Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We had a pretty good long training session today, starting out with a longer walk up the road a ways, and then a ride up the road.  I'm sure my neighbors think I'm crazy.  I'd go about an 8th of a mile up the road, get off, walk back, and then do it again.  But the idea is to not ride her on the downhill part, and to get her going up hills as much as possible to strengthen things in the hind end.  That, and it helped her get more comfortable with riding away from home with her colt running and hollering in the pasture.  Scout is sure getting in shape while I'm riding his mama.

Bella is really brave.  Not at all like Tonka was.  :)  I've only had to hop off a couple times when she seemed pretty disturbed by something.  I did today, but I think I probably would have been fine to stay on if I'd been a little less chicken.

See that hind leg that she's resting in the photo above?  I think that stifle is our problem.  It was the worse of the two before she had surgery, and it stands to reason that it would still be worse.  The Recovery EQ is not helping at all so far, as far as I can tell anyway.  I was tempted not to order a second bucket of it, but I figure I need to give it at least 30 days before I give up on it.  She is getting stronger with work.  I hope that if I just keep at it eventually she'll be just fine.

Her lameness does pose a bit of a problem in the training department.  It makes it hard for her to do any maneuver where she has to step under herself on that hind leg.  Even just turning in that direction.  I think it may be painful as well, judging from the little bit of attitude she gives me.

I've been logging our hours for the WHBA, and we've done 6.25 hours of ground work and 8.5 hours of riding in February.  I may have lost a bit because I was using an ap on my phone at the beginning of the month and it didn't save correctly.  Hopefully I'll be able to get more hours in once the time change happens and there's some daylight when I get off work.

After I put Bella up I went and vaccinated the donkeys again.  I don't know if they've ever been vaccinated, so I had to do a booster shot for both of them.  It was tempting to save the $50 and not do the booster, hoping they had been vaccinated in the past, but I went ahead and did the right thing instead.  They are so easy to give shots to - they just stand there like good boys, then ask for their treats.  I don't think I really even need to halter them, but I do just in case.

Now I have to go fill troughs because I completely forgot about that until just now.  Fun stuff.  I can't wait until winter is over and I don't have to drain hoses!

Monday, February 25, 2013

This afternoon I went and looked at a horse.  I liked him.  But I think the timing is wrong.  I'm still not sure whether Bella will shape up to be a capable mountain horse, but I think it's too early to give up on her. 

That and we can't afford him.  I was kind of hoping we could pull something out of our hat, but my more realistic half informed me that we couldn't.  Which is a bummer, because I kinda had a warm and fuzzy feeling about this guy. 

He's a cute fewspot appaloosa, I liked how he was put together, and he seemed intelligent and personable.  And sound.  Ah well...

Looking at horses is hard.  It really makes me miss Tonka. 

Look who rode yesterday!

 They had a lot of fun.

 Until Liam decided he was freezing to death.  I hope he keeps up this sudden interest.

 After he went in, Bella and I rode for quite a while.

We went up the hill several times.  I think it will help condition her, and maybe help with her stifles.  She thinks it kinda sucks, but she's getting stronger all the time. 

Looking down:

The dead aspens at the top.  I think my neighbor's ag pilot sprays them when he's going over their fields.  Pisses me off, but what can I do...  Some of them are still alive.  I think I'm going to transplant some of the babies this year.

I'm on the run again - got stuff to do!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I've gotta run and get a big load of hay pretty soon here, but I thought I'd check in here on the blog real quick.

I've been working too much, unfortunately.  I was hoping to cut back by one day, but then someone else gave their notice and now I have no idea what's up.  I'll probably end up working more. 

Yesterday I ran out of work as soon as I could, not hanging around to chit-chat after the doors were closed.  Since it was Saturday I still had some daylight left.  I was a slug for a while, then I went outside and found some stuff to do.  Loved on the donkeys and horses, then remembered I needed to re-dig a ditch.  The water had made its own new course and was just pouring into my pasture.  Now it's going into the pond like it's supposed to.  No thanks to Scout, who thought he had to oversee the operation VERY up close and personal.  I finally had to chase him off, I couldn't pitch the mud off my shovel with his face in it.

Bella was pretty impressed with my handiwork:

She's a good girl.

Alright, off I go.  Work to do, and sunshine.  Hope you all enjoy your Sunday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I guess I  took a bit of a break from blogging.  I haven't been a complete slacker though.  

I got a new pair of boots.  They're okay.  Ariat heritage something or other.  After traveling all over the region looking, I went back to the local second hand shop and got these for half the price of new, and they can't have been worn more than a couple times.  

Bella and I have been riding & playing in the bad weather over the last few days.  Today we were big and brave and we rode up the scary part of the driveway:
Here she's asking me if I'm sure this is a good idea.

 Blue likes horse treats.  I had to tell him to get out from under my horse at one point when he thought I'd dropped one.

Random happycat.  This is our office cat at work.  He's pretty cool.

One of the hospitalized cats decided to panic and attack me the other day.  My left arm looks just lovely.  I thought the deepest bite was going to get infected but I took good care of it and it turns out the pain and swelling were just a nasty bruise forming.  Cats are weird.

Bella and I had a nice hike around the property the other day, checking out the water levels in the ponds.  She loves water.  She's like a moose, looking for good things to eat there.

 We found a couple really cool feathers.  I don't know what kind of bird they're from but we do have a couple resident hawks.  Could be pheasant or turkey.
We completed our video for the WHBA level one Equine Good Citizen certificate.  I have to figure out where to post it for the judges.  And of course the weather was terrible and our attire was just as bad.  But Bella has started to shed!  Spring is coming!

You can check out the video if you like, but you'll want to mute it.  I forgot to edit the sound out and it was windy.  (I hope it shows up here - having a bit of trouble with it.)

It shows her being haltered (twice), standing tied for a full minute (boring), being held by someone else (this is required to show she can be handled by someone else) while I pick up her feet, walking over poles, backing at least 8 feet in a straight line (mostly straight), rubbing with a towel or other object from poll to point of hip, walking a figure 8 around two cones or other markers (I chose to show she can be led from both sides).  Some of these were optional.  The only one I didn't do was fly spray.  I was not about to have anything to do with spraying liquids in that cold wind.  And I don't know where my fly spray is, or if I even have any.  It's not really fly season after all.  Anyway, I think we'll pass, but we won't get any extra points for being pretty.  Do you see anything that doesn't look good?  I could always re-shoot the video, maybe even in nicer weather.  :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

So I joined a new mustang registry called the Wild Horse and Burro Association.  I was kinda skeptical because I'd joined one before (actually I thought this was the same one at first, but it's new) and they never did anything.  There was no point to being a member.  This one has some shows and stuff, which really means nothing to me because I'm not in the right area, but they also have things you can do at home, like logging and sending in your riding hours.  I'm not sure if there's an award for that or not...

The thing I'm more excited about at the moment is the Equine Good Citizen Award.  I'm not sure this link will work, but if it does, check it out:

Bella can do all of these things.  So I just need someone to take video for me.  It's really nice to have something to work toward!  Maybe I'll register Scout and get him doing it too.  What fun.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This lady had a baby next to my driveway today.  She kind of threw a wrench in our riding plans, since I didn't want to get too close and disturb her.

We rode anyway.  It was an off day.  Nothing serious.  Bella decided to have a few opinions about direction and speed of travel today, but they were mild. I did decide to do a little more groundwork than just walking up and down the driveway, and I saw that her gimp is back.  I started her on the Recovery EQ supplement yesterday and I really hope it works miracles like they claim, but I'm skeptical. 

We stood in the ditch for a bit and watched Dyno sleep.  I thought it might be difficult for her because she loves grass that grows in the water, but she didn't ask to eat for quite a while, and when I told her no she didn't argue.

 My left boot.  Old and worn.  I went boot shopping today.  I even bought some, but they're going back tomorrow.  I'm going to have to make the trip up to Spokane if I want new boots.

 Eventually we climbed the hill up to our weird little hut.  Bella is wearing her "angry eyes" (said in the voice of Mrs. Potato Head).

That's a nicer face. The boys were running and hollering behind us.

When I cleaned out her feet after we were done riding I found this bloody spot on her heel bulb.  I guess she had an abscess.  It'll heal.  Made me wonder if that might have had something to do with her irritability today though.

I found out today that there isn't going to be a mustang adoption in Spokane on my birthday.  Bummer.  I guess I'll have to find something else fun to do.  Horse camping sounds pretty good to me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I managed to get a few pictures today.

This is what Bella looks like when she's a little stressed:

It's a state of denial, introversion, checking-out.
 Whatever you want to call it, it bears paying attention to. She's the type of horse that a person might say is super quiet and then explodes out of nowhere.  Luckily I know that the above look is not relaxation, and she's not just a laid back horse who doesn't care about a thing.  Far from it.  She's a very sensitive girl.  Everything touches her more.  So far we're doing well, with no explosions, and I have no reason to think we won't continue to do well as long as I don't push her too hard.

Just putting a bit in her mouth was such a stress for her in the past that she could barely keep herself together with a rider on.  It was just too much input, too much pressure all at once.  She did try to comply, but it was hard for her to remember what she was supposed to do, and very hard for her to unlock her body.  I think she likes this bit better.  The introspective period you see above doesn't last long.  We go walking to warm up, and by the time I mount up she's back to normal.  As we ride she responds to it naturally with just the slightest change of position, much more intuitively than in a halter, without any undue emotional stress or bracing. Sometimes, if she's stressed or there's boggy water grass that looks tasty, she'll brace into it, but don't they all have their moments?  I don't know why this bit is better for her.  It's got to be something about the noseband, because I've tried another bit with the same mouthpiece on her before.  You'd think the noseband wouldn't come into play much without the use of the shanks, but maybe it offers just a bit more support to the cue in a way that doesn't overload her senses.  I'm sure there's info on it online somewhere.

I think I'm going to institute a bit of a routine for us.  Today we saddled and bitted up, then walked briskly up and down the driveway, probably about a quarter mile in all.  When we got back to the mounting block I mounted up and we did some figure 8s and circles to establish some communication, then we cruised up the driveway and back again.  We made a little detour into the trees (where we came across the almost irresistible marsh grass) and circled trees until her mental state leveled off.  She just gets a little rushy when she's nervous.  We made our way back to the driveway and did it all again.  Then we went almost to the road, which was scary because...  I don't know why it's scary.  Tonka always thought that stretch of driveway was scary too.  Trees on both sides, old farm machinery, little birds, big birds, the odd cow every now and then...  Yeah, I guess that might be scary.

Speaking of scary, the whole time we were riding there were big snowballs falling out of the trees all around us.  They make a lot of noise when they hit the metal roof.  Once a big glob fell right next to us.  She didn't care.  She's so rock steady about some things.  I think she just has to get used to them and they become a non-issue.  Someday she'll feel that way about carrying me into new places.  I think she's going to be a pretty amazing horse.

Blue was like my little pilot fish the whole time.  I'd be in the zone, feeling my body move with my horse's stride, and I'd hear the pitter pat of his little feet right behind us.  He's very unobtrusive, but he's there.  It's kind of sweet.  Although once he did let out a big bark right behind us, the little fart.  I don't know what he thought he saw.  Bella didn't startle but I kind of did.

We ended our ride by going up the hill behind the house.  See the palomino horse?  No?  He's kind of right in the middle, just a little dot.  That's old Dyno in his huge pasture all by himself.  I think he's definitely benefited this winter from having all that space to roam and a little grass to nibble on.  I like feeding him too, he gets so excited at meal time.  He's pretty spry for a 30-something horse.  I'm glad I don't have to pay for his senior feed though.  He probably costs at least $120 a month to feed.  He might go back home to be a lesson horse soon.  I'm hoping to talk Liam into riding him at least once before he goes.

Blue found a vole and played with it until it died, then he ate it.  It would be really funny to watch if I didn't feel bad for the vole.  But then again I don't really like voles.  They kill my baby trees by eating all the bark around the bottom. 
That little pond there reminds me, I think maybe I'll put Dyno in the round pen and ride Bella in the big pasture and into the ponds next time, after a couple trips up and down the driveway for routine's sake.  I wonder if her feet will get tougher from riding on the big gravel.  I wish I had time to ride every day, or at least good weather on all my days off.  Tomorrow looks like it might be gross - wind, rain, and snow.  Yuck.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Some disjointed thoughts because I'm in a hurry:

What are your favorite riding boots?  I'm looking for regular old cowboy type boots, not lace up, not English.  Something pretty would be nice but my more important considerations are comfort and durability.  My pair of Ariat boots are over 8 years old now and well, I need new ones.  They only lasted this long because they were pretty uncomfortable and I only wore them when I had to.  I want something I could walk several miles in, or ride in.  Nothing short enough to get caught on the bottom of my stirrup fenders.  The cheaper the better.  I'm not picky or anything.  ;)

Bella rode in a bit today.  I thought she might lose her cool, but she didn't.  She actually did really well.  We used a Myler cradle bit.  It has a comfort mouthpiece with a slight port, different adjustments for a shank or you can use it like a snaffle, and a noseband.  Apparently that's supposed to help disperse the pressure.  I don't know.  We both lived through it.  :)  I didn't take pictures but I will next time.

Before we rode I tied her up to give her time to play with the bit, and I trimmed Pedro's hooves.  He'd finally grown to the point where I felt safe taking off a fair amount of sole at the toe.  Then I took him for a short walk and asked him to "hurry up" or "trot" and rewarded with a treat.  I think it worked.  Later when I was heading out to feed I ran along the driveway and invited him to join me on his side of the fence, and he broke into a happy lope!  Wow!  Feet feeling better, wanting food, or whatever his reasoning, it sure was nice to see!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Today was not my best day for pictures.  None of them were worth posting.  Doesn't help that it was cloudy and my horse was a little muddy.

Today we tried out a different saddle pad, just for kicks.  It's one of those pocket pads that Diamond Wool makes, with 3 pairs of shims you can add in front, middle, or back.  I heard a theory from my sister that with a downhill horse you actually want to shim up the middle or middle/back of the pad, to get the saddle off the shoulder.  I thought heck, then your saddle's going to be tipping even farther forward (which has been causing my back to hollow, which is not something I want in my riding).  But she insisted that this saddler said that's how it works, and I was willing to be wrong.  But I was right.  Before I mounted up the saddle was nicely lifted off the shoulder, but after our ride it was tipped pretty drastically down in the front.

Also, my slanted stirrups are too slanted.  I guess it was worth trying.  Now I can put my matching stirrups back on and not worry about them looking weird.

But back to our ride - we had a good one!  I just rode her in a halter again.  Her turns were much more responsive today.  She was a lot more sensitive overall, I think because we had a little squall coming in.  We rode around the field, over some poles, and ended up going up the driveway again, then spending a lot more time in the trees.  We crossed a little tiny stream and wandered around, practicing a lot of stopping and standing, because she was nervous and tends to rush straight ahead when she's worried.  On the way back we serpentined around bushes, which was good for both of us.  I was concentrating on what we were doing, not worrying about her being silly, and she quit being silly.  But she did leap forward when my sleeve brushed a bush and made a noise.  So I sidled up to a lot of bushes and rubbed my arms on them.  Then we found a tree that made a different noise and did the same thing.  She has pretty darn good lateral control, if she's not too worried about what I'm moving her into.

By the time we were done I had a horrible stomachache and I had to take a nap.  It seems to have passed already.  I wonder what that was all about.

I got a new book today.  I think it's called, "How Horses Move."  I forgot it in my car or I'd go look to be sure of the title.  It shows how the bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles move.  It has a lot of pictures of horses with their anatomy painted on, and cadaver legs and bones and stuff.  I like pictures.  Toward the end it has info on massage and exercises to do.  I am pretty excited about that part.  I think as Bella gets tronger he'll have le trouble.  Did you notice one of my keyboard key jut quit working?  That' annoying.  I love my keyboard, I don't want a new one!  I got it all wet the other day.  Crap.

Monday, February 04, 2013

  Bella seems to be fine today.  Not that I asked her to do anything very strenuous.  And I am giving her bute for a few days.  If I fell down like that I'd be taking ibuprofen, so I figure it's the least I can do for her.

We went for a bit of a walk to stretch and warm up, then we saddled up, walked some more, and I felt pretty confident it wouldn't hurt her to ride her at a walk. 

I wanted to try out a sidepull I made.  I don't think I like it on her.  It's too much, especially with my heavy reins.  I put it on and she just kept dropping her head lower and lower, trying to get away from the pressure.  Once I move the nose knots farther away she was more comfortable, but I feel like it's just way more pressure than she needs.

She thought it was funny that I was laying on the ground taking her picture.
We did some circuits around the front field, trying out the new headgear, then rode down to the grain bins and back. Then she kept insisting that we head up the driveway, so we went along the flat part, came back, and headed into the trees.  She had a couple very slight stumbles, one on the driveway and one in the dead grass, and I decided not to push it.  I want to slowly condition her, not make her lame or cause her to be scared.  The first stumble clearly shook her confidence a little, after her fall yesterday.

You might notice my shiny metal stirrups.  I'm not sure if they look stupid or not.  I think they're alright if you don't notice that my saddle has all brass hardware and the aluminum clashes.  They're slanted stirrups, which I've heard a lot of good about, but these particular ones are maybe too slanted.  I need to try them on a longer ride.  They're supposed to help with knee and hip pain.  My hip was hurting today even with the short, slow ride we did, so that's not a great start with them.  Darn it.  But then again my whole body has more aches and pains than usual today, so who knows.

I've made the decision to try a supplement for Bella rather than chasing a diagnosis at this point.  I feel like she's not really lame enough to be that concerned about.  We're going to try Recovery EQ, which I've heard a lot of good things about.  I ordered it from SmartPak because I noticed they have a satisfaction guarantee, and free shipping if you spend the right amount.  Nice.  It's pretty expensive stuff, especially in the beginning when you're doing a loading dose.

At the patience post
I'll probably also continue to trim her conservatively.  I did trim her hooves last night, but I left a lot more wall and bar than I normally do, and I didn't touch the sole or frog.  I don't want to break what seems to be fixed.  And I'll take her to a real farrier later this spring and get some feedback.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Today Bella and I had a nice long ride.  My young man was helping me out with her quite a bit too.  He loves her.

"Telling Tales"


"Class Clown"





"Good 'uns"

And Bella ground ties like a champ.

For our grand finale I give you our one bad moment of the day.  I hope she didn't hurt herself.  I think she's at least going to be sore.  I had John filming in slo-mo, and Liam in realtime, so I could see how she moves. She took a misstep.

As of yesterday evening, I see barely a head bob to indicate that she's gimpy.  Did she heal over the winter?  Does she like her hooves overgrown?  Is it just because she hasn't done anything in a while?  I have no idea!  This is frustrating.  Hopeful, but I'm kind of afraid to be hopeful.  I'm going to keep playing with her and see what we end up with...

Saturday, February 02, 2013

I did it!  I put a drain in Pedro's neck.  Grossness ahead, I warn you.

This morning I was halfway through taking care of my hospitalized animals when the other tech walked through the door.  Turns out I didn't have to work today!  


So I drove to Spokane with John to get rid of some file cabinets that have been taking up space in my barn.  We had a nice lunch at Chaps.

On the way home I stopped by the vet clinic to pick up some cordless clippers and the other tools I'd need for Pedro.  I love those cordless clippers!

Then I came home and got right to work. 

My pockets were full of the world's best treats.

I am filling up space to spare those of you who are grossed out easily, so the pictures don't show on your screen without scrolling down.

Really it was so awesome I can't believe anyone would be grossed out by it.  But it did involve a lot of icky fluid.

I tied him up and let him listen to the clippers.  He gave them a slightly concerned sideways ear, so I gave him a treat.  After that we were golden.  I just clipped away.

Here it is post-clipping:
He'd been rubbing at it again and rubbed the scab off.

 I scrubbed it really well with surgical scrub & solution.  Then I poked a needle in the bottom and drew out some fluid.  Mostly I just wanted to see how he'd react to the poke.  No biggie.  It started draining right away, even with just a tiny needle hole in the skin.  There must have been a lot of pressure there.

Then I cut a chunk out of the lowest point.  It really started dripping.  I clamped a hemostat onto my drain tube and poked it up inside as far as it would go.  I could have used a longer one.  Then I cut a hole over where I could see the hemostat poking on the inside.  Now that air could get in from the top it started going glug-glug and really draining.  Wow.  Then I pushed my drain through, unclamped, pulled out the hemostat and tied off the drain.  That's when I realized I have no idea what knot to use.  I think the one I put in it will stay.
 Contrary to what I used to think, the fluid doesn't drain through the drain.  The drain is just there to keep the wound from closing up, so that it can keep draining.

Can you believe Pedro just stood there for all of that?  What a guy.  I think in some ways it was a relief.

He didn't seem to hold it against me.  I gave him lots and lots of treats, and even let him eat a little grass afterward.

I can't wait to see how it heals.  The skin is pretty thickened there.  It could get infected.  I'm a worrywart.
I left work a 1/2 hour early the other day to get to the Mustang Club meeting a 1/2 hour late.  I was so glad to be able to go!  We're planning an adoption in Spokane, I think I mentioned it already.  Just waiting on the BLM to come back and say for sure whether it's a go.  It'll be June 7-8.

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

We'll have corrals, a round pen, and that's about it.  Maybe a wall tent, and the BLM's little pavillion.  We plan on putting out all kinds of info on our group, and our individual phone numbers in case anyone needs help with their new mustang. 

What could we do that would help draw people in?  We can't have a competition and we can't have vendors.  We're planning to find a clinician who will come and do a free gentling demo.  Also planning on showing off our mustangs doing trail challenge type obstacles.  I was kind of hoping we could do a silent auction fundraiser - but maybe we can't do that, I'm not sure.  Also maybe a raffle, but with Washington's gambling laws I think we can't call it a raffle.  And what about a pancake feed the morning of the adoption, or a dutch oven meal?

Do any of you have ideas?  Not just for things to do, but for trail course obstacles that aren't huge and bulky to move and that don't require fire or water.  It needs to be stuff that will impress people, but not too scary for the horses, I think.  Or I guess we could do scary stuff as long as everyone has warning ahead of time so they can practice.  No gunshots though, the poor wild ones wouldn't like that.  My first idea was a hoola hoop, and the task is to put your horse's front or hind feed in it and do a complete 360 without those feet leaving the circle.  Then I thought a hoola hoop would scare them if they got it caught on their heel, so probably just a soft rope in a loop (not tied), so it'll just drag if they catch it.

I have to work a short today (cross your fingers we don't get any emergencies!), then I might shave and stab my donkey.  I'm REALLY itching to ride my Bella too.  I think she'll be okay as long as we keep it slow and short.  Maybe we'll practice that hoola hoop trick.  :)  I'm thinking I want to try riding her without anything on her head too, but I'll just start by dropping the reins and riding with my seat.  I don't want to give up my reins completely for a while yet!