Archive for April, 2006
My personal life won the battle for time this past week. I only saw lovely Sue in the distance.
One night this week, I stepped out my front door and there was Sue. She came up and smelled my hand. Then she left. I was pleased.
Today, the chiropractor came to work on Velvet and Isabel. she saw Sue for the 1st time. She said Sue was “portly” or maybe she said “chubby”. Guess Sue shouldn’t be on the rich grass so long and I should ride her more…I wish!
This was the big day for Sue’s dentistry. I told the vet about her. I told him my job was to protect her. (I said it loud enough that she heard me.) The vet took it nice and slow. There was no fear reaction from her as he gave her the sedation shot. We decided she needed another shot. She probably had a lot of adrenalin running around inside her body.
The vet was surprised when he looked in her mouth. She had recent (within the past year) dentristry. She had a few sharp points. He called it a level 1 float.
Baby Isabel had a level 2 float. She had some really sharp points.
It rained all day (Friday).
It’s going to rain every day this weekend.
We need the rain.
Why can’t it just rain like heck during the weekdays (until 4ish) and then be bright and sunny on the weekends.
I went out to check on Sue after she woke up from the sedation. Our level of trust remains unchanged. whew
Tonight, I got the salve out. I feed the three and locked the corral. I have plans for tonight.
I got into the stall with Sue and doctored her tail and some minor rain rot spots on her rear. I don’t know why her tail isn’t itchy. Those spots where the skin came off surely itched at one time…but she still has a thick black tail. Sue appreciated me working with her tail. More big brownie points for me. I asked her if she is enjoying her new home. She answered, “very much!”
I shut the other horses into stalls. I got Sue out of her stall and she sort of ran from me. Just my plan. We played the circle game at liberty. Her responsibility was to keep going the same way at a speed other than a walk until she turned and faced me.
She wasn’t too hysterical. It probably only took 4 turns around the corral until her ear twitched toward me. I bent from the waist and focused on her hind quarters. Her forequarters turned to me and stopped. I held out the yummy peppermint treat and she started walking towards me.
I regard this as monumental.
I rubbed and loved on her quite a bit.
Then we played throw the rope over Sue’s back. No problem until I gave it a bit of body language. eeek! She flinched and moved, but didn’t run away. We eeked and flinched some more. It probably took less than 7 “eeks” for her to stand still with no flinching. Then I went to the other side where she did not flinch or eeek at all….more peppermint and more loving. We played the porcupine with our forequarters and she has improved tremendously.
Instead of a stone building, she has become a sapling tree. She’s still unmoving, but it doesn’t take too much to push her over.
We played the porcupine with the hind quarters and she stepped across much sooner tonight than she did last night.
We ended our games with the circle game going the other way.
Did I mention that all this is at liberty?!
It didn’t take much more than 5 trips around the paddock. She turned towards me when I asked and walked to me and with me to the edge of the circle.
End of quite a successful evening….
Don’t you believe all the myths about the Fox Trotter can’t canter. Sue believed them. She’s held back for many a year. She will not canter when a person is riding her, because she has believed the theory.
I saw her gallop this morning. It was a special joyous event. I opened up the other half of the pasture and the horses were ecstatic. JR and Isabel galloped over to the west side. Sue trotted.
I went to the barn and rattled the feed buckets. Isabel and JR galloped back to the barn. It wasn’t too long before: Here Comes Sue at a big Gallop!
Her gallop is different. She lifts her front legs like a hackney when she goes. I imagine that might be the natural rocking chair canter that this breed is famous for.
It will be holy heck to get her to canter under saddle. I don’t know whether or not I’m up to it.
JR in the back and the Bay Girls, Sue and Isabell
We have a new fence. We fenced the horse pasture. We fenced our 4 acre yard. I’m now letting the horses out into the yard where there is really great grass. Sometimes they eat grass right outside the front door. One morning, I slowly woke up to a strange sound. It was Isabel pawing the sidewalk. She was telling me to get up and feed her. Ahhh the rewards of horse life are great.
Until someone opens the gate and leaves it open. Who opened the new gate this morning and left it open!
I woke up this morning and looked outside. I saw JR being agitated on the other side of the lake. Then I saw two tiny brown shapes that looked suspiciously like horses far beyond the horse pasture. Yep…two brown horse shapes…the bay girls-Sue and Isabel.
I drove over there and couldn’t see them in the turf farm (neighbor directly to the west). I looked and looked. Then I looked into the pasture of the diagonal neighbor to the southwest. There they were. In another pasture. To get to the gate of this pasture, I would have to drive 5 miles. There is no road from my house to this neighbor. One of the roads to get there is Highway 58. hmmm Surely I can find where they got into this pasture.
I got out and discovered the neighbor’s barb wire fence is very low to the ground. I found a spot where it was almost lying in the ground. I got my grain bucket and shook it. That elicited excitement from the bay girls. They had to cross a small creek with water in it to get to me.
Isabel came first with Sue the shadow right behind. Isabel jumped the stream and then she hopped over the fence. Sue just stepped over everything. My bay girls were out of the neighbor’s pasture.
I fed the both of them on the ground and then put the halter on Isabel. I ignored Sue the entire time. I don’t want to give her the opportunity to go into her “can’t catch me” routine.
I got into the car and drove back, leading Isabell. She was a trooper. I was able to reach out and pet her most of the way back. Once she got hysterical and ran ahead. I lost the rope. But she stopped and allowed me to get out of the car and get the rope.
We drove back to the gate. I parked the car there. Took the bay girls through and shut the gate. I let Isabel loose, but she stayed right with me as I walked back to the house.
It didn’t take JR long to figure out he had to run across the pasture to get to us. Then we had our breakfast and I left to go to work.
Horses are stress creating creatures!
Sue-I Do Bond with You
At last, a chance to really play with my girl, Sue.
I groomed her while she was eating. She has a patches of dead skin on her tail. yeccha. One was an inch square. I got them off. Several times she turned and stared at me. I told her what she had. These spots where a little raw under the dead skin patch, but she didn’t flinch. I’ll treat it tomorrow with special salve. She was as calm as could be while I was grooming her.
I filled my pockets full of small peppermint tasting treats. My Sue will come to like me! I got the halter. She was done eating. She turned away from me to the stall door. I talked to her hind quarters and her front end turned towards me. She got a peppermint treats. aha!
Our goal tonight was to walk to the front gate and shut it. On the way back, we would play all 7 Games. I wondered if we would make it to the gate. It would be she and I with her horse buddies back in the pasture.
We started walking and all was fine. I stopped and backed up. She backed up. She got a peppermint.
We did that many times. At one stop, I gave her a “feel” on the top of her head. I told her head that is was OK to eat grass. It didn’t take long and the head obeyed. It ate grass. Up we went again and towards the gate.
We made it to the gate without going crazy being away from the other horses. We have started Pair-Bonding. This is when the little new born foal learns to stay close to mommy. Sue is learning to stay next to her “new Mommy” and feel safe.
On our way back, we played driving sideways. She is spectacular at this. She is spectacular because she is reactive. Of course, she was rewarded with peppermint treats.
We played the circle game. She whizzed around the circle and slowed down when she started to “go away” from the barn. When she made one complete circle in a semi relaxed manner, she got to stop, come into the center and get a peppermint. I want her to enjoy coming to me. When she starts to go fast on the circle game, she gets a little emotional. Note to self when I first ride her at …Go Slow.
We played the friendly game with the 12′ lead rope. I threw the rope over her..like I did in the trailer. She never flinched. In fact, she relaxed. She must like the rhythm. She got a few peppermints for this!
I played the porpupine game with her hindquarters. It took quite a while before that back foot would step over. When it did we stopped and got rewarded with a peppermint. It didn’t take her long to figure out stepping over would = peppermint. I could almost see her start to smile.
I “drove” her hindquarters. She stepped over almost immediately. She was just a smidgen reactive, but got over it quickly.
Then I played the porcupine game with her forequarters. She became almost an immovable object. She was completely relaxed by this time and had no idea what that touch meant. I had to lean all my weight on my finger and push her before she would barely take that cross over step with the foot closest to me. Her far foot stepped over without too much trouble, but she is like a stone building to move. huh She didn’t get many peppermint treats for this game!
We finished with some more circle games. Her job was to stay in gait and move around me while we walked back to the other horses. She did well enough that she earned peppermint treat. I took off the halter before letting the other horses out. She just stood their calmly and started eating.
The end of a perfect First Day of 7 Games. She went with me away from the other horses without fuss. She relaxed when she was with me. She came right into me to get the peppermints. Occasionally, she enjoyed herself. We ended on a perfect note…and a perfect night!
A Rainy Night in Missouri. We got some big lightning and nice rain tonight.
That helped with the sadness of not being able to play with my girl, Sue tonight.
Every horse person resents the call of the home fire. Children, spouse, mother etc. seem to decrease your horse time. They deserve your time-darn it!
The spouse has been terribly sick with pneumonia and he’s getting better. He wanted real food tonight. He’s not been able to eat for two weeks. Am I to say NO, I want to play with my new horse…sigh
But, Sue and I did have interaction.
After getting horse treats at The Family Center (my time was not all without horse direction), we drove home in the pouring rain.
Sue was let out of the corral this morning. How would our first feeding go>
They came running. Well, JR and Isabell came running. Pretty soon the wet bay horse came into the corral too. Evidently, she is the low horse on the chain of command. She stood outside 2 year old Isabell’s stall watching her eat.
I took the bucket out of the stall and shook it. That was a sound she recognizes. She came over, stretched her head way out and ate a mouth full. I tuck the bucket into the stall, hung it up and left. Sue went over to stand outside Isabell’s stall.
I came back to the stall and got the bucket again. She came over and took another bite and then followed me into the stall. I hurridly hung up the bucket and left…no pressure is my name!
It wasn’t three minutes later that she was out of that stall and back to Isabell. (Isabell is a bay too- horses of the same color flock together.) I thought she didn’t eat much. I was wrong. She eats her food REALLY FAST! I got the first big treat bag open. I gave a treat to Isabell and JR. sort of yummy, they said. I went out into the corral and Sue did come up to get a treat. yucky, she said. (curse it, I said)
I got the next bag open. This is peppermint flavored good treat foot. JR got his first piece and told me he would leap the highest fence for another one. Isabell said, that’s better. I went out to the corral to give Sue her treat. She did finally eat one and liked it. I immediately retreated. She came back into the stall and ate some treats that I had put in her bucket.
Do I dare? I went over to her stall. She didn’t run. I held my hand out in the horseman handshake. She touched me! I petted her and immediately left.
A break thru for the Hard To Catch Horse.
Sue is an emotional wreck. She has emotional scars. We surely wonder what happened to Sue! She was sold only six months prior. She is a fruit loop fearful horse. It doesn’t get too much worse than Sue’s extreme people fear. I bought her to save her. I had really really liked Sue when she had been sold. I had some reaction when she was sold that she really should have been my horse. Everyone thought she was going to a new home with wonderful people. Something happened and Sue, a sensitive horse, was pushed over the edge. She was ruined. Her new owners wanted their money back. I made an offer and I owned Sue. She had been transported back to Pine Dell. Tony and Jenny had worked with her about a month. In the beginning, they had to lay her down to convince her that they were not going to kill her. Yes, she was that bad off. Her rehabilitation was going to take a while and she was not “sellable”. That’s why I bought her.
Day 1: I came to get Sue.
We did well. We walked down from the arena barn to visit and feed Velvet her supplement. I gently reminded Sue to stay behind me. No problem.
In the barn, I told Sue to stand on the rubber mat-don’t come over on the bare cement where Velvet’s food was. fine
We chatted with Velvet and then went to the trailer.
It was a scary trailer for a moment, but it only took about 2 minutes and she scrambled in.
I’m used to throwing the rope over their back as they get in, but I didn’t get that done. She was pointing straight ahead in the trailer and I had the 12′ rope in my hand standing back on the ground at the door. I gave a gentle toss of the rope to loop it over her back.
Whoops! One of our first tasks will be working with throwing that rope over her body and head!
Maybe she won’t explode in the trailer again.
Late in the evening. Sue has moved into the corral attached to the open side of the barn. JR fell in love with Sue immediately. He tries to keep Isabel from Sue. He screams at Isabel and whirls when she gets too close. He’s serious.
11:30PM-I took my kick-back chair out to the barn. I’m just going to sit in the corral with Sue. She snorts at my strange shape…with the chair. I find the perfect spot, unfold my chair and sit down. I have all three horses’ rapt attention.
JR sticks his head over the panel. He looks like a giraffe looking down at me. Isabel is held about 6′ away. Sue walks around and squirts. OH! That explains why JR took an immediate interest in her. Sue goes over and sniffs noses with Isabel…and squirts. JR remains right beside me on the other side of the corral panel. I tell him how wonderful he is.
Sue, the hard-to-catch horse comes to within a foot of me. I don’t move. She leaves.
About 15 minutes later, she comes over to sniff me again. Her nose hair MIGHT have touched my coat. She may or may not have caught me.