Blog .:. August 2010 7 Entries
For some reference, the barn we are in has stalls with attached runs. The stalls have wood walls, but the stall doors and the runs are pipe. I padded (duct tape over pool noodles) a couple parts of Ro’s setup.
First, the top rail of her stall door. The pipe is rough and she was rubbing her chest raw against it. Easy fix:
It looks good, right?
Here’s the problem. I firmly believe home improvement type things should be Somebody Else’s Problem. I am awesome with words. Hammer and nails? Not so much. So when I padded the rail, I was standing on the outside of the stall and my non-engineering brain did not quite catch on to the inevitable issue caused by working on that side of the door:
That’s right. I padded the outside of the rail, not the inside. My pool noodle was not nearly as wide as I thought it was. Despite my error, it’s working just fine—the rubs on her chest have disappeared. I probably could have skipped the pool noodle and just taped over the rail.
I can’t take credit for the idea. You can see the colored tape in the distance where some other people have already done similar things to their stalls. Some of them have also taped up one of the vertical support rails, but Ro isn’t rubbing on that so I haven’t bothered.
The other part of the stall that needed padding are the ends of the pipes where the run meets the stall:
The pipe ends aren’t capped, which you can see from the bottom rail. You can see my temporary fix on the middle rail; I still need to get to the home improvement store and find some more durable caps. But first I need to remember to measure the diameter of the pipes.
I am off from work this week.
To my coworkers’ utter confusion, I am remaining in town. I mean, who wouldn’t want to stay in hot and humid Houston in August when they could get away?
Actually, I hadn’t thought this through. I see where they are coming from now.
What I was thinking was “hey, cool, boot camp!”
I’m getting extra lessons on a schoolmaster so that I stop flapping around like a monkey in canter transitions. Ro is getting extra work sessions so (hopefully) she will start to realize she is a horse and not a giraffe.
Since she’s working hard, I thought I’d be nice and also give her some extra hand grazing time. I’ve been letting her run free on the property for a little while each day, since her idea of “run free” is to graze in place for an hour.
Today? Not so much.
She saw an opportunity and started ping-ponging around the property. In deference to the heat, she stayed at the trot. She made it clear, however, that she had no intention of being caught.
You know how they say people can run faster than horses over short distances, because people only have two legs to coordinate? The people running those tests clearly never tried to catch a horse that doesn’t want to be caught.
If I were being brutally honest, I’d admit that it was the slowest chase in history, with Ro only trotting as far as she had to go to snatch some grass while I caught up (at a walk). And I’d admit that it only lasted about ten minutes before she decided even trotting in the heat was too much work. But that would be a rather sad chase indeed, so imagine something spectacular, would you?
After I caught her and the horse she coaxed to trot along with her, cooled them out, and put them up, I went into her stall to explain the consequences of her actions.
“You’re grounded,” I said. “Hand grazing only from now on. On a lead rope. And only for as long as I want to stand in the sun, which is much less time than I was willing to sit in the shade and watch.”
“So we’ll do it again tomorrow?” she asked.
“No, grounded. No more. Ever again.”
And then I realized I was trying to reason with a horse.
I blame the heat. The sun. Whatever mental defect caused me to stay in Houston in August instead of going someplace cool, like the Sahara.
- Make sure your horse’s ground manners are generally good. She should halt immediately when you say “Whoa! WHOA! Good gir—no, don’t move! Don’t mov—good girl. Stand there. Just stand. No, WHOA!”
- Pick a strategic location to start her training. Avoid the barn aisle outside her buddy’s stall or a place in sight of the feed room/hay shed.
- Place your brushes, saddle, bridle, and everything else you need to tack up nearby.
- Lead her to the location where you want her to ground tie. Halt her and tell her she’s a good girl and feed her a treat.
- Move away a step or two to grab a brush. Remove horse from back pocket and return her to the location where you want her to ground tie.
- Repeat Step 5.
- Repeat Step 5.
- Move away a step or two to grab your saddle. Fetch horse from the far end of the barn aisle and return her to the location where you want her to ground tie.
- Repeat Step 8, this time fetching horse from the hay shed.
- Give up, tie horse, and finish tacking up. Go ride.
- Repeat above process after your ride, in reverse.
- Turn horse out. Watch her immediately bury her head in the grass/hay and not move for the next half hour. Success!
The barn is located near a firing range. Ro could care less about random gun shots at this point.
That barn camp that was going on? Ro is now unfazed by soccer nets, swimming pools, slip-n-slides, horseshoe pits, and newly-painted barrels.
She will walk over a wooden bridge (of sorts) and practically fall asleep in the scary wash rack.
She stands quietly to have her legs wrapped and can work calmly in the arena alone, with horses she knows, or with horses she doesn’t know.
A dirt bike was running up and down the road yesterday, and after one spook she went right back to work on the lunge like it was nothing at all to worry about. In the dark—I’m not sure I’ve ever worked her in the dark before.
She’s learning to back up under saddle, lengthen or shorten her stride at the walk, and do turns on the forehand.
And she still thinks the port-a-potty will kill her, unless I walk between her and it.
I’m starting to wonder if she knows something about the port-a-potty that I don’t know.
The plan for today:
Get up at an ungodly hour, run out to the barn, wrap Ro, work from home for a couple hours, go back to the barn to meet the vet for some routine stuff (Coggins, vaccs, hand-holding about the stocked-up leg), finish work.
No big deal, right?
Everything went well, up until the “wrap Ro” bit. I wrapped the left, stocked-up leg, and then thought about the right leg. It’s 100+ degrees here during the day. Her right leg is not stocking up. She’s not favoring either leg. I’d be back in a couple hours to unwrap for the vet anyway. Despite having been drilled that you always wrap the opposite leg if you’re going to wrap at all, I figured she’d be fine with just the left leg wrapped. I wrapped and left.
I had barely settled in to work when the vet called to say he was running early. I called another owner who was sharing the farm call to let her know the vet was on his way and headed out to the barn.
The other owner met me as I was walking in, looking worried. “I don’t know what Ro did… she was fine a minute ago…”
My brain shut off a little, because “I don’t know what she did” probably meant “there’s blood involved.” I can handle blood, as long as I don’t think too hard about it. And, you know, it’s not mine.
Somehow Ro managed to scrape a big chunk of hide off her right hind cannon. I stared at it, nicely insulated from the blood (not very much, actually) by my shut-down brain. Then my brain woke up just enough to remind me that if I had wrapped the right leg like I should have, this wouldn’t have happened at all. Thanks, Brain. Where were you at Ungodly Hour of the Morning when I was making bad decisions?
I still don’t know what she did—kicked herself, scraped it on the pipes in her run, spontaneously shed skin to remind me that horses are expensive and vet bills inevitable?
I hosed her off, verified it was pretty superficial, slapped some gauze and vet wrap on it, and waited for the vet.
On the one hand: I’ve owned her for a week and she’s spent most of that tormenting me with minor injuries. Horses shouldn’t do that to owners inclined to be paranoid. It gets expensive. The vet, I’m sure, has already figured out that Ro + me = a new car for him in the near future.
On the other hand: if she has to be a goofball and scrape herself up like this, isn’t it nice of her to do so when the vet is already on the way? I mean, her timing is pretty awesome. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have called the vet if he hadn’t already been on the way. But since he was there…
Added to the routine vaccinations she was getting: tetanus booster.
Ro got tucked away again (both legs wrapped this time) and I went off to work.
However, Ro’s ability to apparently hurt herself on thin air inspired me to do what horse owners are always threatening to do: put their horse in a padded stall.
After work, I stopped by Big Box Store and picked up supplies. In case you weren’t getting enough funny looks buying routine horse health care stuff at the grocery store, try walking around in breeches and chaps while carrying a pool noodle and black duct tape.
I’ve padded the parts of the stall that she is most likely to hurt herself on. I’ll have to pick up another noodle to pad the less likely spots. Really. Seriously. I am for-real making a padded stall for her.
Someone ought to make a padded room for me.
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