Things This Cat Wants You To Know

Things This Cat Wants You To Know

Tuesdays with Tony

As the resident King of The Countertop at Springhill Equine, I listen to a whole lot of conversations. Some are unique, but there are some very, very frequent repeats. As a cat who is constantly trying to make the world a better place for horses… Wait, that’s not true at all. I write this blog for the fame, fortune, and adulation of my fans, not for the horses. I am a cat, after all.

The real reason for me to go over these frequent topics is so my Docs have more time to scratch all my favorite spots in the proper way, as I have trained them. So, strap in and let’s visit some things you should know.

Colic

Stop walking them. For the love of all that is cat, please, please, please stop walking colics. It only exhausts you and the horse and doesn’t help the colic at all.

While we’re on the topic of colics, let’s talk about causes. The #1 cause of colic is not enough water in the system. Now I know there can be a whole lot of reasons for this, but taking the time to work on a plan for water consumption for your horse can prevent a lot of unwanted visits with my Docs. We all know you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. Using strategies like added salt in the grain, or, even better, adding lots of water to the grain, can dramatically increase water consumption without your horse even realizing it! Making sure your horse has access to and is drinking water when they’re working hard, or when it’s really hot out helps reduce impactions, too. When it’s cold out, again adding salt or water to the food puts water where it’s needed most. 

The #2 cause of colic in this area of Florida (and now’s the season) is the sudden appearance of coastal hay in front of your horse. Putting out a round bale of hay and turning your horse loose on it is like sending me to the all-you-can-eat Friskies buffett. It’s not going to end well for anyone! Coastal hay is a good roughage option as long as it’s managed well. Start with small amounts of hay, and gradually increase over 10-14 days until your horse is leaving some hay. Then you can put a round bale out. Along with that coastal hay, feed at least ½ flake of alfalfa or peanut hay daily. It helps keep the system moving smoothly. It also drives thirst, which makes them drink, and, well, we’ve gone full circle.

Horse Trailers

You should have one, or have very, very rapid access to one. Oh, and your horse should know how to load. Just this morning Dr. Lacher was speaking with someone with a horse emergency too far away for us to drive to. This area doesn’t have any veterinarians. This owner doesn’t have a horse trailer. I wish I could say this wasn’t a common scenario, but it’s nearly daily here. There are a myriad of reasons why your horse may need to trailer somewhere. From bad lacerations, to colics, to hurricane evacuation. Having a trailer, or a solid plan with your neighbor, is really, really important. 

Now that you know why you should have a trailer, make sure your horse loads in that trailer. This takes practice. Often it takes two people to get the process going the right way. Even more often it takes a professional to help you teach your horse to load. And despite your desire to yell, scream, and swear at your horse due to the insane stress levels you are experiencing due to their extreme commitment to not loading on the trailer, calmness is the answer. You can trust me on this. I specialize in naps. I know calm. 

Having a Plan

I’ve got two scenarios here. 

Scenario #1: Disaster Plan. You need one. You need one in general, but you really, really need one if you have animals. Horses drink a lot of water, and eat a lot of food. When the power goes out, water gets tricky if you’re on a well. If there’s a significant disaster, like Hurricane Ian, it can take a bit to get supply chains of feed and hay running back into an area. Think about what disasters are likely to hit your area, and make a plan.

Scenario #2: You die. I know, I know, no one likes to think about this part, but if you’ve got animals, you need to. Cats and dogs are hard enough to find good homes for, let alone horses. Take the time to do some estate planning so your family (who may not even be horse people) know what to do with them. Set aside some money in that estate plan to help with this, or to help your family find the right person to re-home them. There are so many animals who find themselves in a bad situation because their owners suddenly passed away. This is easily avoided with a modicum of effort on your part, and now that I’ve cat-splained it to you, you have no excuses. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Your Horse’s Diet

A much lighter topic than the previous one. Your horse’s diet should start with roughage, meaning pasture or hay. Concentrates should be an add-on from there. Those concentrates will balance all of the shortfalls of the roughage. You do NOT need supplements. I feel like you humans think supplements = love. Not true. Time spent with you grazing, or getting favorite itchy spots scratched, or a nice trail ride, these things are love. Not supplements. And when it comes to concentrates, the least expensive bag of feed is NEVER the cheapest way to feed your horse. 

Let me elaborate. A bag of ration balancer, which is what 90% of horses should be eating, is fed at 1 pound per day. It’s all nutrition, low on calories, and while the 40# bag might be $30, you only feed 1 pound per day. Sweet feed, which is a terrible plan for horses, needs to be fed at 10-15 pounds per day to meet the basic nutritional needs of the horse. It might only be $15 a bag, but you’re either feeding 1 bag every three days or you’re short-changing your horse on nutrition, which you’re then trying to make up for by feeding a bunch of supplements. 

So: good nutrition/ration balancer at less than $1 a day, or junk food and supplements for $5 – $10 a day. Make sense now? 

I hope this weekly drop of insane cat wisdom helps you make good horse decisions. Need help with colic prevention, disaster planning, trailer loading, or good nutrition? Give my Docs a call. They may not be able to estate plan with you, but they generally know someone who can help. And make sure you take a minute to scratch my back the next time you’re at the Clinic.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. If you really want to download a ton of high-quality horse knowledge into your brain, start listening to the podcast my minions produce while you’re driving to the feed store to get that ration balancer. It’s called Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth and you can listen to it right from your phone. You can find it over on the Podcast Page of my website, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I promise it will make you a better horse owner. Now, before you go down that rabbit hole, if you would just scroll down to the purple box and subscribe, I’ll email you my blog every Monday. That’s right, early access. Just for you. Enjoy the podcast.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
Hurricane Prep

Hurricane Prep

Tuesdays with Tony

Yes I know I do this every year around June 1st, but it’s because you humans are very bad at listening. Hurricane season has officially begun. It’s time to play “Let’s get prepared for a disaster!” The Farm Version.

 

Dump Run

 

Hurricanes love to pick stuff up and throw it around. Look around the farm for those items. Make a burn pile for the stuff can get burned, and a dump pile for the stuff that can’t. Once in piles, actually remove them. Wait until we get some rain, but then burn that burn pile. No need to wait for anything for the dump run. Bonus: Dump runs can usually be counted on for some entertainment from other humans making dump runs as well. Most important: do something with the debris. Don’t let it sit around until the next Hurricane Michael is at Cedar Key. At that point everyone in your county will be at the dump trying to get rid of their debris. Be a smart human!

 

Identify your stuff

 

Microchip your horse. It’s easy. It’s cost effective. It’s permanent. Do it now.  Also works for your dogs and cats. I say it works for humans too, but some frown upon that.

 

Identify more than just your pets and relatives, though. Take a few minutes to shoot a video or take pictures of your truck and trailer, vehicles, tack room, and barn. Anything you think you would claim on insurance should be documented. Those phones you humans carry around to take pictures of yourself and your horse can be used for this, too. Upload it to that place called the cloud so it’s safe. A few moments now can save you a ton of hassles with insurance later.

 

Stockpile a few things

 

Think about what you will need if power is out. Take advantage of the Tax Holiday in Florida on some things. Common stuff you can stockpile now include batteries, flashlights, tarps, duct tape (can you ever have enough?), and gas cans. Horses drink a LOT of water. Think now about how you are going to provide that water. Plastic trash cans with lids work great! Large water troughs work well, too. Whatever you are going to use, now is the time to make sure you have it, and it doesn’t leak. If you are going to evacuate (more on that in a sec), be sure you have enough water and feed buckets for everyone.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Should I stay or should I go?

 

There’s a different answer for everyone, but the important thing now is to make a plan. Even if you intend on staying, you should still make an evacuation plan. It’s just a good idea. The tricky part about evacuating with horses is the timing. You need to leave the area 4-5 days before the projected hit. Traffic is way too bad if you wait until the last minute. Now is the time to call places you may evacuate to and find out what they require. The Agriculture Inspection Station will often waive the Health Certificate requirement during evacuations. However, your destination will likely require a Coggins at a minimum, and may require certain vaccines as well. Check your Coggins now on ALL the horses you might evacuate. Getting them done as a routine appointment is so, so much easier than doing them as an emergency. Bonus: my Docs can microchip your horses at the same time! Easy peasey.

 

We all like to pretend hurricanes are no big deal, but this cat has been around long enough to know you humans don’t really believe that. Spend some time now getting ready, and then you can enjoy that hurricane party as you watch for Jim Cantore’s latest location.

 

All well trained humans will now scroll down to the subscribe button. Press the button, enter your email, and get my blog a day before everyone else. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. Want more? Check out the podcast my docs do called Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth. They just released an episode on Disaster Preparedness, and it’s chock full of good information.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

Subscribe to Tuesdays with Tony

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Tuesdays with Tony – Hurricane Prep

Tuesdays with Tony – Hurricane Prep

I realize I may sound like a broken record this time of year, but sometimes you humans don’t listen so well. Cats listen to everything. We might ignore you, but we do hear you. ‘Tis the season for me to chat with you about hurricane preparedness.

 

The Bare Necessities

 

As I sit here watching it torrentially rain, I remember back to last year when Hermine made the power go out for three days. I learned humans require a substance called coffee, which requires electricity, and horses drink A LOT of water, which requires a pump, which requires electricity! Electricity has a nasty tendency to go away during hurricanes.

 

Take a look around your farm and decide who needs what to tough it out for 5-7 days. For the animals, that is feed, hay, and water. For the humans, that’s coffee, water, and food that doesn’t need refrigeration.  Can you provide these things without electricity?

 

Anticipate 15 gallons of water per horse per day, along with 1 gallon per human per day, and another ¾ per dog and cat per day. This water can be stored in large trash cans (clean ones, obviously!), or those big water troughs. Water can be purified with 6 drops of bleach per gallon if necessary. Be sure any feed and hay you’ve stocked up on is way, way above what you could possibly in your wildest dreams consider a high water level. Ask the nice people in St. Augustine how high water can get without the hurricane even making landfall!

 

Be Safe

 

Now is the time to examine your fences, property, and barn for anything that can become debris during hurricanes. High winds, during even afternoon thunderstorms, can pick up old boards, sheets of roofing tin, or even fencing wire and send it flying around your farm. Horses seem to have a special magnetism for injuries from these scenarios. Keeping these “junk piles” every human seems to have securely covered or tied down is key to an injury-free hurricane experience.

 

Eyeball your farm for other hazards that may occur. A biggie is downed power lines. Figure out where you can safely put your animals so that even if lines come down, they won’t be able to go near them. Approach deep water areas the same way.

 

Speaking of keeping your animals safe during storms, we recommend big stuff like horses and cows stay outside during bad storms if at all possible. This gives them the best opportunity to move away from flying debris, downed trees, and other fun hurricane happenings. We recommend small critters, like dogs and cats, stay inside to prevent them from doing the full-on freakout and running away.  

 

Find your way home

 

Microchips. Best way for your horse, or dog, or cat, or grandparent (ok just kidding on that one, sort of) to find their way home is with a properly registered microchip. Microchips are easy to place, simple to register, and provide 24/7 lifetime identification for your horse.

 

For the humans though, have a family plan for how you will meet up if a storm prevents you from returning home. Pick a point person, whom everyone knows, that lives outside of the potential disaster area. Let’s be real here: for hurricanes, that means someone outside of Florida. This is a person any family member can contact to check-in. Having a far away point person can be a lifesaver (literally) in these situations.

 

There are tons of resources out there about hurricane preparedness and farms. Go find them, read them, and form a plan. Don’t be the cat left out in the rain: Be prepared for hurricane season!!

Tuesdays with Tony – Trailering Seminar

Tuesdays with Tony – Trailering Seminar

Ever have problems loading your horse on the trailer? Tony reveals all the tricks of the trade!

So, I have a complaint. On Saturday morning my minions came to feed me as usual. But then, as they all headed off eagerly to Canterbury Showplace to set up for my Trailering Seminar, they slammed the door in my face! That’s right, they left me here at the clinic with stinky Teanie! Can you believe it? I do all the work designing and promoting the event, then they leave me behind and take all the credit. Well, in case you too got locked behind your kitty door, here is a recap of what you missed.

How NOT to load a horse

Hanging out and observing all the goings on at the clinic, I have seen many methods of loading a horse on a trailer that are fantastically ineffective. If you stand in front of your horse pulling on the leadrope, making lots of noise, rushing, and trying to force your horse into a dark scary hole, I guarantee you it is not going to work. Other poor choices I have seen include shaking a bucket of grain in the trailer while your horse stands outside terrified of the noisy echo coming from inside the hole where he was already convinced monsters were lurking. Also, using short crops on the shoulder or lip chains on the leadrope, both of which tend to drive horses backwards rather than forwards. Another good way to set yourself up for failure is to try to load a horse that does not yet know how to lead, and to move forward when you ask.

If you’re not bored, you’re doing it wrong

Now I am going to share with you and only you, my adoring fans, the great, big, awesome, mind-blowing, earth-shattering, best-kept-secret-in-the-world for loading a horse on the trailer: patience. If you put a very patient person at the horse’s head (like Nancy, who perfectly demonstrated this at my seminar), chances are very good your horse will get on the trailer. Now first, Nancy will have to make sure your horse knows to move forward when asked. Then, your horse will have to get comfortable being close to the trailer, to convince himself that the horse-eating monsters that live inside have left for the day. Finally, Nancy will ask your horse to step into the trailer, immediately rewarding any motion or even a hint of moving in the right direction. For this part, it is helpful to have your second-most-patient friend behind the horse with a longe whip to gently encourage that forward motion, and to immediately release pressure when the forward motion is achieved.

How to haul a horse trailer

Well, I guess I would know what to tell you  here if they had invited me to my own event! Apparently Justin did a killer job giving demonstrations, explanations, and hands-on training to the attendees. He taught them how to do this fancy move called an L-turn for backing your trailer into a tight spot. He warned against passenger-side backing, and advised using a ground person to watch your blind spots whenever possible. The biggest take home message that was passed along to me was safety first when hauling: always think about what you are going to do before you do it. Don’t pull into that gas station without thinking about your exit strategy. Don’t pull forward into a narrow spot if you are not comfortable turning your trailer around. Don’t hesitate to get out and walk around the back of the trailer instead of just backing up until you hear a crunch!

I hope everyone other than me was able to make it to this amazing event. But if you missed it, save the date for my next seminar, Wednesday April 19th on Geriatrics! Don’t worry, I won’t let them keep me away next time.

-Tony

 

Tuesdays with Tony – The 21st Century Barn

Tuesdays with Tony – The 21st Century Barn

Let me just start off by saying that despite it being the 21st century and all, a barn cat is still the best way to keep the rodent population down.  But there are areas where the fancy gizmos and gadgets of 2016 can really benefit the modern horse farm.  I had always thought that most of this stuff wasn’t anywhere near affordable until I crunched the numbers myself and converted Kitty Coin currency to American Dollars.
Everyone likes barn work (I guess?), but what are the jobs that you just wish were a little bit easier?  Do you get tired of dragging out the garden hose, standing in the sun filling up the buckets, and rolling the hose back up twice a day?  Well for one, I don’t know why you don’t have the water spigot closer to the buckets, but secondly, you could have the water monitored by a ‘smart’ watering and monitoring system.  BTW, calling these automated devices ‘smart’ is just as brilliant as calling an owl wise.  Again, it’s your feline friend that is the master mouse hunter.  But regardless of what we are calling it, smart watering systems are only the beginning.
Ever heard the bang of thunder at 2am and are fighting the inner conflict of laziness verse desire to check on your horses?  Well, you could stay in bed and look at the barn cameras right on your ‘smart’ phone or tablet.
Did your horse miss an afternoon shower and need to cool off?  You can have a misting area in your barn or paddock to cool down your equine friend.
Wondering if that mosquito that just bit you was carrying the Zika virus?  Worry not because you didn’t get bitten, you had an automated fly repellent system.
Traveling the national show circuit but concerned about the retired horse back home who doesn’t like the heat?  Install some new high-efficiency paddle fans.  Don’t want to leave them on and run up the electric bill?  I did say “high-efficiency”, but still you can have them turn on and off automatically when horses are present through occupancy sensors.
Have you ever walked into your tack room and thought you entered a walk-in-freezer?  Or worse, a sauna?  No problem, you can monitor and control the room temperature remotely and prevent anybody but you from making any adjustments.
Kept up at night by the thought of a barn fire or other natural disaster?  That’s why there are smoke, fire, gas, and unfriendly tomcat detection systems that can alert you, as well as fire suppression systems and breakaway gates to minimize damage in such a tragic event.
You left the barn lights on and already got into your kitty print PJs?  No problem.  You have a lighting control system and have a button to shut the whole barn down right in your bedroom.
You have to walk all the way to the corner of the paddock to call one of our veterinarians because your horse cut himself and you don’t get good service at the barn?  Why not install a cell phone booster?  Or hey!  Bring WiFi out to the barn then you can use WiFi calling (check your carrier for rates and compatibility) or browse FaceBook because you still haven’t gotten an automated water bucket and are standing there with a hose!
Ah, the 21st century.  I think I’ve only scratched the surface with the many things we can do that my parents sure couldn’t in their day.  Now if I can just convince the doctors we need a 4K TV in the office….
– Tony
tony-with-oakridge-ad
Tuesdays with Tony – #Hermine

Tuesdays with Tony – #Hermine

hurricane cat agories
I’m going to start with a reminder to come visit with me on Thursday evening at 6:30pm. We have a limited number of Meet Tony opportunities, so don’t miss your chance. There will also be some talk on why horses need vaccines so often. I say it’s because they are a lesser evolved critter, but the humans say that’s not true. Oh and there will be good food. All in all a good time.

Moving on to Hurricane Hermine. I realize I have discussed hurricanes before but I felt you humans would be well primed for a refresher course given recent events. Let’s start with the basics: food, water, shelter. Did you have all of these after Hermine? Where there close calls? Walk in the feed room today and take stock of what you have. Don’t forget to check on medications. We were lucky this time; the phones never went down so our Docs were reachable, but it doesn’t always work that way. If your supplies levels are good, then you probably would have done OK if you are in the greater Gainesville area. Cedar Key and similar areas weren’t as fortunate. Determine if you are prepared for that level of destruction.

Did you have enough water for the horses? Being a cat, I was fine on water but a 5 gallon bucket will pretty much last me forever. Horses do love their water. We recommend 15 gallons per day per horse multiplied by how long you think power will be out. Planning for a week without power is the minimum we recommend. Of course, our amazing power companies normally do much better than that, but the bigger a storm, the longer it takes. In 2004 many people were out for over two weeks! Have a way to get water if power stays out. A generator to run the pump or tanks to haul water make the world a much happier place.

How did you fences do? Which brings up are your horses microchipped? We were pretty lucky at the Clinic, and the human houses to have intact fences for the most part. It’s easy to see how a tree can hit a fence line and free a horse though. And being horses they will run the least safe direction. Picking a pasture that, at the very least, directs them away from power lines or other dangers is a good start. Microchipping them so they can be identified when found is an even better step.

Take this opportunity to evaluate your disaster plan. Were the cats (ok and the horses) happy? I was about to strike over the no air conditioning thing. Do you feel you were ready for worse? Look at Hermine as Mother Nature’s little pop quiz. She just wants us to know what she can do. Kind of like us cats. Shameless plug here at the end: The humans have continued the microchip special for two more weeks. It’s ridiculously easy. The $43 price includes LIFETIME registration. Can’t beat that deal. Also since the weather was not completely disgusting today, horse show season must be upon us. We are offering 10% off Back-To-School, Back-To-Horse show lameness evaluations.