Saturday, May 19, 2012

S M A R T Follow-up

Hmmm...I think I like the idea of posting my goals on here before I go out to the barn, 'cause it holds me accountable.  Today I felt like being lazy and skipping the lunging part, but I didn't because I knew I'd already said that I'd do it.

Anyway, went to two different feed stores and bought a rope halter, measuring tape (special one for horses--hands high one one side, pounds on the other), and thermometer.  There are apparently only two choices, at least at the two stores I went to, for thermometers.  A special one made for horses that has a loop on the end you can tie a string to (to then tie or clip to the tail, so the thermometer doesn't get sucked inside, though you still shouldn't plan to let go of it), but it's an old-fashioned glass thermometer, or a standard plastic digital thermometer you can get at any drugstore, but without a way to tie a string to it.  I wanted to be on the safe side with the string, so I got the old-fashioned kind.

Got to the barn, took my purchases in, tried the new halter on him, and I think it fits quite nicely.  I also like the rope it comes with better than the one I bought for the web halter.  I groomed him a bit--he's still shedding like crazy, plus apparently also rolls in his stall (or when he's turned out), and was filthy dusty.  Luckily, he's about the same color as the dust.  I found his happy scratchy spots and made happy by scratching them.  Then I started recording some baseline measurements.  It's hard to measure height with the flexible tape, but with it as straight as I could muster, and with him standing straight, I think he's closer to 15.1 (barefoot) than 15.2, but it's hard to eyeball it.  You really need a stick with a slidey-thingie to measure accurately.  The tape around the girth area showed him only barely over 800 pounds, so I used the slightly more accurate calculation method.  I forget the exact calculation, but my phone app just has you input the girth in inches and the length (from point of shoulder to point of butt) in inches, and it does the math.  It came up with 831 lbs.  Yikes!  I'd love to get him on an actual livestock scale at some point.

I got out my stethoscope and played around until I found the sweet spot.  I knew horses heartbeats were slower than humans, but it was still weird how slow it was when I found it.  I'd forgotten to put my watch on this morning, so used the stopwatch function in my phone (smartphones--what CAN'T they do?), and went for 30 seconds instead of 15 because there was a beat right after I starting timing and one RIGHT before the 15 seconds was up, so I felt it wouldn't be as accurate to multiply that figure by 4.  I counted 14 beats in 30 seconds, so 28 bpm resting calmly in his stall.

I tried to count respirations by feeling his breath, but he kept sniffing me, so I just watched his flank.  Again, 15 seconds didn't seem like it would be very accurate, so I listened for 30, but even then, it seemed kind of inaccurate, so I multiplied 3.5 by 2 to get 7 resps.

I then tried to take his temperature.  I was a little nervous, especially since I was the only one at the barn, and it was a glass thermometer, and what if it broke off, and and and, but he actually did just fine.  He hadn't been happy when the vet did it, but I guess all the sucking up paid off, because he allowed me to do it, and only fidgeted a little bit.  He would've gotten an A on anal tone, though, he kept trying to clamp his tail down!  It didn't break or get sucked in (though I did tie a string on, just in case), but I think either I don't know how to read it (though there was a clear line, and a clear indication of where it ended), or the thermometer is broken (or, come to think of it, I didn't shake it down), because it showed he had a temp of 109.  His muzzle seemed normal temperature, so I'm not going to freak out and call a vet.  I think I will check online to see if there's such a thing as a digital thermometer with a hole for a string, though.

I also wanted to trim his bridle path.  I didn't bother finding my clippers, because it turns out in the box my stethoscope came in was also a handy-dandy pair of blunt-tipped bandage scissors.  So I held them like I was ready to cut, but just stood and petted that part of his mane for a while.  He kept putting his head up, especially when I would bring my second hand up, but I just kept asking him to put his head down, and kept petting and scratching the good spots, and soon enough, he was practically asleep, and I cut a tiny patch of mane off.  I may enlarge it later, especially when I determine exactly where the bridle likes to sit, but it works for now, and he was a perfect angel.

With no more fidgeting left to do, I took him out to the round pen.  He wanted to graze on the way there (it's grass between the barn and the round pen), but I made him do as I asked, which was to walk, not to graze.  We got to the round pen, and he was a total angel, moving as necessary for me to open and close the gate, and then I started lunging him (on the line, not loose in the pen).

At first, his eyes were all around the pen and not on me, but a couple of snaps of the rope to remind him I was there, and he actually paid attention to me!  I don't know how much the alfalfa was to blame (I asked them to stop feeding it, so hopefully he didn't have any last night, and he hadn't yet had dinner today, either), how much his come-to-Jesus meeting with the other boarder on Thursday night helped, or what, but he was a different horse, back to the horse I met when I went up to Washington to check him out.  I probably could have ridden him today, but between the fact I was alone at the barn and my knee still hurts, I didn't entertain that thought for long.  Anyway, I lunged him one direction, then the other, working on keeping his attention on me.  I also backed him, made him stay, then "pulled" him in, all of which took a try or two to get him to listen and/or realize what I was asking, the he was a pro.  He's clearly had training on that stuff, as I'm no expert but he was still doing exactly what I wanted within seconds.  So though it was a short session, we called it quits (end on a good note, they say!), and I walked him halfway back to the barn and allowed him to graze.  He was like, "really?" just to be sure that I was really allowing it, then started gobbling.  I took him over to the barn so I could sit in a chair while he ate, and we sat there for quite a while, him munching like he was starving, and me staring off into space.  I'll have to bring a book next time.  :-)

I made up his feed for the next week (I'll still keep him on the pelleted feed if his behavior stays good, because he does need to gain weight, and once I can ride him, I plan to give him some good exercise), gave him a couple treats, and came home.

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