Blog .:. April 2012 4 Entries

Dexter Finds His Brain

30 April 2012 Comments

And it’s a pony brain.

Sunday morning, I’m at home playing Minesweeper planning out all the things I need to get done when I get a text: Dexter is having a ball!

That’s great, I think. Then I wonder… Ro went to her new barn on Saturday, and Dexter is turned out alone in his paddock until we get him rotated back in with the barn owner’s horses. He’s a social little critter. I have a hard time seeing him tearing it up in his paddock all alone. So maybe someone put him out on the grass with the barn manager’s horses? That would be kind of cool.

I text back to find out.

A minute later, my phone rings. He’s out with the barn manager’s horses. They thought I put him out there, although they did think it was kind of weird that I’ve leave him out there all night.

Ah. I see.

Dexter is an escape artist.

There’s a weak spot in his paddock fence, and while he hasn’t challenged it before, apparently being turned out alone while his buddies were out on the grass was too much for him. I’m assuming he wiggled out through the weak spot.

They put him back in his paddock and tossed him some hay to keep him entertained, since he was galloping all over and distracting lesson people. When I went out later in the morning, he looked very pleased with himself. He’s a little scraped up, and his fly mask was in another horse’s paddock for reasons I don’t even want to know, but he had obviously been having fun and felt it was horribly unfair that he’d been tossed back in solitary.

He was going back into the group turnout last night, so hopefully that will keep him entertained enough not to try escaping again.

I should have known from the first time he went out in the group turnout, when the mares put him in his place and he retreated to a back corner… but was obviously plotting his next moves and not wallowing in remorse for overstepping the boundaries.

He’s cute. With a pony brain.

Lord help me. I’m going to need it.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Ro

When it sounds good in theory

23 April 2012 Comments

Stop and think of all the good theories that have been proven wrong.

The Earth is not the center of the universe. The Earth isn’t even flat!

And ponying Dexter (Aiden’s name was changed, for those not following along) off Ro? Good idea in theory. The sort of good idea that should have stayed a theory, probably.

After all, Ro is the queen of protecting her space, which appears to encompass a mile-wide bubble around her.

And Dexter is short and walks half as fast as she does.

Plus, he’s the herd boss.

No, really, he is.

Ro, for all her posturing, sucks at being in charge. She never follows through on threats and, consequently, ends up in the bottom of whatever group she’s in. She was like this with her brother, she is like this with Dexter. Heck, she even let a goat boss her around.

It only took a couple turnout sessions for Dexter to inform Ro that she was not the boss of him, which he did mainly by ignoring her nasty mare face and eating whatever hay pile he darn well wanted to eat, thank you very much. He doesn’t mind if she shares it, but he’s not going to go find another hay pile just because she says so.

So, as you might expect, attempting to pony Dexter from Ro meant that 1) Ro tried to speed off, while Dexter lagged behind; 2) Ro made nasty mare face and threatened to kick if he got too close; and 3) if Dexter so much as popped an eyebrow at her (so to speak), Ro tried to take off backwards and get away form the herd boss.

So… that went well. Not.

It ended up being a good lesson in “Ro will tolerate other horses in her bubble,” but most of that was done on the ground, not from the saddle. Oh well.

I think with more time, we could get the ponying thing worked out. And I probably will keep working on it a little bit this week, more for Ro’s benefit than Dexter’s. Although I suspect Ro would object to the word “benefit” there. Oh well.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Ro, Riding

Drama, Drama, Drama

15 April 2012 Comments

A month ago, one of the barn cats showed up three-legged lame. She is now living the life of Riley in my bathroom, which she thinks is awesome. The fact that she thinks a bathroom is awesome should give you some idea of how much she wants to be a house cat.

It turned out she broke all her toes on that foot (likely she was bitten by a dog or caught in a trap), but I can only keep her until she is healed up. I’m at my limit for cats per my lease. I’m trying to find her a home (hint, hint, Houston people) but so far no takers. But she purrs non-stop, practically jumps in my arms to get attention, and basically just loves her life right now. She didn’t love her splint so much, so she took it off (and looked rather proud of herself, too), but the vet was not concerned about that as long as she stays confined for another couple weeks.

Meanwhile, Mica, the kitten I picked up in October, was suddenly becoming super sweet. I was suspicious of that, but not suspicious enough, and sure enough—she came in heat.

Let’s just say I will never procrastinate on getting a cat spayed. Ever. Again.

And she IS spayed now. I took her to a spay/neuter clinic. When I went to pick her up, the technician gave me the hairy eyeball and said—in a very disapproving tone—“The next time you bring in a feral cat…”

Feral? Ok, granted, I call her the demon child—but feral?!

I guess she is channeling Pookie and will be one of those cats that is sweet and friendly(ish) to me but tries to disembowel everyone else.

The good news is that she seems to be staying a little sweeter and friendlier since being in heat and getting spayed. I’m not sure why, but I’m not going to argue with it.

And in the middle of all this, Ro got sick, too—went off her appetite and started acting lethargic and a little colicky. It took about two weeks for her to completely recover, but she is back to normal now.

As she proved yesterday. I picked up a load of hay and turned Aiden out on the grass to graze while I unloaded. Some other horses were already out, so I couldn’t put Ro out as well (Aiden gets along with everyone. Ro… not so much). She spent the next several hours hollering at me, in case I didn’t realize I’d forgotten to turn her out. So—definitely feeling better.

But my hay stall is clean and organized (and full of hay!) and I got a few other things organized a bit at the barn, so it was a productive afternoon anyway.

And Aiden, meanwhile, is doing just fine. I am going to rename him, because Aiden just doesn’t really suit him. Current front-runners (suggested by other people, since I pick out horrible names) are Dexter or Rubicon/Reuben. I’m waiting to see if either of these stick.

But with all that going on, you can see why I haven’t posted much. It’s been exhausting. Hopefully things are settling down now, though, and we’ll get back to something approaching normal.

Ro moves to a new barn at the end of the month, so that we’ll have a real dressage arena to work in. I’m very excited about that.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Luna, Cats - Pookie, Horses, Horses - Dexter, Horses - Ro, Injury & Illness

Looking for a Hand? (Product Giveaway!)

3 April 2012 Comments

Like most horse people, there are times when I use a haynet. And like most horse people, I hate filling up the haynet with the fire of a thousand suns dislike filling haynets. Most of my hay is loosely-baled coastal, which makes stuffing it into a haynet much like stuffing a kitten into a pet carrier. But without fuzzy kitten cuteness.

I think everyone finds a way to make their life easier. Mine was to stick the haynet in a bucket:

Please excuse the colors in the images, by the way. My hay does not actually resemble bleached straw, but it was night and the barn lighting + flash conspired against me.

The bucket works well enough for occasional hay stuffing—at least I can get it half full before I have to go back to trying to hold the net open and stuff hay into it at the same time. But still—there is stuffing. And swearing. And a general dislike of haynets. Or filling haynets, rather.

So when I had an opportunity to do a product review for Schneiders Saddlery, including the chance to list out horse tack that I thought would be interesting to my readers, I jumped on the Stable Hand.

I’d seen it advertised and I was curious about it, but I was never curious enough to actually buy it. After all, I had my bucket sitting right in my hay room. It worked well enough, and lord knows Ro can think up plenty of other things for me to spend my money on.

So Schneiders sent me the Stable Hand, and I took it out to the barn, opened it, stuck it in my haynet, and voila:

Total failure.

I stared at it for a moment, trying to understand. It’s a sheet of plastic. How complicated could it be? Surely I did not need to go find an instruction manual? I mean, I am a great tester at work because I can break anything, but this was a bit much, even for me.

After a moment, I decided it had just been so tightly rolled during shipping that it was maintaining its shape, and if I turned it around, it would unfold. Or something like that.

Now is the time to admit that I am not a handyman, by any stretch of the imagination. I manipulate words; I hire people to manipulate tools and stuff.

So, a little unrolling and re-rolling in the opposite direction later, I had the Stable Hand in the net, and it was sort of holding up the net:

At this point, I figured it would probably work at least as well as my bucket—I could get it half full and then would have to stuff the rest while holding the net open.

As it turned out, though, as I put hay into the net, I could pull the net up and the Stable Hand still kept it all open. So it was much easier to fill than my bucket method, and in no time at all I had a full net:

My next question was whether the edges of the plastic would catch on the holes when I pulled it out, but that turned out not to be an issue.

My net (ha ha—I kill myself) impression?

Assuming you get it set up right (I imagine I am the only one who could fail that part), it is easier to use than my bucket method. It is definitely easier to use than no method at all. You may have to play with the way it is rolled/how tightly it is rolled to get it to hold the net (or bag, or whatever else you are filling) open, but the plastic seems pretty flexible and like it will hold up to use over time. The edges are a little rough, but that wasn’t a problem with the hay net and wouldn’t be a problem with something like a feed bag. It might be an issue with a light-duty plastic bag, but probably not a heavy-duty bag (e.g. if you were using to help bag up trash or leaves or something).

Would I buy one? Should you buy one? If you stuff a lot of haynets, I would say yes. It really does what it says. I thought my bucket stuffing method worked ok, but the Stable Hand was definitely better than the bucket. If you don’t stuff a lot of haynets, then you might not get enough use out of it to justify the purchase price. However, I would definitely consider this as a gift for the horse person who has everything (or as a White Elephant/Chinese Gift Exchange gift)—I think it’s one of those things people may not be able to justify to themselves, but would happily use if they had their hands on it.

And you can get your hands on one for free!

While I would definitely use this Stable Hand if I kept it around, I never keep sample/review items—too much like receiving payment for the review.

And that means I am giving it away to one of you!

Simply leave a comment explaining why you need the Stable Hand. Make it funny. Make it poignant. Link to a picture of yourself covered in hay, holding an empty net—whatever floats your boat. The most convincing response will receive the Stable Hand. (Note: please make sure you put in a valid email when submitting your comment. I will need it to contact you if you are the winner—and it will be used ONLY for that purpose. It will not be passed on to Schneiders or any other third party.)

Comments can be left through Friday, April 13, and I will announce the winner on Sunday, April 15.

Tagged: Tack & Equipment

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