Saturday, April 14, 2012

Muddy mud mud

Don't look at me like that. You are absolutely FILTHY!

Really Gabe? EVERYWHERE?

I think we could probably make another whole horse outta that.

OH, there IS a gray horse under all that mud.

Yup, even had to scrub the face. There was mud on his eyelashes. What a pretty boy.

Better. Almost gray again, but still kinda mud tinged. He needs a bath.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Where can I buy horse-sized, extra-strength bubble wrap?

It's always something, isn't it? Again, I lament, even if we wrapped them up in bubble wrap and locked them snugly away in a padded stall they'd still manage to find some insane way to injure themselves.


I was sitting in my intellectual property law class at 8:30 p.m. when the first ominous text came through: "Call as soon as you can." Oh, that can't be good.

Then the second came through shortly later, this one from my daughter: "Gabe was very bad! He broke through the fence at the top paddock! A lot of poles are bent, two lost the caps, almost all of them have a torn down wire."

Oh. Crap. I'm an hour away from home, it's dark out and I'm in the middle of a lecture I can't just get up and sneak out of. So of course, I'm freaking out and mentally trying to urge the professor to talk faster and get us out early.

He did. I called home immediately to find out what was going on and if I should start panicking or if the vet needed to be called out again. I just had him out a few weeks ago because the big gray guy was colicking. Always something!

I learned that yes, he had gone through the fence, and yes, he did have some injuries. But, my boyfriend is still learning about horse first aid and couldn't tell me how bad the wounds were. "Well, they are bleeding but they aren't gushing blood." he relayed. He is very observant about the horses' behavior and noticed that Gabe just didn't seem to be his typical self: He wouldn't eat and seemed depressed but did have good gut sounds and wasn't acting like he was colicking, just not himself.

Still an hour away from home all I could do was drive (while keeping it at a safe, mostly legal speed!) and imagine the absolute worst.

When I got home I immediately pulled on the headlamp and went out to check out my guy. Yup, he was definitely cut up, but nothing to call the vet over. He has some cuts on his left stifle and cuts on his right forearm. He wasn't lame, but that rear leg was swollen and sore. I'm guessing he tried to go OVER the fence at a post and failed to clear it. All I have to say is thank GOODNESS I have every single post capped. The injuries would have been much more severe, perhaps even fatal, if he'd tried to go over a capless post and hung up on the top electric rope. And thank goodness I use electric rope with insulators that will break under pressure...if the fence hadn't given and the insulators broke to drop the fence to the ground, the injuries could have very well been significantly worse.

I scrubbed him up good with Betadine, sprayed the cuts with an antibiotic and dosed him with some bute to alleviate some of that soreness.

He was eating fine (had to soak a bit of grain to mix with the bute) and seemed to be himself again, so colic wasn't a worry any longer.

This morning he was still sore, but not lame, and the wounds look good and clean. Chief, however, also appears sore but he didn't go through the fence so I'm wondering what happened to my horses up in the pasture while no one was home.

What could have made Gabe go through the fence? He typically respects the fence and doesn't test it or push on it or even go near it unless he's face-fighting with Chief. He knows it bites hard and he tends to avoid that bite. What could have not only made Gabe freak out enough to go through the fence, but also apparently freak Chief out enough that he ran until he was sore?

I don't know, but I have a couple of guesses. The neighbor's peacocks are in super-roam mode again and my horses DO NOT LIKE the peacocks at all. My best guess is the peacocks paid the horses a visit and freaked them out, add to that the fact that the farmers were out in the field next to the pasture yesterday, which usually doesn't bother the horses but if you combine a couple of big tractors, dust and peacocks, it may have been enough to send them all into a tizzy. Ugh.

I hate mysteries like this, not knowing what caused the issue in the first place so I can try to prevent it from happening again.

And now I have a damn fence to fix.'s a damn good thing I love 'em as much as I do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A bit of this and that

We had another fabulous, long ride off the property again and Gabe was 50 percent better this time than he was last week. Our only issues: The cows (surprise, surprise) and a dog that appeared out of nowhere barking and lunging at us like a rabid lunatic.

Other than those two things, he was fabulous. And those two things were minor as he responded more like I expect him to respond in uncertain, scary situations. Instead of stopping and absolutely refusing to move forward AT ALL, he kept moving forward but also moved sideways while keeping a watchful eye on the advancing herd of deadly cattle and Cujo. Good boy!

Oh, and he did react to a HUGE tractor that rumbled by us hauling a disker and two anhydrous ammonia tanks. He's seen tractors many, many times, just not one as huge and noisy as this one, so his reaction was not unexpected.

Kayleigh rode Chief and my friend Jaquie rode Calypso and all were very good (Calypso was a wee bit on the up side, but settled down after 20 minutes into the ride). We rode about six miles, and after the first mile, Gabe was chugging along at a good walk...ON THE BUCKLE and very relaxed. So pleasant.

Worked Gabe in the arena Monday afternoon and he was very good. My stupid dog kept dashing out of the brush lining the arena right under his nose and disrupting his attention. If the dog runs behind him, he doesn't seem to mind too much, but when she's under his nose, he hates it. But, he needs to get used to it if he's going to be a good field hunter. Can't have him reacting adversely to every canine that appears out of nowhere, especially out on a hunt. So, although it's a pain in the butt, it's something he needs to get used to.

We worked on bending, turns on the haunches and canter departs. Turns on the haunches are coming along nicely, bending is improving bit by bit, but canter departs, oh, are they ever ugly. You know what I mean...trot faster faster faster faster THEN pick up the canter...inevitably on the wrong lead. So, we spent a whole lot of time re-gathering ourselves into a nice trot and trying again and again. We got a couple of decent departs, but nothing to get terribly excited about. It's just one of those things and we'll get it together eventually. Despite the terrible departs, his canter is so, so nice. It's one of those delightful canters you could ride all day long, so smooth, so "up", so powerful. It always makes me grin, and maybe giggle a little bit because it's just so FUN!

Also practiced loading on the trailer a bit and he's definitely getting better. I'm not pushing him to the point that he gets all worked up, but I do expect him to make an effort. Kayleigh doesn't understand why I just don't force him to get on and make him stay there. I could, but I want the whole trailer experience to be pleasant so when he sees it he WANTS to get on, not the opposite. I never, ever want there to be a question about whether he'll get back on the trailer if we go somewhere else! Imagine, stuck out in the middle of nowhere, hours from home with night approaching, and the horse refuses to get back on the trailer. No thanks! For me, that knowledge that he will happily load, no matter where we are, is well worth the time and the patience I have to have with this.

Happy trails!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Let the trail riding season begin!

I am sunburnt. Gabe is sleepy and as of this morning, is not body sore.

By my best guess, we rode about 12 miles yesterday, all told in just around 3.5 hours. My friend Jaquie brought her delightful pony gelding, Teddy, over to the farm Sunday morning and out we went to see what we could see.

It is by far the longest ride I've had him out on and I truly think he enjoyed all the sights and sounds.

We took a route I've never been down before, roads I've never even driven and discovered some absolutely delightful back roads that were very isolated and not busy at all. The horses were very good and although we had a few moments, Gabe was wonderful.

At first we did have some lack of desire to go forward issues and he'd dribble slower and slower until almost a halt. I tried squeezing him forward and got no response and (failing to bring with me a whip), I had to come up with some other way to convince him to step up the pace. So, I imagined having on a pair of rowel spurs and I "rolled" my heel up his side. Oh, did THAT ever surprise him the first time I did it and he SHOT forward! So I stayed on it, every time he dribbled, I rolled, and he picked up the pace immediately. It didn't take long for him to figure out that it was just easier to keep on marching forward instead of slowing slowing slowing into a halt.

As is typical of most farms, dogs ran out barking at us (there were a good number of hounds!), hackles high, appearing out of nowhere from nearly every house we passed. The first 3 or 4 times it happened Gabe was pretty darn sure they were going to gnaw his legs off at the pasterns and gave them the hairy eyeball while skittering across the road away from them.

By the end of the ride he didn't give the approaching barking (or baying) dogs a second glance while we marched along on the buckle. He also figured out by the end of the ride that I don't care if he wants to turn his head to look at something as long as he keeps walking forward.

We had a few very, very nice canters and he was popping over ditches and water-filled culverts like an old pro without even a second glance at them.

He saw his first herd of donkeys and quite frankly, I think he was more worried about those long-eared beasts than he was about the dogs! I told those donkeys as we walked by and they all ran up to the fence to see us that they were allowed to watch, but none of them was allowed to speak! I just knew that if one of them opened up and let loose a bray, it would be all over for Gabe's mostly-calm and collected self. We passed a herd of Belgian mares with a couple of foals that thought we were just awesome and came galloping up to the fence to see us. A galloping herd of Belgian's makes A LOT of noise! Those hooves surely do thunder and shake the ground. After we passed the herd decided to gallop to catch up to us and Gabe wasn't quite sure what to think about that. His tail curled up over his back (imagine Arab), and he started prancing and blowing hard (trumpeting like a stallion!) at that thundering herd of drafts. Such a silly boy, but even with those crazy antics he continued to listen to me and never did I feel like he had tuned me out and stopped listening, a HUGE step forward for both of us.

All in all, a long but fantastic ride and I'm looking forward to many, many more.

Jaquie is planning to move Teddy out to our place in two weeks and we're all pretty excited about it. Teddy is great little horse and I really look forward to having an adult around to go riding with and help build my cross-country course and add a few more trails around the place.