Monday, April 29, 2013

Not a Cookie Cutter Stud

Tomorrow will be Roscoe's 14th day at ERC. And he will spend it there. The vet believes Roscoe is phantom trained. That means he will mount the first time and ejaculate. He also allows cleaning and beyond a bit of excitement behaves for the handlers. Where Roscoe deviates from other stallions is that he wants the teaser mare right in front of the phantom. He does not need to touch her, but he does need to see her. If the mare is placed in front, he mounts straight. If she is by the tease rail, he either mounts sideways (probably whatever way lets him look at the mare) or he chooses to ignore the phantom.
So Roscoe does not fit the cookie cutter expectations. What a surprise... NOT. He has done things his own way since he was born. Not their idea of "perfect" but it gets the job done.
He has reverted to rearing when he does not get what he wants, like trying to rush the phantom. I think that reaction stems from the  stud chain and nerves. Hopefully he will be good once he gets home.
Roscoe's fall back reaction: Rearing
When he is coming home is still up in the air. Training wise, he is free as of Wednesday.
But there is a possibility that one of the mares his breeder is looking to breed, will be in season this week. If she is ready by Thursday or Friday, then we will leave him at ERC for collection. If she is not ready this week then, we want him home and will trailer him back for collection. She is going to tease the mare in the morning to see where she is at in her cycle. More news when I know.

And now for a change of subject, my new niece was born this morning. Welcome Claire Kathryn!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Conditioning Comrade and ...

Roscoe news.
I swear I was only going to write about Comrade, but I got home and saw the mail. Some of you mentioned you were interested in the process. Well the other side to Roscoe getting ready to breed, is the paperwork side. Both his breeder and I thought we would have more time to process his paperwork with the Welsh Society. Not quite.
It ended up being all the paperwork had to be done before he bred any mare with artificial insemination. In other words, ASAP.
So here is what we had to do:
1. Order a DNA test, $40. Then pull hair and mail to lab in CA. Check.
I am happy to say, Roscoe is in fact his father's son.

2. Get a 4x6 color photo. Check.

3. Send in his registration to get registered as a Stud, $75. Check.

4. Send in Artificial Insemination application for permit, $100. Check.

I sent in all the paperwork about a month ago and saw the check cashed a week ago, but still had not received the new registration and permit. He has a welsh show next month and the entry has to be mailed by May 8th including his registration. I was getting worried, then...
Today his paperwork finally arrived.
Roscoe officially permitted to dispense :)
Beyond getting him to the collection center and sending in the Stallion Service report, a list of mares bred to him, our part is complete. Now I have to think about a breeding contract.

And now onto Comrade.
Comrade has done really well since he has been on the joint supplement, but his right side is still weaker. Not unexpected. Two years of protecting that side has taken its toll. When I attended the clinic, Yvonne told me to lunge him with side reins and work the canter. This way he learns to carry himself. Last weekend I put him in the balancing system, which I prefer to side reins because it connects the front end to the back end.
The exercise was informative. He was really lazy behind to begin with. Then he started to relax into the contact. His trot work improved enough I felt comfortable asking him to canter. To the left, he was willing to pick up the lead. Comrade got a little quick while figuring out how to manage the gait on his own. The right lead was much harder on him. The system sets the parameters for him to work with in and Comrade was not thrilled at the limits. Moving correctly is so tough. I did get him to canter to the right, but not for very long. I was okay with that. Better a few steps of correct canter, than a lot of bad. We ended by going to the left lead canter again, so he ended on a positive. The balancing system works them hard and only needs a short session. I learned Comrade needs to strengthen his hind end and core.
Today I decided to work on conditioning. Peggy has a very steep hill at the back side of her property which she had a path graded into so we could get to the bottom. This hill is a butt kicker for human and horse. Evil thoughts abound.
Years ago, Barry and I stayed at my trainers farm. We traveled around to different cross country fields to train and we also visited a huge hill. My trainer told me local eventers used the hill to do suicides with their horses. Transitions on hills are really good muscle builders. So I told Mom, that I was taking Comrade to the killer hill Peggy has. First Mom had me warm up in the arena. We worked shoulder in, going straight and on a circle. Then we played with half pass. Small success for a first attempt, but nothing great. Mom had me use the should in on a circle to prepare him to push forward. Half circle of shoulder in, straight, push, move forward.
Not fast or quick, which Comrade tried, but step under and forward. We only did a few steps of forward, before collecting and circling to begin again. I found I had to sit the trot so I could reinforce the push with my seat and also get him back if he went too quick. Soon he started to fix himself, checking his front end and sitting behind. I could feel the push from behind.
Now he was ready for the hill. We walked down and up to check the footing. Comrade was already realizing this hill is tough. Mom told me to do walk, halt transitions going down the hill and walk, trot transitions up the hill. His halts improved as he learned to stop using his hind end, not falling on his fore. We turned around and started up. Walk to trot for a few strides. Walk, breathe then trot. Each upward transition had better push from behind and his response was quick. At the top, he huffed out a relieved sigh. Whew!
We decided he could handle another go. Mom said it would be nice if he could do trot, canter transitions, but we did not figure he would have the umph today for that. She told me to open and close the trot up the hill. Comrade responded well and he even surprised me with a couple great canter transitions. I love that he offered the canter. He utilized what we worked on in the arena and applied it to the killer hill.
Comrade's core was tucked up and he looked pretty great after the ride.He enjoyed a warm shower on his tired muscles. I was really happy with his work today.
I had hoped to go to a combined training next weekend, but Roscoe's unknown return date, a death in Peggy's family and a soon to be born baby in our family nixed that idea. Ah well it gives us more time to prepare. There is another show at the end of the month. I still have not decided whether or not to bring him to the Welsh show on the 18th. It would almost be worth a chance to do Ridden Cob again. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Can't Come Home

Are you guys tired of the Roscoe Saga yet?
Good, because here is the most recent update.
I had mixed feelings about what I wanted to hear today from the vet. If the vet said Roscoe was done and ready to go home, I would have to brave a solo trailer trip for the first time. Mom, Dad and Peggy went to PA for a carriage/harness auction yesterday. But my boy would be home. On the other hand, if he had to stay it would be a scheduling nightmare going to pick him up later.
So I informed the vet to call my cell phone since I was farm sitting for Peggy. At work I put it on vibrate and carried it in my pocket (big no no) while I gave a training class. And of course the vet called while I was training. I never felt the thing vibrate. Well although Roscoe has improved, he still needs time to fine tune his technique.

No little red boy in the barn this weekend.

The goods news:
1. Roscoe got an erection just from the phantom, exactly what they aim for. Ooh bad unintended pun.

2. They were able to leave the teaser mare behind the tease rail, instead of having her right next to the

3. Roscoe mounted the phantom, finally, though he did it sideways. Hence the fine tuning I

4. The test cool for his semen provided an acceptable shipping protocol for him. He responded well to one extender, ok to another and the third won't have results until tomorrow. That means I don't have to pay an additional amount to test two other possible extenders.

We do have to buy another head piece to his halter, since he broke it when they put the chain on him while tied. Why they did that, I have no idea. It seems if you have balls, you have to wear a chain every time. Ah well, he will survive. Only 3-4 more days. I can't wait to have him home.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Muzzle Time and More Roscoe News

Our grass is green and growing, so we have pulled out muzzles. We start with the muzzles from last year. That way the holes are a little bigger and we can work them into the new muzzles with small holes. We also put a loop of baling twine by the ears, then braid mane through it to help prevent them from pulling them off over the ears. Time to stock up on mole skin and halter fleece.
Winston resigned to his fate

DaVinci "Why do I have to wear this?"

Because your covered in bright green spots from the pretty rich grass
We offset pasture days with dry lot times so they get breaks from the muzzles. Our guys know the routine and handled the change well. So far DaVinci is the only one to have taken his muzzle off. Mom forgot to do the baling twine loop and he rubbed it off and stomped it. His opinion was clearly stated.
And now for Roscoe news.
He is still having issues with mounting. I think some of the problem is that for his whole life we have told him not to rear when attached to a human or near a human. They have been able to get him to mount the phantom and collect him, but a teaser mare has to be right next to the phantom. At one point they put the collection tube on him and it stimulated him to mount and complete the job.
The vet said he is a bit of a teenager around the mares, rushing and getting excited. Roscoe has to learn impulse control. Boundaries are such hard things to learn. The vet does believe that repetition will help him learn and that there is less chance of Roscoe becoming sour because... wait for it ...
"he has a strong libido and is always ready to go." Ha, good to know. Roscoe has always loved to work ;)
Now onto the microscope results. They reviewed his semen from one of the collections. He has great numbers of sperm count, well with in normal ranges 5-8billion. His motility 55% (the amount of sperm actively going in a forward movement) was at the low end, but with in acceptable range. Today into tomorrow they will be doing the test cool to see how best to set up the semen for shipping.
Overall Roscoe is behaving. Which as his owner makes me proud. The fact that they will be able to collect him and he is has viable semen is icing on the cake.
Friday we find out if he needs more time for training or if he gets to come home. I miss our redhead baby. Hopefully Mom will be home when it is time to pick him up. I don't want to do my first solo trailer drive to get him. But I will if that is how the timing works.
Next will be waiting for the mares that will be bred to him to come into season again. Then we start the drive through service ERC offers for collection. 3 years ago, if someone had said I would own and stand a stallion I would have called them crazy. Now we are taking it a day at a time.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Roscoe Update

I only lasted a day before calling and checking on Roscoe. Can you tell he is the first horse we have ever sent away?
Well he was still jumpy about the other stallions, but he enjoyed being turned out and chatting with his neighbor. They began working him in hand and getting him used to having a chain through his mouth. I guess he backed away from anything he did not like. Typical 2yr old behavior they said. Then the fun began. Time to go into the breeding shed.
Roscoe did not want to go into the shadowy depths. The handler had to trot him in. After that he was great. Behind the tease rail, a mare awaited. Roscoe was finally allowed to touch a girl! Cue erection.
Next he had to back away, which he did with out question and get himself cleaned.  I was a proud mama when they reported, he did not kick anyone during the cleaning. We have been working with him knowing the time would come.
Squeaky clean, he made another visit to the teaser mare. Excited again, they moved him to the phantom. Roscoe nipped at it, rubbed it like stallions do to mares. Beyond those actions he had no clue what he was suppose to do. He became distracted by thinking causing him to lose his erection. They ended up moving the teaser mare to the other side of the phantom so Roscoe could try to associate mare with phantom. He tried, but soon he showed signs of frustration. At that point they ended the session.
Their opinion, Roscoe is ahead in some things and behind in others. Good to hear.
We learned that they lead him left out of his stall for training, and turn right for turn out. This way he learns the process and what to expect easier.
I can't wait to hear how he has done in the days since.
Meanwhile at our barn, the four remaining ponies get to go out together. The girls get a break from Jenna and the boys get a break from Roscoe.

With the stallion away, the rest can play :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Roscoe Goes to Training

It was a sad day for us. Roscoe is spending up to two weeks at Equine Reproductive Concepts. While there he will be having Phantom training and doing a Test cool. All this will get him ready for breeding.
After a discussion, we were able to load him up for his first solo trailer ride. He was a perfect passenger for the 45min drive. I left Mom and Peggy with Roscoe while I went to fill out the million forms. As I was writing a handler came out carrying a leather lead with chain shank. He kindly offered to unload Roscoe. I was a little worried since he looked "loaded for bear." In the end I figured Mom was there to control the situation.
When I finally finished the paperwork, I went to see my boy.
Roscoe's home for a little while
Roscoe's stall is the first one on the left in the barn above. He was sweaty, glued to the front of the stall, but munching away at hay. I soon find out that he was scared out of his socks. As he entered the barn with the handler, Saphiro a Lusitiano stallion in the stall across from Roscoe's charged the front stall wall at Roscoe. Mom said Roscoe was thinking small thoughts trying to hide and he would not go in the stall. Eventually, Mom took his lead and worked him in hand to refocus his mind. She was then able to back him into the stall. Poor Roscoe was still worried.
Roscoe in Jail, watching his rear window.
The stall is large, but barred with high walls. Nothing like he is used to. And his front view is of his favorite stallion.
Saphiro, This guy is a teddy bear at home, but uber stallion at the collection center.

We went to have a tour with Roscoe calling after us. His visit will start with handling lessons and manners around the mares. Then he will meet the phantom.
They will use a teaser mare to help train him to use the phantom. Success means he stands for cleaning, then mounts and ejaculates in one to two tries. How long he stays depends on how quick he picks up the process. Since he is so young, they have to be careful not to make him sour. They will work with him daily. Hopefully the work will settle him down.
The lab will test his semen to see which of 3 antibiotics will work with the extender to successfully cool samples for shipping. They will learn what kind of longevity his has so they can customize the collection process for Roscoe.
It was really hard leaving him, but they are pros. Okay still not making me feel better. Even worse, Roscoe could see us leaving and kept watching and calling. Ah the barn won't be the same.
Has it been two weeks yet???

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Falling into Pieces

Rosemary has been on the Chinese remedy for 5 months now. She still has a significant tumor on her eyelid, but it is much smaller. When we came in Friday I noticed the tip was really loose. I started manipulating that piece. A little twist, then a little more. I cringed as I felt something give, but Rosemary had no reaction and there was no blood. Okay, by this point I can spin the piece in a full circle around the tumor. I pulled it and looked close. There was a very small piece of tissue still holding it to the tumor. I was committed now and kept spinning the piece until...

This thing is really hard, no wonder it was droopy on her lid
From 4-12
We could tell Rosemary felt so much better with the weight of that piece gone.

From 3-10

The other great thing is that she is growing hair in the surrounding area. She still needs more time on the medicine, but we are happy with the progress so far.

Comrade Jump Session Video

Jumping the New Comrade

Today's ride on Comrade showed that last week's ride was not a fluke. I decided to take advantage of Mom being around and had a jumping session. You can hear Mom's comments at the link above. Mom was also amazed at his flexion, which was soft and easy. I noticed that he would give me a haunches in and out. We even played with walk pirouettes. This would have been torture before for both of us. Can I say again, bless joint supplements.
Considering the rest of our day did not go as planned, it was refreshing to have a great ride on Comrade. Now I have to learn how to ride the new, willing to move pony and find middle ground. This jumping session I actually had to ask him to slow down. The bad part was he took the request too far and was not making the distances. The video shows when we both started to figure out what we each needed to do the make the jumps work.
The straight line with two jumps was set as a 3 stride distance (9ft stride). He went from barely making that distance to needing the distance opened. My favorite moment comes almost at the end of the video. We do the two straight X's then go over the end X. Then I decided to give Comrade a challenge. During the session, I had turned right every time after the end X. I decided while going over the jump to turn left. He landed on the left lead and executed the roll back so well he surprised me. Comrade kept the canter and finished over the straight line.
At that point we ended the ride. He wanted to do more and was happy. Better to stop on a high note than to push for more.

Spring is here! Comrade after our ride:)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Product Review: Shoo Tag

As springs comes, so do the bugs. We are careful about the fly sprays we use since some of the horses have been sensitive. Our favorites are Pryhana, Nature's Defense, Zonk it and one I love but can't afford Marigold. Sherman had an allergy to fly bites and we were always on the look out for ways to protect him. He probably started the fly sheet trend at our barn ;) The horses had fly sheets, masks and boots.
When Rosemary was close to giving birth, we only used natural sprays. After Roscoe was born she could not wear a fly sheet and was going crazy with the bugs. Peggy's farm is covered in trees which increases the amount of bugs. Around this time Peggy found a new kind of fly and mosquito prevention, Shoo Tag. She bought one package with two sets. We figured what the hell, it was worth a try. Addie and Rosemary were our guinea pigs.

The Shoo Tag is similar to a credit card, a little smaller but has a magnetic strip. The tag is braided into the mane and is activated by the bodies natural energy to create a field around the horse. Sounds crazy right? Many people have written bad reviews after seeing no results. I will say that the company says it can go on a halter. I really think for it to truly work it needs to be in constant contact with the body. If it works, the tag helps detract flies for up to four months.

The fly tag is the same size.

So, did we see a difference in Rosemary?
Oh yes. After the 36 hour activation time Rosemary and Addie would be happily eating away in the turnout while poor Roscoe fended off monster horse flies and black flies. You could see them buzz near the girls then bypass them for Roscoe. We did continue to lightly fly spray them during the time they wore the cards. The amount of fly spray used decreased significantly though.
We branched out and used them on the others horses and had the same good results. If the horse rubs a lot the card can be displaced, so you do have to keep an eye on them.
Different ways to attach the tag: string, rubber band or hair. Peggy even punched another hole to make it easier.

Shoo Tag ranges in price depending on the type you buy. I recently bought double pack (fly and mosquito tags for two horses) and one single pack for under $50 on Amazon. Most of the time the price is closer to $25+ range. Shoo Tag also has a tag for Midges, which starts at $20 for one. Peggy has bought those this year as well as the fly type. I am seriously considering it because my ponies get eaten alive by those darn bugs. When you compare the price to a gallon of fly spray, $20-$50, the price is actually reasonable.
For those who wonder about showing, I have shown the horses with the tags. I get a lot of "why do they have a credit card in their mane?" questions, but they are easily worked around for braiding.
In addition to equines, Shoo Tag also has products for dogs, cats and humans. We and Peggy have used the dog flea and tick tags with great success. Peggy's vet closely looked over Shadow and did not even find flea dander at all. She uses no top spot, only the tags. We use top spot just because we have it, but will soon try to use only the tags too. Just like the horses the tags work best if they are in constant contact with the body. Even though they advertise them hanging, I do not recommend placing them that way. It is a little hard, but we attach them to the collar so they lay flat against the body. Griffyns says they itch too much, but don't take his word for it because he thinks any collar is itchy;)

There are pluses: Saves money on fly spray, Non toxic, lasts for four months, easy to use, can be sent back to the company to be refreshed and donated to rescues or recycled.

And the minuses: Can come loose, using multiple tags for different bugs, some tags can be pricey, must have constant body contact.

Overall I think they are worth the expense. If you do a lot of showing and braiding, probably not the best thing for you, but if your horse is retired or not shown much this is a great product. I will say that we believe that the tags work best on healthy horses. A healthy horse will give off strong energy to create the field. A horse with issues may not get the same results. I really like this product for dogs.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Magic 8 or Joint Supplement?

Now for the rest of our busy Sunday.
Our ponies were so happy to see us, especially when we started stripping hair off them. Always a quick way to make up to the ponies. Peggy we could tell had done some already on the girls by the piles of hair in their stalls.
DaVinci's contribution, snow piles

 We changed out heated buckets for regular ones officially ending winter :) Of course that meant the boys had to remember where the summer location is for their water trough. We did not have time to ride any of ours, but made plans to ride Monday. It was enough to hug and scratch on them.

Before our barn and before Swayze, we went to Peggy's. I tacked up the fuzz ball and wondered how Comrade would be in the warmer temperatures. I got a surprise when we got to the arena, Peggy had gotten landscape timbers (a cheaper option than wood poles) while we were gone. Comrade knew right away that those were not PVC and would hurt if he hit them. After showing them to him and moving him over some, I hopped on. He was ready to go. Forget about walk warm ups, he wanted to trot. Okay I went along with it. Then he smoothly picked up canter. It was an awesome canter. I did not package him, just let him go on a loose rein and loosen up. What surprised me was that his right lead canter was just as smooth a transition and just as awesome a gait as the left. If you have read my blog you know that his right lead has been an issue.
So I had super go-go pony. Time for fun. I added a few of the jumps, which were much nicer since they were made with the wood poles. I changed directions and got flying changes that did not change the rhythm at all. Some changes were helped by Shadow, the German Shepherd, nipping at his heels. He also bucked at Shadow, but he kept moving forward. Now that he had burned some energy, Mom had me increase the challenge. In the corners where he likes to fall in, I added 15m circles. That was tough, but he stepped under and finished. He ended with some long trot work and a lovely soft neck.
Maybe turning 8 the day before magically made him feel wonderful. We can hope. Then I remembered Peggy had started Addie, her cob mare, on joint supplement. I asked her if she had put Comrade on it too. She had. Bingo, I think that made a difference. Ever since Barry's xrays came back looking 10yrs younger than his actual age, I truly believe in joint supplements. We even give Roscoe a small dose. Comrade felt the best he has ever felt in the almost 3yrs I have been riding him. I will be interested to see how his work will be once she gets the supplement refilled. She used Corta flex pellets and we use Corta flex liquid for our horses and our dogs.
Our animals work hard for us, so I try to provide the support they need. It is not cheap but longevity and peace of mind helps make the expenditure easier. Seeing results help too.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reaching New Heights

Today was a full day so I am breaking it into a couple posts.
Some of you may remember Swayze, a friends horse I introduced last year. His owner asked Mom for a lesson today to work through some issues. She had already warmed him up when we arrived. For once I had my helmet in the car, so I offered to get on him and see what I felt.
It was a little of a pressure situation because his owner thinks I can ride anything well. I wish, but that is far from the truth. I mountain climbed onto his 17h+ back and then blessed the narrow TB fashion. He was almost as narrow as Roscoe :) My leg went much further then it does on Dottie. And we only had to wrap the leathers twice.
Swayze was a little stiff in the hind end, especially the right stifle. Plus he wanted to always bend left. Bring on bendy lines, bell curves and counter bends. His walk improved and he started to soften. I asked him to work corners and step under. He thought that was too hard and picked up a trot. I won't lie I tensed. Then I circled, breathed and realized he was not going anywhere. Shoulders back, half halt with outside rein, sit and walk. He gave me a few more moments like that and even picked up a canter. That boy was able to canter a very small circle. Nice canter, but he was not ready to carry it.
Then we put him on a circle to work on rhythm using a half halt. Now half halts are an awesome tool and are very adjustable. With Swayze, I had to pull out the HEAVY half halt to respond to the heaviness he gave me. If he gave me 12lbs, I used a 12lb half halt. The biggest thing I had to remember was to half halt and RELEASE. We counted to 4 and half halted on 1. Swayze started to need a smaller half halt as he began to maintain the rhythm. As we changed to his good side, I was even able to soften my inside rein.
I did not ride long so he would not be too tired for his owner. Mom worked with her on the same exercise. She had to focus on carrying her hands and the release portion, but when it all came together she found a great rhythm.
She videoed my ride and vice versus her ride. Watching the videos, helped Mom see where to take the next lesson. Here is a short clip of my ride, Swayze Ride. I have to say Comrade has helped me enormously with riding heavy, quick horses and my reactions.
Here is a picture of Swayze and his owner. They have come so far and are working hard to improve.
Raise the hands and move her leg back and it would be even better.
He was a fun ride and a challenging one. I forgot he was so tall while I was on him, but quickly remembered as I slipped off him. That was one long slide :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

We finally made it home from Florida. The drive was HELL. All the snow birds headed home at the same time and clogged the roads badly. After five years of making this trip I can say this one was the worst.
The good part was that the horses, for the most part, behaved for Peggy. One time Roscoe escaped his stall when Larry brought him inside and Cob trotted around the barn like the cocky boy he is. Peggy worked him in hand a bit to help establish some boundaries. She also worked to set limits for Jenna since it was her first time dealing with her. Jenna decided to claim Peggy and proceeded to charge the boys as they came in the barn. Thank goodness the boys took it all in stride. I will be interested to see how she reacts when we go to the barn tomorrow. We do have to repair Dottie's sheet. Somehow she has damaged the surcingle and the leg straps are acting up. She is naked and by now, filthy. The others will join her soon since the weather is finally warming up.

Two more things then I need to get some sleep:
One, I finished my first big cross stitch project. I started five years ago and worked on it every Florida trip since. My grandmother helped teach me french knots so I could finish. So here is "The Big Wave" ready to be framed.
And Second, Wish Comrade a Happy 8th Birthday!