Monday, November 30, 2009

There's a light...

Here's an updated photo of Gwen's leg:

compare that to two weeks ago:

Now that's progress you can see!  Finally it's looking like she's going to heal in the near future.  Don't let all that grey stuff bother you, that's just the Equaide.  The hock joint was even less swollen than that, but the weather here has been nasty for the last week and a half and they've been stuck inside a lot -- so it's been filling with fluid.  Grrr. 

You may have noticed that Gwenevere is skinny, well I'm working on that.  She was on antibiotics for a long time and was getting probiotics to offset their affect on her stomach, but she didn't like the taste of the probiotics so she was really picky about eating her feed.  Then the vet suggested I give her some rice bran oil to pack some calories in and she hates the taste of that.  She'd just get mad and paw all the grain out of her pan.  So now I'm onto my Father-in-law's special Cornell Mix (he sells grain for a living, it's legit).  He said it's guaranteed to pack the weight on.  We'll have to see about that, but at least she likes it.  She actually licks the pan out now.  So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she's going to start filling out now.  With winter coming on strong she's going to need a bit of fat!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Loving Memory

Radal El Wadi


It was six years ago and here I am crying just posting these pictures.  He was my best friend and I miss him dearly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I learned how to pull manes today

But I thought that I had left my camera at home so I didn't take any pictures.  Of course I actually had it with me, sigh.

I actually expected them to not like it, but they didn't mind.  Horse hair pulls out a lot easier than human hair, so I guess it doesn't hurt that much.

Why am I learning how to pull manes now?  My horse growing up was an arabian.  I feel that arabians look silly with their manes pulled.  With their delicate heads and graceful necks, they really need a long, flowing mane.  Plus it's style, people with arabians generally don't pull their manes.

Quarter horses are different, unless they're used for reining, they get their manes pulled. 

So now my fingers hurt, but the quarters are looking stylish!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I know what the quarters are thankful for... a day nice enough for them to be turned out.


I turned Coriander out first and then brought Gwen out.  After I brought her through the gate and was turning around to close it, Coriander slipped out.  He says the grass in the lawn is much better than the grass in the pasture, crafty thing.  He'll be happy Tuesday, their pasture rotates on the first of the month.  Which is genius, I'm so doing that when we get our own place.

What am I thankful for?  The horsies of coursies!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eeking out some progress

Now that it's getting dark at 4:30 (blurg) I have to start spending some training time in the mini-indoor arena.  Last night I put a pole down in the middle and we worked on walking circles and figure 8s.  While it's great to have a space to work where there is light, it's really dusty, the footing isn't so great, and it's mini.  Trotting in there is out, my green gelding doesn't have a handle on being balanced trotting in the outdoor arena, in the mini-indoor he's a disaster.  I think until it gets light enough for me to ride outside after work, I'm going to do ground work and lunging with Coriander in the indoor during the week and only ride on the weekends when we can work outside.  So by February he should be a pro at doing those showmanship maneuvers.

Speaking of those, I got a new book in the mail last night that's full of some great groundwork exercises I'm going to do with both of the quarters, "Right from the Start: Create a Sane, Soft, Well-Balanced Horse" by Michael Schaffer.  We're going to work on leading exercises, ground tying, and introducing them to the bit from the ground.

After I put Coriander up, I got Gwen out and worked on picking up those hind feet.  I was telling a coworker of mine about how I haven't been able to pick them up -- she'll pick the foot up but slams it back down before I can hold it, if I do manage to get it she jerks it away while hopping around on three leg -- and she suggested looping a rope around her fetlock and holding her leg up with that.  Then I ran across this article, "My horse won’t lift his back feet to clean. Help!," suggesting the same thing and a link to a video of someone doing it (the filly in that video is so much calmer than Gwen).  So I gave it a try last night and got some improvement!  She still jerks that leg around but she wasn't able to slam it back down immediately and she didn't get as upset as she usually does.  So I'm going to keep it up.  We'll get there yet!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So what am I going to do with these horses?

I'd like to show.

I know almost nothing about showing: I have only the vaguest notion of what the different classes are, what the judges are looking for and how to have an appropriate turnout.  But I have always wanted to show, so, dang it, I'm going to do it.

So here's the tentative plan for Coriander:
  • Halter, just for shits and giggles.  He's a well made boy but he does have a clubbed left forefoot and he's sickle hocked.  I think for our first show or two halter may be all we'll do until I know he's comfortable in that atmosphere and I can trust him to listen to me under saddle.  
  • Showmanship at halter, cause why not?  If he can do halter he can do showmanship.  All we have to do is learn how to turn on the hindquarters, trot to a mark, back and square up.  We can do that.
  • Hunter under saddle, because I think he might be suited for it.  He's got a long, flat stride and that seems to be what the judges are looking for.  He also naturally holds his neck parallel to the ground, which also seems to be the ideal for that class.  I worry that he may be a bit bulkier than most judges prefer, but we'll have to see.
  • Trail, because it seems like fun.  
As of right now I have no plans for showing in western pleasure classes.  For one thing I ride english and for another I refuse to train him the way you have to to do well in that class.  I mean look at this crap: AQHA World Show Western Pleasure 2009.  Once you train a horse for that what else can they do?  Where's the versatility?  Why is it pleasant to ride/watch horses that look lame?  I won't do it.  But apparently change is afoot.  So maybe we'll try western pleasure in a few years when they actually decide they want the horses to go forward.

So hopefully he'll be ready next spring.  Of course I'll have to figure out how to get him to a show since I don't have a trailer, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I saw this halter in an add this morning, I'd like two please.  But seriously, they're $38 each, that's a lot of money for a novelty holiday halter.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    We had a lovely trot

    Since Gwen has a little residual swelling in her hock from her last infection, the vet suggested that I walk her between bandage changes to try to get the fluids moving.  So yesterday, since it wasn't dark yet, I decided to try a bit of trotting in hand to see if I could get her blood flowing a little.

    I'll interject a little background here: this mare had zero halter training prior to last May and when I got her in August it was still very difficult to halter her in her stall.  She's also extremely herdbound and still throws a fit every time I take her brother out of the barn without her.  Plus, because she's been injured, I haven't been able to do much with her other than groom her.  So given that, I was hoping she'd be good but was expecting a nervous, spooky, crazy horse (but thought, "at least that'll get the blood moving").

    She was lovely.  As soon as we got off the concrete heading away from the barn (and away from her brother), I asked her to trot and she stepped right up next to me pretty as you please.  She didn't try to run in front of me, or drag behind me, or even pull on the lead rope.  Nor did she spook or throw a fit, and we were heading AWAY from the barn.  I stopped and let her graze at the end of the driveway (about 300 yards from the barn) and then trotted back and she was still a total doll.  I think she even thought it was fun, her stride was completely relaxed and her ears were pricked forward.

    I think that's a great improvement for four months!  Now if only she'd let me clean out those hind feet...

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Serpentines on Sunday

    Here's my boy getting ready for our ride this morning.  That's a saddle pad I got for $4.50 (score), doesn't it look nice on him?

    He didn't get turned out yesterday and it showed.  I got a little more attitude from him today than usual.  A little head rolling and back humping, but a bunch of tight little circles helped him decide that he wanted to go forward again.

    After we got that out of the way we worked on serpentines and circles.  For me serpentines do two things: improve my steering skills and get him to pay attention to me.  I have a very bad habit of pulling my hand out to la la land when I'm asking for a turn, so serpentines give me a lot of opportunities to keep my hand next to his neck and really concentrate on using my seat and legs.

    Then we did a little trotting.  He's getting a lot more relaxed now and it's been easier to steady him at the corners so he doesn't careen around them, but we've still got a ton of work to do.  Plus it really throws him off when I change diagonals.  I have to remember to keep my leg on him when I do, otherwise he'll stop and walk.

    Overall I've been really happy with him.  He's really comfortable, super sensitive, and has a fantastic walk.  He walks the same under saddle as he does in the pasture; I feel pretty good about him being relaxed enough to do that.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    A glimpse in my war chest

    So after I posted yesterday's entry I thought it might be interesting to show how I bandage Gwen's leg. So here's a picture of everything I need to get started.

    Then the whole process begins:

    1. I clean the wound with water
    2. then I apply Equaide ("the proud flesh eliminator") to the wound.  I use an incredibly high tech tool for that... my finger
    3. over that I stick two non-adhesive pads, which actually stick to the wound most of the time - grrr
    4. then the white stable wrap goes on, I try to wrap it as high as I can over the front of the hock without covering the joint
    5. over that I strap on the remaining half of my tapeless hock holder, she destroyed the top half the first night it was on, I salvaged it because it keeps the top of the bandage from gapping and keeps the poo out
    6. then I give her a treat, she loves her licorice horse treats
    7. then over that goes the blue polo wrap, wrapped as tight as I can get it
    8. another treat
    9. finally the whole thing gets covered in vet wrap, the whole bandage feels like a cast when this is done
    10. a final treat
    Yup, it's a 10 step process.  Here she is waiting for it all to get started (crappy quality pic, but isn't she pretty?).  I specifically turned the flash off before I took this picture and somehow the camera turned it back on.  So she just about jumped out of her skin 1/4 second after this picture was taken.  Bad camera!  But she calmed right down, so she got an extra treat for that.


    Did you know that if you click on the pictures it takes you to the full size version? Pretty cool.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Oh what a beautiful morning

    The quarters are out enjoying another strangely warm November day.

    Notice the dirty gelding in the foreground. He likes to poo in the front of his stall, which is also where he likes to sleep at night, so guess what he's covered in everyday. Dirty pony. I guess I could groom him every morning while he's eating his pellets, but then I'd smell like poo all day. Betcha my coworkers would love that.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    My Lady of Perpetual Injury

    So a week after I got Gwen she tried to jump the fence. Fortunately and unfortunately I watched the whole thing happen. Though I was impressed that she managed to jump 3' from a standstill, I would have been more impressed if she had seen the top strand of wire. That way she would have cleared the whole thing and not ended up stuck between the strands. Then she wouldn't have ripped the front of her left hind leg off jumping back out.

    And thus began a saga...

    This mare refuses to heal. The accident happened around August 5, around August 10 her leg looked like this:

    The last time I took a picture, around November 14, her leg looked like this:

    Seriously, refuses to heal. I've learned a good lesson about nervous, hyper 4yo mares, they will gnaw on their legs like wolves. So I've got to keep it wrapped. Wrapping an injury that high in front of the hock and having it stay up? Almost impossible without massive amounts of really expensive elastikon (which she hates). But it is finally, finally looking better- believe it or not.

    I'll keep you updated.

    Intro post

    A picture of my quarters:

    Gwen is the pretty redhead with the blaze, Coriander (not his registered name) is the handsome liver chestnut standing next to her.

    They are both out of Extensive Bouquet, his sire is Mr By Mr and her sire is Shade of Conclusive.