Category Archives: Handy Tips

Amazing Ranch Birds, Broodmare Hint and Things I Wish They Would Invent.


Here in California, peacocks abound in temperate rural areas.  I live in a temperate (well, not this month but usually…) rural area so our neighborhood has several peacocks, both male and female.  Have you ever seen a peacock up close?  Usually they run (yes, run) away.  But, Bud and his ladies are fairly tame.  We also have Chuck, and he sometimes rides with Bud, but Bud is the definite male to respect around here.  He is a beauty!  And, he knows it. (He is camera shy but here is an OK photo of Bud.)

There are good and bad things about peacocks.  The good is their prehistoric beauty and their devotion to each other.  As far as beauty, well, I think the males are the most awkward and incredible birds to ever hang around horses and cattle.  I mean, really…  you’d expect ravens or turkey vultures, but not peacocks.  And, as far as devotion, our little flock of peacocks does their patterned orbits around the local ranches every day.  They always, hopefully, have all of their clan (hens, babies and juvenile males) together as they peck and jump their way through their ritual routine.

The bad?  Well, have you ever heard them?  Yikes.  What was the Creator in the sky thinking?!  Their squawk always reminds me of that story about Mary Pickford.  Here was sweet and beautiful Mary Pickford, the darling of the Silent Screen.  Then came TALKIES and her career was over.  ‘Nuff said.  Anyway, if you ever hear a peacock — as we do every morning around sunrise — it sounds like an old woman being crushed by a piano, HALLLP!  HULLLP!  HAYAH! HONK!  (people never seem to imitate the honk part)  HUUALLP!  If you speak to 911 Officers, they often say that they respond to newbie neighbors who call in about some poor old woman yelling for HALP.  Uh huh.

Anyway, yesterday, to my amazement, Bud, the very superior male, was cruising around my front yard.  For some reason, Bud hadn’t noticed that Dexter (my Australian Kelpie) was off of his lead rope.  Dexter is on a lead when I am outside and don’t want to police his work (don’t ask about his “work”…) Usually, Bud can taunt and harass Dexter to his heart’s content.  But today, for some reason, Bud was caught off guard.  Dex slunk down really low and stopped breathing while he silently padded up to the gorgeous (and easy to grab) extended Bud tail feathers.  Just as Dexter’s mouth was opening, Bud must have heard the saliva pooling and he jumped up like a gazelle and flew right over my head and about 200 yards away into the neighboring cow pasture.

Now, I have seen peacocks jump up and fly before.  But, usually, they fly for about 10 feet.  Or, they jump up onto a fence.  Peacocks seem to prefer walking, as do I.  So, for Bud to fly over my head for 200 yards was BREATHTAKING.  I thought I was in the movie Avatar!  To see his wings spread, his little head feathers blowing and that tail… ooohhhh that tail.  It was awesome, awe-inspiring and unbelievable.  Too bad I didn’t have my camera.  But, if you were to look inside my eyeballs, I could replay it for you. (These last two still shots I found on the Internet.)

So, I got on the Internet and tried to find any video of peacocks flying.  Nope.  There wasn’t one good one out there.  No one else has ever had their cameras ready either.  Well, there are a few very lame-o videos, but NOTHING like what I saw yesterday. Incroyable!

I did go down to where Bud sat, quaking, and thanked him for his wonderful display.  I suggested he should fly over my head more often but perhaps mostly when I have my camera with me.  He glared at me with his dinosaur eyes and replied with a simple, “honk.”  I think it meant “Happy Easter”  but I’m not sure…  ;)


Well, I know we are well into foaling season.  Sorry I’m so late in thinking about this.  But, if you have a mare that retains her placenta, I have a great remedy.  Vitamin E and Selenium at least 4 weeks prior to birth and 8 weeks is better.

My mare retained the placenta on her first three births.  Ugh.  The first time, it was a nasty infection and it was awful.  The second time I was prepared with the oxytocin.  Poor girl.  After she didn’t pass the placenta I gave her the injection.  It worked but I hated to see her go through labor all over again.  The third birth was a repeat of the second. 

Yuk.  I hated having to do that for my mare.  A friend told me to give her daily Vit E with Selenium 3 months before she’s due.  I asked my vet at the time.  After all, we know that selenium can be toxic.  Well, he said that there is no scientific proof that Vit E and Selenium helps with passing the placenta.  Hmmmm.  My friend, who runs a large mule operation, swears by it.

The next pregnancy, I read up on selenium and decided to try it.  Three months before her due date, I started her on a daily dose.  As time passed, she didn’t explode or anything.  In fact, her coat and feet looked great!

When she foaled, I was there holding my syringe just in case and wondering if all would go differently this time.  Lo and behold, out pops baby and immediately afterward, out pops placenta.  WOW.  I was amazed.  I put my syringe back in the fridge and set about my business making sure everything else was OK.  And, to be honest, my mare was in such better shape for not having to give birth twice in one night that I swear she looked at me with the, “Wow that was easy!…” look of amazement!  She has given birth two more times and each was a breeze with the selenium.  So, I’m a believer.

I got the Farnum brand like this.  But, I am sure you can find other brands that might have other additives that you might also need for your mare.  Or, while I was searching about, I saw some that looked really interesting .  But, I only tried the Farnum, so far.


1)  Snarling Dog MIB Forget Spray

Y’know how in the Men in Black movie, Tommy Lee Jones takes out a pen from his pocket and flashes all the witnesses so they forget that they just saw an alien?  Well, I want that — with a saddle attachment, of course — to use on those snarling dogs that come out of nowhere and are determined to eat your horse.  All it would take is one spritz, this stuff is high powered so you don’t even have to aim well while your horse is dancing the Igottagetouttahere rumba, and the dog freezes in place.  He sits down and wags his tail as you pass by.  In fact, the relaxed dog has a much better day because he has totally forgotten his misbegotten rage around the equine animal.

2)  Bandolero Shoulder Wrap Hands Free Pack

I hate fanny packs and anything around my waist when riding.  However, I hate having my horse run off with my trailer keys even more… So, I want a more celebrated and ceremonious yet functional way to carry my keys and phone (and other stuff) while hands free and mounted on a horse.  I have come to the conclusion that the bandits of earlier times had it right with the bandolero style ammunition holsters.  I want one of those except I want the bullet compartments to be modified to fit my phone, my keys, my info, chapstick, sunscreen, water bottle and snacks.  I’d also like the underside to be a very breathable and soft fleece or some microfiber.  This way, my stuff would be much easier to reach, I wouldn’t have to look down and I wouldn’t have the stigma of wearing a fanny pack with now crushed power bars enclosed.  (I don’t know about you, but if I have a granola bar in my fanny pack, it becomes cereal in no time.)  So, I want a Bandolero in a flowered print or a rich, buttery leather.  S’all.

3)  Stroller Blind

No matter how many infant strollers my horses see on the trail, it just doesn’t compute to my poor frightened out of their wits horsey minds that this metal thing with whirling colors and noisy moving parts is not going to eat them.  Especially when we get up close and see that it actually IS alive with a screaming/babbling/fussing humanoid thing.  So, I need some sort of blind for my horses when they encounter baby strollers.

This device could be simply a shield that pops open as soon as a stroller is identified and puts a high pitched gamma ray out there that modifies the visual and audial input for the horse.  There would be a few models to choose from.  You could get the stroller to boulder version, the stroller to bush version or the ever popular stroller to bale of hay version.  Your horse will not only be comfortable when passing a stroller, he may even try to eat it.  So, you’d have to be careful about that.


One of you fabulous and talented reader sent in personal photographs of peacocks from her ranch nearby… Isn’t Leslie talented?  She caught one flying!!  You can go to her website here.

But, she was lovely enough to let me add these to my blog for today.  Enjoy!

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More Simple Tips and the Final on Aladdin…

(Psst:  The mustangs need our help, again today!  Here is a link to a simple, cost-free way to help…)

Sometimes the simple things really make your day! I sure hope you don’t all already know these helpful hints… Hopefully at least one of these will make your day go swimmingly!  (Ok, a bad pun relating to yesterday’s post…)  ;)

As an aside, first I have to say that I’ve been besieged with weather today!  As I sit here, clacking away on my tiny keyboard, I cannot help but notice the unusual tippytap sounds coming from my roof.  But wait, I heard the shhhhshy sounds earlier.  And, previous to that and ongoing currently, the whooosywhoooowho sounds.  Huh?  And sometimes I hear nothing but angels singing as the sun shines on the bent colored crescents.  Am I living at or am I in a Wes Craven movie?  First intense wind, then intense rain, then intense wind and rain, then intense hail and now sun.  The Gods must be crazy today.  Actually, I’m waiting for the locusts.  Or maybe they are already here in the form of frogs.  We have so many frogs here it is unbelievable.  I wish they stuck around all summer to eat the flies…

Anyway, onward to the simple tips:


A very wise and old style large animal vet once told me his “sure fire” way to avoid sand colic.  Tapioca.  Yup, he said to just get a box of tapioca puddin’ from the store and mix it into his grain.  Works like a charm.  Hmmmmm.

How, you ask?   Yeah, I did too.  OK, well the tapioca pearls get wet and gummy inside of the horse’s gut.  So, as it flows through the intestinal track, it picks up the sand and takes the sand with it on its way out.  If you use a full box per horse, it really does the job, so he says.

OK, well, since I have several horses, I went online and found bulk tapioca pearls.  And, quarterly, I pour it on their supplements for a few feedings over several days.  I like the idea of cleaning them out, so to speak.  The horses don’t know the difference and eat it up.

I think it works!  I’ve never had sand colic and never any residue of dirt or sand when they test the manure.  That’s pretty good since there is a lot of sand in California.  So, I highly recommend this cheapo way to keep your horse and his sand, moving!


I found this while searching for emergency equine acupressure points.  I thought I’d pass it on.  This is the kind of thing you wish you had tacked up in your barn when emergencies happen.  So, maybe print this photo and nail it up to your stall door or something…  I know I tend to forget the key stuff when I’m scared for my horses.

Here’s the drill.  Its easy.  All you do is lift the lip and push hard (within reason) on the gum line above and between the top two teeth.  It is right under the middle of the nose.

I hope this helps.  From the reviews I read, it seems to at least help settle the animal.  Many equine body workers swear by it.


Ok, I saw this one already in this month’s HORSE AND RIDER magazine, so maybe you already know about it.  I was glad to see it in print.

I’m going to say it again here because not all of you get HORSE AND RIDER.  Anyway, it is a cheap and easy way to do a number of things around the barn.

1)  If you put a half a cup in your large tank waterers, they won’t get as slimy and nasty between cleanings.  Of course, the measurements depend upon the size of your buckets or troughs.  I use a half of a cup in my smaller rubbermaid tubs.  That would make me want to put a quarter cup or less in a bucket and a whole cup in a trough.  Anyway, it cannot hurt them so give it a try.

2)  The same old vet listed above with the tapioca idea told me that vinegar in bran or beet pulp would keep away flies.  He also said it helps with arthritis.  Well, since I already use garlic for flies and flying insects, I never tried it.  But, since they suggested it again in the HORSE AND RIDER article, it might just work…  I’ve also heard many folks say that the vinegar cures hot spots and creates a wonderful coat.

3)  Vinegar can be used as an inexpensive rinse after shampooing your horse.  It really cuts the soap out of the coat but still leaves the hair shiny.  And, I hear it also helps white tails from staining.


You probably all know to either add a piece of pure tree limb (no pressure treated wood or painted wood) to your tank that sticks out of the water, or cinder blocks or rocks so that small animals can climb out.  I also saw this handy item if you have larger troughs or a pool.  I did once have an unfortunate accident in my pool so I think this device called the Scamper Ramp is a lifesaver.  That is an actual possum exiting the pool.


Many of you may have read the posts A Disease so Rare there was no name… and my Horse had it and The Hardest Fix of All… Both of those posts were about my wonderful gelding, Aladdin, who passed away earlier this month.

We now know how he died.  He had a rare form of brain and central nervous system lymphoma.   However, we don’t know if it was related to his extreme illness last year.  We will never know.

Luckily, it wasn’t painful, they don’t believe.  And, he didn’t seem as if he was in pain.  Basically, he felt unsteady like had vertigo, but he wasn’t depressed or ouchy.  I know he was annoyed…  What is interesting is the medicine we had him taking for his previous bout of acute neuritis of his muscles is also the medicine you administer for lymphoma of the brain.  One can also opt for chemo and radiation if you catch it in time.  Unfortunately, when Aladdin had his spinal tap last year during his illness, this didn’t show up.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Or, he didn’t have it then.  Again, something we will never know.

Ultimately and ironically,  the Prednisolone that he was taking for the neuritis was helping with the cancer.  But, as I backed him off of it, the cancer took hold. (This photo is of Aladdin peeking into the feed room as I mixed up his medicine.)

I really doubt that this cancer is as rare as they say.  I actually think necropsies are rare.  My vet and I were surmising that most animals that behave neurologically and that don’t respond to the usual meds are humanely euth’d for very good reason.  I can attest that it was quite scary to have a 1000 pound animal unsure of his footing while around me.  So, I can imagine how owners decide to put these horses down before anyone gets hurt in the barn.  It is written off as “one of those things”.  He got sick and died.  Totally understandable, especially with an older horse.

But, for me, I had to know what happened to my boy.  I had to know if this related to the neuritis that almost killed him last year.  I just wanted to know if he had been suffering.  Now I know.  He didn’t suffer pain, just his pride.

So, if you ever have the chance to help equine science, please cajole or work a necropsy into the equation with your vet or nearby equine hospital.  Everyone learned here.  And, that made his passing easier.  He helped his Mama understand and he helped his fellow equines who might suffer this in the future.  Atta Boy, Aladdin.

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