Archive for The Copper Chronicles

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FollowTheLeaderThank you so much for following this blog about animals and animal communication! I wanted to let you know, however, that I have moved the entire blog to my main website and that is where new posts appear. I hope you will hop on over there to catch up and sign up to follow me at that location. And if you have a blog too, please put that in the comments there so I can check it out. Thanks so much! LetaSignature

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Horse Parasites Beware – We Are ONTO You!

If you own horses then you know what a constant concern keeping equine parasites under control can be. And unfortunately, according to the latest research, doing so is becoming even more of a challenge as the parasite population is quickly building up immunity to the various chemicals we try to kill them off with.

My holistic horse vet in Texas, Dr. Madalyn Ward, has been studying this problem for years and trying to figure out new and different ways of addressing it that will keep horses healthy and not subject them OR their worms to so many chemicals. (See below for one of her recommended approaches.)

This past week I joined the Northern New Mexico Horse Club and attended their monthly meeting because one of our local horse vets was giving a presentation on this very topic. I was really curious to see what a mainstream vet might have to say about the parasite problem, plus I’ve been wanting to join the club anyway. I was very pleased and impressed with this guy’s thinking and liked the group to boot, so the evening was a grand success.

In a nutshell, here is what this vet recommended:

  • Conscientious and thorough manure management, including NOT spreading manure over a pasture where horses graze. Horses defecate in certain areas by instinct (often called ‘stud piles’) and do not graze on those areas. So leave those piles alone or remove them entirely. When you spread them out you are simply distributing the worm larvae they contain over the entire grazing area where the horses can’t help but ingest them.
  • Rotate pastures if possible, swapping out with cows, sheep, or goats if you have them. This gives your horse parasite larvae time to die off, plus these species’ parasites do not cross over to equines.
  • Do regular fecal egg counts to monitor your horses’ parasite loads, at least once a year, and use chemical wormers only according to the results and when absolutely necessary. Various horses in the same herd can have radically different parasite loads, depending on their general level of immunity and health, so one may need a good chemical dousing while the rest do not. Fact: 20% of the horses in any given herd will carry 80% of the parasites. An important and startling point to remember.
  • Limit your chemical worming to as few times as once per year for those horses who carry a light load of parasites, and maybe 3 or 4 times a year max  for those who carry a heavy load.

I like this. And I am really glad to see our conventional veterinarians thinking in this direction. Where I thought this particular vet fell short was in his emphasis on adopting this new approach mainly in order to discourage the parasites’ immunity to chemical dewormers, while downplaying the immediate stress frequent chemical deworming can place on our horses, especially those who are weak and compromised. But, in any case . . . progress!

Here’s what I do and have done for about 12 years now, as part of a program recommended by Dr. Madalyn Ward. And doing regular fecal checks has shown that it works. Once a month, sometimes twice, on the full and new moons, I give each of my horses a load dose of probiotics. Period. That’s it. Then, when I do fecal egg counts, if it looks like someone could use some chemical deworming help, I proceed according to what type and what load of parasites were found. The product I use is Simplexity Health’s Spectrabiotic, a broad-spectrum probiotic in a blue-green algae base (which is not only a great pre-biotic for the good bacteria to feed on, but is also a superfood nutrient in its own right), and so far so good.

The presenting vet pointed out that there is no scientific backup proving that probiotics help with parasite problems. I don’t know if this is true or not, but Dr. Ward’s theory is that the healthier the gut flora, the more difficulty parasites will have in setting up shop in its midst. All I know is this approach has worked well for me and my horses for many years now — witness my incredibly strong and healthy 33-year-old QH, Copper, who was not so strong and healthy when he came to me as a cast-off at about age 20). So I’m sticking with it! Oh – and why on the full moon and new moon?

Well, just like the oceans, many things are more active during those moon phases, including the activities and processes that go on inside our bodies . . . among them, theoretically, those populations of unwanted parasites. Maybe they howl at the moon just like we do . . .  so it’s easier to nab ’em when they’re wide awake and partying!

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If you want to try this approach you can order Spectrabiotic here. I give 15 capsules with a feeding once or twice a month to my horses who are average size, and 20 to my mare who weighs in at around 1400 – 1500 lbs. Just dump them on top of their feed; they should eat them just fine. I’d recommend doing this twice a month for a while to get things under control, then doing a fecal check, then backing off to once a month when it looks like your program is working. Try it. It’s worth it and really will pay off in your horses’ overall health, and consequentially in your long-term vet bills!

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A New Job – And A New Lease On Life

Copper, a grinning "King of the Hill" at 33!

I’m not talking about me here. I’m talking about Copper, my 33-year-old, hand-me-down, un-vanquishable, star-of-the-world Quarter Horse.

Copper has a new “raison d’etre,” “joie de vivre,” — translate: “reason for being.” Copper is in Seventh Heaven, Nirvana, and is cantering and kicking up his heels to prove it.

We all know how invigorating and rejuvenating it is when we suddenly have an exciting new direction in life, or find that we are really needed. Maybe we’ve just landed that incredible, stimulating job we’ve always sought that will utilize our unique and shining talents; maybe we’ve been nominated for a Nobel Prize or discovered a new cause to commit to, one that will help a lot of people or animals. These kinds of things are like a shot in the arm, energy-wise, and we feel important.

Moments like this are such a high and are unmatched for getting our creative juices flowing and inspiring us to achieve great things. Copper is having such a moment.

I don’t know all the details of Copper’s past before he came to me, but he’s always been kind of low down in the pecking order, as there were always overbearing alpha geldings present who lorded it over him. Not so since we lost our dear Gabriel in November. It was a painful loss for all of us, but all of a sudden Copper is the only male horse around, and he has two lovely mares to take care of. If there’s a bright side to every situation, I guess that would be it. Gabriel really needed to be released from his broken-down body, and Copper really benefited from the rejuvenation he has experienced by moving to the top of the gelding pile.

Although some horses can live to be 40 or even older, most don’t even make it to 30, so Copper is indeed a wise old elder. He is in excellent health but his age does show in certain respects. He moves around a little more “creakily,” is set in his ways, and — at least until this new change in his status — has frankly enjoyed his independence and alone time away from the herd. No longer.

I first noticed a dramatic difference in his behavior about a week after Gabriel’s passing. Copper has his own enclosed eating area where he has been quite content to stay, sometimes for hours on end, taking his time downing his rations with the few teeth he has left in his head. No longer.

Copper now gulps down his meal and, if the girls have wandered out of the barn area and are out of sight, he starts whinnying like crazy and banging on his gate until one of us comes and lets him out. He then GALLOPS off to find his harem and is not content until the threesome are all back together. True, “gallop” is using the term rather loosely here, but we haven’t seen him run by choice, for any reason at all, in years!

The girls are both docile. They both love him. And he has finally whipped the new mare, Lopeh, into shape and gained her complete respect. I don’t think they’ll be putting many demands on him, but Copper is obviously King of the Hill at this point in his life. And I figure it can only energize and extend his already amazing old age.

Here’s to Copper and his new lease on life!

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Independent Living — Good Even For A Horse

I remember when my mom moved into a place that offered three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and nursing-home care. It was her choice, and she moved into an apartment on the ground floor, proud of her status as “independent.” She made the move, however, for me and my brother, just in case she should begin failing and ever need the second (assisted) or third (nursing) levels of care. Fortunately she never did, though she did pass on within a couple of years of moving into this facility. I think maintaining her independence was paramount for her self respect and paid off in the long run.

Copper, at liberty outside my dining room window, telling everybody, "I rule!"

And so it is for Copper, my 32-year-old (coming on 33 now) Quarter Horse.

Copper has always been Mr. Man in our herd. Just about our favorite of all horses of all time, and for reasons too many to list here. But Copper has just recently gained a new lease on life. In fact a friend of mine, April, who has known him a long time and was helping me feed one evening this past week, asked: “Has our Copper gotten a little, ahem, attitude, recently?!”

Well, yeah. He has. Since the loss of our herd leader, Gabriel, and the addition of our new herd member, Lopeh, Copper is no longer at the bottom of the pecking order. And he keeps everyone reminded of that by putting Lopeh in her place whenever he feels like it. Mainly at feeding time, chasing her away from his new, private abode.

Which brings up the second reason he is feeling so full of himself. Copper now has, as mentioned above, a private area where he alone is fed. But the kicker is that this area has a gate that he, and only he, can manipulate to let himself in or out of. Complete with cow bells!  So he can be heard far and wide whenever he lets himself in, or out of, his private suite. Too cool!

Copper had such an area when we lived in Texas too (sans the cow bells, however), and he loved it there. It took me some time to figure out how to recreate the scenario here in New Mexico, mechanically speaking, but I finally struck on something I thought Copper could master. And master it he did, though it took him a few weeks.

So now Copper lets himself in and out of his private area any time he wants, and I can keep his feed bin full of hay and feed for him to eat any time he desires. Since he has hardly any teeth left in his head, eating all the time is a really good thing, and now no one has to worry that the two girls will scarf up his rations before he has a chance to even begin.

The best thing is that Copper has a new lease on life and is even sassier than he was before.

There really is something magic about being independent. If you don’t believe me, just ask Copper!

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IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ MORE ABOUT COPPER:

How To Be Robert Redford

Out of the Mouths of Horses – Wise Words for us All

Copper is a Channel!

 

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Blue-Green Algae: The Proof is in the Pudding . . I Mean, The Old Horse

"Why does everybody get SO bent out of shape about this aging thing?" asks Copper.

"Why does everybody get SO bent out of shape about the aging thing?" asks Copper.

A few days ago Copper, my 32-year-old Quarter Horse, says to me, “I have had, ahem, a little setback.”

He’s referring to a punishing kick in the chest from one of  his herd mates exactly one week ago. But true to form, even though Copper considers this a “little setback,” he hasn’t missed a meal or limped a step.

We were appalled when we found the huge lump growing on his chest like something out of Alien— complete with hoofprint stamped thereupon. It was about as big as a small watermelon and within hours was as hard as a rock.

Homeopathic, high potency Arnica to the rescue. Lots of doses for three days then tapering off. The lump stayed about the same, though softened a bit, and the heat left it. And Copper just kept chomping through his rations. And, might I add, a 32-year-old horse doesn’t have many teeth left, so chomping on anything is quite a feat. But Copper does it very well. In fact he can still eat grass hay and even graze, a true miracle at his age.

So here we are, a week later, the watermelon has turned to mush, hair is falling out, and the whole thing is about to become Mount Vesuvius and massively erupt as what may become known as the mother of all abscesses. It’s going to be a gory sight — a nasty and smelly business. But Copper seems like he could care less, and we of course are going to see him through.

I know what is going through your mind. Where is the vet? Aren’t you totally freaked out? To answer, the vet is coming in 3 days — to check the horses’ teeth, so I’ll have him check the abscess too, just to cover all bases. And no, I am not freaking out. In fact, I am thrilled.

The fact that the immune system of a 32-year-old horse has the wherewithall to form and dispose of abscess material within a week, in a normal way — by erupting,  is a phenomenon worth celebrating. Contrary to what one would think, one does not want to suppress the infection in an abscess by giving antibiotics. This just drives the energy of the infection deeper into the body, and it will show up later as more serious symptoms.

So we are celebrating as we speak. Awaiting the smelly pus and blood and gore to begin flowing out, hopefully tomorrow. We will help it along with hot compresses and will keep it open and “clean” (an oxymoron in this case) so it can do its deed and rid dear Copper’s body of the offending infection.

The moral to this story is: how and why can a horse Copper’s age be so healthy and his system so effective at clearing such a heinous injury? I have to believe it is all due to the absolutely superb nutrition he has had since he was given to me as a throwaway horse 10 years ago. During that time he has also received no vaccines (since he doesn’t ever travel or go on the show circuit — though I’m sure he could if he wanted to), and his worming is mostly handled herbally.

I’ll admit, Copper gets a LOT of superb supplements, but so do I and so do the rest of my animals. Our mainstay is the superfood blue-green algae by Simplexity, in many different forms. It is such a perfect, easily assimilable, food that it literally fills pretty much all nutritional gaps. I urge you to try it, for yourself and your old horses — and for your kids and other animals too.

So, in case you’re interested, Copper’s blue-green algae each day is:

2 Enzymes

1 Bifidus

1 Acidophilus

1 T.  APA blend

1 tsp. Simply SBGA

And on the new moon and the full moon he gets 15 Spectrabiotic to power up his gut to rid itself of offending parasites! He hardly ever requires a chemical worming.

Go Copper!!!!!

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I Guess There’s A First Time For Everything

As Told by Copper, the 32-Yr.-Old Quarter Horse.

BellaHead2See this picture of my herd mate, Bella? She’s a Mustang, so she thinks she’s hot stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

Yours Truly

Yours Truly

Now look at this picture of me, Copper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, which do you feel is the obvious most reliable horse here? Ahem . . . I won’t gloat, but to prove my point let me tell you what happened here this past Sunday afternoon.

Our leader Leta, who usually writes this blog but sometimes takes dictation from me when I have something important to say, and her friend April decided to get on Bella and me, respectively. Leta loaded up but, for reasons of that back injury she has described, could only walk about for 10 minutes or so before having to dismount. So she asked another family member if she would like to hop up on Bella. (We’ll call her “Sue” so the real person won’t be embarrassed.) “Sure!” Sue said.  Big mistake. I mean, theoretically it shouldn’t have been, but Sue hasn’t ridden in years, or so I hear, and Bella hasn’t been ridden in 8 months.

Now let me make an aside here: MOST horses who have not been ridden for that long need to have that fact taken into consideration when ridden again. But yours truly, on the other hand, can go for longer than that even (years!) and still be hopped up on by just about anybody and behave in a trustworthy manner. But Bella? Ha! Well, you’ll see.

Leta has always bragged about Bella, how mellow she is, how sweet she is, how she’s never bucked in her entire life, blah-de, blah-de, blah-de — ’til the cows come home. But if you ask me that’s a little misguided. I don’t know if she’s really reading Bella right, because here’s what happened.

Sue and April took Bella and me up to our little sand riding arena, and Sue started trotting on Bella. I led the way up there — Bella didn’t even want to go — and I started trotting right away, and having a good ole time of it in fact. Bella started shaking her head and objecting strenuously. She has gotten so big and fat these last few months that she’s like a garden slug so trotting probably did not feel that great to her — or just moving at all, in my opinion.

Sue thought she should get off, but Leta urged her to keep going so as to get Bella off her fat ass and moving a little. So, of course, the unbelievable happened. Bella turned into a rodeo horse and started bucking (and it was pretty darn amazing looking, if I do say so myself), and on the third buck, with all four of Bella’s feet off the ground and her back bowed, Sue went flying! Screaming all the way, landing in a prickly-type shrub, getting knocked up pretty darn good.

No bones broken, no head smashed, they tell me. And Bella was in total shock (I guess she hadn’t thought she had it in her). But I must say, I could have warned them. Bella was just not “up” for this particular activity on this particular day, which, by the way, occurred just before feeding time, and you know eating is her favorite past-time.

Bella gets by with murder because she puts on this act of coyness for Leta all the time, and Leta buys it. But I knew. Fortunately April was ready and willing to hop back up on Bella and trot her for several minutes and make her behave so all would not be lost.

And, I must say, Leta and Bella went back up there today and had a talk. And Leta rode her quietly (which is all she can do with that back right now) and reminded her of lots of their old exercises, and Bella acted “perfect” to hear Leta talk. Hrummph!

Can’t tell if she’s just pulling the wool over Leta’s eyes right now or whether she’s remembering her better side. Guess only time and more riding — or bucking — will tell, so stay tuned.

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How To Be Robert Redford

Robert Redford?

Robert Redford?

So, Copper, I know you are aware that our friend April says you look just like Robert Redford. What do you think of that?

I like it. I think she’s right.

Do you know who “Robert Redford” is?

I get the idea. I know who I am.

What would you say one has to be in order to be Robert Redford?

You have to stand tall. Be strong. Be a little sarcastic, but with a good sense of humor. And you have to be a bit tousled. Your hair.

Very interesting. And is this the way you see yourself?

Definitely.

Do you see yourself as handsome? Do you think that is also a prerequisite for being Robert Redford?

I think it is for him probably. But not for me. Because my offerings override just mere appearances.

But do you think you are handsome?

I know I am handsome!

Ah so. How do you know that?

Everyone tells me (duh!). You know I hear everything you all say about me too, when you are discussing me in the third person. That’s why I always turn around and stare at you when you’re talking about me. Sometimes that’s not very polite, you know. I don’t really mind it too much because it is always complimentary, but you have to be careful with what you say. Especially when you talk about my age.

Oh. What about your age? Are we saying things we shouldn’t about your age?

Well, whenever you point me out to someone new you always say something like, “That’s my old guy,” or “That’s Copper, he’s 31,” or ” . . . oldster (!!!),” or “That old guy is 31. Can you believe how good he looks?!” Or “He’s doing really well and he’s going on 32,” or “He’s gimpy so we can’t ride him any more.” Stuff like that.

Eek, I see what you mean. . .

And I’ll have you know that you certainly CAN ride me more! Or at least the small ones can. I am quite fit. The “gimp” thing just doesn’t apply to me. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I’m sorry! I just notice that sometimes you limp a little so I don’t want to over-burden or challenge your capacities by asking you to be ridden if you shouldn’t be.

I should be, and I want to be. Didn’t you get that last summer? I’m sorry. I’m being a little pushy here.

You’re not being pushy, Copper. You are always very clear about your desires, which I greatly appreciate, so I am very, very happy you are stating this so emphatically for me. Really. Thank you. And we will do as instructed, we will ride you . . . or April will. She’s a “small one.” I promise I will tell her immediately.

Thank you.

No, thank YOU, for talking to me. You know I’m going to post this on the blog for all to see, right?

Right. Why else do you think I would go into such detail about myself? I’m not particularly vain, you know. I just thought since you write about me, and since I am a spokesman, everyone out there should really understand what I’m like. And yeah, I DO think I’m like Robert Redford.

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