Blog .:. February 2012 6 Entries

Little Steps in a Big New World

27 February 2012 Comments

Things are finally drying out here and the turnout paddocks are usable again, so everyone is getting back in to a normal routine.

For Aiden, this means establishing a routine.

When the barn owner gets round bales again, Aiden will be out in the group turnout 24/7. Until then, he’ll be out with the group during the day and out with Ro at night, so I can feed them both extra hay.

Since the arena dried out more quickly than the paddocks, Aiden and Ro have already been turned out together and get along fine as far as that goes.

They are still adjusting to night turnout a little.

Ro believes all the hay is hers, even though it’s spread out in half a dozen piles across the entire paddock.

Aiden thinks hay is hay, and he’d be happy to cede any pile to her that she wants, but he’d appreciate it if she would make up her mind instead of chasing him off every pile he stops at.

They are figuring it out. Ro is chasing him off fewer piles before she settles down and starts eating. I honestly think that half the problem here is that Ro desperately wants to be the boss, and Aiden could care less who the boss is. He’s not challenging her, but he doesn’t seem entirely convinced that she’s as bad-ass as she thinks she is.

Meanwhile, Aiden was also introduced to the group turnout on Saturday.

He’s been out in the arena with the most likely bully, and they got along fine together. He’s met most of the horses over the fence.

And on Saturday, all but one of the horses were out being ridden. I put him out with the remaining horse. She is aptly nicknamed Goldfish, due to her total lack of an attention span.

They checked each other out and Aiden ambled around, and that was about it. I was hoping to see them play a little more—I’ve seen Goldfish play tag with the goat before, so I know she’s in to games—but they pretty much ignored each other.

Then the other horses were turned back out.

It was like a switch flipped on in Aiden, and he started cantering circles through the group, trying to get them to play. Goldfish obliged this time, but after a few minutes, the boss mare had had enough and chased Aiden off.

He retreated to a far corner of the turnout and stood there thinking.

This was not a defeated, outcast pony.

This was the class clown, sitting in the corner of the room, trying to decide just how mad the teacher was and whether or not he could risk flying a paper airplane across the room.

Nothing very exciting happened while I was watching, but I heard that later on he managed to get everyone cantering around with him.

I am thrilled to see a little bit of a trouble maker coming out in him.

He has been a total pocket pony, soaking up any attention people want to send his way. But he’s also sort of just… watched and waited. Sweet but reserved? Something like that.

It’s good to know he’s coming out of his shell, and I think the group turnout will give him plenty of chances to play—and plenty of lessons in herd dynamics from the mares.

And Ro. Poor Ro. I’ve seen her with Aiden when she thinks no one is looking, and she’s not nearly as witchy as she wants everyone to think she is. I suspect that she’s remembering that having a turnout buddy is more fun than not having one.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Goldfish, Horses - Ro

Today was eventful, and other understatements

20 February 2012 Comments

I lost my phone last night.

If you recall, this is the phone that is so old and obsolete that it’s been turned in to lost and founds twice.

So normally, losing my phone is a temporary inconvenience: once I figure out where I had it last, I can always go pick it up.

This morning, however, I was supposed to be meeting two people at the barn, so it was not a good day to be phoneless.

But what can you do? It was lost and no amount of searching was turning it up. I left for the barn.

A friend was meeting me there, so she got to meet Aiden. I turned him out in the arena; it was still pretty waterlogged, but it was dry enough that I felt ok leaving him out for a few hours. I was going to show him off, but he wandered around like the old soul that he is.

The saddle fitter showed up shortly after, and Ro was popping out of her skin (high protein diet + limited turnout/work opportunities for a week = one wound up horse). It’s sad when an eighteen-month-old has better ground manners than the six year old.

We got her to stand still long enough to do a few last checks on the saddle, then I tossed her out with Aiden.

All that done, my friend and I left to run our errand. When we came back, instead of the quiet, water-logged barn I was expecting, the place was packed with trailers and families.

And the arena, which had looked days from being rideable just four hours before, was dry enough to ride in. Which was why, apparently, the barn was packed—some boarders were out, a couple lesson students were out, and a drill team had trailered in to practice.

We popped my horses back in their stalls and my friend headed home. I was planning to leave and come back later, and then decided better of it.

My saddle was back, after all, and I had boots in my car. Ro had been turned out for several hours, so I figured she had used up the worst of her energy.

I tacked her up quickly and we joined everyone in the arena.

Here’s how much Ro has matured:

The guys had let the steers in the chute that runs along the arena, so the steers could graze on grass for a bit.

The drill team was working on their pattern in the middle of the ring.

Kids were playing on the swingset right by the ring.

A couple boarders and a couple lesson kids were cantering around the rail.

Neighborhood kids were running 4-wheelers and motorized bikes and such along the road by the arena.

The neighbors were playing around with big trucks on their property.

Ro… was perfect. Not a spook, not a foot wrong, and a productive ride in between all the things going on in the arena.

Also, somehow I committed to being a stand-in rider for the next drill team practice if they are short a horse.

And I rode sidesaddle, on one of the drill team’s horses. Only at a walk, because it was hard enough for me to manage that (talk about a different balance point!) but it was pretty cool.

By the time I put Ro up, she seemed relieved to see her stall. It was a nice change from all the jumping out of her skin that she’d done that morning, and with the arena dried out, we can get back into work again (well, for a few days—I hear rain is forecast for later this week).

I put her up, cleaned all the mud off Aiden, and headed to the grocery store. I was hoping against hope that my phone had been turned in to the lost and found, but no such luck.

No luck either with having people call my phone while I was in my apartment.

And that bummed me out, because that meant my phone was well and truly lost.

Like it or not, I was going to have to buy a new phone. Probably a smart phone.

After a brief mourning period, I went online to suspend service to the phone, only to find out that AT&T was doing an upgrade and my account wasn’t available. Instead, there was a friendly “Call this number…” message.

Hey, AT&T? Consider this: if people need tech support? They may not actually be able to call. On account of how their phones are broken. Or in my case, lost. So it would be really helpful if you had a non-phone tech support option for us.

Just saying.

That was really a bummer. I couldn’t suspend service, and I couldn’t order a new phone.

I went to get a cider out of the fridge, figuring I could at least curl up with a good drink and a good book and hope AT&T got its act together soon.

And, um, I found my phone.

It was in the case of cider.

I must have dropped the phone in the bag when I was unloading my car last night, and it landed in the case. Then it went into the fridge and I just never noticed it. And the battery died, which is why I never heard it ring when my friends tried calling.

I’m not complaining, mind you. This means I don’t have to go buy a smart phone—I just have to find my charger. Which is at work. I hope.

Tagged: Cows, Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Ro, Riding, Riding - Sidesaddle, Tack & Equipment

Changing of the Seasons

14 February 2012 Comments

Winter is on its way out and spring is on its way in.

This means the horses are all shedding their winter coats, and Ro is shedding her winter inhibitions.

She was throwing herself at all things two-legged today—so they could scratch her itchy coat—and all things four-legged today—so they could scratch another itch, so to speak.

I am seriously considering trying a marble on her this year. I don’t particularly want to deal with Regumate or any other artificial hormone therapy, but I’m not keen on watching her try to molest the geldings every month. My vet will be out in the next couple weeks to booster Aiden’s vaccinations, so I’ll talk to him then.

It’s just embarrassing to own a horse who, if she were human, would have an “All Aboard” tramp stamp in six languages, you know?

Meanwhile, Aiden is doing fine. He did indeed discover that wormer tubes are awful things, and the last two days we’ve had quiet discussions about them, but we are done with the PowerPac now. He’s starting to shed out his coat a bit as well, although not as quickly as Ro. He was really pretty good about picking up his feet tonight, although the thrush is not responding as well as I’d like. If I don’t start seeing some progress in that soon, I’ll get my vet involved—but I’m hoping that the fact that he is becoming less reactive when I pick out his feet is an indication that things are improving.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Ro, Weather

Life goes on

10 February 2012 Comments

Things are settling into a quiet routine here.

Aiden’s feet have had their first trim. There is still a lot of work to do, but the plan is to work on them slowly, every couple of weeks. However, he already seems to be walking a little more comfortably.

The day we did the front feet, he behaved about how you’d expect a baby with no experience to behave. Not bad, but definitely not good either. I think part of the problem is that the fronts are fairly thrushy, and probably a little tender and sore from that. We ended up stopping once the fronts were done and calling it a night.

A couple days later we did the back feet. This time, we had reinforcements lined up—someone stronger than me to hold him, so he couldn’t barge forward at will, and a twitch. We gave him the benefit of the doubt when starting, though, with me holding him and not using the twitch. I’m glad we did, because he was very well behaved. It helped that he was being hand-fed hay, I think, but whatever it takes to make it a positive experience is fine by me.

When I was cleaning out his front feet tonight he was still pretty bad about them, but we’ll get there. He’s not mean or obnoxious about it, so I think it will just take patience, repetition, and lots of rewards when he’s good. He’ll get it. He’s pretty smart.

His mane and feathers are still there.

This is not, if you know me at all, a given. Hairy horses just make me roll my eyes, and not in a “I’m going to faint because I’m so overwhelmed by the romanticism of it” kind of way, if you know what I mean. But I have had several people promise to kill me if I cut his hair off, so I am behaving. For now.

I also finally got the PowerPac today, so deworming has begun. He seemed pretty clueless about the dewormer tube when he first saw it, but he was thoroughly disgusted with me afterwards. I suspect it will not be so easy tomorrow.

Ro, meanwhile, still hates him and is as jealous as a horse can be. It’s been iffy on whether or not I’ve been able to ride with one thing and another, but we’re getting in some saddle time.

And that’s life in the quiet lane.

Tagged: Groundwork, Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Ro

Run, run for your lives!

5 February 2012 Comments

When I was growing up, we had the world’s most awesome dog, a lab mix of some sort. She was super smart—she had a whole trick routine that involved my father calling her over to give her her deployment orders (hey, we were a military family), then she would salute, then they’d shake hands, then he’d send her down the hall and call her back through all sorts of imaginary hazards (so she’d crawl, roll over, dance, etc). When she got back, she’d salute and shake hands again.

So I thought I could teach her to walk off a leash without any problem.

We went for a stroll around our neighborhood, and all was going well, right up until a little chihuahua came running out of its yard and chased my dog two blocks back to our house. When I caught up with them, Sam was quaking on the porch, curled up in the tiniest, most miserable ball she could make, and the chihuahua was yapping at the bottom of the steps.

I never tried walking Sam off a leash again, and I never thought I’d see such a ludicrous example of Small Thing Intimidates Big Thing again.

Until today.

Ro is afraid of Aiden.

Granted, there is not a huge difference in their heights—he’s about 13h, she’s about 14.2-14.3ish. Six inches? Not too bad.

But she’s a grown horse and he’s a baby. He ambles around. He backs away from mean witchy mares.

I was sure Ro would put him in his place and that would be that.

Instead, Ro took one look at him and galloped off. His ears perked up and he cantered after: Awesome! Let’s play!

She swerved out to the rail and galloped faster.

He couldn’t keep up, so he swung into the center and cantered little circles, happy as a clam.

Really, he couldn’t have been lunging her more effectively if he tried.

I ended up having to catch Ro a couple times and let her get her brain back, but they did settle down.

Which is to say, Ro went and hid in the furthest corner possible while Aiden stared at her with a bemused expression on his face.

Every once in a while, Ro would canter a lap around the arena and then go back to her corner, blowing and snorting.

When she passed Aiden, he’d cock his head at her: Srsly?

Poor Ro.

Fortunately she won’t have to suffer long—I’m just using the arena for a bit of turnout because we’ve been rained out (yay!) and the turnout paddocks are unusable. Once they dry out, Aiden will be hanging out in the big 24/7 group turnout.

And Ro can go back to her princess life. Maybe she’ll appreciate it more now that she’s seen there is an alternative, and it’s small and bay and fuzzy…

Tagged: Dogs, Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Ro

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