The Drought is Over—At Least for Now

And all this rain is messing up my riding.

We were in a drought this summer, getting just enough rain to keep the grass growing somewhat and keep some of the crops from dying, but the ponds, lakes, streams and rivers were down several inches. Our local river, the Rocky River, lived up to its name as the thin streams wove between the plentiful rocks.

Then, starting last Friday, the rains came back. The first few days we got almost 2 inches of rain. On Wednesday I got a ride in and the riding ring was soaked. Then hurricane Joaquin started throwing rain bands towards us, and so far we have received 7 1/2” of rain in the last two days. It has not been raining every minute, I could have gone out to the stable yesterday to ride, but the coat of the horse would have been wet and caked with mud, the ring would have had a lot of standing water, and the surrounding ground would have been MUD, lots of mud. I KNOW I won't be able to ride in Shannon's grass ring tomorrow morning even if it does not rain another drop until then.

Wednesday morning, as I was getting ready to ride, Debbie called and said she was too sick to go out to the stable and give me my lesson, but as always I was welcome to come out and ride. It was hot and muggy, I had to wear my coolest riding clothes and I was still sweating. I got to the stable and Addison, Debbie's oldest grand-daughter, asked me who I wanted to ride, and kindly went out in the slop to get Mia. At least kids do not mind sloshing through the mud as much as we adults do! I had not been able to take care of Mia last week and it showed. Since I had not touched up her hooves the blacksmith had to work longer on Mia's hooves when he trimmed them Tuesday, resulting in Mia not really wanting to lift her left hind hoof off the ground much. My husband cleaned her hooves out for me and I moved in to finish the job. Debbie's blacksmith does not get the sole down as much as I like, so I worked mostly on that. Mia DID NOT want to lift her left hind foot up, and we finally compromised to her lifting her hoof maybe 2-3 inches off the ground, me leaning way over and just getting some of the excess sole off. Amazingly there were no signs of thrush, and since she was trimmed on Tuesday I did not have to do much with the hoof wall.

Then we started on her coat. My husband curried the mud off first, then I went in with my slicker brush. Neck, withers and her back were fine, but when I got to her loins and croup I found lots of little clumps of fungus. I started working on these with the slicker brush and Mia got irritated. Then I tried using my fingernails to get the clumps out of her coat, and Mia got even more irritated (stamping her hind foot on the other side. I was reduced to running my fingernails over the fungus lightly, then brushing lightly, to get some of the fungus out. It will take me WEEKS to get all this fungus out, and it took just 12 days of no grooming (I missed out on riding Mia last week) and 2 inches of rain to get her coat fungus started again. Grumble.

I don't get to take care of Mia everyday. Most weeks she just gets one grooming and some light rasping of her hooves. Even so, if I take care not to skip a week, I manage to keep her hooves from degrading too much, and I manage (with the help of my slicker brush) to keep the fungus from gaining a foothold in her coat even if it rains. Weekly grooming is much better than no grooming at all, especially when it rains a lot.

By the time we got out to the ring it was hot and steamy. The ring was covered with puddles, all the hoof prints were tiny ponds, all in all it was a perfect day to just walk. Mia was very much into stopping and looking, so we did that several times during her warm up. Hey, her left hind was bothering her some, I just figured that really slow exercise was the best thing for her. There is nothing slower than a halt! So she would start to halt, I either told her to go on or I told her to halt, then she would stand there, looking intently at whatever took her interest. When I got bored I would do some stretching exercises, then tell her to move. If I had trotted I would have started to “tear up the ring” even more. It paid off, Mia did not show any sign of lameness at the walk and moved off willingly each time I asked her to. She only coughed a few times.

During our ride it just got hotter and hotter. Some of the cows in the neighboring paddock went into the pond to cool off. The ducks came from a different direction on Wednesday, and they waddled around the ring instead of through the ring to get to the neighboring pond. Two adult ducks, and four large young ones make up this group, and they like swimming in the pond. The gray heron was there, first standing at the low end of the pond, then he gave up and walked to another vantage point. Sometimes the sun broke through, reflecting off all the water in the ring, and raising the temperature even further. Later that day it got up to almost 90° F, just one of those hot, muggy, late summer days.

Our general state of sogginess should improve in a few days. Next Wednesday the sun is supposed to finally reappear after several more cool and rainy days. I am thankful that we are getting this rain in time for the grass to get a good drink so it will continue growing during the fall. Who knows, maybe the weather will cooperate enough so some of the farmers can get another cutting of hay. Until then the ponds have filled up, the creeks are running high, and some of the rocks in the Rocky River are under water.

I feel sorry for the people who got worse weather than I did from this storm. Fortunately for me it has just been a big inconvenience, and it could have been much worse. I can live with puddles.

I apologize for the change of font.  I am doing a new (to me) word processor and it is messing with my mind.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on October 3, 2015 at 2:06pm

Thanks Paula!

Comment by Paula Stevens on October 3, 2015 at 12:55pm

Michigan has been hit with strong winds and cold weather, but no rain. Glad you were able to ride and care for Mia.

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