Thursday, May 31, 2012

Boarding Woes

My first contact with my boarding barn was when I was having horse number 11 (I think) vetted.  I went and saw the place, and the barn manager showed me the price sheet and boarding contract, but didn't want me to keep them because they cost so much to print/copy.  Whatever.  We talked for a while, and I mentioned that the horse had been on pasture, and I would want him to stay on pasture, or dry lot when pasture wasn't feasible, in a herd situation.  She showed me the large dry lot and the pasture, and I said I'd let her know how the vet check went.

As you know, he failed.  I also texted the barn manager when I was coming close to vetting the Arab, but that horse also fell through.  When I bought Trigger, I contacted her again, and again said I wanted him on pasture in a herd, as that's how he was currently living.  She said she currently only had a stall available, but that she prefers to quarantine new horses anyway, but that I could move him in two weeks, at the new month.  The runs were big, and she mentioned daily turnout, so I agreed and when I moved Trigger there, I signed all the paperwork, but didn't receive a copy.  I really need to remedy that...

I waited a week or so to bring up turnout, since she'd wanted him quarantined anyway, but when I did bring it up, she said that "most places" charge up to $5, but she would "only" charge $1 a day for turning horses out and bringing them in.  She also whined about the cost of hay (I'd asked them to feed him extra flakes, which I would pay for, in order to keep food in front of him 24/7; if they turn him out to pasture, it would cut down on his personal hay consumption proportional with the amount of time he's out on pasture).  I really think Trigger needs/wants to be out with other horses, and if he does have an ulcer, constant grazing is better than wolfing down hay and waiting hours and hours for more.  So I'll suck it up and pay.  I keep forgetting to ask why he can't just be out 24/7 like the ponies are.

Anyway, I asked for him to be turned out daily, and gave the schedule of the upcoming few days via text, and through the end of June on paper, of when I could turn him out and bring him back in (weekends), which days they should take him out but I'd bring him back in (most weekdays) and which days they would need to do both (when I'm out of town).  Monday was a holiday, and I turned him out and brought him in, which I posted about.  Tuesday, they were to turn him out, and I said I'd bring him in.  I think I mentioned that it might be late, as my boss was in town and would want to have dinner, but that part wasn't in writing.  I realized that morning that I'd forgotten my sunglasses at the barn, so I went out there, and smothered Trigger with fly spray while I was there.  Sure enough, we were at the office until nearly 7, and then went to dinner, so it was after 8 by the time I got to the barn.  Trigger wasn't in the pasture, and was in his stall safe and sound, which I chalked up to the late hour, and someone wondering whether I'd ever come and bringing him in for me.

Wednesday, my boss had left town, and I got to the barn right around 5:00, but Trigger was again already in his stall.  This ticked me off a little, as I had no clue whether he'd even been turned out.  I texted the barn manager and said:
Has Trigger not been turned out yesterday or today?  It was fairly late when I got to the barn last night, so I figured someone must have brought him in.  But today I got there at 5 and he's in his stall.  Could someone please turn him out tomorrow morning?  I'll bring him in.
That's pretty polite, isn't it?  I didn't get a response from her.

Then today, at 4:22, I got a text from her:
What time will you be coming to the barn?

Immediately followed by another:
It's time for Trigger to come back into the barn.  I am having someone put him back.
I didn't see the messages right away, because I keep my phone on silent during work, but I texted her back at 4:40 that I would be coming around 6.  She immediately replied saying that he was already back in the barn.

Now, I can completely understand if a horse is penned up somewhere without food and sees and hears the other horses getting fed, that that's not cool.  Or if a horse is out somewhere at feeding time, and gets fed in a herd situation, that horse either needs to be there, or will have to be fed separately so it doesn't miss out or have to fight his buddies for food.  But Trigger was happily munching in a pasture (i.e. plenty of food), well out of eye or ear shot of the other horses being fed (the pasture is quite a distance from the barn), so he would be blissfully unaware of feeding time.  And since he lives in a stall, his food would all be waiting for him when he got back.  I'm not asking them to FEED him at a separate time from the others (which would upset all the others, to hear grain and hay being fed), just throw it in his stall, and he can eat it when he gets back, right?  In fact, I don't love that instead of feeding roughly 12 hours apart, they feet at like 8-9 a.m., then apparently at around 4 p.m.  If Trigger does indeed have an ulcer, going that long between dinner and breakfast is NOT good for him, so if I can drag out his dinner hour a bit, even better.

Anyway, I wasn't sure whether I'd see her at the barn (she has a family, and isn't usually there when I am in the evenings), so I texted her back:
I wasn't aware he had to be in at a certain time.  I usually work until 5, and when I pick my son up after, it would be at least 6 before I could get there.  Would it be alright for me to bring him in around 6 p.m. on most days?  Since he doesn't share food and can't see or hear others being fed, I just figured it would be fine, but let me know.
When I got to the barn (well before 6), sure enough, Trigger was happily eating his hay in his stall.  The barn manager wasn't there, but another gal (the potential riding buddy I think I may have mentioned here before) was, and I asked her about her opinion on the whole turnout and feeding thing.  She's totally on my side, and admitted she's been looking into moving her horse.  Which will suck for the barn manager, since the potential riding buddy gal (wow, I need nicknames like SweetPea uses!) helps feed, water, and clean stalls.

Anyway, she agreed with my impression that the barn manager isn't very organized.  I don't know how much is due to her being new to this, and will therefore settle out as she finds her groove, and how much is likely to be an ongoing issue.  But I'm tempted to move.  The place SweetPea boards probably has room for an extra horse, and is lovely pasture, but there is no arena or round pen, and I think I need the security of those features until I can get Trigger out on the trails safely.  The place where the potential riding buddy is going sounds promising, though.  It has an arena, didn't catch whether it has a round pen.  The trails are a little ways away, though, and would involve riding on a non-busy road to get there.  Probably the same distance/time from my house, possibly even a minute or two closer.

The barn manager did show up (or had already been there, just not in the barn area when I first arrived?), and we chatted.  She said since he'll be in the dry lot, it will be totally fine to leave him in the pasture as long as I want, and they'll put his feed into his feed tub and he can just chow down when he gets back.  I'm not sure why that's possible in a dry lot but not in a stall (in fact, it would be less distracting to the other horses for Trigger to be eating in his stall than visible to the other horses in dry lot, don't you think?), but whatever.

No new pictures of Trigger lately...sorry!  Probably no more updates until Monday, when the chiropractor comes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

FOUR posts in two days!

Just wanted to mention that I went out and fetched Trigger out of the pasture.  He looked happy to be there, but he came up to me eagerly, too, and walked happily along back to the barn, though not without checking out the little pumphouse thing again.  I made the mistake of hissing/spitting when a fly landed right near my mouth, just as he was wondering what that thing was, so he startled.  Oops.

I ran my hands around his rump and back legs, where he'd been kicked, but has has no lumps or bumps, other than one abrasion that I actually think is probably from standing up after rolling or something, but who knows.  It's not hot or puffy, so it's fine regardless of the cause.  (I watched him walk and trot immediately after and he was fine, and stayed long enough to figure they'd gotten it out of their system, or I wouldn't have just left him there.)  He did have some tiny bumps on the inside of one thigh, but not the other, so I guess I missed a spot with the fly spray.  :-(  I'll have to ask the barn ladies to spray him when they turn him out.  I should recommend that they get some fly predators.  I've heard they work wonders.  I think I'll order some fly repellant neck and leg bands--they supposedly last for two months, so even if that's not quite true, it's probably worth it for however long they do last, if he's going to be spending time in the pasture every day.

His stall had been "fed" while he was out, so he was happy to chow down.  I stayed and fussed with him a bit--I removed the braids and combed out both his mane and tail thoroughly, and brushed his body and checked his feet, as well as checking his hindquarters like I said before.  I hadn't noticed the other day, but once he'd snarfed down the first few bites of hay and gulped a few swallows of water, he proceeded with more care, taking a bite of hay into his mouth, then dipping it in his water tub, and then finishing chewing it and swallowing it.  He's not as messy as some horses who do that, though, and in fact, cleaned up any stray hay that had been floating on top of the water.

I rubbed along his spine some, trying to find the spot that hurts him, and there is a spot that makes him flinch, but I finally had the idea to watch some YouTube videos on saddle fitting today, and that particular spot might just be a pressure point that's guaranteed to cause a reaction, and not an actual spot on him (though if the saddle presses there, that's not good).  We'll see what the chiropractor says in a week.

Oh, and Trigger's hooves look amazing after a few hours in the grass--the outsides of them look like they had a mild polish or dab of oil or something--healthy and shiny.

Free at Last!

Trigger came from a pasture situation with two other horses, but he's been kept in a stall (a roomy stall with a run, but still) here.  I've hand walked and grazed him, I've lunged him, and I've even turned him loose in the arena for a while, but today, he finally gets to spend some time in the pasture.  Yay!

There are currently two other ponies in the pasture, but the barn manager finally got back to me and said I could go ahead and turn Trigger out with them, as long as I stayed to make sure they all got along.

So I walked him toward the pasture--it's a bit of a walk from the rest of the barn area.  It wasn't until we were RIGHT next to the pumphouse and a bunch of pipes that he decided they were scary, and he got over it quickly, but he was then on high alert.  Oddly, the bright yellow hose he had to step over wasn't scary, but apparently the black wire cage (live trap for critters) was.  Whatever.  I made him do a few small circles to get his mind off it and paying attention to me, then we walked past.  We got up to where the ponies were in the pasture, and I walked him near them, but still outside the fence.  They didn't seem all that interested in each other, so I proceeded to the gate.  The ponies came over to the gate, but were respectful.

I noticed the ponies had HORRIBLE bug bites on their chests, so I sent Nathan back to the barn to get Trigger's fly spray.  I turned Trigger loose and observed.

I'll check the ponies out later.  First, I must inspect this poo.
Oh, here come the ponies.  Let's see if they'll let me boss them around.

Oh hey, they're totally doing what I tell them.  Awesome!

Ponies, be gone!

Okay, well that was fun, but look at all this grass!

 The novelty of grazing soon wore off, when Trigger spied a horse-sized patch of bare dirt amid all the grass.

Man, there is NOTHING better than a nice scratchy roll!

 Then he suddenly realized just how large an expanse he had access to, and cantered and trotted around.  I'm going to include this whole sequence of shots, because I think it's funny that apparently my camera's continuous shutter firing is the same cadence as Trigger's floaty trot.  :-)  (To the non-horsie people, these shots might look fairly identical at first, but check out his legs--first it's the far set of legs that are close to each other (kind of like a V), and the near set of legs are pointing away from each other, then the opposite, and so on--also, all four feet are in the air during each of these shots.)

However, the ponies must have started realizing that Trigger might be there a while, and they'd better assert some dominance.  The palomino one, especially, felt like she (they're both mares) needed to put him in his place.  She proceeded to back up to him and double-barrel him.  Trigger responded in kind, and they duked it out a bit, but no one was seriously hurt, and they all went back to grazing.  I kept an eye on them for a while, and nobody picked any more fights, so I went ahead and left.  I'll go get him in a few hours and put him back in his stall.  I hope everyone is still in one piece.  I'll probably give him a good brushing and take his braids out, too.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin...

Okay, I can't be bothered to wait any longer.  Hence my first time posting twice in one day.  :-)  Here are the promised photos of Trigger rolling.  I didn't start taking photos till he'd already rolled on one side and flipped over to the other, then back onto his belly. I need to roll more?

Yep, I definitely do.

Oh yeah, that's the spot...

...Yeah, right there.

Oh man, that felt good.

Am I done?  Nah, I don't think so.

Oh yeah, that definitely feels better now.

Watchoo lookin' at?

Huh.  I seem to have...dirt...all over me.  Let me just shake that right off.

Yeah, that's better.  Am I pretty now?

Hey, at least he doesn't look like this horse:

Pop quiz--what color is that horse?  When it's clean, I mean?  According to the person who posted it on Facebook, it's a chestnut the color of a copper penny.  Looks to me like it could just as easily be white (though not anytime soon!), black, or any shade in between.  It could even be a loud pinto or appy!

I'm also lucky that apparently when Central Oregon dirt dries, it blends right into Trigger's color.

Happy Birthday to Me!

SweetPea managed to squeeze some time out of her already busy weekend for me, and it just happened that she suggested this morning, my birthday.  So she greeted me with a hug and a "Happy Birthday," then we pulled the two saddles out of her trunk (a friend of hers is hoping to sell them and wanted me to try them), and we added them to the three saddles I had already tried myself but wanted her opinion on.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...  I arrived at the barn about an hour before she did.  Trigger still had hay in his stall, presumably from the night before.  I don't know if the people who fed were extra-vigorous, or if he moved it himself, but it was a little too close to the corner where he does his bathroom business, and some of the hay was on top of poo piles and some was damp, so I wonder if that's why there was so much left.  Anyway, the feeders were just getting started, so they threw some hay (in the proper corner, away from his potty corner) and I prepared his breakfast grain topped with oil, and threw 10 Tums in with them.  According to the places I've found online, some people recommend as many as 10 x 1,000mg Tums, and mine were only 750mg, so he could have had even more except that he's already getting a supplement that contains calcium.  So I split the difference and gave him more than he probably really needed, knowing he'd eat his way around them.  And he did--he left six of them behind.

Anyway, it was fun sitting there slurping my Starbucks drink and watching him eat his breakfast.  He finished the feed, started on the hay, and had some water, so I pulled him out to exercise him a bit, because we planned to attempt to ride him if one of the five saddles fit.  He wanted to put his head down to graze the second we stepped onto the grass, but I reminded him that I'm the boss, and made him walk on.  I offered to let him graze a little ways from there, though, and he sniffed around but wasn't interested.  So I took him to the round pen and trotted him around, the cantered a bit, then trotted some more, and finally a slow relaxing walk, making him change directions often and sometimes stop, come, and back away.  He was a GOOD boy.

I returned him to his stall and let him snack for a while while waiting for SweetPea to arrive, while I set up the tack out in the sunshine.

So...back to the beginning of my post, SweetPea arrived and greeted me, we caught up a bit and unloaded the borrowed saddles she brought.

We started with the western saddle from the tack shop.  SweetPea immediately agreed with my assessment, that there wasn't enough clearance for his withers.  Same with the tack shop Aussie.  I put the Craigslist Aussie on, and SweetPea agreed that it was the best of the three, and in fact, did seem to fit him.  I cinched it up a bit.  Yep, good fit.

Then we tried the two saddles from her friend (well, my friend, too, but I met her through SweetPea).  The Aussie seemed to small on ME, just holding it up under my butt (unfortunately, there weren't any saddle racks sturdy enough for me to actually sit in the saddles), but I tried it on him anyway.  It was better than the two saddles from the tack shop, but not quite enough wither clearance.  Lastly, we tried the endurance saddle, which seemed to have a little bigger seat, but probably still too small for my ample rear end.  However, it didn't fit as well as the Aussie from Craigslist.  

So, I will most likely buy that saddle, since it seems to fit him, although I still haven't actually sat MY butt in it.

So we put a pad on under it and put that saddle back on him, and proceeded to the round pen to try to ride.  SweetPea kindly offered to go first, and had me hold the lead line.  She laid across the saddle first, before actually sitting in it, and he did okay.  Then she sat in it, and his ears weren't too happy, but he did okay.  Then we asked him to walk forward, and he crowhopped.  Sheesh!  So, it's not just one saddle, but apparently probably ANY saddle with weight in it.  We kept walking forward a little bit, at SweetPea wanted to assess whether he just seemed pissy and needed to have it "rode out of him" but she thinks, and I agree, that it's really just pain.  We noticed he also seemed to swish his tail more, even after she got off, than he does without a saddle on his back.

Luckily, I have a chiropractor appointment scheduled.  Unfortunately, it's still eight days away.  I'll also keep up the ulcer treatments, and hopefully soon, I might be able to ride him.

But we had a nice morning together despite the pain.  We hand grazed him a little more on our way back to the barn, and I think I might have found a tender spot on his spine right behind his withers, but I'm not sure.  I saw SweetPea out to her car and we chatted for a while, then I put the saddle I'll most likely buy into the tack room and the other two saddles back into my trunk, then hung out in Trigger's pen with him for a while.  I rubbed his spine, and he definitely seems a little touchy, but not too bad.  I scratched him all over.  You should see the face he made when I scratched his armpit area--his lip quivered and he even started lifting up his front leg.  Very cute.  He also liked me rubbing his face, so much so that when I would go backward toward his neck and shoulder, he'd back up so I'd be up by his face again.  So that was a nice way to end a morning that was otherwise pretty disappointing.  So, I'll just keep messing with him for the next week until the chiropractor comes.

I didn't take any photos today, but here's one of the ones of him rolling the other day, as a sneak preview.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Something's Burning

Last night, I oticed that there was a bit of a wet spot on Trigger's elbow, right next to the girth area, and it occurred to me that he might have been biting himself because something was bothering him, but I didn't think TOO much more about it.  Then I was texting with a friend, and she mentioned ulcers, and it got me thinking.

Common symptoms of ulcers (from this website):
  • Sensitivity to being girthed - yep
  • Mental dullness or attitude changes - well, I don't think he's mentally dull, but his attitude seems different now from when I met him in WA; don't know how much is due to the move, though
  • Poor performance (i.e. tension, stiffness, bucking, kicking.) - um, yes, definitely bucking
  • Change of behavior at trot or canter - I haven't gotten far enough to evaluate him under saddle at the trot or canter, but he has definitely been more amped up when lunging at the trot or canter than I would have imagined after trying him out in WA
  • Attitude changes (i.e. aggressive, nervous, or depressed) - can't really evaluate
  • Behavior changes (grinding teeth, excessive salivation) - I don't know how he was before, nor do I see him eat other than treats, so I don't know
  • A sore back or tense flanks - yes, he is sensitive at first when grooming, and sometimes he settles in to enjoying it and sometimes he never really does
  • Poor appetite - I don't know for sure, as I don't know how much he would eat before, but he finishes his hay and his feed, so probably not a problem
  • Weight loss and poor body condition - I think he's gaining if anything, but that's the plan
  • Lying down more than normal - I don't see him enough to know, but he was lying down when I arrived this morning, not that that means anything
  • Acute and recurring colic, often following eating or riding - I haven't seen any colic symptoms
  • Preferring to eat hay versus grain, or eating grain slowly - I have occasionally seen grain sitting in his feed pan when I show up a while after feeding, but just figured he was more of a nibbler than a gulper
  • Intermittent chronic diarrhea - he's actually been fine in this department
  • Frequent pawing or yawning - YES!  He paws sometimes when he seems bored, and sometimes randomly, and yawns, especially after eating a little treat
  • Tongue chewing, tongue lolling out of mouth - I don't think so, but don't spend much time at the barn
  • Overall tension and discomfort - again, don't see him enough to evaluate "overall" anything
  • Cribbing, Stall walking - I don't think so
  • Use of NSAIDS - nope
Things that can contribute toward ulcers:
  • Trailer travel - check--he spent a few hours in the trailer two days in a row; he peed in the trailer the first day, but not the second, and he didn't poop in the trailer either day, and I don't know how much he ate either day, but he was probably at least mildly stressed, if not more
  • Changes in training or working - check; though I would LIKE to ride him, he hasn't been ridden in two weeks
  • Loss of pasture mate - check; he was in a herd of three, and now lives in a stall with a run and does have one neighbor he can see, but of course it's not his buddies from home
  • New environment - check; stall instead of pasture, very little turnout, only one neighbor instead of a herd situation, desert instead of swampland, just about everything that could change has
  • Stalling or isolation - check
  • No food between meals, empty stomach - check; his hay has been gone some of the times I've come out
I feel absolutely terrible that me buying him, moving him, and choosing this boarding barn rather than full pasture board for him, is probably causing him pain.  But I'm hopeful that if that is what it is, that I can help him, make him feel better, and have the "old" Trigger back--the one I met in WA that was so laid back.

So I went to the feed store and got a supplement that's supposed to help.  It's supposed to be fed twice a day, and he was only getting pelleted feed once a day, so I asked the barn to feed my pre-measured bags twice a day instead.  I made up a bunch of bags with half the amount of the other stuff, and the new ulcer supplement.  I also bought some Tums, both berry and mint flavored, but Trigger does not see them as treats.  However, he will snarf them up with his feed, so I'll just have to feed a handful of feed with Tums before working him, I think.  I also asked the barn to turn him out (with other horses) as much as possible, but didn't hear back whether it was okay to turn him out with the horses currently in the pasture, so I didn't.  I also asked that they feed him as much hay as it takes to keep some in front of him all the time, even if they have to charge me extra.  We'll see how much THAT costs.  I might need to just move him to somewhere with full-time pasture board, though.

I tried the saddles on him again, and got better photos out in the mid-day sun.  So here are my photos from today:

Trigger was dozing when I arrived

Oh, hi there!

Om nom nom nom nom nom...

A photo of his HORRIBLE wound ;-) since I forgot to take one yesterday.  I think he'll live.  (No heat or swelling, either.)

 The synthetic western saddle:

The clearance actually looks better in this picture than I felt it was in real life, but still very close to the withers.

Is it me, or is it also not quite level (front lower than it should be)?

The first Aussie, the one from the tack store:

I guess I didn't get a very good photo of the gullet, but while it was a little better than the western, I still don't think it was high enough without any weight in the saddle.

And the other Aussie, the one from Craigslist:

Much higher gullet

Can't quite see daylight THROUGH the spine area, but can see hairs with light cast on them, like when you're in a cave and you can't yet see the actual light, but can see that it's getting lighter inside.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I currently have three saddles in my trunk.  I currently own none of them.  One is from Craigslist, and the seller was kind enough to let me borrow it for the weekend, with only a photo of my driver's license for collateral.  The other two are from a tack shop in town, with "only" a credit card number left as collateral, and they will charge me if I don't return them on Tuesday.  Two of them are Australian saddles, one is a mostly-synthetic western.

I went out to the barn tonight because it's been a couple of days, and of course I also wanted to try the saddles on him, not that I know what I'm doing.  But first, I braided his mane.  He really loves me to groom the side under his mane, but it's difficult with his mane there, so I braided cheesy chunky "training" (i.e. plain) braids.  They're pretty cute, though.  And then I scrubbed his neck with the scrubby curry thingie, and he loved it.

We brushed his saddle area, especially, really well, then Nathan brought me the saddles one at a time.  First was the tack store Aussie.  Trigger glared at me as I approached, and pretended to try to nip me (he never gets close enough to actually feel my elbow when I jut it out toward him, but definitely shows me he's pissy) as I fiddled with the billets and stirrups (I didn't actually cinch it up).  There was wither clearance, but not by much, and my weight would have eliminated it.  It also didn't look as balanced as it should, in my EXTREMELY inexpert opinion.  The second saddle was the partly-synthetic western (skirt, fenders definitely synthetic; jockeys & pommel/horn cover appear to be real leather, seat unknown).  He also wasn't very happy at it being on him, and it also appeared not to have enough clearance on  his spine.

The last saddle was an Aussie from Craigslist.  He actually DIDN'T glare at me or look pissy about it.  I didn't cinch it up, but fussed with the billets and stirrups (big fat endurance stirrups), and pressed down on the saddle and wiggled it side to side, and he just stood there looking bored.  I hate to anthropomorphize too much, but it sure seemed like he liked that one best.  Or at least hated it least.  It also had good wither clearance.  I couldn't see daylight along his spine, but reached my fingers back from the pommel and forward from the cantle along the spine, and it does appear there's plenty of clearance. 

I'm not brave enough to ride him alone yet, though, so that was as far as our adventures with the saddles went.  I wanted him to get some exercise though, and didn't feel like lunging him and figured he'd appreciate the break of just being turned loose in the arena, so I headed that direction.

First, I had to open the garage-type doors (but way bigger) to get him out of the barn safely (there's a people door, but that's a bad idea).  He pretended that the door bothered him, even though his stall is right next to the garage door, so he must hear it at least a couple times a day, most likely.  Anyway, then he saw my car with the trunk gaping open and pretended to be freaked out, and then Nathan climbed a gravel pile, and he pretended to freak out again.  Each time, he just snorted a bit and backed up a step or two before I yanked on the rope and told him to walk.

We got to the arena, and I got his attention on me by backing a bit, but he was clearly raring to go.  I took the halter off, and as soon as he was free, he took off bucking across the arena to go "talk" to the horse in the dry lot that borders the arena.  That horse didn't seem to care to much whether Trigger talked to him or not, but was happy enough just to stand near the fence and watch.  Trigger pranced and pranced, looking quite pretty, but clearly he needed to get the wiggles out.  He would also occasionally buck and kick.  I really need to spend more time with people who know what they're doing, because I'm not sure whether he was kicking AT me as if to say something, or if I was just in the general direction toward which he was kicking with glee or what.


Look, he can do Passage!

All four feet in the air.

Again, all four in the air

Add caption

Zoom Zoom

I let him be for a while, then started to actually make him run, then let off, to see if he would come back to me.  Nope, still hyper.  Then he finally settled down, but not because he wanted to be with me, but because he decided a good roll sounded good.  I have some adorable photos of him rolling, but this post is already photo-heavy enough, so I'll save those for a day when I don't have anything to post.  :-)  Suffice it to say, he got good and dirty, then finally decided he was done.  We did a few back, stay, and come forwards (while a train was going by on the nearby tracks, so it was good practice for him to pay attention to me while there were distractions), and I took him back to his stall.

I checked his feet, and then noticed I had some blood on my hand.  I didn't remember hurting myself, and the spot where the blood was didn't hurt at all, so I checked, and sure enough, Trigger had a little owie on his left hind.  I'm not sure if he kicked up a pebble, or actually got himself with a hoof or something (either while he was goofing around, rolling, or getting back up again).  It didn't seem to be very bad, but since he had JUST rolled and gotten dirt all over, I took him to the hose and hosed it off.  That was a bit of an adventure.  He acted like he didn't like the hose and danced all over the place.  I didn't want Nathan involved, so it was just me trying to both hold the horse (there was no place to tie near the hose) and the hose, and get the two to meet somewhere convenient for me.  But finally he allowed me to hose his front feet, then his hinds, and I got the hose onto the owie for a bit, then let him graze for a bit and put him away.

I chatted a bit with the owner of the pregnant mare, and like all horse people with a newbie who will listen, she had all sorts of advice.  I need to lunge the crap out of him in the round pen, especially before riding (whereas SweetPea suggested we get him in a calm, slow state of mind before riding, rather than attempting to wear him out).  I need to ride him in the round pen when I go to ride him again (this is not a bad idea).  I need to feed what she feeds (some special feed that looks like dog food, smells like apples, apparently contains seaweed, and she claims will build up 50 pounds of muscle in two weeks of just standing around).  I've got so much advice coming from so many sides, I don't know what to think.

I have a chiropractor coming out, but not for around 10 days or so.  It's occurred to me that the cinchiness and overall bitchiness could be from ulcers, so I might buy some remedy for that to see if it helps.  He doesn't seem to mind being in his stall/pen, and has one neighbor, but I worry that he'd really be happier and healthier in a herd and with more room to roam, but this boarding place, which originally told me they had both pasture and dry lot available, and with herd situations in both, apparently only uses the pasture for turnout because they're afraid of founder, and the drylots are for one, maybe two horses, though at least they border each other, so once he goes there, he'll have neighbors and be able to get more exercise than he currently does.  Ugh.  So many things to think about and worry about, and I don't know what's the right thing to do, most of the time.

Welcome to "parenthood," except with a whole new learning curve than when I became a parent to my son.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Steee-rike TWO!

SweetPea heard of my debacle trying to ride Trigger last week, and offered to help me with him, and possibly even ride him prior to me getting back on, but first she had to go to Vegas.  Priorities, I guess.

So she got back in town, and met me at the barn tonight.  I tacked him up, and other than being a little cinchy, all was relatively well.  Lunged him in the arena a bit, got him listening to me pretty well, and trotting and walking calmly on the lunge line, and all was well.  SweetPea told me to get on, and I managed to procrastinate a little bit to fetch his reins and make our way back to the mounting block, and all still seemed well.  I took a few deep breaths, rearranged the mounting block again, and got on.  And all was well.  I sat there, quivering and taking not-so-deep breaths while SweetPea told me to breathe and relax.  She even unwrapped the lead rope from the horn and prepared to lead me like a three-year-old.  I wasn't convinced that would do any good if he got it in his head to buck, but whatever.  It made her feel useful.  ;-)  (I'm totally kidding, she was very useful, both with actual horse skills and with calming me down.)

So, I squeezed a little and she led him a little, and he took a couple of steps.  I remarked that I could feel his body tensing up under me, and she said it was just because I was tense.  Okay.  Deep breaths.  But then he did it--a little tiny crow hop, and then another one, and even SweetPea agreed it wasn't my imagination.  We thought maybe it was pain from saddle fit, but to rule out rider weight (she weighs significantly less than me) or ability (she knows her stuff, and I'm woefully ignorant), I hopped off and she got on.  I took over the lead rope duties, and after a step or three, he crow-hopped and simultaneously tried to bite me.  We agreed he's not viscious or even lazy, but there does seem to be a pain issue.

So, I think I'll see about getting a chiropractor or massage therapist out to see him ($$$), and make a plaster cast of his back to take around to local saddle shops with good trial policies.  One local tack shop owner even said she'll occasionally take saddles out to horse owners that don't have trailers, so they can try multiple saddles all at once instead of taking one out at a time.  I'll figure out what I have to do to bribe her to do that.  :-)

So, I've been a horse owner for 11 days so far, and sat on my horse twice, for a grand total of about 90 seconds.  Whee!

But hey, at least they were tiny little crow-hops and not full-on bucking sessions like I experienced the other day.  Cutting the alfalfa definitely helped.

Photo you've already seen, just because:

Monday, May 21, 2012

More circles

One of these days, I'll get back on the horse, but I think I'll wait until I have an adult spotter, just to be sure.

Today, I got the kiddo back from his dad's, so we headed out together to visit Trigger.  I finally got a minute to chat with the barn manager about exactly what the various options entail, and I think I've decided on the dry lot for him.  They're long and narrow, so he can actually get moving a bit, and get some of the wiggles out throughout the day, rather than being cooped up in his small pen and needing me to come exercise him.  They don't have shelter structures, but do have trees.  The worst of the cold nights are over, and he'll have the fall to build up a nice winter coat, so it should be all good.

Anyway, while all this was going on, the barn manager was bringing some of her personal horses over (I think?).  One of them was an adorable palomino Shetland--a "mini me" for trigger.  Except this is a three-year-old, unhandled, stud pony.  Yeah.  And he SCREAMS.  Nearly constantly.  Not so adorable after all.  I hope that was just new jitters, and won't be an ongoing thing, or I might have to find a way to get Trigger out of the barn (he's a couple stalls down from the pony, but stalls aren't exactly soundproof booths.

So between all of that commotion and the fact that a storm was rolling in, I expected Trigger to be amped up and on edge.  Well, he was on edge a bit, and was CONVINCED there was something scary going on in the bushes on the "far side" of the round pen (away from the gate), but I think he was making it up.  ;-)  But he didn't buck or kick.  I really do think the alfalfa was the main part of the problem with his behavior the other day.  Though like I said, I'll wait for a calmer day and a spotter before trying to get on him again.

Anyway, I gave Nathan a little mini lesson in lunging (explaining it, but didn't let him try yet, not on a day like today), then he wandered off to pet the dogs (SUCH an animal lover, that kid) so I worked Trigger on the line for a bit, then let him "off-leash" and offered to let him roll, but he just stood at the gate.  I free lunged him a bit, just to let him run a bit more, then hand-grazed him a while.  I think he's still just astonished at what we call grass over here in the desert.  He's used to a lush green pasture with nice long grass, and the grazing patch at the barn, while nice grass, gets mowed and also isn't nearly as lush.  He always sniffs around for a bit, shuffles a while, then sighs and settles in.

Here are some photos from today:

 And lastly, for those of you who don't mind seeing my naked legs, here are the bruises on my knees, and the really ghastly one on my upper inner thigh.  I wasn't going to include it, but when Nathan saw it, he felt compelled to take a photo.  If you don't want to see, don't scroll down...