocked me over.  She had this revolting, greenish stank snot that smelled like absolute death.  Needless to say, I warned them off and they looked from a distance.  Had them pet a couple of the others I knew they could pet, and dealt with Ms. Snotty.

Oh, was it gross.

Called the vet, who came out and said that she had a split tooth in her upper jaw, which had abscessed into her sinus.  Solution?  Take X-rays to be sure, but –

  • Best case, remove the tooth at the barn, for several hundred dollars.
  • Worst case, remove the tooth at the clinic for a couple of thousand – they’d have to make an incision, drill into her sinus, and tap it out from above.

Now, I’m not the type to begrudge my horse health care, but I’m not the type to allow having her face drilled through, either, without a second opinion.  I told the vet I wanted her looked at by a horse dentist.

Enter my hero.

Equine Dentist Ron Ross takes care of several horses at the barn, and I lucked out when I called him.  He said he was in CT the next day, and could rearrange his schedule to adjust to my work schedule and come and see her.  Amazing.  Ron’s worked with the Budweiser Clydesdales.  He works across the country, and is a really busy guy, very much in demand.  I was thrilled that he’d move his schedule around to see her.

After a little while, he said that in his (non-medical) opinion, it wasn’t split – the lower tooth had a ridge, and the upper one had simply grown around it – so it appeared to have split!  The pressure from the lower tooth had pushed the upper against the upper jaw, irritating and causing the abscess.  Cause?  Poor floating (prior to my owning her).

He worked on her teeth for a while – just floated them with some extra attention to the problem area.  I was fascinated watching him work.  He has a wonderful way with horses; Dakota was as relaxed as I’ve ever seen her.  No sedation, no power tools, and she just let him do whatever he wanted.  Good horse, and a great dentist.

And best of all, no further problems.  And the final bill?  $140.

Most impressive, he called to follow up and see how she was.

Can’t recommend him highly enough.

UPDATE: Ron came out for Dakota’s 6-month follow-up. The tooth still has a pocket, but is not split. He floated her teeth, and she’ll be staying on a 6-month schedule until we’re sure the tooth isn’t at risk of splitting (which can happen if that pocket gets too big). Kota was, as usual, well-behaved, although a little more feisty than at the last visit. Just a touch of Spring Fever.

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