Category Archives: On the Farm

Pair of bald eagles pays us a visit

bald eagles - poudre river stables - fort collins - colorado - 80521

Bald eagles! This pair of bald eagles surprised us during a farrier visit Thursday. Not something you see every day, especially with all the development and road construction we’ve had around here. It’s possible they enjoy hunting fish from our pond.

A White Tailed Deer scampered past the horses just under this tree a few days ago. We usually only see Mule Deer, and I did a double take, wondering at first what it was. The flick of the white tail and the tiny ears were good clues. Sorry, no pic on that. Things happened too fast.

Bald eagles just some of the wildlife at our stable

Wildlife here on the urban fringe can be a wonderful benefit and sometimes, a problem. A mountain lion dashed through our property in May of 2011 and made the news as it meandered through the north end of town. This summer, it was the Raccoons v. Animal Control. Click on the photo for “Raccoons: In sickness or in health?”

Possible sick raccoon struggles to stay on the fence - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - CO 80521

More wildlife we’ve “caught” over the years:

Bald eagle.
Bald eagle.
Raccoon peers through bedroom window.
Deer missed its jump.
Cutting deer out of fence.
Baby bird. Parents nested in neck of horse trailer.

Bald eagle.
Bald eagle.
Duck flew down the chimney.
Snapping turtle.
Snapping turtle.
Beaver damage.
Beaver damage.
Praying mantis.
Bald eagle.
Mule Deer.
Mule Deer.
Duck flew into high-tension electrical lines.
Mule Deer.



When to (Smart)blanket? There’s an app for that

SmartBlanket image from SmartPakEquine catalog

We get a lot of questions about whether/when to blanket horses, and I always give a complicated answer. You need to account for your horse’s age, coat, body score, general health, your peace of mind and your ability to predict the weather.

Cruising through a recent catalog, I discovered that good old SmartPaks solved the complexity problem with their SmartBlanket app. I’ve cut down on junking up my smartphone with certain polarizing social media, but SmartBlanket may be a keeper.

Made for iPhone and Androids, the SmartBlanket app asks for access to your location and combines local weather data with answers you provide about your horse. I punched in my two rescued Morgans, Stardust and Sandy. By the way, the girls now routinely work under saddle! (More on that another time.)

SmartBlanket and I agreed

SmartBlanket and I agreed. Today, which started off with light rain, was a good day for their rain sheets while on turnout. Returning to barn stalls tonight, Stardust and Sandy probably won’t need sheets. And since the weather tomorrow is supposed to be good, Stardust and Sandy probably won’t need anything when they go back outside.

Before installing and opening the SmartBlanket app, be ready to provide your horse’s data. You’ll need name, month and year of birth, whether your horse is at optimum weight, your horse’s coat thickness, and whether your horse has access to a barn.

The app has been around for a couple of years. Get details at SmartPak’s 2015 blog post:

Raccoons: In Sickness or in Health?

Raccoons - Possible sick raccoon struggles to stay on the fence - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - CO 80521
We had a strange day today at Poudre River Stables, with a raccoon spending more than an hour sitting on the lane fence headed toward the barn, and at times nearly falling off of the fence. Animal control responded and while slow when left alone, the raccoon perked up enough to scuttle away when the officer tried to catch it. Just then, another client yelled from across the field that “the” raccoon now sat under a fence about 200 feet east, in the opposite direction of the one that got away. In hindsight, we think a second raccoon showed up.

Odd behavior in raccoons can mean disease

With odd raccoon behavior, we worry about disease, usually distemper. I told everybody distemper is the same as “strangles” in horses. Not quite true because my daughter remembered from her 4-H Horse Bowl days that horses cannot catch canine distemper, the kind usually found in sick raccoons. Our veterinarian, Dr. Allen Landes, of Equine Medical Services, confirmed this in a quick text and offered a link for more clarification about whether distemper can be transmitted from raccoons to horses, cats and humans:
Bottom line: The second raccoon escaped into the top of a very tall tree. Two very strange raccoons remain at large and we are keeping our dogs contained, even though properly vaccinated. Our property borders the Poudre River bike trail, where hundreds pass by every day, and we hope those on the trail heed the warning signs and have their dogs vaccinated as well.

More of our wildlife photos at our sister site,

Golden Girls, Take #2, a Happy Reunion

Golden girls - Karin Livingston - Palomino Morgan mares - Sandy - Stardust - Poudre River Stables
Sandy, age 22, left, Stardust, right, age 12. They both had their teeth floated May 6 during our annual spring vet appointment with Dr. Allen Landes.

We’re just calling it the Golden Girls, Take #2. When we picked up KRK Stardust from her foster home in April, we left somebody behind, Dia H Sandy. The girls cried for each other as the trailer pulled away, and I cried for the first 20 minutes of our return trip. Sandy haunted us for a couple of weeks, and we decided we had to retrieve her.

Golden Girls travel the pen

The two are shown here May 6, after Sandy completed our mandatory two-week quarantine. They had already discovered each other from their respective pens. This is their first time together. Stardust herded Sandy around while Hobbes followed along, trying to make friends. Everything became a lot more relaxed at our place once Stardust and Sandy were reunited.

In a moment of lunacy, I tried jumping up and lying over Sandy’s back a couple of weeks ago. She promptly launched me and luckily, I landed on my feet. Since then, we have been working the golden girls on ponying off of another horse, picking up their feet, and wearing a bareback pad. Sunday, May 14, my daughter Kalinda saddled up Sandy and asked her to carry the saddle while being led. Stardust, whose closeup you will see below, and who is being ponied off of Hobbes while I shoot the video clip from my phone, is not convinced that humans on top of horses are a good idea.

Forever home finds new friend

Stardust - rescued Morgan finds forever home - Poudre River Stables - Ft. Collins - CO - 80521Something really good happened this weekend. Our forever home found a new friend when we arrived with Stardust. She is age 12, a rescued Morgan, we think never trained to saddle. After a nine-hour trailer haul, we gave Stardust the day to settle in and rest in the roundpen where we offloaded her last night at dusk. Stardust looks rough right now because she doesn’t like being caught, and needs brushing. However, Cindy, one of our clients, discovered Stardust really likes Gala apple wedges and will pick them up off of the ground. By mid-afternoon, Stardust would walk up to us in exchange for an apple bite.  We plan to move Stardust to her real two-week quarantine spot once she accepts catching and haltering. After she develops a little more trust, we’ll get Stardust’s teeth floated, which should help in the body score department. Check out her long stride and graceful walk in the video. I love the way she keeps track of me with her ears. Stay tuned as this little blonde and I embark on a journey of discovery. – Karin

Stardust - rescued Morgan finds forever home - Poudre River Stables - Ft. Collins - CO - 80521

Blessed in tank-heater-horse-shed fire

Late this afternoon we discovered on this windy day that this fire did not spread, but instead snuffed itself out. Many thanks to the Poudre Fire Authority for their quick response in coming to investigate. We think the tank heater melted the Rubbermaid tank, and the melted plastic ignited, spreading to the post. These heaters will no longer be permitted on the property.

tank heater horse shed fire - burned shed post
Fire damage in horse shed.
Poudre Fire Authority truck on the scene.
Tank heater in melted Rubbermaid tank.
Fireman investigates.
Tank heater, melted tank, melted, burned plastic to right.
Fireman taking pictures on the scene.
The tank heater destroyed itself, too.
Another view of tank heater and melted tank.
The fire department report mentioned not having a basket on the tank heater. Of more interest to us was that fact that the heater’s auto-safety shutoff failed.