Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Boys

Pedro and Duncan are getting along well. They aren't best friends but I think the potential is there. Duncan is pushy because he's scared (usually the low man in the herd), and Pedro only slightly responds to his snarky looks. Pedro is a bold soul.

Pedro is also a shameless beggar.
 He always knows when I have treats.

Speaking of treats, using them as a reward during hoof handling lessons with Duncan is turning out to be only slightly helpful, so I'm changing tactics. If he can't hold still, I'll move him a little more than he wants to. We'll see how it goes. He's so sensitive, and yet kind of resistant. I have to be very careful about how I present my energy, while also expecting specific results. I guess that's true of any interaction with any horse, you just have to dial it up or down according to the situation and individual.

Huckleberry and Blue are still having the same armed truce they usually do. They still aren't allowed to go outside together, but inside they're ok.

My back is still pretty fragile but I'm trying to get back to life as usual. I have the next week off of work because my boss is on vacation. Hopefully I'll be good as ever by the time I go back. I need to start doing some strengthening exercises, but as with the horse work, it's a bit of a balancing act between benefit and damage.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

It's been a rough couple of weeks but this morning I actually feel kind of good.

Pedro is doing fine without Bob. I kept the horses next to him for 2 weeks and now I'm trying out having him and Duncan live together, since Bella and Scout don't like either of them very much. (Bella tolerates them and Scout is kind of a jerk.) It's going well so far. Duncan claimed the right to move Pedro, but they're sticking loosely together.

My two Aussie dogs, Huckleberry and Blue, tried to kill each other last weekend. Bastards. I know better than to stick my hands in the middle of a dog fight, but I did try my damnedest to break it up by lifting them bodily by their back skin, pulling on hind legs, smacking, kicking. I almost grabbed a shovel to beat them with, but I didn't want to hurt them and I didn't think it would get through to them.  Winston got involved, trying to help me, but luckily only ended up with a couple punctures to his jowls. I finally screamed to the house for help, but it took incredibly long for anyone to hear me and get outside. When John came out it distracted them and they separated, and I laid down on Huckleberry while he got the other two inside.

Huck ended up with some severe bruising, a tear, and 2 big punctures in his leg, plus some other superficial stuff. He's healing well on antibiotics. He sure looked ridiculous wearing a shirt to keep him from licking.

Blue had some minor injuries but he's ok.

If they weren't so fluffy they would have done a lot more damage to each other.

We're not letting them out together anymore. They're mostly fine in the house, aside from a few dirty looks. They really don't like each other. Blue is a jerk, an Huck doesn't always want to take it. This is nothing new, just much worse this time.

That was the closest I've ever been to using hysterical strength, repeadly lifting two 70 pound dogs who were latched together at the face. My fingernails were bruised from gripping and pulling so hard. I ended up with my lungs compromised from breathing so hard for so long  in the cold air and serious back pain. I couldn't even sit down comfortably. Today I'm starting to almost feel human again. Almost. It feels good.

I wonder, did my involvement in the fight possibly make it worse? If I had walked away maybe they would have stopped. For sure Winston wouldn't have gotten involved. What do you think?

The weather is finally bearable today. I've been out to socialize with the equines 3 times already. :)

Ears to longer days!

Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas! Much happiness to all, no matter your favorite holiday.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I might be gone a while

I think I'll probably be taking a break from the blog for a bit. It's time to put Bob down and I can barely stand it. He can't get up anymore without hurting himself. He has big sores on his hocks and one leg is very swollen, hot, and painful.

I'm not sure how Pedro is going to handle it. He's still not well himself, and I think he is going to be very unhappy from here on out.

Knowing it was coming sure doesn't make it any easier.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The wind and the rain and the hail come high

We don't have hail, but we have wind and rain in abundance. I swear, I'm not a total slacker. I just don't like working with the horses when it's windy and wet and cold. Which is why I haven't been writing much. 

I do have photographic evidence of the disgusting weather. Sopping wet horses. Of course they refuse to stand inside.

Today we might see a lot of downed trees and wind damage, as the whole region did a few weeks ago. I'm crossing my fingers my friends and family and we will come through it unscathed again. I am always so thankful that our water is gravity-fed, if the power goes out. 

What do you do on days when it's too disgusting outside? I read a lot, whine a lot, cook, and sometimes condition tack. I like to crochet but haven't got much use for the finished products. Maybe I should make an afghan. What I really should do is clean my house. Blech.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Slacking & Laminitis

I've had a cold, so I've been taking it easy and I haven't done much of anything with Duncan other than feed him.

Yesterday I got him out and we went for a very brief walk, then "worked" in the round pen. It wasn't really work. I asked him to do a little moving around in a circle on-line, then worked with handling his feet. He did great! He picked up his front feet like any horse would. Hind feet we're still working on, but we made progress there as well.

On another note, Pedro had a pretty painful lamimitis episode after I confined him for the leg injury. All I did was restrict his movement and give him more grass hay. Recipe for disaster, it turns out. He wasn't in the classic laminitic stance, and he didn't spend all his time lying down, but he was really hurting.

Now I'm soaking his hay (which is super fun in the winter), he has lots of soft bedding, and a higher dose of Bute. Oh, and a fair amount of magnesium. He seems fine now, when the ground isn't frozen.

I really do think he probably has cushings. I should start researching that again. It's been years since I knew anything much about it. I know the standard treatment is expensive and sometimes impossible to get, but there are other options... Hmmm...

Oh! And Friday morning, Bella had a spectacular lapse of good judgement. I would really like to know why. She went throught the fence and actually broke a t-post below the ground. I can't fathom why she would do that. She doesn't have any visible injuries although I'm sure she probably has some bruises I can't see. Luckily the boys didn't get out and I was still able to get to work before the clinic opened, if not as early as I like to get there.

Equines do keep life interesting. What would I do without them?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Saddles make me happy

I sold my donkey saddle about a week ago. It was hard to let go of, but I needed a saddle for Duncan, and I probably never will ride the donkeys again. (Now I'm thinking I need a cart and harness... Someday.) They are okay with just being pets.

Yesterday I found an amazing deal on a Crates saddle, so I drove all evening after work, on icy roads, and I got it.

Duncan doesn't seem to mind it at all. And I love how lightweight it is! I know lightweight means lower quality, but I'm cool with that. My back will thank me for it, especially when I throw it up there repeatedly for training.

Bella checked it out but she was muddy so I didn't try it on her. I'm guessing she's too wide for it.

I'm not ready to cinch it up yet, but he packed it around with a pad for a bit.

Scout was either just being a butt, or he didn't like it. That's ok, it's not for him.

It was too cold and windy to do much else outside today. I am eagerly looking forward to spring already.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Duncan, pick up your feet!

We made excellent progress yesterday on hoof handling! It was a very good feeling. I had forgotten the rather frustrating difference between a horse who doesn't know how to pick up its feet and a horse who knows how not to pick up his feet.
Pretty nice for only being trimmed once in 8 years

Supposedly his hinds have never been trimmed

He isn't mean about it, he just doesn't want to do it. He backs up, moves sideways, etc. When he first came here I couldn't even touch the top of his leg without him nervously sidling away. It didn't take long before he would stand still while I rubbed his legs. He wasn't getting the picking up part very well though, and I recently hurt my back, so it was time to bring out the rope.

He isn't panicky or even worried about the rope, even when I let it drag as he walks. After all, this has been done before. The last person to work with him said she would get him good, and then the next time she tried he would be back to square one. I trust that will not be the case this time, with consistent work & no punishment. Just polite insistence. :)

When we finished I was able to hold his hoof up, rub all over his leg, pick his hooves, and even rasp a tiny bit off his toes. I didn't work with his hinds yet, but I think he will be easier with those. He lets me rub them all over without any movement.

I love his big thick legs! He's even sturdier than my mustangs. And all his super soft curls! It's like petting a foal.

Today the weather is gross, but I have to work, so I wouldn't be playing with the horses anyway. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pedro in Pain

We had a huge windstorm last week with no major damage on our property, but the next day Pedro was lame. Really lame. Swollen left front leg, holding it out in front of him. Considering he's a donkey, I thought it was most likely to be an abscess, but those don't usually swell up into the leg and the hoof wasn't hot, so he could have injured himself in the storm.

I let him choose how much movement he wanted and started him on some Bute. When he was unwilling to take more than two steps, even with meds onboard, I knew it was really painful.

When he didn't improve much by Friday, I decided to take him to the vet on Saturday. I got an inexperienced vet, but then there aren't many who know donkeys well. This guy was very impressed with how docile and willing my Pedro is. :)
Pedro was a little scared

Of course he was much better at the vet, because that's how it works, right? He didn't find any pain in any of his hooves, so it must be in the leg. He told me to keep on with what I was doing, and start cold hosing. Which I wasn't excited about in freezing weather. Then I remembered I have ice boots! I love these things.

My wonderful husband got all the stored junk out of the barn, which has had half-sized stalls for quite a while now. I have my barn back! Pedro and Bob are totally loving their roomy stalls. They hardly go outside at all.

Kitty prints in frost:

Duncan and I have been going for walks around the property. He often feels overwhelmed, but he's getting more relaxed. Funny worried face:

He was somewhat challenging to catch at his last home. Not here. :)

Soft, soft curls:

Winston got to go for a hike with us yesterday. He doesn't love long hikes, but this one was just right:

I have big plans today. Sweep the floors, play with my horse, clean stalls, go for a hike, work outside a bit. Rough life, eh?

Monday, November 09, 2015

Bringing Together

I did a lot of rearranging yesterday. Scout got to join Bella and Duncan. It was a totally anti-climactic event.  Then I put the donkeys in the neighboring pasture so Duncan could get used to them.

Pedro is so handsome. Even when he sticks out his tongue.

Bob (in the back, below) is doing great so far this fall. He even trots and lopes sometimes. I worry, with the hard times to come (monetarily), what will happen if I can't afford to feed him any more. He can't eat hay, so he is expensive to feed. Hopefully it won't come to that.

The neighbor cows came for a visit too. The whole herd was there until I started walking over, then they left.

 Duncan still worries about those scary donkeys.

I love the little white diamond on his butt.
I contacted the breeder that he came from yesterday, and she was not my type. More concerned with the state of the horse industry than about what's going on with the colt she raised. I also got some info from the place he boarded after leaving the breeder, and nothing had been done with him in his first 8 months, and he looked a little rough. I think he's had a string of uninvolved owners. Not any more!

In the evening we walked together over a mile, staying on the property. We even went up to the donkeys and shared treats through the fence. He is gaining a lot of confidence already.

When we got back, Scout wanted a treat too. Look at those big nostrils! He can smell a treat from a mile away. As you can see, Scout and Duncan are pretty comfortable with each other already, although Duncan would like a little more personal space.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Togetherness and baby steps

Bella and Duncan are getting along splendidly. She bosses him a little & he does what she says, so it's prettly peaceful. I'm not sure I even want to throw Scout into the mix, but I'll have to at some point.

Duncan is so hard to take pictures of. He's always right with me, and if I manage to get far enough away, it'll be at a weird angle or with bad lighting, or he's blinking. He blinks a lot. I think it might be his way of trying to cope when he's worried.
 He is not broke to ride, although he has been ridden with a saddle at least once, and sat on bareback. I don't have a lot of history on him. I do know he doesn't pick up his feet, so we've been working on that with some good results. He will now stand still rather than trying to get away when I rub his legs. He'll pick them up pretty well with a rope around them, but we still have some work to do.
 I dewormed him yesterday and learned that he doesn't like his mouth messed with. He learned that I'm pretty persistent. :)

I was considering riding Bella again but we just went for a walk and did some groundwork instead. It was too cold and windy do much more than that.

We also had a lovely little hike yesterday, all four of us two-legged types. My daughter is visiting for the weekend. It is so nice to have everyone together.