June 28, 2009

Our Team Duke & Diesel

Wedding Day

Dreamy-Eyed Duke.

Saturday, June 27, was sunny, bright, and warm. We spent the good part of the morning showing a sale horse, a Belgian, to a couple from MA. His name is Billy-Bob and he is a very well broke, quiet gentleman of a draft horse. We will see if the couple decides to buy him - meanwhile, he is still for sale, rides as well as drives, so if anyone is looking for a horse...!
The rest of the morning was spent preparing for the afternoon's wedding. White horses, white vis-a-vis meant the pressure washer came out for bathing and the polish was used on the carriage. We had quite an advantage with yesterday's wedding: it was a late after noon wedding AND it was at the Vineyard, so nothing had to be loaded into the trailer. It is just one of the many reasons we enjoy the Vineyard weddings and rides. Norman also had the chance to get out of his stall before we did the wedding. His previous owner came by to see how he was, and we brought him out of his stall for a chance to stretch. He stood around the back yard, ate a little grass, then took off and went back to his stall all by himself again when he was tired. As usual, once back in his stall, he layed out flat and slept deeply.

Saturday's wedding was the first "same-sex" wedding we have done since the State of Connecticut legalized it. The couple was very lovely, and the wedding was very nice, too.

Our services for the wedding were completed by 6PM, and we made it back to the barn just in time to put the carriage away before the thunderstorm hit. Although the rain was not as torrential as it was the day before, the lightning strikes were once again in our immediate surroundings. We are very grateful we did not get stuck in the middle of it while driving the horses back from the Vineyard.

June 26, 2009

Norman on Friday

Norman, outside this afternoon and looking happy!

I came home from running errands today, only to be greeted by Norman in the backyard. Terry had decided he needed to get out into the sunshine again, and left him on the lawn without a halter. Of course, he didn't think he would get far.

Terry spent some time on the tractor raking the paddocks. He kept looking back at Norman, keeping an eye on him. At one point, he looked back to see that Norman had wandered off into the woods to where the two ponies are kept. Terry went and brought Norman back to the lawn, where he would stay out of trouble. He then went back to work, only to turn around and find Norman gone, again! He was no where to be seen - not down by the drafts, not by the ponies, not in the woods. Terry ran to the barn driveway to see if he was standing at the gate, only to find Norman back in his stall! He must have felt tired from his afternoon adventures, and went to take a nap.

Although being outdoors is definitely good for him, it is also tiresome for him. Afterward, he laid out flat in his stall, closed his eyes, and went to sleep. Each day, we will let him stay out longer and longer. I know it is building his strength, and making him happy!

June 25, 2009

A Step Forward for Norman!

Terry stands with Norman outside the barn this evening. We estimate Norman has lost 250 to 300 pounds since he first foundered.

I am so excited tonight, I just had to post another blog about Norman! As you can see by the picture, Norman was given the opportunity to venture outside the barn today! Terry came home from upstate New York, took one look at him laying in his stall and said, "Norman needs to go for a little walk." Although it was tough on him, I really do think he enjoyed the sunshine (yes, I said "sunshine"), and a mouth full of grass from our lawn. It was exhausting for him, though - afterward, he lay flat out in his stall and took a nap!

Aside from his trip back up from Pennsylvania a week ago, this is the first time Norman has been out of a barn in over five weeks.

Is it possible, do you think, that this moment has given him a sense of hope, something to dream about?

Norman on Thursday

Sweet Norman - although he is pictured here laying down, he has spent a fair amount of time on his feet, at his feed bag, today!

Norman seems to be progressing! I actually caught him standing at his feed bag, all fours square under him - at least for a moment. For a horse that could not stand up to eat just days ago, this is an enormous breakthrough! He doesn't seem to be quite as weak today - of course, having had nearly five flakes of hay since this morning (also a breakthrough), is without doubt helping him in that arena, too. As always, he remains sweet and grateful for our compassion. Although we are usually strongly against feeding "hay stretcher", we may try adding it to his diet, as the vet recommended. We will see. In any case, we are feeling hopeful. Our farrier says that although it is a bad case, he has seen worse, and with luck and patience, we hope Norman can recover.

One more thing to note regarding Norman: a kindred spirit and fellow blogger, Sue Steiner, has generously offered to donate an original oil painting as a means for a fundraiser to help offset the costs we will incur with Norman! We are so grateful for her very generous (and unexpected!) offer, and we are developing some ideas on how to make this work. Please visit her blog and support her efforts as an artist/horsewoman. We want to thank everyone for all your time helping us here at the barn, and all the well wishes, in caring for Norman! Sue's blog is: http://www.amulti-coloredlife.blogspot.com/

Here is where we wish Norman could be - in the back pasture, with the other Percherons. Hopefully someday...

Meanwhile, our farm continues on in "normal" fashion. The herd is being introduced to the back pasture, slowly but surely. It is our plan to add extra fencing, to create not only a larger area for the eight drafts, but to link the top paddock to the back, to make it easier for watering and feeding. This will also let us finally let go of the paddock behind the barn and build our ring, as originally planned. Fencing has always been a time-consuming chore for us!

Tomorrow I do carriage rides, and Saturday we have two carriages going on a wedding, right here at the vineyard. That is four horses to bathe and prepare! Someone is coming to look at a Belgian we have for sale that morning, too, so our weekend will be very hectic. I look forward to a quieter Sunday, maybe just a winery tour. The harness shop will be open as well. Stop by and see us if you get the chance!

June 24, 2009


Happy Horse: Gillette in the grass.

Norman's Road to Recovery (Wednesday)

Norman's new shoes: set backwards with a thick pad, open at the toe to relieve the pressure and let the abscesses drain. This picture was taken yesterday when the farrier was working on his feet.

Here it is Wednesday, and Norman's day was very uneventful. That is a good thing for a foundered horse. As evident by the manure in his stall and the hay gone from his feed bag, he is alternately standing up and laying down. When he does stand, he doesn't look quite as pained as he did yesterday before his shoes were removed and the abscesses opened. He looks for his carrots (courtesy of Patty & Dale) each time I enter his stall. He is happy to eat hay out of my hands if I enter when he is laying flat. He feels a bit cooler to the touch, as well (have not taken his temp yet tonight, though).
He likes the fan blowing in his face while he drinks his water. Terry, who already has the experience of a severely foundered horse under his belt, truly feels Norman is doing just a little better today. I think he is right. But we are not out of the woods, not by a long stretch.

June 23, 2009

Norman's Road to Recovery (Tuesday)

Our farrier, Matt Lewis, working on one of Norman's foundered front feet. Note the opened abscess on the toe.

It is past 11:00PM, and we are finally hopeful for Norman again. Our farrier, Matt Lewis, came by tonight and, along with 1.4cc tranquilizer from the vet, pulled his front shoes, dug out the abscesses, and put backward shoes and pads on his feet to relieve the pressure in the toe. It was quite an ordeal for poor Norman. Hardly able to stand on his own, we had to put him in stocks. He shook and shook and sweated from it all (although 1.4cc is a lot, it hardly seemed to affect him), but after it was done, he was standing at his hay bag, eating with a good apatite. One concern we have is his temperature: tonight, before we started working on him, it was up to 103.2F. The vet recommended we not continue with the penicillin because, she says, it doesn't affect infection in the feet that well.

Both Matt and the vet think the sole has dropped too far to ever correct itself, but with hope he will get better enough to make someone a nice pleasure horse. That is our hope for Norman - to make someone happy, and to be happy. We will remain vigilant and see what tomorrow brings.

On another happy note, our farrier worked on the rescue pony Cosmo today as well, cutting back his feet all the way and giving the pony, likely for the first time in years, good feet to walk on again. Matt says the pony had foundered years ago as well, but will be just fine. He looks like a new pony!

June 22, 2009

Norman on Monday

It is Monday morning, and Norman has had his antibiotics and MSM. He was laying down when we came into the barn, but we got him up for his shot. It was obvious he had a drink of water in the night - half a bucket worth - but Norman continues to lose strength as is evident by his inability to stay standing for long. Once down, he will eat a bit if the hay is in front of him, and certainly when we feed him by hand. The combination of pain & weakness is making this journey hard on Norman, and on those of us who watch helplessly. I often wonder, standing by his side, rubbing his neck and talking softly to him, if he might be thinking to himself, "Why don't the wolves come?"

Sunday's Draft Horse Workshop

Terry giving pointers at the hitching rail during our draft horse workshop on Sunday.

In spite of weather reports to the contrary, Sunday turned out to be relatively dry and breezy and perfect for our draft horse workshop. Our cross team, Danny & Dakota, did the honors of showing the participants the ropes. It was a long day, but very rewarding for all involved. Danny & Dakota were rewarded afterwards with time in the back pasture - all the horses are being slowly introduced to the grass out back. Other accomplishments Sunday, besides the daily care of Norman, included trimming Raj the mini's feet.

June 21, 2009

What is to Become of Norman?

Terry sitting with Norman after packing his feet with ichthamol and wrapping them with duct tape.

In some respects, Norman shows signs of doing better today. His temperature was down to 101.1 degrees this morning. He is in good spirits and eats while laying down. He enjoys his medicine mixed in with applesauce. In other respects, however, we continue to have grave concerns as to his outcome. He spends more and more time laying flat out on his side; he continues to lose weight. When he does stand, the pain is so obviously unbearable, he shakes. But Norman, stoic and noble, loves to be loved on, lets us prick him with needles, scrub his bed sores clean, and pack his feet with icthamol to try and draw out the infection. It looks as though our farrier won't come out until Tuesday to evaluate and/or work on Norman, as we will be required to have the vet here to tranquilize him. We watch him vigilantly day and night to keep him as comfortable as possible, to be sure he has hay within easy reach, and clean bedding to lay on. Our good friends Patty and Dale have offered to help pay for Norman's vet bills, for which we are eternally grateful. Our caring for Norman is a labor of love in purest form.

June 20, 2009

Downturn for Norman?

After what seemed like a breakthrough for Norman yesterday, we are no longer feeling as hopeful tonight. He continues to be in tremendous pain, and our farrier has suggested that the absesses could very well be a symptom of the founder. He will hopefully come to the farm tomorrow to asses Norman's feet. The unfortunate thing is that in order for him to do any work, the horse needs to be tranquilized, which means the cost of a vet. At best tomorrow the farrier will give us his opinion as to whether or not Norman can be saved. In spite of us giving him penicilin twice a day, his temperature remains at 102.2. We will just have to see what is said tomorrow. At the same time, the farrier will hopefully work on the pony we rescued a few weeks ago (have not yet blogged about him - he was rescued from neglect with a severe case of "slipper feet"). All this on a day when we have a six hour driving workshop we are giving! Well, it will work out, and hopefully the rain will stay away as well! Incidentally, we would like to thank our friend and the town's animal control officer, Linda Praisner, for donating some medicinal salves for Norman's "bed sores". We appreciate everything our friends and supporters are doing for Norman!

June 19, 2009

Norman's Continued Saga

Terry preparing to give Norman a shot.

We had a very interesting development in Norman's progress today. Still no sign of relief from the pain in his front feet, Terry started to really investigate the hoof and its condition for the first time since the horse came up lame (not having seen the horse again until two days ago, we were going on the trainer's word as to the horse's condition). Terry dug out what appears to be numerous absesses in each hoof this afternoon! Both feet are draining puss and blood, and we are now giving him 40cc's twice daily penicilin. He is already more alert than he was two days ago, whinnying for his stablemate Raj (our mini) and eating his hay with more vigor. Of course, having changed over his hay from first cut to alfalfa made it more enticing for him. He is very thin and needs to start gaining weight to help in his recovery. Our plan of action is to continue with the MSM as well, and to pack his hooves with ichthamol and wrap them, to help draw out the infection. We are feeling considerably more hopeful for him this afternoon!

Saving a Percheron

Our friend, Linda, spending time comforting Norman.

Two days ago, Terry brought home a Percheron from Pennsylvania that had been in training at a Menonite farm. The horse, according to the trainer, had turned up very lame in both fronts after a hard day in the field with five other horses. Founder was the likely culprit, and the horse rested for nearly a month. Not having shown any sign of recovery, his owner told Terry he didn't want him back. Terry did the only thing he possibly could: brought him to Cedar Knoll Farm.

Norman, as he is called, is a large 7 year old (18.1HH) Percheron gelding. He had his start as a PMU foal, then went to a lovely woman in Massachusetts for many years of spoiled bliss. Being a bit too much horse for her, she sold him to us and we sold him to his current owner. In time, however, his owner thought he could us a bit more training, and off he went to Pennsylvania.

Now he is here again, spending his day laying down in his box stall when he can't stand up against the pain in his front feet. He looks very thin, ("wan" being an old fashioned expression that is also appropriate), and pained. We love on him as much as we can, and it is obvious it brings him comfort.

June 17, 2009

Chicken Little

Our neighbor's toddler, with our two English Game Bantams.

Oh what fun to visit the farm! Sights and sounds and smells to awaken the senses. The experience of afternoon sunlight on the landscape of the family farm creates a day worth chatting about, perfect for adding chicken scratch to the pages of a secret diary. Generations of memory books are filled with snapshots of these joyous days. I am rich for these experiences and memories.

June 16, 2009

Do Hound Dogs Bark?

Moses is barking, madly. I don't know if it is the sight and sound of chickens cackling that sets him off so, or the playful thunder of five horses running over sloppy ground. In spite of afternoon sunshine, there is still mud, and with temperatures in the low 60's, I don't expect the paddocks to dry any time soon.

Moses won't stop. It shocks me that our friend Linda, the town's dog warden, has yet to get a complaint. On the other hand, do hound dogs really bark? Or do they cry?

June 15, 2009

Horses in the Rain

It is 8:15 PM, and the rain is coming down hard. I look out the window and see the bays in their paddock, soaked but content with the alfalfa in front of them. The evening sun hangs in the sky behind them. It is one of those strange sights, pink clouds and a white orb through sheets of rain.

In the barn, dry but no less content, are the kings, Duke & Diesel, and court jesters Raj the Mini, Alice the Donkey, and Cosmo the Pony. I hear the quail calling to each other now, bidding each other "good night". And so we bid all of you "sweet dreams" as well.