Yerington Castle

Ok here we go!
Are you ready for the farm castle?

What do you mean you can’t see it? It’s clearly a castle with various half-finished stone outbuildings plopped down in a Nevada ranch.
Behold the farm castle

I thought this thing with the columns was a folly the first time I saw it. Now I think it’s something else that’s just perpetually half-complete.
Not a folly - just a half-finished castley thing

I totally want stone columns instead of t-posts now.

How bizarre is this.

Ok. So I went and did my little one-day job in Yerington.
Downtown Yerington

It was a lovely day and when I finished up at 3 pm it was 70 glorious degrees. And windy. Some googling has tentatively identified this obviously manmade hill thing as an inactive and flooded open pit copper mine. So the dust was probably mine tailings full of cancer. Yippie.
I think that's the copper mine leach pond

There was a storm line moving east as far as I could see. The wind was amazing, tossing my truck all over the place.

Here’s the other dichotomous view of the castle.
Dust storm at the farm castle

I ran north along the storm line all the way to Fernley, where I headed straight into it.
Headed into the storm

It rained on me all the way home. Here’s Reno in the rain – look, ma, no mountains!
Reno, minus mountains

The wind blew down more of that damn fence.
Oh joy more of the damn fence blew down

Peavine got snowed on.
Where is Peavine?

But it sure does look pretty anyway.
Oh there it is, with new snow

Electrolyte protocol

In the comments to my last post, Aarene asked what my current electrolyte protocol is. I thought I’d go ahead and post it, so it’s not lost in comments – and we can see how it changes over time.

I have some very basic unflavored no-filler powdered electrolytes. I mix electrolytes 2 doses at a time. I start with 3/4 to 1 oz of them and add 3-4 oz applesauce. They say you should taste what you’re feeding your horse, so I tried that mix and it’s just unbelievably disgusting. If I’m pre-mixing syringes in the house, I heat up a gob of honey in the microwave and stir that in – if I’m doing it in the trailer, I’ll just use sugar. Enough sugar takes the edge off the awful salt, and for a non insulin resistant horse, I don’t think it’s too much carbs at once. There’s probably a tablespoon of extra sugar in each 2 oz syringe.

The Internet isn’t really very clear on what a dose of electrolytes is, but so far Dixie tolerates this mix quite well. For a 10-25 mile ride, I just give one syringe before the ride and one after. If it’s a longer ride, more days in a row, or if I think she really wore herself out, I’ll give more – a dose at each stop, one at night, one the next day. They really seem to improve her recovery, but I can’t swear to that (because I’m unwilling to ride hard and NOT electrolyte to see if she recovers slower!)

Method of administration – I tell Dixie I need to electrolyte her and show her the tube. (It seems more polite to me than to try to sneak up on her.) Then I shoot a tiny bit of it on the front of her tongue, down where the bit sits. She flings her head around and spits out the elytes, plus all the hay she’s got wadded up in her mouth. Then I syringe the rest of the tube as high up in her mouth as I can get. Since there’s no wad of hay in there, she’s got no choice but to swallow most of the electrolytes.

Dixie doesn’t hold a grudge about the electrolytes at all. I usually rinse her mouth out with a syringe of water, again to be polite, but as soon as I quit messing with her she dives back into her haybag.

I really think she drinks slightly better with electrolytes than without. She seems less tired and sore the next day, and I don’t worry so much about whether or not she’s drinking. She really does drink when she’s thirsty, and I don’t really worry anymore that she’s going to idiotically dehydrate herself waiting to get home. (Ok, honestly, I do worry that all the time, but now I think it’s an irrational fear and I ignore it.)

Off to Yerington for the day today. I’m going to do my best to get a picture of The Castle!

Good mare

The NEDA ride was the best kind of uneventful. 23.5 miles in 3:30. Dixie wasn’t too hot and she certainly wasn’t tired. She drank a couple gallons at the trailer (and of course drank better when we got home).

I photoshopped all of these pics. You can’t take HDR photos from a moving horse, and there’s no other way to get the high contrast landscapes. The colors are accurate though! The sagebrush really is mint green right now.

We fell in with Nancy and Feena – Feena was Dixie’s buddy at High Desert.

Poor Dixie. The other horses had the real Power Trot thing going on, but Dixie doesn’t think she can trot faster than 9 mph. When they’d speed up, Dixie would have to canter to catch up, then slow back down to a trot or a pace or something. They’d pull ahead and she’d have to canter again.
What were the skies like when you were young

The other people I was riding with thought it was very humid. Once they mentioned it, I could tell that the air was in fact moister than usual, but no southerner would ever think it was humid.

Astonishingly, it rained on the way home! Look, raindrops!

So I sent in my entry for the NASTR 50. I need a new rasp – mine is no longer adequate to deal with summer desert feet. And I need to scrub Dixie’s mane and tail again if it’s warm enough Friday – they’re approaching whiteness but they’re not fairy-tale quality yet. 😉 That’s about all I’ve got!

EHV1 – thinking about the risks

So, if you’re not a horse person, or if I am somehow your only source of horse news, you may be unaware that there’s an outbreak of EHV-1 in western North America right now. If you read this blog, you probably already know that.

I’ve been looking for numbers on this outbreak since it started, but it’s only today that I started to find firm ones. I wanted to try to quantify the actual risk. News sources only talk in vague terms – the disease is highly contagious and fatal. They tell you how many have died, but not how many were exposed. How highly contagious? How fatal? That gap in the information really pisses me off.

To be fair, part of the problem is that the vets just don’t know. Tbe equine herpesviruses are, they think, largely asymptomatic. Most horses have antibodies to them without ever showing signs of being infected. And when they do show symptoms, they only shed the virus for a short period of time – apparently it’s hard to “prove” a horse has EHV.

My first questions are how virulent and how fatal is this outbreak? Any googling at all will tell you running totals on how many horses are confirmed to have EHV-1 / are confirmed dead of EHV-1, but that’s kind of useless. How many were exposed? You have to have both numbers to get a percentage. Here’s (pdf) yesterday’s USDA situation report. It’s the only document I’ve seen so far with numbers of horses exposed. It’s also really fascinating! Look at Texas – 26 exposed at the Ogden event, 323 exposed secondarily, ONE death. Versus California – 54 exposed in Ogden, a totally unknown number exposed secondarily, five deaths.

As of yesterday, there were 997 horses exposed (primarily and secondarily, not including California). 21 were confirmed to have EHV-1, and 13 of the 21 had neurological symptoms. Personally, I’m rounding that up a bit and calling it a 1.5% chance of Dixie dying if she’s exposed to a sick horse.

(There’s a new article on with slightly increased totals, but it doesn’t have corresponding increases in exposed horses. Ffffff so frustrating! The new cases in WA are secondaries, exposed at the vet hospital. There are 8 new cases in CA, but they’re all fever-only, not neuro. I’m not changing my 1.5% based on that.)

You might think that’s all you need to know. Maybe it is. It’s not enough for me, though. I’ve read a lot of hysterical content online about how any risk at all to our precious ponies is too much. They do so much for us and how could we possibly be so selfish as to risk their needless deaths! Just stay home and don’t be an asshole.

Here’s my problem with that: we’re killing them every time we ride. We’re killing them every time we feed. We’re killing them by ignoring them. You cannot win. There’s no way to Do It Right and make sure your horse lives forever. If everything you do carries a risk, you should at least know those risks and try to decide if it’s worth it.

The main cost to keeping Dixie at home for two more weeks is that I’ll be bored. (Poor me!) I’m also missing out on opportunities to train her – we can go slog on through training rides in our backyard, but they’re not the same mentally as organized endurance-type events. That’s it though. The “don’t risk your pony” people are right about that – there’s not much cost to me keeping her at home.

But, regardless, I’m going to a NEDA ride tomorrow. The actual risk is much much lower than 1.5%. There are no cases in Nevada. At the ride, there are no vet checks and it’s only 20 miles, so I can insist that she drink our water from the trailer. This is a really great opportunity for a good training ride, in all senses of “training” – trailer somewhere, deal with race environment, stand tied at the trailer for a while. Since I’ve seen the data and worked through the risk, I’m ok with it.

Longer term plans: Wild West has been rescheduled for the end of June. If NASTR doesn’t cancel/reschedule, I might do NASTR then Wild West three weeks later. G’s coming home for Memorial weekend, then I’m going to SF for our anniversary in mid-June.

Hawthorne, dithering, tomatoes

Yesterday I went to a temp job in Hawthorne. It’s 140 miles from my house!

View Larger Map

It’s a tiny little town very far in the middle of nowhere. It’s incredibly patriotic, much more so than the other military towns I’ve been in – but there is literally no other reason for Hawthorne to exist, so I guess it makes sense. :) According to Wikipedia, I have now seen half of the towns of Mineral County – Hawthorne, Walker Lake, and Schurz. (Schurz is an Indian community named after a white politican – cultural sensitivity fail.)

I also saw the castle outside of Yerington. I had no idea it was there, so I just gawped as I drove past the small but very real castle. I am going to Yerington again next week, so I’ll be ready to snap a picture when I see it again.

Walker Lake is huge, endorheic, and is just now turning too saline for fish, sadly.
Walker Lake

El Capitan is The Casino. I don’t remember what the red white & blue building is – at least half of the buildings in Hawthorne were RWB, and the main street had RWB bunting, and there were RWB-painted missiles in everybody’s front yards… I’m telling you, very patriotic.
Patriotic building & bunting

Schurz had a lot of falling-down vacant buildings – a few were really interesting!

These hills were stunning! They really were brilliantly colored – copper-green, white, ochre-red, bright gold.
More calico hills

I am not sure what these large white signs were for. I think maybe an emergency airfield, but that’s really just a guess?
Some kind of emergency airstrip?

Lahontan Valley is so huge, so flat, and so green. It makes me feel at home :)

Looks kinda like Mississippi.
Sooooo greeeeeeen!

All of the small towns of Nevada have those Small Town Signs, the ones listing off all the churches and community organizations.

I don’t know what to do about the EHV-1 neuro outbreak. I guess if Wild West gets cancelled we’ll go to Owhyee. It’s a lot further – more drive time, more gas. I dunno. Trying (unsuccessfully) to not think about it.

So last weekend I bought tomato plants. (Costco had 3 one-gallon plants for $8!) I was too lazy to plant them the day I bought them, which was good because the next day it was windy and blowing snow. I had to bring the poor things inside. Today the weather finally seemed decent so I got them in the ground. A couple hours later it started sleeting. My poor plants!