Monday, June 26, 2006

June 26, 2006

Last night John and I took Tonka for a walk. He was kind of more in my space than usual. Not the entire time, but enough that he got worked hard when we got home. Every time he'd see something he was worried about he'd try to walk sideways behind me, and once kicked my foot as he walked. Not okay. So we lunged and backed and had a bit of a fit, and finally settled into the work and lunged past and stood next to the scary object without trying to run me out of the way with his shoulder. In this case the scary object was a gate. The lunging was a bit rusty at first. He wants to go around once and then stop, and thinks he can get out of it if he finds a special place that facilitates stopping. Or if he runs over feed tubs or salt blocks. He was pretty well sweated up by the time we finished, but he'd done very well.

Oh! We got to deal with cars going by for the first time. The first one he was facing away from and he kind of ran backwards once it got past us, then stoppped. The next one scared him a little, he was also not quite facing it. Then the next one, with a trailer on back, didn't bother him much. He was facing it, knew what was coming, I think that helped. The last one he just watched.

I will be gone for a week starting today. In Hawaii. I'm going to miss being home! I am such a homebody. There's so much to do here, I just don't want to leave. But it'll be fun.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

June 25, 2006

This isn't mustang related, really, but it was horse time and we had a blast! I invited Kaia and Della out to ride with me yesterday since I had no kids. Then I got to thinking, if we took Soxy and Coda out and left Tonka, he'd have a fit and probably hurt himself. So I got Lyric and Emma and moved them across the property to the pen next to Tonka. That was interesting, leading them both. They did really well until we got up near the house where there are more things to be wary of. I had to ask Della to come out and help. Lyric pushed her around! Big dork! I would have sworn he'd be really good for her! But no... In his defense, all the horses were really excited, but I was still not too happy with the two we were leading. So Em and Lyric met Tonka up close for the first time. It was pretty anti-climactic. Some running around. Emma got shocked by the fence. I let them adjust for about a half hour and the we got Soxy and Tonka out and went for a ride around the property. Coda was feeling good! Even with both Della and Kaia on him (together they must weigh like 150), he was feeling the need to trot around. It's so nice to see the older horses feeling good. We had a lot of fun.

I am concerned about Soxy's eye. There's a bump on the third eyelid that doesn't look normal. And since Appaloosas are very prone to eye cancer and other problems of the eye, it has me pretty worried. I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and have the vet out. But I leave for Hawaii tomorrow. I hope it can wait. Will see what the vet says when I call tomorrow.

Emma is sold! Her new owners are very nice people who know what they're doing. So she'll be going to her new home sometime in the next few weeks. They're moving and they didn't want Emma to have to go to their place, and then to a new place, all in a short period of time.

Friday, June 23, 2006

June 23, 2006

Today is very busy, there isn't time to play with the ponies. So I didn't take him for a walk this morning. As I was walking around getting stuff done he just stood at the fence and stared at me. Not like Coda, who was facing me and dozing, but actively interested in what I was doing. Kind of intense. I think he missed his morning walk. Poor kid.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

June 22, 2006 - Day 33

Last night I just couldn't sleep. Which is weird for me, normally I can fall asleep within 5 minutes no matter what time of day! I was kind of half in and half out of sleep when I heard a horse call out. I recognized Tonka's voice. I've heard him do that in the night before, but was a little worried. Decided to ignore it. Well, once he'd whinnied twice more I decided to go out and check, maybe he somehow got out and was upset that he couldn't get to his buddies. So it's midnight, I'm wearing a purple nightgown, John's canvas coat, and my muck boots, and I head out into the cold darkness. I was really hoping the unrest wasn't caused by a predator nearby, and I almost took my dog out, but if he was loose that sure wouldn't have helped me catch him. So off I went, all alone, with the darkness playing tricks with my eyes. I was getting the creeps. Soxy was there, happy to see me, and I could see Coda, but didn't see Tonka until I got into the pen, and then it was just his ghostly white blaze in the distance, and I wasn't too sure it was him. I called him and after he stared at me for a minute he came on in. There was nothing wrong or out of place at all, that I could see. So there I am, shivering, and Tonka just wants to visit. Then to top it all off when I came back in the front door I scared my poor son and he screamed. I don't know if he saw some strange apparition walking by outside his window and then come in the front door, or if just the door opening scared him. I felt so bad! I hugged him and reassured him, and then back to bed I went, and finally fell asleep like I normally do.

This morning Tonka and I went for a walk up the road again. Same route as yesterday, but farther. He's awesome. Beginning of the walk he was trying to stay behind me, drifting into my space, stuff like that. But by the end of the walk he was relaxed & staying where he should. He actually jumped a little bit sideways for the first time today, because of a culvert and a little pond that must have suddenly made an ugly face at him. No biggie though. We went all the way down to where the road Y's, right by the lumber store. The oiled road was interesting to him, and he's very aware of shadows, like the shadows of telephone poles and such. Changes in the ground bother him a bit. We visited some more garbage cans and mailboxes (what people must think, with me tapping and whapping their mailboxes). At the end of the walk there were 4 horses that really wanted to visit, galloping up to see us. One was a very cute little foal who was just glued to mamas side. Adorable. When we got home I got the mail, waved it at him, he said, "whatever," and we headed down the driveway. I decided to try to kick down some of the bumps in the driveway. He didn't know what to think of that at first, but eventually started grazing, as if to say, "Go ahead and do your silly dance lady, I'm going to eat." I put him up, picked all four feet, and fed them, and that was it for the morning.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

June 21, 2006 - Day 32

It's been one month! He came home on the 21st of May. Pretty cool. Seems like a lot longer, like he's always been here...

We went for a pretty long walk down the road today. Past a very suspicious white vinyl fence, several sinister mailboxes, horse-eating-cows, scary old tractors and a garbage can. Probably about a 1/4 mile round trip. Good boy! No real problems to report, other than he just needed to check some things out. We stopped and talked to my neighbor for a while, and Tonka was pretty good about standing patiently while we talked. He fidgeted some, called to a cow he thought might be a horse, and ate some grass, but mostly stood nicely. My neighbor is a nice old guy, has lots of funny stories about the people who used to live here. He's going to come check out our grass and hopefully he'll hay it for us. A truck went by while we were talking, probably about 75 feet away, and Tonka shied a little but didn't actually move his feet too much, other than to try to get to where he could see what that was. Oh, and the cats on the porch, a litte ways away, were very interesting to him. He looked and looked. One of them used to by my cat, but apparently found he liked it better at the neighbors. He's a good cat, I'm glad he didn't get got by a coyote, which was what I thought had happened before I saw him over there. He was pulled out from under a burning house as a kitten and we got him from a rescue. But I digress. We had a good walk, looking forward to more of the same, only better!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June 20, 2006

Here are some pictures of Amy (my sister) working Tonka yesterday. I worked him a little too but had the shakes from allergy meds so I didn't do much and then Liam hurt himself so I had to race to the rescue.

Amy has Clinton Anderson's stick, not sure what it's called, but it's his version of the Carrot Stick or a fancy lunge whip. She LOVES it. You can remove the lash and the end of the stiff part is rubber so you don't have to worry about poking them if you have to whack them, and whacking doesn't really hurt. it's hard to tell but she's rubbing his forehead with it in one picture, with the lash attached, and he's not worried about it. Happy to be standing still!

He ended up very light on the line. Really he started that way, but had occasional stubborn spots, dragged her around a bit. Not much fun with that ditch in the middle of the pen. But at the end he was very light, yielding nicely.

Today was yet another uneventful day. I worked with Emma to get pictures of her so we can do a better job of selling her. So I didn't really get time to work with Tonka. But tonight when I went to feed Soxy I hung out with Tonka for a while. He came in from the field to see me, which he almost always does. So sweet. (I do believe he thinks I'm the lunch wagon.) Then we just stood together. I didn't pet, since he doesn't really like it yet, and he didn't look unhappy or pressed, but his attention was on me constantly, in a positive, inquisitve way. He sniffed, with his adorable ears perky and forward, and sniffed some more. "How ya doing? Whatcha wearing? How come you're wearing a coat? Can I chew on it? Whoops, sorry! Can I hang out with you? Where ya going? Can I come too?" He was ultra sweet. So flattering that he wanted to be my buddy and follow me everywhere. Then I went to visit Coda, who has been kind of aloof lately for some reason. I found some good itchy spots on his chest and neck and he seemed quite happy to have me there. Tonka drifted up and Coda wanted to tell him firmly to leave, but I didn't let him, so Tonka got to carefully hang out with us too. Then Coda got tired of it and I said good night to Tonka and came in. Really very relaxing and nice. I'd like to do more of that, but still continue to move forward with training. Hard to find a happy medium. I think we're doing alright.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue News and Events
Check out this new blog (the above text is a link to it) about a new mustang sanctuary. It starts a new chapter in the lives of two older mustangs, Lewis and Clark. you can see their whole story here: (You might have to copy and paste that into your browser.) It's an amazing story, I've been following it from the beginning. I can't wait to hear more about them and about the sanctuary. Their website is listed on their blog as well if you want to check it out.

I am wiped out. I didn't feel too hot today and didn't plan on doing anything strenuous, but the horses decided I should put up a gate. They (probably Tonka) kind of tore up the fence where I'd had gate handles on the electric. I decided to go get the gate from the mustang pen, since we don't need that anymore, and put it up there. It was hard work! The post hole was huge, the post weighed about 300lbs, and it was not much fun! But it looks awesome, civilized. Not some saggy electric with a bunch of gate handles attached. Nice. So now I'm going to take a bath.

Oh, my sister and I worked with Tonka today. Mostly my sister since i couldn't breathe well. We worked on lunging. He did great. Smart boy. A little stubborn too, but he's still a good boy. He learned fast.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I should talk more about introducing a horse to a saddle. How I would do it anyway. There are lots of ways to get them used to the existence of the saddle. Some leave an old nasty saddle on the fence or in the pen. I would do that if I had one. Willow liked to chew on my old nasty saddle when I was getting her used to it. Some ask the horse to work everywhere else and rest only where the saddle is, so it becomes kind of a buddy, a home base, a good place to be. Some just throw the saddle on. The way I did it today, because it worked with the pad I was using so I continued it with the saddle, was that if he tried to walk away from the saddle while I approached, I continued to approach, basically circling him around, until he stopped. Then I didn't throw the saddle on, I released pressure by stepping back, putting the saddle down. Eventually the release of pressure was just me stopping, not moving away. Then the saddle went on, off, on, off, on more vigorously, jiggle and smack the leather, wiggle the saddle, jiggle, wiggle some more, take it off. Do it all over again on the other side. Then walk with the saddle on his back. Whoops, slight spook when his body bent to make a tight turn and the saddle didn't bend with him. Nothing serious. He never dumped the saddle. I didn't ask him to move around quickly, I didn't want him to dump the saddle. If he had dumped it we'd have worked through it but I'd prefer he didn't.

I have to say my elbows were killing me most of the day, and my arms were worn out from all that saddle hefting, and it isn't even all THAT heavy. Probably 25-30 pounds. Some roping saddles weigh about 60 lbs. I'd have found a different way to work with a saddle that heavy!

Now to the most important thing. When I do cinch up the saddle the first time and every time, I cinch it up! I don't make it nice and comfy and loose. I do it slowly, I don't just yank it on up, but I do tighten it up all the way. Why? Because if he were to start bucking, which I encourage (more on that in a minute) that saddle could flip around to his belly or even just his side if you're using a breastcollar. Talk about terrifying! I've heard of many horses that were "ruined" by such an accident. Broke through fences, just about killed themselves, and would never wear a saddle again. (I think the right training and trust could "cure" them, but that's a different subject.) As they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Now, I wasn't worried about that at all today, because there was no cinch. If he bucked or freaked out, the saddle would fall off but it wouldn't stay attached to him and eat him alive. No big deal.

Next, once the saddle is on, I will either "round pen" him or longe him. I prefer a round pen but I don't have one right now. I want him to feel that saddle moving with him and not moving with him and doing whatever it's going to do, at all gaits if possible, turning, etc. Basically just get him comfortable with it. That's what I meant when I said I would encourage him to buck. If he's going to, I want him to do it when I've set him up for success, not with me on his back or when it's a bad situation.

A lot of people already know this, sorry if it was redundant to you, but I thought it was an important subject to cover.

June 16, 2006

Man am I tired! He made me work this morning. We've done the saddle blanket thing already but for some reason he wasn't comfortable with it today. It was a different pad, thicker, stiff, and light colored. We ended up working on lunging a little too because his feet kept sticking. I really didn't think we'd get the saddle on today but we did! Cool stuff. I didn't cinch it. I actually didn't even have the cinch on it. The jingly bits were too scary. Save them for another day.

The saddle you see isn't the one I usually ride in. But mine wouldn't fit him, and cost too much too be putting on a greenie anyway. I think I'm going to have to get used to riding in this saddle, unless he gets a lot wider with time.

Oh, I finished up his braids too. Added a picture of them for Laura to see. For some reason with the braids he reminds me of a barrel racing horse.

Soon I hope to be able to show you a picture of him with saddle and pad, cinch and back cinch and breastcollar, all decked out the way he should be. But probably not right away. I think our next session had better be something more fun, like going for a walk, so he doesn't start to resent the time we spend together.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 15, 2006 - Day 26

What a wonderful morning! I managed to get up early and get my butt out of bed to go play with my horse. I haltered him and asked him to come in the stall with me, since it was a little nippy and breezy. He wasn't too sure about it but decided to go ahead and come in. He wanted to be facing the door just in case. Coda came up outside and that was especially distracting, but Tonka seemed comfortable once I showed him that I wouldn't let Coda come in and bully him. I groomed him and put some braids in his hair with neat rubbler bands specifically colored to match a sorrel horse. (Thanks for letting me use them, Laura.) Looks pretty good. He got tired of the braiding so I only got about half of his mane done. It was taking a while and I got tired of it too, so I took pity on us both and quit.

Then we worked on "roping" his back feet. He wasn't too sure about it, but he did pretty well. I put a 12 foot soft lead rope around his back leg, with both loose ends in my hand, so that it wasn't a completed small loop that could tighten on his foot. I wiggled it around then worked it down to his pastern. Pull forward, wait for hoof to give, release. Eventually pulled and asked him to set it where I wanted it, forward of where it had been. I couldn't really pull to the side or backward since I was holding the lead rope. Repeated for the other side. Worked on front feet with the rope. Picked up front feet and pulled them forward to rest on my knee as I would if I were trimming.

We moved on to another exercise with the rope. I wrapped the rope around his girth, tightened it and waited for him to quit moving, released. He didn't really do much moving, just kind of fidgeting and creeping forward. But we waited until he stopped to release. Wiggled rope around to where the back cinch would go. Wiggle wiggle wiggle. Tightened it. Moved to the flank. That's where they put the strap to make a horse buck. I tightened it slightly but mainly pulled toward me, with the goal that he would move his flank toward me, giving to the pressure. It took a LONG time. And yes, he did buck a little. But I kept the pressure on and kept hold of his lead so he couldn't end the lesson on his own. I was giving when he'd stop, then asking again. So mainly teaching him to stand for it. When he got that down pretty well I asked for the movement toward me again. I had to put my hand up to his neck and keep him from moving his front end toward me before he realized that he was supposed to be moving his flank toward me. It is a lot like turning his butt to me, which I've made clear isn't okay, and it's a very uncomfortable sensation, so I understand why it would be hard for him. He did it maybe 2-3 times on each side and each time I stepped completely away from his body and released the rope on his flank. He sighed and licked and chewed. Good boy.

Then I picked up his back feet with my hands. Carefully, very carefully. Keeping the lead rope loose enough to not be asking him to move around toward me with his head, but tight enough that if he got scared he couldn't pivot that hind end toward me and kick me. Eventually got his leg stretched out behind him and over my knee. Wow. Then the other one. Very carefully and gently, keeping in mind that this is a LOT to ask and I need to be prepared to immediately give him a break if it was too much for him. He was dozing. I went and got the hoof pick, and I picked out his back hooves! What a good boy! He has very nice hind feet, by they way. I did the fronts too.

Then I just stood with my Tonka, my good friend. He was dozing off. Coda was lying down, nickering and twitching a little in his sleep, with Soxy standing over him taking a nap. I rubbed him in small circles with my fingers all together, like a mama loving on her baby or a buddy giving a nice wither rub. Then I just rested my hands, and pretended to doze with him. It was so relaxing, standing in the mild breeze with the sun shining on us, and my horse falling asleep under my hands. Beautiful. I suddenly found myself with my hand on his withers, my eyes closed and tearful, my head bowed, in an attitude of prayer. Now, I am absolutely not a "religious" person. Religion turns me off. I found myself saying, praying I suppose, with tears in my eyes,

"Thank you. To whoever cares to hear it, thank you for this horse."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

June 14, 2006 - Day 25

Wow! Check out the difference in him today versus his second day home. He's a new horse! I so cannot wait to see how he looks when he's fully mature. You know, it makes me want to see updates on the other horses who were at the adoption with him. Some were already so beautiful I can't imagine how nice they look now.

I know I haven't written in a while. I actually have had almost no time to fiddle with Tonka. Between allergies keeping me down and other obligations I just haven't been able to. It's a bummer. I think I'm having withdrawals. Last night I got my coffee pot all set up and set the alarm for 2 hours before John had to leave for work in the morning, to make sure I'd have time to play. This morning the alarm went off and it was pouring rain! Ugh.

This afternoon the rain stopped and I went out to worm everyone. They were of course quite offended. Nobody likes the Quest. It smells horrendous, I hate to put them through it, but they need to get rid of those worms! I gave them treats directly afterwards and for the first time in my life got my finger caught between teeth. Coda chomped me. OUCH! No broken skin. Probably wouldn't have been good to have Quest in a cut.

Tonka didn't get Quest, just ivermectin. I know they wormed him twice at the BLM, but I don't know how well he took it, how much he spit out, etc. Actually once I came in I realized I probably shouldn't have wormed him. I thought he was last wormed in March, but it was May. I feel kinda bad... At least it was just ivermectin. He took it like a champ. He was actually very cute about it. Very curious about what I was doing with Coda, couldn't wait for his turn. Didn't like it so much when he got his turn but didn't do anything other than make faces.

Then I set up the temporary fence so they'll have more room to graze. It's set up so that if he did go through the one strand of electric tape he'll still be fenced in. He is very wary of it though so I don't think he'll try that unless it's an "emergency" situation. Lots of good grass there. They are loving it! Power eating. I got a lot of blurry pictures of Tonka chewing. It was nice to hang out with him tonight.

Friday, June 09, 2006

June 9, 2006 - Day 20

Not much time today to play with my boy. I stood with him while he ate his packer pellets, to protect him from Coda who is being very nasty to him. Not that he's hurting Tonka, but he might have stolen his food. While he ate I rubbed his hind legs. It took a while to get to where he'd stand still for it, but eventually I was rubbing all the way down to the fetlock. I started asking him to take weight off the leg by pulling forward below his hocks, and he was getting it. I think that was good enough for one session. I may use a rope and look for more give next time. He's such a good boy.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

June 8, 2006 - Day 19

So much for self-preservation! Today Tonka had a little wreck. I had brought Coda into Soxy's pen, which is adjacent to where Tonka is. Coda needs supplementation and I figured it'd be easier if he was close by, in with Tonka. But I didn't want him to go right in with Tonka because I've always let horses get to know each other over the fence first. That wasn't such a good idea today. Tonka kept pawing at the fence, got his foot caught once but pulled it out without getting hurt. I'd tell him no when he did it but if I was far away he didn't listen. There was a bucket full of water next to the trough, for the sheep because they can't reach into the trough. Tonka pawed, stepped in the bucket. No big deal, he was going to pull his foot out, slightly perplexed. But he tipped the bucket and it splashed all over his nether regions and he JUMPED! Not over the fence. More into and through. Scared the crap out of me. He mangled the fence, as you can see in the picture. But thankfully he didn't mangle himself. Just a couple really uncomfortable looking scratches.

I let the three of them hang out in the one pen for a while, and now Coda and Tonka are together in the grassy pen, with poor fat Soxy in dry lot next door. Coda is being bossy and doesn't want Tonka near Soxy. But he's mainly just looking ugly, not being violent. Good old horse.

I was in a bit of a funk, too much housework piled up, overwhelming (my own fault too), but I went outside and moved horses and let the poultry out to range, and it lifted my spirits. I love living on a farm!

By the way, today is my birthday! I think I might get myself some ice cream while I'm in town. I was going to go to the WSU dairy, their little ice cream shop makes excellent ice cream! But it'll be too late by the time I get there, they close early.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

June 7, 2006 - Day 18

I have been lax in my writing. Not because we haven't been doing anything! We went for another walk up the driveway to the mailbox, and up and down the road just a little. The only problem that I ran into was that when I'd ask him to move his shoulder out of my space he'd slow down, and when I asked him to speed back up he'd get in my space again. We mostly worked through it.

I don't remember if I mentioned that he's graduated to a new and better area again. This area is fenced with 2 strands of Horse Guard electric tape. He respects the fence nicely so far. And he has lots of grass to eat! He's a happy boy. Soon he'll be able to go out in the big pasture. I don't want to put him out there until I'm sure we won't be able to find someone to hay it. I'd really like to have the hay, but I haven't found anyone to do it yet.

Yesterday I thought about putting a saddle on him, but decided to go with the bareback pad. I walked up to the gate with this jingly mass of cinch, breast collar, and pad, and he walked right up to me as if to say, "Hey, whatcha got?" It was really cool. I put it on, off, on, off, dropped it, let him investigate - the usual routine. I thought about cinching it up but decided just to pretend to. Pulled it kind of tight, released, did something else for a minute, repeated. He got comfortable with it. Good boy!

Tonight I sprayed him with fly spray! He didn't even have a halter on. I started at the shoulder because that usually seems like the best place to not "drive" them forward or back. Then did the neck and back to the flank before he got really uncomfortable. Took a break, walked away, he followed the whole time, checking out the spray bottle. Sprayed the other side the same way and soon was able to spray his hiney and under parts. I wish they knew that it's what keeps bugs off, so they could appreciate it more, but I'm sure they don't make the connection. He had some welts yesterday, either from mosquitos or horseflies, so I'm glad he's going to be so nice about letting me spray him.

Eww, then I was petting him and somehow ended up rubbing the inside of his ear, I think he rubbed it on me. It left blood so I checked and he had bugs in there. Little things, blood suckers of some sort, not a lot but enough to be uncomfortable. I smeared all of the inside of his ears with Swat, a bug repelling ointment. In the process I think I squashed most of the bugs. I hope it helps.

I am as always amazed at what this horse will do for me. I still get teary-eyed fairly regularly over how wonderful he is. I am so grateful to have this horse. It's really awesome, in the true sense of the word, that a wild animal would be this willing, and really WANT to build such and intimate relationship with a person. I'm having an absolute blast.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 4, 2006 - Day 15

Last night I let Soxy in with Tonka. I think putting her out in the tall grass for the day was a very bad idea, she's getting ouchy and I think on the verge of founder. They're getting along great most of the time, hanging out together. Soxy occasionally squeals and lightly strikes at him. Unfortunately I got in the middle of that today and she thumped me on my thigh. Barely hurt, but she got a serious "talking to." Mares! I love her dearly but that's not okay.

Tonka was shockingly muddy yesterday, so he got a good grooming tonight. He's so good for my soul. He's not a perfect angel and sometimes I push him past his comfort zone, but we had some good quiet time together, just brushing and brushing. His coat is getting really soft. I re-did the mane braids so it looks a little more civilized now. More of a french braid. I want to train his mane to the right so that his freezebrand shows. Partially out of vanity, I want everyone to know he's a mustang. But also partially for safety, so that if he's stolen or gets away or something nobody will miss the fact that he's branded.

Earlier we had another great learning experience! We walked up the long driveway, through big puddles, between trees and brush, to the road to check the mailbox. Della led the way without a horse, but I notice he's reassured by someone being in the lead. A big camper went by on the road when we were almost to it but he didn't even notice. He got to whinny at the mares across the way and see the little quarter horse stud colt who is the same color he is. Then we went and thumped on the mailbox, opened and closed it and checked out the red flag and he touched it with his nose. then he looked at the mares some more and forgot the mailbox was there and when it "reappeared" he jumped a bit. Silly horse. Went back down the hill and just had a momentary scary moment behind the shed. He kind of toed the bones of my foot and it hurt. Oh well.

There were a lot of downpours today but the times in between were sunny and beautiful and I got to spend some good time with Tonka.

Oh, I keep forgetting to mention what my 4 year old son said the other day. He was leaning through the gate petting Tonka on the nose, and he looked at me and said, very matter-of-factly, very pleased, in his sweet little voice, "He's not a wild horse anymore."

Saturday, June 03, 2006

June 3, 2006 - Day 14

Only two weeks until he was able to go to the bigger pen! He's doing great! He got to meet Soxy over the fence, she squealed and struck at him a few times but he wasn't too worried about that. He found the sheep extremely interesting and the dogs a little scary. All these critters are just across the fence from him. He went into the somewhat dark stall with no fear.

I left the drag rope on him for a little while just in case. You can see in one of the pictures the short section of fence that isn't "solid." Most of it is either non-climb or cattle panels, but I was worried he might go through the electric part. He still could, but I don't think he will. After a little while I switched him to a halter with a very short rope, and pretty soon I'll go take that off. He's just hanging around eating. He did trot around just a little when I took the dogs out. It was nice to see him able to move around! I need to figure out which horse is most likely to keep him moving and put them together once he can go out to pasture. I don't want him getting too wimpy and soft.

I think I'll wait until I know he knows about the electric before I turn him out into an area fenced only with electric. I want to get him out on that grass, in a big pasture, so he can eat and run and grow!

This horse brings tears to my eyes so often. I am just so impressed and happy with him.

Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2, 2006 - Day 13

Today we walked up in front of the house, where there are so many scary things! Most of the domestic horses have issues going through there at times (or all the time, in Lyric's case). All the kids' toys, the trees, cats, chickens, buildings... He was afraid of a wooden work table that I've been using as a mounting block. We walked up to it and touched it. I touched it first, then he touched it, then we walked by it a few times. The first time he rushed, the second time he controlled himself. The truck was pretty scary. I touched it, he took a little bit of time to look at it and sniff it and check under it, then he touched it, but he still didn't trust it. I decided that spending too much time there gave it too much importance, so we continued on. Next he was very worried about all the racket from the chicken coop. One of the hens must have been laying an egg, which always requires at least a couple others to join in the chorus. He could kind of see them but from a distance and up a hill and it probably didn't make much sense to him. He watched them and listened for a while. We went back to the table and a more open area of field. Then back to where he had wanted to pause to consider the chickens, and continuing on to the next scary thing, a couple sawhorses with boards across the top. I touched, he touched, we moved on. We made it to the area in front of the tack shed, which is almost to the pen I want to put him in. Soxy is in there right now, all alone. She's fat and had to be pulled off pasture. She's very lonely and was calling to him. I didn't want them trying to visit over the fence. He has no idea what electric fence is, and when he first finds out I DO NOT want to be attached to him! So we turned around and went home. When we got back to the pen... Wait, by the way, he has no problem going through the gate now. Anyway, when we got back in we worked on learning to back up on cue. He'd do it, but only with his head way up in the air. Kind of odd. He did get to where he'd do it from either side, softly, with his head down most of the time. I had wanted to go in later and sit and read with him, but I ended up being lazy inside most of the day. The weather was icky and John was home and I had a headache and it was just a good day to be sedentary. Although now I kind of regret it.

I found some pics of him when he was in the Burns, Oregon holding facility. That sounds like a prison. Let's call it the Burns corrals. I'm going to ask permission to use them on my here. So far all I see is his head among a bunch of other horses, but it is unmistakably him. When I was looking through the pictures before I went to the adoption I didn't even notice him. Mostly because all that shows are his ears or his eye. But I probably wouldn't have thought much of him from a picture. He is my meant-to-be boy though, no doubt about that!

Here's the web address, see if you can spot him: (click "begin")

Thursday, June 01, 2006

June 1, 2006 - Day 12?

Not much to report today. I worked most of the day and got pretty overheated. I went out to see him after I took a nice cool shower after working. I was wearing a long skirt and sandals (bad girl!) and sat in a chair and let him eat packer pellets out of a bucket in my lap. And we just hung out for a while. I think the skirt threw him off a bit. I want to spend more time just hanging out with him. I just didn't have time today, and I am exhausted. I'm going to go to bed as soon as I'm done here, even though it's still light. I got all my critter chores done early and the kids have just gone to bed. Peaceful.

The pictures here are cute, I think. One shows his newly trimmed hooves. I should post a before picture too. Maybe tomorrow. And I threw in a random turkey picture. I'm really enjoying having turkeys, they're pretty comical creatures, and just really neat in a way I can't explain. I'd like to have a couple every year. I almost wish we didn't have to eat them.

Well, my pictures are taking forever to load. What to type about while I wait? Tonka is a rather bony horse. I don't just mean he's skinny, but his bones almost seem too big. I'm thinking he just needs to grow into them. He also has funny shaped bones. A little ways below his elbow on the outside of his front leg there's a slight bony protrusion. Nothing bad, I don't think, just something different. His big bones make his hip and stifle area look weird when he walks too. I'm not going to worry about it right now. He just needs to grow into himself. Next time I have the vet out I'll have him look Tonka over too, just in case.

Pictures are done loading, I'm going to bed! Happy trails! Or as Richard Shrake says, "May you always ride a good horse."