Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Last night I dreamed that Tonka was back.  He hadn't died, just been gone for a while, and I was so happy to see him.  I have these dreams every now and then and they're hard to wake up from.  My lovely, loving, funny boy.  Still miss him every day.


I was thinking about all the hours he and I spent together.  Every single day for so many years, when I didn't have a job to wear me down.   A partnership like that doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen without effort and struggle and working together.  I can't wait to build that kind of a bond with Jasper.  I am dying to get out on the trail with him!  I've always kind of been amazed when people say they don't have time to ride.  You make time!  But between my job and my family and a lack of anyone to ride with, I kinda get it now.  Soon, though.  Soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bob and Pedro Meet Jasper

Today Jasper and Bob were finally introduced.

First over the fence,

And then out in the pasture.  You'd think Jasper had been locked up for ages, but he had been in an even bigger pasture.  He was just excited.

And then they were downright boring.

I asked them to follow me into the next pasture, which Jasper has never been in.

Pedro was excited too.  I really don't think he liked Jasper.

Scout was showing off his moves.

They're synchronized trotters.

And lame little Bella sure does have some moves too!

Today was beautiful but I didn't ride or really do any actual work with horses.  I planted some seeds, did some housework, took Katia to get a root canal, watched the critters frolic, visited my sister and her new puppy, trimmed some hooves, and scratched some sweaty-hairy-itchy beasts.  It was a good day.  But now that it's dark I wish I had taken some time to ride!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I almost forgot!

After his dental on Monday, when he was still a little tiny bit woozy (but I kinda think he would have been totally okay with it anyway) I asked the doctor to clean his sheath for me.  I know how to do that after having Tonka the super-smegma-horse, but I haven't worked on touching those areas on Jasper yet.  And heck, why not have someone else do it when the opportunity arises? 

Guess what?  He was totally clean already!  No bean, no smegma, no nothing.  Shocking!  Has anyone ever had a gelding that didn't have any bit of nastiness in his nethers?  I wonder why.  But I'm not complaining!  I figure I had this good karma coming after all the sheath cleanings I did for Tonka. 

However, I do suspect Scout needs his done, and he doesn't let me.  Maybe I could hobble a hind leg... Or just kick his ass in the round pen until he decides it's okay.

Anywhoo...  Just thought I would share my little bit of good fortune. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dental work and stuff

Jasper got his teeth done yesterday.  It was a fun day.  I work as an assistant to the equine dentist (also a vet) so we had a fairly full day, six horses to do including Jasper.  He went into a small corral to wait for his turn, and he had fun tearing it up in there while he was settling in.

As he was getting to know the neighbors, three huge pack goats came down the driveway on their way to their summer pasture.  He thought they were very interesting.

Later on a moose showed up on the hillside, and he ran around until it went out of sight.  He wasn't in a complete panic, but he was pretty excited.  I was hoping for more of a nonchalant reaction, but at least he didn't try to bust out or anything.  For some reason a lot of horses find moose totally terrifying.

I didn't get any pictures during his dental, we just didn't have time.  The mobile dental unit is a huge gooseneck horse trailer with a set of stocks right in the middle at the back, and a ramp leading up to it.  They get their exam outside the trailer and then load up.  Jasper just walked right in behind the doctor without even having to be asked.  I shut him in the stocks and he was kind of disappointed when he couldn't back out again, but didn't act up or anything.  He got his sedative, and then a second sedative, and was never really totally sedated.  Mules take more sedation than horses, and I wasn't surprised that he took more than the average mule because he does have a more active personality.  Even with the light sedation, he was a very good boy, which is fairly awesome for one his age who's never had anyone in his mouth.  

She didn't find any really extreme problems in there, but he did need some things fixed.  According to his file he had very sharp points, buccal lacerations (sores inside his cheeks from the sharp points), ramps (at the very back) and waves (chewing surface wavy rather than level).  These waves were causing some feed to get caught between his teeth.  He will need a float annually to keep this from worsening and hopefully correct it completely.  If left, he would eventually end up with loose teeth and spaces in between where food can get deeply trapped, which can cause infection and a lot of discomfort.  Usually this wouldn't be apparent until he was an old man and having trouble eating, and at that point it couldn't be fixed, only treated as well as possible.  He also had "ventrally curved incisors" which I had noticed when I went to look at him, but I knew those could be fixed, and his canines needed to be reduced, and she gave him a bit seat to keep the front molars from poking his cheek/lip when ridden with a bit.  Nothing really complicated, but I'm glad we're getting on top of it now.

I had a lot of fun with all the horses that came yesterday.  They all get dental work yearly, so they know the drill and are very well behaved.  One of them I'd love to steal from his owner.  Absolutely gorgeous draft cross with a beautiful flaxen mane and a wonderful personality.  He does 3 day eventing, but is also a stellar trail horse.  I met him in passing on a poker ride a couple years ago, and he stuck in my mind so well that I recognized him when he came for his dental work.

When we got home, Jasper took off for the pasture, and all three of them had fun running and bucking, then settled down to graze.  When I brought them in for their nightly feed, Jasper still did the yawning and stretching thing that tells me there might still be feed getting trapped in there, but it had a different quality to it.  More yawning and less working his tongue like he's trying to dislodge food.  I'm hoping it will stop after a few days as he gets used to his new mouth and the sores in his cheeks heal.

I was lazy for the rest of the day yesterday, had a nap, loved on all the critters, watched TV, and enjoyed the daffodils on the hillside.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Times

   Today I had every intention of riding, but I trimmed hooves instead, then we just had some quiet time.

I was standing rubbing his cheek, and he offered me his ear, and let me rub it all over, inside and out, even the tip.  That was a very nice moment.

His ears are cuter than any Easter Bunny's.

 Don't you agree?

Oh, the sweet and relaxed cuteness.
(Don't mind the snot, spring=pollen & everyone has snot right now.) 

  We played kissy-face.  Could you resist kissing this face? 

Then I sat in the pasture and watched them eat.

Bella coyly wandered over, looking so sweet, but her secret mission was to check my pockets for treats.

I told Scout, "Stop right there, mister!"  He's too naughty for close-up pocket checks.  He like to paw at any equine laying on the ground, and I'm not quite as tough as they are.

Jasper was catching up on the grass he missed out on while we were in the round pen.
 Then he burped, so I figured it was time to take them off the grass for the day.  They're not supposed to burp.

I headed into the grain bin to mix together some flax seed, vitamins, and grass pellets, to lure them back into the drylot.

Scout and Bella came trick-or-treating:

 Jasper stood outside doing his distinctive mule nicker. 
 Then they all followed me in to the corral and lived happily ever after.  :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

So much for good weather

It's blowing sideways today, so I'm spending my day inside.  Yuck.  But my house is kinda clean now.

I'm hoping for a still moment later in the day to go out and pick hooves and maybe get Jasper out of the pasture for a bit.  We shall see.

I can't wait to see in his mouth when he gets his dental done.  I just realized that's less than a week away!  Yay!  I am wondering if his teeth are catching and that might be why he is having trouble with bringing his nose back toward his chest.  The lower jaw needs to slide freely forward and back for that to happen, and if there are hooks, waves or prominent ridges, it won't slide freely.  It might just be a mental thing.  Regardless, judging by how he acts like he has food stuck in his cheek after eating pellets, I think the dental is going to be good for him.

Now I'm off to buy Easter candy.  :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

All Ears

Yesterday I went riding with a very nice lady who owns racing mules.  I met some champions and met the first cloned equine, and I rode a retired race mule.  He isn't really all that speedy anymore, even though he's only 11 years old.  He's a show mule now, with a pretty spotted appaloosa butt.

 My ulterior motive was to pick her brain about mules, considering she owns so many and has had them in her life for so long.  But as you can see my mount wasn't really wanting to walk with them.  We'd catch up every now and then, but her friend was really a talker and I never got much of a word in.  Then we'd fall behind again.  It was fun though, and it was the longest ride I've been on yet this year.  My butt was feeling it today.

Today I finally had a decent ride on my own mule!  It lasted more than 5 minutes and we worked on basic communication. He is a very mobile boy, and he seems to be happier when he's moving, although he doesn't really have trouble standing still either.  I had no problem mounting up using the mounting block, and off we went!  He did well in the Myler bit. 

He looks kinda goofy in all my mismatched, cheap tack.  But if you ignore that, he's darn cute!
We had a little talk about his ear sensitivity after that, and I'm feeling a little torn about it.  I'd like him to get over that but it's really a deeply ingrained thing.  If you touch his ears right he loves it (gradually, sliding your hands into position), but if you accidentally bump them even the slightest bit or get anywhere near them with the reins or rope, he totally overreacts and jerks his head very abruptly with a bit of a grunt. It's usually unexpected and fairly startling.  And when I attempted to slip my rope reins over his head - boy howdy!  He didn't like that.  I was expecting a reaction so I wasn't caught off guard.  Luckily the bridle was already off his head and he didn't get his mouth jerked on.  So we worked on allowing me to touch, and I think we made some progress, but I'm not sure.  Afterward he buried his face against me and just wanted to be loved, so I don't think he's going to hold it against me, but again I'm not sure.  I think tomorrow I won't make such an issue of it.  We'll work on it again another day.  We don't have to get this all done immediately, after all.  It's more important that he feel safe with me.

Everyone got their nasty dewormer today too.  They didn't love me for it, but they didn't give me any real trouble.

I can't wait for tomorrow!  More nice weather and muleplay!  :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Precious Cargo

Tonight we quickly practiced trailer loading.  I have to hurry home from work tomorrow and load them up to take to the spring health clinic.  I wanted to know what to expect with them, and they didn't disappoint.
Both of the boys did great.  Jasper had a couple false starts getting halfway in and backing back out, but the third try was the charm.  It was uneventful, but Jasper was still nervy, not knowing what to expect I'm sure.  He probably thought he was in for another long ride to a strange place.  I let them stand for about a minute, then unloaded them and put them away.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

And Now Back to Our Regular Schedule

Jasper can be the center of my attention again.  :)

He's happier now that he's part of the herd.  He even tolerates my naughty dogs but you can tell he doesn't love them.

The last two days we've been trying on the Myler combo snaffle.
Yesterday he thought it was odd and he mouthed it quite a bit, but today he didn't seem to care much.  Except it is SO awkward to get in his mouth.  It was bad enough with Bella and a regular bridle.  The noseband and chin strap are one circle of string, and they insist on falling down and getting caught on chin and nose as you slip the bit in.  Jasper's bridle is the kind with the poll strap that snaps behind the left ear, so I'm trying to hold all the top up while slipping the bit in and it's a disaster, but he's mostly patient about it.  I tried tying a string from the noseband to the browband, but I don't think it really helped.

I've been giving him some gradually increasing pasture time.  I don't know how much he will tolerate, so I'm trying to be cautious.  I'd like to be able to leave him out for 12 hours from morning until evening (pasture grasses are lowest in sugar in the morning and gradually increase throughout the day) but that may be too long.  I'll keep a close eye on him as I try to figure it out.  He's definitely not fat, so that's a plus.

He has an appointment to have his teeth done on the Monday after Easter.  I'm super excited.  I can't wait to see what's going on inside his mouth.  He's never had dental work before.  He sometimes seems like he gets feed trapped in his cheek.

In other equine news, it's really interesting to put your horses in weird situations and see how wrong you were about them.  :)  I always thought Scout and Bella could eventually be good kids' horses because they both have pretty mellow temperaments, and Bella is such a mother, but they really didn't hold up well to the kid test this weekend.  Bella is too sensitive (but she was really good for me, especially after a year with no riding at all).  She's great on the ground, but put a kid in the saddle and her eyes get huge and she can barely breathe.  Scout is really bad about testing to see what he can get away with (over and over again if necessary), and he is definitely smarter than I gave him credit for.  He knew he had Kaia's number, and she doesn't have any background in horsemanship, so it could eventually lead to disaster.  Bob was totally traumatized about being ridden.  Kaia rode him while I rode Scout, and he was definitely only doing what he wanted to do, but afterward he really thought we were going to beat him.  Every time I'd move he'd jerk his head away.  Whoever instilled that fear in such a quiet old soul... I just can't fathom it.  Pedro I didn't even try.  He's on drylot and bored out of his mind, not to mention frustrated.  He could have used the attention but he was also being naughty with his head in our space.  With a head that big, someone could get hurt.  Jasper got some loving but was mostly left out of the kid stuff.  I don't know him well enough yet, and I don't want to subject him to something that is going to rattle him or get one of the kids hurt.

Everything went well though, and it was a great visit.  I'm looking forward to more quiet time with my mule now.  Scout is ready to hit the trails, but Jasper and I still have to figure each other out a little better.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Playing Horsie

Della is here! Of course Kaia wants to ride, and we don't have any kids' horses anymore, so we're doing the best we can with what we have. And it's still fun, but Katia would really like to ride outside the round pen.

Sweet, responsive Bella doesn't like to be ridden by kids, even though she loves them. I had to explain that it's not a height or size thing, it's just that kids are too wiggly. She's sensitive. If she was sound there might be good reason to get her over that, but it's definitely not a main goal of mine.

Scout was really good after a little reminder about manners.  He really makes a person work hard though. He's so lazy!

Bob might have actually been more responsive at times. Jasper's saddle worked well for him, but everything was adjusted a bit big. 

 I think she's having fun. I know I am.
Jasper and I got to play a bit too, but I didn't take pictures.