Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy

Well Sandy has definitely arrived. Yesterday we basically got a lot of wind during the day, but no rain. I let the horses go out and graze since I planned on putting them on dry lot for the night. As the day went along I went back and forth about where to put the horses. I finally called Mom and asked her opinion. She felt better if they were on pasture and out of the way if anything blew off the barns.
Today I knew they were staying in over night. Our barn is on a hill, so 55mph winds are crazy. My sister was great and came to help me get the stalls set up and the food ready. I went to work filling our self made slow feeder hay nets. They are cheaper than those on the market, but they do take more work to fill. My sister set to making their meal and soaking some hay cubes. Since our barn is on well water, the water is dependent on power. I filled all the water troughs, a couple of spare buckets and soaked an extra bucket of beet pulp. My sister put extra buckets into all the horses stalls to make sure they had plenty of water.
When we pulled up to the barn the horses had all been out in the field eating grass. After the wind picked up and the rain increased Roscoe started calling. I looked out to see the girls in their run in and the boys looking toward the barn. Roscoe kept calling until he finally heard me telling him to come. Then he wanted to run into the barn. That was not happening. He gets wild when he is wet and has no brain processes beyond getting dry. I would not let him into the barn until I could put a lead line on him. It took a while, but he finally stood still long enough to let me catch him. As soon as I put him in his stall he immediately started rolling and rubbing into the sawdust. We settled the other two boys and had to convince the girls to leave the run in for the barn.
I went back to stuffing bags while they dried off a bit. Roscoe continued to roll around until my sister gave everyone their food. Then as I was putting Winston's net in his bag, I heard a scuffle in DaVinci's stall. A glance showed he had pulled the eye hole holding his hay bag out of the wall. Emergency repair. Whew.
Finally all the horses had 3 big flakes in their hay nets, 2 buckets of water and the big guys had warmer clothes. Again I called Mom to see if she thought they needed anything more. Since they will be in for a longer time, she had me give them some loose hay on the ground. We also decided to let DaVinci roam the barn. He is our pony that gets cabin fever and will be happier moving around. All the others are used to him roaming so he won't cause any problems. I put his loose hay in a wheelbarrow in the aisle so he feels like he is stealing it. Everyone knows stolen goods taste better:)
Before we left we gave them their bowl of wet alfalfa cubes topped with carrot pieces. Those were happy ponies.
Tomorrow's weather is not looking promising and they may have to spend more time inside. These times are when I really appreciate my horses' flexibility. They do not worry about schedule changes or turn out changes.
I hope everyone else on the East coast are safe. I asked Mom how she is the one who went to Florida and we are the ones getting the hurricane. She just laughed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Opinionated Cobs

With Sandy breathing down our necks, I was determined to get some rides in before weather grounds me. First up was Comrade.
I already decided to go out on trail with him, but started in the arena. Good thing I did. Comrade seemed to think the ghosts and goblins were already in the arena. Especially in the car that had been sitting and then moved. That sent him taking off across the arena. That boy can move when he wants to. Fortunately a one rein stop worked great. After that the trees and leaves were scary.  You know that is where the goblins hide, right?
Well, lateral work into circles with lots of changes of direction finally made him remember he had a brain between those ears. Now I could head out for the trail. Time to play over some jumps and move through the leaves. I love this time of year.
Tic Tac Toe 3 jumps in a row :)
These jumps are not big, but they are on a hill. Comrade has to push to go over them. He tends to be a bit lazy over the first, give a really good jump over the second and smooth over the last, which you can just see in the picture. This series also heads towards the barn so he has more incentive.
Quarter circle with two jumps
 Okay for Comrade these are more like raised trot poles. Someday I will make him jump them, but today I was happy with him moving over them in stride with energy.
Multi option jumps
 This jump can lead to a number of connecting lines. One you can see in the picture to the right. Another is straight and down a little hill to a similar jump. I love to use this area of jumps to work on his turn response. When I first took him out here, it was like turning a yacht. Now he is almost like a speed boat. There is another uphill series of jumps near this jump that makes a great series.
Comrades BIG jump
 The jump is not really big at all, but for some reason Comrade always jumps this one big and round. I like to make this jump the fourth in line after that first series of three. After there is another jump to the right. If I really want him to work I make him jump as if he were coming towards you in the picture. It is a baby drop jump that way which makes him think about his feet.
Comrade says "where are he bigger jumps?"
Peggy is working on raising the jumps to give him more challenge. Plus Mom wants to make some coop and tire jumps. Even little they are still fun to play with, especially with all the leaves. After all his theatrics earlier, he handled the haunted woods well :)

From one Cob to the next, Rosemary. I was really mean to her. I brought her in and left Dottie outside. How dare I separate the girls. Oh well she could be the drama queen until it was time to work.
Rosemary and I have gone back to nearly square one.  She has been super opinionated with me and we clash and end up getting frustrated. Me more than her. So I took a lesson from Clinton Anderson. Moving on a loose rein at the speed I choose and following the fence, When we started, she kept wanting to trot to get her way. If she moved faster than I wanted, I used one rein to do a stop into lateral flexing. Rosemary thought this was a good time to use the stirrup to rub her nose. Once she relaxed and stood still, I asked her to walk on. During this exercise she also kept trying to turn towards the barn. To the point of bulging shoulders and swishing tails. Enter following the fence lesson. With this the horse is suppose to learn to stay along the fence. If the horse drifts beyond a preset parameter, one rein guides the horse back on track. I only have an open field, so my "fence" was the cut lines from the tractor in the grass and the gravel road between fields. If Rosemary went into the uncut grass, I led her back to the cut grass. It was not a quick fix, stubborn pony, but she did finally manage to go both ways with only a few drifts. The best part was she even walked by the turn for the barn. Of course right after that she must have seen one of Comrade's goblins because she spooked big time. I made her work a little longer then called it good.
Setting goals at the beginning helped me stay focused and calm. I got off not feeling frustrated, but successful. Having a green pony is tough, especially one so opinionated. I am going to take baby steps and hope we both learn along the way.
So two Cobs were conquered, but don't get me started on one Draft Mare who is feeling much better.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oh Boy, What Next?

Yesterday I hoped today would be cooler and Roscoe would feel better. That actually happened. I saw Roscoe jumping and biting at the grey boys until they finally played with him. I let them play while I set the stalls up so they had hay when the farrier was working later.
All good right?
Well not quite.
When Roscoe came in he had a snot smear on his neck. Obviously he could not have done that to himself, so that means at least one of the grey boys has a snotty nose. Yay it's making the rounds. So all the boys got a dose of Pulsatilla.
Then I opened the back door to let the girls in and saw Dottie. If you have had your horse(s) for  awhile then you know what I mean when I say I looked and knew something was wrong. Sure enough, she was almost 3 legged lame favoring her left front. First impression it looked low and she was hurting. I knew there was no way to pull her shoes or get new ones. I put the poor girl in her stall while I pulled DaVinci's shoes.
Dottie's shoe, top and DaVinci's shoe, bottom

Not long after my wonderful farrier showed up. I pulled out Dottie, who broke my heart with her pain, to get his opinion. He picked her foot and hoof tested. No response. ???? Now what? We agreed she could not be worked on, so we would reschedule. I would watch her and see if I needed the vet. Then my farrier took one more look at her and noticed a reaction near her heel. Again he hoof tested her focusing on her heel. This time we got a big flinch. Abscess anyone.
So once DaVinci was trimmed for his barefoot winter, I began to gather my soaking tools. Dottie was in so much pain she was sweating from maneuvering around her stall. I hated seeing her that way. Her size 5 foot made it interesting to get it in a bucket. I will need to find something bigger the next time. Dottie ended up dumping the bucket after 5 minutes. Luckily the vet showed us a way to do a long term soak/poultice. Cotton, Epsom salt, iodine, a plastic bag and duct tape. Soak the cotton, then put Epsom salt and iodine on the cotton. Place the cotton on the foot and put the plastic bag over the whole hoof. I used vet wrap over the plastic bag, then duct tape over it all. I only had gallon size Ziploc bags, which ended up being a little small for her hoof. When she put weight on it, she pushed a lot of the water out.
As long as the horse does not break the bag, the set up can stay on for two days. Much easier than soaking 2-3 times a day and it provides protection for the hoof. She seemed more comfortable and was thrilled that she got the pasture. I conferred with Mom, who is in Florida, and she figured the grass would be easier on the wrap then the sacrifice area. Lucky ponies.

I hope there is some moisture left in there...
After all my "fun," I took DaVinci out for a stroll. I needed to chill out and enjoy the good side of horses. And later I went and rode Comrade. That boy was in go-go mode. Suited me just fine. It was a fun ride to end the day.
Fingers crossed that tomorrow is a better day :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sick Baby

Today was my first day of vacation, which I really needed. Unfortunately Roscoe has had a snotty nose and cough the last couple days. Plus he looked like he had loose manure too.Yesterday I immediately went to a little reference book given to us by Joyce Harman, a holistic vet, to see what remedies he needed. For respiratory, there were two remedies listed:
Aconite Napellus is something to use if the horse pops a temperature over 101 degrees. It can help ward off further illness.
Pulsatilla is used for when the horse has nasal discharge and maybe a dry cough.

The second best described what Roscoe was displaying. And of course in our holistic supply we have the Aconite, but not the Pulsatilla. So once I got to work I called my sister to see if she was going out at all, but she was staying home. I checked the Vitamin Shop's hours and they closed at 9pm. Getting off at 830 would make it nearly impossible to get to the store. I ended up taking a shorter lunch in order to leave early. Success, I made it just in time to buy the Pulsatilla.

Roscoe started his remedy today and will continue for the next 3 days. I am going to keep track of his temperature to make sure he does not get worse. His temp was 100.2 F  in the warm afternoon and maybe after jumping around.

To help him, I rinsed and soaked the hay for the boys. The water takes away the dust factor and softens the hay. Plus for fat boy Winston, it rinses out some of the sugars in the hay making it diet food. Roscoe thought it was fun to play in the rinse water and DaVinci actually drank some, silly boys.

The girls were not impressed with the rinsed hay and got to have dry stuff. All of them were not too happy with the warm day combined with their already fuzzy coats. I am going to have to do trace clips sooner rather than later.

Hopefully it is cooler tomorrow and the baby feels better.

Typical sick little boy, he is still playing and getting into things. Here is what he thinks grazing muzzles are for :)
video

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hunter Show Recap

Well I did it. I braved the Hunter world with Comrade.
We got to the show right on time, according to my schedule, and signed up for the pleasure division. Then I had to find Comrade's brain. He lost it sight seeing on the walk from the trailer. Thank God, I had time to work through his issues  in warm up. Once his bouncy, distracted jog turned into a working trot and his attention moved from the other horses and bogey men in the woods to me, I figured we would be OK.
I headed up to where Mom and Peggy were waiting and ended up waiting too. And waiting. Gotta love Hunter shows.

Comrade thought he should be able to eat grass while we waited. I had to disappoint him as that was not happening.
Finally after almost an hour, it was time to show. First up Walk, Trot. Ten riders meant keeping track of traffic. Let me tell you, this nearly 14.2h pony had to take the inside track and pass a lot of big horses. Was he perfect, no. We had some inverting and some calling but his trot was awesome. So out of ten, we got an honorable mention for 7th place. Not bad for his first hunter class.
Next was the Go As You Please. It was a no brainer that we would trot. Cobs are known for their trot and Comrade was showing everyone why. The worst part was that it took awhile for the judge to see all the horses, so we did a lot of trotting. Pony boy was great, but getting tired. What was great was that he stayed calm even with other horses cantering around him.
Then came Walk, Trot, Canter. I knew we were not up to par because they want walk to canter transitions and those are not a solid part of our tricks. Well we were worse off then expected. He got skippy in his trot showing his tiredness. Then I asked for left lead canter and got a buck. UH OH. Anybody having a flash back to the Spring Fling. Yeah, me too. I kept asking and got a few strides, then he bucked. And all that great push he had at trot, made for some really big bucks. As Peggy said, an angel was sitting on my shoulders holding me on him. Then we changed direction and they ask for canter right away. This time Comrade cantered for awhile and only did a few crow hops. After all his drama, he did a great trot to finish the class. And if you can believe it we got another honorable mention. I think it was for my bronc busting :)
All lined up
After the pleasure division, we had a break before the jumping class I was thinking about for him. I decided to do only one class, six jumps. Of course I realized after Peggy and I sat down to eat lunch, that I could have saved the class fee and just used the schooling time to jump the jumps. Oh well.
I changed into a polo shirt (it was really warm) and got him ready to play. This was the fun part for me. Comrade has not seen real jumps with standards, gates and flowers. We were only jumping 18inches this time. As I headed to the arena, we realized the schooling time was still going on. Jackpot, now I could work over the "scary" fence. I trotted him over a vertical like the one above. He did not even hesitate. Then we came around to the diagonal to a jump with a gate and flowers. Oops there go his brakes. I prefer a solid stop square with the fence to a run out, so I made him stand in front of the jump and think. Some guy thought I was trying to get him to walk over it and kept telling me to circle him around. He left me alone once I explained what I was doing. Comrade refused once more then went right over. Afterwards he went over the jumps great and even cantered off smoothly. He even jumped a vertical set at 2ft with no issues. I took him over the course, outside line, diagonal to the other outside line. He was super and those moments made my day. I decided we did not need to do the class. I accomplished exactly what I wanted. I would rather leave thinking he could do more than wish I had done less.
And this way I did not have to wait through eleven rides. Plus lucky me, I  still had to help unload and stack our hay delivery which was coming in the afternoon.
And here are a few more pictures, my photographer was not very ambitious so I do not have any of me jumping :(
This jump was similar to our scary jump we had to work over. Actually it is the one on the far right.

Both of these jumps were part of the course, the one nearest Comrade was the one that was raised to 2ft.

Handsome boy

Happy pony and the headless horseman ;)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

SURPRISE: We Have Implusion

If you have followed me for awhile then you know that I ride Comrade twice a week weather permitting. Last week I made him figure out how to carry himself with out my help. Today I was running late and decided to put the bareback pad on for a low key ride.
Well I do not know what he thought about during his five days off, but that boy was ready to work today. He did not even want to walk to warm up. So we trotted. He tried to skip into canter going to the left, but I shut that down. A half halt with the outside rein and wow, he took the energy from skipping and applied it to pushing. I almost needed a seat belt. Going to the right was even better. Impulsion is not a word that is connected to Comrade, but today he had it in spades. I had to work hard at staying open and relaxed. My body wanted to lean forward from his lovely pushing hind end and I really was thinking I should have put a saddle on.
Oh well, time to suck it up and enjoy. Once I found my seat and engaged my core I asked for more. The differences between his sides is so apparent during theses exercises. On his stiff right side, his extension is so much better, but his wiggly left side wants to invert when he moves on. I added some collection to set him up for the extensions. This really helped his left side, but was hard for him on his right. Peggy was watching the whole time and was his cheering squad.
Nothing beats the feeling of him utilizing his hind end in such a powerful way while keeping his back soft and round and his shoulders reaching. Plus he maintained a lightness in his front end. Now I have to decide if I want to show him next weekend. The last little hunter show near my barn is happening. They have pleasure and some small jumping classes. Decisions can be so tough. Time to chat with Peggy tomorrow. If he moves like he moved today I would be happy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cruise Control

Between the weather, car issues and social plans Comrade has had a vacation. I told you about the last ride with the problematic treeless, so yesterday I put the Isabel back on him.
The sky was cloudy and it even started to sprinkle, but I was determined. Comrade was completely full of himself. Larry said he was pushy the last few days, so it was not surprising that he tried to take control during my ride. So I called his bluff and made him take control of himself.
I went to the buckle of the reins and asked him to trot. He started to skip into canter, but came back to trot when he realized that I was not going to pick him up. When he continued skipping, my mom had me start doing the "one rein stop." This is a method Clinton Anderson uses to help a horse learn to maintain the speed you set. Worked like a charm for Comrade. After 3 or 4 stops when he picked up canter, we were able to "cruise" around the arena. Going to the right I had to lead him to the rail when he tended to drift. I would pick up the rein lead him over then drop the rein again.
After we had cruise control, mom had me ask for softness using only the inside rein. Going to the left I used the pressure of two fingers on the reins to make contact. Comrade had to think about what I was asking for a little bit, then gave me the right answer by chewing and even reached down. To the left it got to the point that as soon as I lifted the rein he was soft and round. He even carried it on a loose rein for half the ring. Now the right was a different story. When I picked up the inside rein he immediately wanted to stop. I had to insist he keep going. Then he tried over bending causing him to circle smaller and smaller. It can be so hard not to react or pick up the outside rein. I did give in and pick up the outside a little bit. Comrade rounded, but he was tense in his jaw. I did not release the rein until he chewed. He spooked trying to distract me... it worked for a minute...then I put him back on the task.
By the end he had an awesome forward trot on a loose rein, maintaining a soft round neck and a much softer jaw both directions. And no LOST STIRRUPS :)

Of course it rained today so I did not get to follow up. Maybe tomorrow.
Here are some pictures of my ponies.
Our Girls at Sunset...and someone else. Anybody know who?

Our Boys in Blue...the grey boys got new Weatherbeeta turn out sheets

Roscoe got his first turnout sheet, thank you Schneiders for having Jr sizes. He is so happy, especially since it rained. He hates to get wet.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

This has been a bit of a hellish week for me and I have had very little barn time. I normally go every day for at least an hour so not going two days in a row has made it like "all work no play."
Today was suppose to be another lesson with Swayze, who is moving really well, but then our vet's office called to change our appointment to the morning.
So we had to get to the barn early enough to brush the horses and make them some what presentable. By time the vet drove up, we even managed to clean up the barn too. She started with Roscoe. We asked about his weight and size. He is our first yearling and we wanted to make sure we are doing things right. She was really impressed with how he looks, of course she also had to draw all that lovely chrome for his coggins. I empathize since I had to draw it for his registration. Then she really surprised us. A year ago she told us to geld him as soon as possible and that by spring we would probably be asking for him to be gelded. This year she did not even mention Roscoe being gelded. When we mentioned possibly collecting him, she told us a name of a place to do the collection, but mentioned we might want to wait until he is THREE. That is a change from gelding him as soon as possible.
Our vet seems to really like the Cobs. Every time she sees Rosemary she comments on how great she is built. And she asks if we will be breeding her back any time soon. At this time our answer is no, but we do not rule out the possibility in the future.
I love seeing her reaction to all our horses. She has been through a lot with us, Barry's melanomas, Sherman's colic, DaVinci's knee, Winston's carcinoma and Rosemary's sarcoid. And she remembers them all. The best statement she made "Your horses all age well." When eyebrows raise at our horses ages, it makes us feel good. "Old" for us is late twenties, early thirties. DaVinci at almost 24 is still actively working even after his life threatening knee injury.
They all got gold stars for healthy weights, thank you muzzles, and behaved for their blood draws. Next summer we will have to watch Roscoe to see if he will need a muzzle. She thinks hormones may burn a few more calories, so he may get lucky.

Roscoe at 4 months old Oct 2011 and as a Yearling Sept 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Squatter

Photo: Mom found this squatter in our spare stall. Hope it does not stay long.

Mom found this in our spare stall among the corn stalks she had drying. For some reason our barn is attracting these visitors. Not good :(