Wow it has been a long time since i wrote anything in my blog. I thought now would be a good time to catch everyone up on Mariska and what she has been up to. Since I posted last she has given birth to a beautiful filly that we named Siska. Since then Mariska and i have started riding together again and are looking forward to some great trail riding this summer. She is healthy and happy, starting to get a little plump again with all the great grass in the pasture this spring. Need to get out and get moving on those trails.
We are very excited to announce that Mariska's escapades have been written about in a children s book called Horse Escape Artist by National Geographic Kids. We will not be making any money from this book we are just so excited to share it with our nieces, nephews and friends children. It will be one to give to the grand children some day. LOL It is available now for pre-sale. Thank you Ashlee Brown Blewett, it was so much fun spending the summer getting to know you and chatting with you about Mariska and our farm. I can't wait to see the book in person.
Another exciting moment for us was when a film crew from animal planet came to visit our farm to film for a program called Bad Dog! It was a great day, Frank, Doug and Mike were awesome and so much fun. We don't know yet when the show will air, but we will post the date when we know it. Mariska was not shy at all about sharing her talents with the crew, the cameras and lights and extra people never slowed her down. Silly girl. Thank you Kathy, you are such a sport for sharing your story of having to round up my herd one day. And thank you to my dear friend Terri for all your help getting the horses ready. Without you i would have been a wreck.
We can't wait to watch Mariska's little girl Siska grow and are only hoping that she does not watch and learn from Mariska how to open doors. So far her preferred method of escape is to jump over things instead of go through them. She has jumped out of stall windows, over rope fences and over the board fence. We are hoping as she gets bigger and heavier it will keep her on the ground. LOL
Have I missed anything? Do we all agree that this can be so very frustrating and confusing? Not to mention time consuming and expensive. Scratches can be caused by a variety of skin conditions including viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections. I am sure that I am not the only one totally frustrated with the itchy Friesian and trying to determine what the issue really is. The thing that is very perplexing for me is that out of all the Friesians that have come and gone from here, the only one that has had a problem with Scatches is my mare Trienke. I believe that there are a couple of reasons for this, one is that she has very thick feathering. I also have come to believe that she may have Immune system issues that could also play a role for her. We have established that she has allergies and some of her hair loss and itchiness on other parts of her body are due to her being allergic to bug bites. I have used a very long list of products trying to rid our Trienke of her itchy legs. We manage to keep on top of it, but it never seems to stay away for very long. So keeping a close eye on it, checking often for signs and proper daily care is a necessity.
Chorioptic Mange, sometime referred to as "Mok", "Scratches" or "Mud Fever" is very common in feathered horses. It is a form of Equine Pastern Dermatitis that is caused by a parasitic skin mite and is characterized by dry scales and crusts around the pasterns. Mange irritates the skin making your horse itchy and uncomfortable. Affected horses often stamp their feet , or rub their legs together in response to the irritation. If left untreated, thickening of the skin and/or sores may also develop. This is one of the big issues that effects the Freisian breed. Here are a few things that will help you to keep your feathered horse itch free.
Provide a clean, dry stall for all horses.
Avoid muddy or wet pastures and paddocks. (this is a tough one in a Michigan spring)
Keep feathers as dry as possible.
Examine pasterns regularly for signs of scales and crusts.
To Treat mildly affected areas you can use Frontline (available online in large doses in a spray form on Amazon.com).
Shampoo moderately affected areas with an antiseptic microbicidal shampoo or Betadine Scrub. You may also use antifungal selenium sulphide based shampoos like Selsun Blue.
One of the things that has worked well for us is the MOK cream. You can have your vet help you with this as you will need to get the Medicines there. It is a recipe developed by the Dutch and is used by many Friesian owners, but can be used on any horse. The Amish also use a recipe that is very similar.
½ jar Nitrofuazone
Add 1 tube Desitin (microwave the desitin and Furazone just enough to be able to blend them)
Add 40 mg Dexamethasone
10 ml Gentamycin
And 10 ml DMSO (90% liquid)
Stir all together till well blended
I have also used a product called NuStock (Can be purchased on Amazon) for the itchy scaly patches on T’s legs and on the bug bite areas where she loses hair. I have found the sulfur products help to remove the scaly skin and help the hair to grow back very quickly. NuStock is similar to the MTG, but does not run off like MTG does. MTG (can be purchased at Stateline Tack or many of your local TSC’s) is great for the heavily feathered areas and for manes and tails that are itchy, but might not be enough if you have a severe scratches problem with oozing or open sores. This is where the MOK cream can help. If you have a real problem in the feathered areas around the pastern and fetlocks, you may have to shave the hair to get access to the sore spots. I know! All Friesian owners cringe at the thought, and I have to admit that I have avoided that. I have “thinned” spots to better get the creams on a spot. You can leave the hair around the effected spot and it will cover where you had to shave. I hope this helps a little, I would welcome any other remedies that you have found to work for you. One other note, as to the immune system issure, I have really had good results with getting rid of dry flaky skin on my Friesians with the addition of flax seed. I just feed a little, 1/4 cup once a day, but I grind it right before each feeding. I am hoping with further use that it may help with T's immune function and that I might see it also help with her itchy legs.
I know I am not alone when I say, that Mackinac Island, Michigan is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Beautiful harbors, amazing Victorian homes, romantic hotels, great restaurants, a historical fort, and of course the best thing off all horses, horses, and more horses! I have had the pleasure of doing a bit of traveling to some amazing places, but I have to say, that some of my favorite days have been spent sitting on a porch on Mackinac Island, with a glass of wine, eyes closed, listening to the clip clop of horses going past, enjoying the quiet laziness and tranquility of the Island. Mackinac Island not only has some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen, but also has hilly, tree lined roads for biking or horse drawn carriages. The food is wonderful, (best fudge anywhere!) and it has amazing trails for horseback riding. And if the trail riding is done on a Friesian as I have been fortune enough to experience, it is perfection! Some of the most enjoyable days I have spent on the Island have been spent in the company of my dear friend Maryanke Alexander while exploring the Island on one of her amazing Friesians.
Maryanke has a beautiful home on the Island, where she enjoys her summers with a few of her horses. I say a few, as she usually has a few with her on the island but there are more at her home in Mt. Pleasant. Here, at Carousel Ridge Farm, she raises a few beautiful, high quality Friesians. Visit her website, Friesians on Mackinac, to read more about her farm and where Maryanke had this to say:
Owning a cottage on Mackinac Island since 2003, we enjoy taking several of our Friesian girls to the Island every summer. Driving the beautiful island roads through the historic park and into town is always a special treat. Of course, riding over 70 miles of trails throughout the island is always a journey of pure delight...riding through the beautiful woods overlooking the bluffs and viewing crystal clear waters.
One of my favorite weekends spent on Mackinac Island was with Maryanke and her husband Paul; they were kind enough to invite us to a gathering of Friesian owners and breeders, who were there to enjoy time spent with the amazing stallion Nanning. He and his owners Scott and Shelly Kelnhofer, stayed at Maryanke’s cottage for the weekend and did a photo shoot with Cally Matherly. Nanning was just beautiful as well as sweet and well behaved, such a gentleman. What a special treat to spend this time on this fabulous Island with great people and friends, in Maryanke and Paul's amazing cottage. Then add in a gorgeous Friesian stallion and you have Paradise!
Wait!! Just one more..............Shepard Smith and Fox news Ok, I promise Mariska is retiring now. LOL
Just when you think you wont have to see Mariska one more time, she shows up on CNN with Jeanne Moos! Thank you Jeanne Moos for the great piece on Mariska. We just loved the Mr. Ed connection! I loved Mr. Ed and miss him. :-)
Where next might we see Mariska turn up? It has been so much fun having people give me "sighting reports" Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to call or drop me an e-mail when they see her. :-)
Thank you to Bob Johnson (reporter) And Jeff Schrier (Photographer) They did a great article for Saginaw Mlive. I had a great time meeting them and chatting with them when they came to our farm to take pictures. Mariska also enjoyed their visit as she got to have a little grain for showing off her skills with the doors.
Also Thank you to Jim and Barb from WKCQ, we had a phone conversation that they played on their morning show. I had so much fun talking with them, they were such a hoot, what really nice people they are and Jim is such a character! I loved his "horse back riding gone wrong" stories that he shared with me.
So please do keep on letting us know the Mariska sightings when you see them, we appreciate it.
Well I am happy to say that Mariska has lost 45 lbs! We will be keeping her at 19 lbs of hay unless we see her losing too much weight. She is 5 months pregnant right now and should not need any extra grain as a non-lactating, pregnant mare in the first 8 months of gestation has nutrient requirements very similar to those of any mature, idle horse. (According to the Purina web site) I will add a pelleted feed formulated for pregnant mares in the last 3 months of Mariska's pregnancy. I am still hoping to take another 30 lbs off of her before the baby starts it rapid growth and she starts to put on her "baby weight". Wish us luck!
Well you know the weather in Michigan is brutal when I am already wishing for spring! There is not much happening in the barn with the horses as we just had 10 inches of snow, and the temps are very low. I have already started wishing it were time for one of my favorite spring things. My annual trip to the little farm store in Crump Michigan. Each year I pick out 2 or 3 new baby chicks and add them to my flock. I have a small flock of chickens that give us a few fresh eggs a week. Most of the chickens don’t lay any more as they are getting too old. We never kill our old girls as they are more pets than livestock. I tell people that I run a nursing home for old hens. LOL. A friend and I were talking the other day about a duck that we used to own named Percy. The thought of our little duck made us both laugh and I found myself wondering if maybe I need to get a couple baby ducks this spring.
In order to tell you Percy’s story and how he came to be, I have to first tell you about the feed store where I bought him, and the farmer and his wife that own it. The first time I went to the little store to get my very first chicks I was amused to meet the farmer and his wife. He reminded me very much of my own grandfather who was a dairy farmer in the thumb, only a little less portly. This farmer wore well worn green farmers slacks and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up with a little of lunch left behind on the front. His shoes were well worn and had seen many long days of work. His hair was tousled and looked as if it had not seen a comb that day. He was very helpful but was very gruff. He had a way of speaking and looking at me as if I was a foolish city girl that had no idea of what I was doing, and would have no clue what to do with baby chicks. Of course he was right, but I was eager to learn. Have you ever met a slightly grumpy older person who somehow made you feel that you were 12 years old again and had straw for brains? That was exactly how I felt, but I did not let that stop me from asking to see the chickens and asking all kinds of stupid questions. Or so it would appear they were stupid, based on the wry looks the farmer gave me. Despite this I pressed on, I had him identify all the different colors and breeds although often, he really did not seem to know for sure what they all were, but in that case he would just make something up. I could tell when he was really pulling my leg by how many times his wife, standing behind him, rolled her eyes or shook her head. In the end I picked out 6 chicks of various breeds and colors, got some food and was ready to leave when I peeked into a box that was at the counter. It had baby ducks in it! I could not resist picking out one little yellow duckling that would grow up to be a white Peking duck named Gonzo. But then I heard Dons voice in the back of my head saying that we could not just have one duck, that they needed to be in pairs. So I looked for another one and to my pleasant surprise I saw an adorable all black duckling. I looked at the farmer (afraid to ask, only to confirm to him that I did indeed have straw for brains) but I asked anyway, “what kind of a duck is that”? He replied,” that is a Black Snow Mallard”. Wow, how neat is that? I had never heard of a Black Snow Mallard before! I of course had to have this little duck, but before I could say anything the sweet and obviously very long suffering farmer’s wife rolled her eyes and said,” it is not a Black Snow Mallard, it is just a black duck”. Well, the farmer’s eyes got very wide as he looked at his wife and said in a very serious and knowledgeable voice,” no, it is a Black Snow Mallard”. Ok, well either way I had to have it and I would find out just what I had when it grew up and got his feathers.
Needless to say the moment I got home, I put down the chicks and ducks and went right to the computer to google “Black Snow Mallard” Hmmm yep, you guessed it, there was no such thing! I still hoped that I had some exotic cross bred duck and was a little disappointed when our Percy ended up growing into a fine young regular old Mallard duck.
Unfortunately Gonzo, the Peking duck was eaten by some creature the first summer and that left Percy all alone with the hens, and he grew up believing that he was indeed a chicken, just one of the girls. We even had a little pond in our yard and would try everything and anything to get him to go in and swim like a duck, but nope; the other chickens did not swim so he did not swim. One afternoon I even tried to arrange a “play date” for him. When two Mallard ducks landed in the pond I scooped up Percy and took him to the pond and gave him a good fling right into the middle of the pond. Bad idea!! As it turned out, the ducks were a matting pair and the male of the pair really did not think he needed a buddy at the moment and promptly flew over and knocked the stuffins out of poor Percy. Percy literally ran on water to get out of the pond, flew back to the chicken coop to his girls, and never went in the pond again!
One day we noticed that our hens were missing feathers on their bottoms! All six of them looked exactly the same. Their Fannies were just as bare as can be. It was like having 6 chickens with plumbers crack, or as if they had all gotten up and forgotten to put on their panties! We were a little concerned as we tried to research what might be causing this strange feather loss. Then one day the mystery was solved! We caught Percy in the act! When the hens would be out in the yard with their heads down “bugging” in the grass, Percy would come from behind and pluck the feathers from their bums! Many people who came to visit would ask, “What kind of chickens are those” and we would say, they are just normal chickens, but they live with Percy the “Butt pluckin duck”!! That quickly became his new nick name.