Saturday, March 29, 2014

Half Day

After I got off work today we just tied Jasper and Scout to the trailer and groomed them.  They're shedding like crazy.  Bella threw a big tantrum in the pasture because we took her boy away.  She's pretty athletic for a lame horse.

Then I tried out my camping hammock I got for Christmas.  It was pretty relaxing.  The trees around the house are very supple and my hammock was swaying in the wind.  I think I could sleep through a night like that.

The view wasn't half bad.

Then the dogs found me and I felt like a kid pretending to be in a boat surrounded by sharks.  Except these sharks were overly friendly.  :)

I went over Pedro's radiographs with one of the vets at work today and she thought they looked pretty good too.  Maybe a little bone loss at the tip of the coffin bone, and definitely a sinker, but not hopeless by any means. 

I had an update on Joseph the other day.  He's already hitting the trails with his new owners and they say he's a rock star!  Gotta love that!  It makes me so happy to hear that he's succeeding out in the world.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pedro's Big Day

Pedro went to work with me today.  He was such a good boy!  I wasn't sure how he'd do with loading in the trailer, since we haven't done that since July or so.  And I was taking him away from his best buddy Bob.  But he did great, spent all day in the barn at work, and loaded up nicely to head home in the evening.
I've been concerned about his hooves since I brought him home.  Last week we did x-rays on a wee donkey who was severely foundered even though externally his hooves looked pretty good, and he had to be put down.  I decided I better find out just what's going on in Pedro's feet.  If nothing else it will help me trim him better.

This is his left foot.

This is his right.

They are not done perfectly, for one the metal markers on the front of his hoof are not placed correctly.  We were shooting them quickly without the doctor in between tasks in a very full schedule at the clinic.

Tell me what you see, if you're good at reading radiographs.  I don't see anything terribly alarming.  His upper hoof wall is growing in at pretty much the same angle as the bone.  The bones do need to move up in the hoof capsule.  I suspect I need to deal with a thrush problem to get him using his foot more effectively and get things shaped up a little better.  Maybe boots and pads would be a good option too, but they don't breathe, so I'm going to start by treating his frogs with vinegar and see what that does for us.

I need to brush up on my hoof knowledge.  I feel a little clueless about angles and where the point of the frog (the tack)  is supposed to sit in reference to P3 on a donkey.  I know they're not the same as horses.  I wish Pete Ramey's video came in book form, or that I had taken notes when I watched it.  I need this info in print where I can look it up as needed.  I also need a little time to actually do the research again, and I'm not going to have that in the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Relationship building

We shared a carrot in a rustly plastic shopping bag in the wind, and now that is a very desirable noise.  :)

Then we had a short lesson on moving laterally over to the fence and standing while I climbed up there.

Then we goofed around.  Because that's what I'm good at.  And I didn't want to drag out a saddle after trimming a horse and a naughty donkey.

At one point he lost interest in me so I walked away and sat down.  He thought that was interesting.

We had some really sweet quiet time.
He thought about leaving at one point, walked a step or two away, then changed his mind and came back.  Love it.  One of these days we're going to be inseparable.


Our work yesterday was set back by an electrical problem.  Static.  I shocked him a couple times in sensitive places, darn it.  So I got some unscented dryer sheets and rubbed him down but it didn't seem to help a lot.  I also made a cotton lead rope, because I think my crappy fuzzy synthetic lead rope was making it worse.  I think the plastic mounting block was part of the problem too.  Would be nice to be able to use it, but at this point I'm going to have to put it aside.

What do you do about static on your horses?  I put some Show Sheen on his neck this morning, but this isn't a product I normally use and I'm not sure what to expect from it.  I was thinking about maybe rubbing him down lightly with some kind of oil (coconut, olive?).  I'll also try to wear non-synthetic clothes - but I was wearing mostly cotton yesterday.  I might pick up a non-plastic brush for him later today too.  What a pain in the butt, but I can't have him thinking I'm painful to touch.

After playing the "squeeze game" (no I am not a parrelli-ite, but it's a good name for the exercise) between the fence rail and the mounting block and a bucket, I had a seat on the bucket and we just chilled out.

The view from under my hat brim:


Then I let Scout in with him briefly.  It was pretty anti-climactic, and Jasper was more courageous than I expected.  Scout put on a big show lunging at him with pinned ears, and of course he moved away, but later he was the one squealing and moving Scout.  I really hope Scout gets knocked down a peg, but we'll have to see what happens.  His mom is so tolerant of him, he thinks he's pretty special and that gets annoying sometimes.


"Can I bite you?"

"No thanks."

Scout gets distracted easily.  I think Katia was walking by the creek with the dogs.

Now I really, really need to get out and trim Scout's hooves.  They're looking pretty bad.  I hope one trim can set him up right.  I guess I've been neglecting him.  I didn't think it had been that long.  I'm thinking about hiring a farrier to trim these two, since they're our riders, and I may want to have Scout shod this summer.  I have heard a lot of good things about one guy, and met one donkey that he trimmed.  The donkey had very nice looking hooves so maybe, just maybe, there's a good farrier here?

Monday, March 24, 2014

A good ride yesterday

Staring at the neighbor cows

We had a good ride in the round pen yesterday.  I don't really have much to say about it, which is a good thing!  Nothing exciting, nothing noteworthy, just a nice little ride.  We'll do the same today.

Oh, and for those of you who are into the colors of horses like me (and definitely not like my husband), Jasper isn't a grulla.  He wouldn't have that brown if he was.  He's a brown dun, or just a dun, whatever.  Doesn't matter really, he's cute either way!  And John should be happy that I finally have a brown horse (he thinks they're all brown).

Lovely day we're having today!  I plan on opening up the house and getting a sunburn while I play outside.  Pedro needs a hoof trim, of course I'll ride Jasper, and I might ride Scout too, to help John with his springtime tune-up.  Fun times!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

So Jasper's been here a week now and I haven't had as much time as I would like, but that's life when you work long days.  I do still have some daylight after work but I'm so tired I just pet him and maybe groom him and then feed.

Yesterday I tacked him up in the morning after he had his breakfast, checking to see that his new britchen was going to fit.  It is definitely made for a much bigger animal but I managed to get it sized down after a LOT of work.  I left him tied to the trailer while I did some chores.  I think having them time tied up is just about the easiest training you can do.  Scout needs to start spending some time that way now that spring is here.  Jasper didn't paw or act stupid at all, just kinda talked to me when I left him, then stood patiently.

Then I had to go to town.  My daughter tricked me into going to the mall.  I thought we were just going to the feed store (for a new hole punch) and the bank (Katia got her first ever paycheck).  Oh well, the mall didn't kill me.  Luckily she knew just what she wanted and got in and out pretty quickly.

Later in the day I tacked him up again and we did a little groundwork.  When I ask him to circle me on the lead line he doesn't want to move out toward the end of the rope, and I don't want to get too "big" with him and scare him (we are trying to learn to trust each other, after all), so we do a few circles and call it good.  I introduced him to the lunge whip by rubbing it on his neck and then stepping away, he'd lick and chew, we'd repeat, both sides, working back to saddle, flank, and butt.  Then we did a few circles with the lunge whip as an extension of my arm.

I can't mount him from the ground!  It is highly annoying.  I don't have this problem with Scout, who is at least a hand taller and may even have less wither.  I wonder if I'm not snugging up my cinch enough.  I also wonder if I need a shorter cinch for him.  What do you think?  I may also add a regular cinch to the back, instead of the leather strap, so I can tighten that up a wee bit more too.
So, while we're on the subject of tack.  I don't really love this cheaply made Steve Edwards saddle.  It is light, which is especially nice once you add the heavy britchen and all the other fittings.  And it fits my mule, which is the most important thing, but the stirrup leathers aren't leather and I have to bend over to get my off foot in the stirrup.  And I feel like it's not going to last very long.  Oh well, I do feel pretty lucky to have found the same type of saddle he was being ridden in before.  Theirs was the all leather one though, and much better quality.

We did a lot of work on the one-rein stop from the ground.  He did a lot better on his left than his right.  I think he's better about a lot of stuff on his left, which is pretty typical.  Then we disengaged the hindquarters with stirrup pressure from the ground.

I did finally mount up for a short ride.  I had to climb on the bottom rail of the fence to get up there though.  And that was after some work reminding him to stand still.  He'd move, we'd do some circles, disengaging the hindquarters, then I'd ask him to stop and act like I was going to mount, then he'd move and we'd do some more circles.  Seems like this went on a little longer than I'd have expected before he decided to stand still, but when he finally had it, he really had it. 

When I mounted up we worked more on our one-rein stop.  Not entirely by choice.  John came around the corner and Jasper got a little worried.  He is a spooky little dude.  I must admit I have thought a couple times that I may have made the wrong choice.  But here we are now and we'll work through it.  There is nothing mean about this boy, and I think a lot of it comes from him being taken to a whole new world, separated from other equines, and working with a new person.  We just need to build a relationship.

I turned him out next to the horses for the first time.  Hope he doesn't have anything contagious since I didn't do the whole two weeks quarantine with no contact.  I think he needed this for his emotional comfort.  He cruised around smelling poop, then he laid down and rolled right in front of me.  Funny guy!  Glad he felt safe to be on the ground with me right there.

I sat in my lawn chair and had a beer while he had a snack.  He still thinks the dogs bear watching.  And the lawn chair, too.

He doesn't look small here, but I think he's the same height as Bella (the one in front).

I roached his mane yesterday too.  My scissors suck.  I'll blame it on them.  It's not the worst haircut I've ever seen, but I hope to do better next time.

Speaking of which, it took me at least a half hour this morning to get the wind knots out of Bella's mane and get it all brushed out. Which almost had me reaching for those scissors.  :)

Now I better get some house work done so I can go play with my mule! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Still Here

 I didn't die or anything, I promise.

Don't have time to write right now, but I think I got his britchen adjusted correctly.  I'm open to advice, of course.  (And I must say whoever invented Conway buckles deserves a special kind of hell.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our first full day

 Today was horrifically windy and pretty cold, and we did have a bit of rain and hail, but I got plenty of time with Jasper anyway.  These pictures are from this evening after the wind had mostly died down.  I curried mud and spring hair off him 3 times, and we went for a couple walks.

He was a bit concerned when we got a long ways away from the horses - he has one ear on them here:
One thing I noticed that was really cool, was that the first time we went up the driveway he was very wary, but the second time it was old hat.  I hope he continues to get over his worries that quickly.  

I had to tie him up to get a full body picture for you.  He just wanted to be right with me so there was no other way.

Fitting his tack:

Having some good quiet time.

I was concerned that he was going to be terribly ear-shy, but he is already really enjoying a good ear rub.  He doesn't like you to go directly for his ears, and when you bump them unexpectedly he jumps, but I'd say his previous owner did an excellent job of getting him over that issue. 
 A very good day.  And tomorrow the weather is supposed to be nicer. :)
I forgot, I was going to post a pic of him in his summer clothes.  He has a dorsal stripe, his tiger stripes on his legs aren't super visible but they're there, and he has the cross on his shoulders.  And on the other side of him in this picture, he's carrying a saw about as long as he is and super heavy.  What a guy!  I want to get out and ride!  The weather here is not cooperating, and I need a britchen first.  Working on that.  I could have gotten a really nice brand new one yesterday at a steal of a price, but I didn't.  I don't know what I was thinking.  Well, I was thinking that I hadn't bought him yet.  By the time I was on my way home they were closed.  I'm kicking myself now - that store is 2 1/2 hours away.  Looking for one locally.

I'm headed out again to visit with him.  :)


 Isn't he a cutie?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Well, I now have a very cute little mule in my round pen.  I wish I had gotten better pictures.  He's pretty shaggy right now so he's not much to look at anyway, except his sweet, sweet face.

I think he already likes me.  Treats sure didn't hurt.  :)

We had a good ride.  He's not finished, but I feel like he and I are a good match.  We're going to have so much fun together!  He travels nicely, he's responsive, and when things did go wrong (hit in the face by a flying broken branch while his buddy had a little "moment") he moved away but shut down his flight response pretty quickly.  He also got a little upset when all the others got ahead and we were going down a steep hill.  This ride was his first of the year, and his first with a strange rider (other than me in the round pen last week).  If I were to put someone on Scout and head down the trail tomorrow I can guarantee it would be a lot more frustrating.  This little guy is a good one.  (I don't know for sure that he's really all that little.  Probably the same height as Joseph and Bella, but not as stout.)

He does have a name but I don't like it.  I feel bad changing it, because he does know his name.  What to do?  His name is Cash and I am not a worshiper of money (although a mule sure does feel like riches).  I'd like to name him Jasper.  That name seems a bit cliche' if you know that there's a children's book series by Meredith Hodges called "Jasper the Mule" but I assure you that's not how I came up with it.  My son was showing me a gorgeous green rock from my grampa's collection while I was making a list of possible names, and there it was.

Stolen from the internet: (and yes I am exposing my inner hippie) "An elemental Earth stone, Jasper’s frequency is slow and constant, aligned with the electromagnetic energies of the planet. It enables one to be more present in the physical body and conscious of Nature and one’s surroundings. It encourages one to celebrate moments of isolation to absorb, reflect, and connect with these energies and enkindles an awareness of the spiritual connection we hold with all living things."

THAT right there is the description of why I love to be out in the mountains, especially with my trusty steed.  So I think it's very fitting.

Cash has an "ash" sound, and Jasper has an "ass" sound, so could it work?  Is it unfair? He's very smart, I think he would pick it up quickly, but would it be wrong?

Now I better go check on him and sweet talk him and feed him a few treats.  I can't believe he's mine!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Scared me

I must admit I've been rolling my eyes a bit about the paranoia that seems to have sprung up over vaccines in animals.  Then I vaccinated on Tuesday with a brand and type of vaccine that I trust and have never had problems with.  I also gave the horses Panacur dewormer, which they've never had before, but it's supposed to be ultra safe.  Normally I wouldn't do both on the same day, but I did it this time without even thinking about it.

Then they started acting weird.  Scout was standing funny in the pasture and then pressed his butt up against me when I went to check on him.  He doesn't do that.  Then he offered to kick me.  He was cranky and seemed uncomfortable in the hind end for a couple days.

Bella trotted in lame Wednesday night (she's lame anyway so I just kind of ignored it).  Thursday morning she was reluctant to move and kind of staggering around, her right fore and left hind acting strangely.  I panicked, took her to work with me, and had the vet check her over.  Nothing showed up as wrong there after she'd gotten her adrenaline up with the trailer ride and being stalled alone.  She was still vaguely weird in her way of walking after some time chilling in the pasture at home, but seemed fine the next morning.

Thank goodness for that.

I realized that although I might talk tough about having her put down someday because of her lameness, it would break my heart to lose her.  She's a spirit horse.  Everyone who meets her says she's special.  I'm glad she's okay.

Now I'm not sure what protocol I'm going to follow when I vaccinate next. Hmmm.  You can premedicate with antihistimines for several days, and give dex.  I might do that.  I might not vaccinate Bella with anything more than tetanus and flu/rhino.  She doesn't travel much so she shouldn't be high risk, but Scout does travel and could bring something home to her.  Not that we go to densely populated areas.  I don't know.  We shall see.

Tomorrow is a big day.  Going to ride the mule out on the trail..  I'm so excited!  I didn't sleep very well last night, and when I did I dreamed about him.  I'll update tomorrow night, hopefully with pictures.  See ya!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Change is in the wind

Joseph went off to his new home last week.  I sure like the people who took him.

Last weekend I rode a nice mule.  This weekend I'm going back for a longer ride.  I really liked him.  But riding in a round pen isn't the best way to get to know them.  He was very responsive and knew what I would want him to know, but I wonder if maybe he's a little hyper-alert.  Excuses: It was dinner time, and he hasn't been haltered since September, hasn't been ridden in nearly year, has never been ridden by a woman and has only had one rider the last 6 years.  So what we saw was the worst representation you could get, and I still felt safe enough to take a short ride (without my helmet - shhhh).  He's a 10 year old grullo gelding  probably from a quarter horse mare but who knows.  He has a little head and smallish ears, sturdy legs without being coarse, narrow, not stout, but sturdy.  Did I say sturdy twice?  He really does feel steady and strong under the saddle. He's got tons of trail miles and has even done a couple parades.  He seems honest & willing.  I sent off a DNA sample for a PSSM test.  Looks like I might not get results this week.  I'm impatient!
The sun is shining, the days are longer, the frogs are singing, and spring is in the works.  Grass is even greening up!

Scout seems a little off since I vaccinated and wormed yesterday.  Gas?  Hind end pain?  I'm not sure.  I'm thinking I'd better test him for EPSM too at some point.  Hope he gets over it soon.  Bella is sweet as ever.  She was sure sad when Joseph left.  Bob is out on baby green pasture and Pedro is corralled in drylot (mudlot), which he isn't very happy about.  I think mostly he's bored and wants attention.

The weather is getting nicer and now I'm working more hours.  I am really, really hoping we get someone trained to cover those extra hours soon!  I want to play outside!

I feel aimless and a little lost, moving away from my mustang journey.  I'm not sure if I'll want to move away from this blog and start a new one or what. I can't imagine erasing all my posts about Tonka.  (Does anyone know of an easy way to backup/save an entire blog?) 

That's it for now.  Quick and to the point tonight.  I didn't sleep well last night and I've got a long week ahead.  Live long and prosper!  Ride a good horse (or mule or donkey)!