Sunday, July 1, 2012

Derecho... whatever that means!

We're having a "heat wave" which really just means everyone is being reminded of how gross our summers are after a pretty mercifully cool month of June. However, the meeting of hot and cold weather fronts culminated this weekend in a severe storm called a derecho. I didn't get a call from Bonnie, so I figured the horses and everything else were alright. I had just been out on Friday for a farrier visit, but I figured I would brave the ridiculous temperatures and go out Sunday too. I knew something was up when I saw two vans working on a power pole a bit down the road. As I drove up the driveway I noticed houses with their windows. Not a great sign... their power was obviously out, and they were trying to get some air conditioning au naturale. Then there was this:

Branches EVERYWHERE and a few downed trees--including one laying over some power lines. Fortunately Bonnie had a generator. I went to check on the horses who were all at the bottom of the hill under the shed. Everyone looked fine, and thoroughly unconcerned.

There weren't any crazy branches down in their area, thank goodness. The paddock next to them looked a bit crazy, but no major damage. The rest of the visit was pretty laid back. It was a million degrees so it was nice to hang out under the cool of the trees.

Mysteriously the horses felt like standing in the hot sun after a while.

I took that as my cue to leave, after staying some goodbyes to my handsome pony.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Developments!

We are getting a bit of Maryland Summer, finally, and by that I mean heat and humidity and a bit of storminess.

Sun-pinked nose.

The most important development, though, is that I finally got a saddle and a pad for my purposes. They are, in fact, the same kind of saddle and pad I had previously: a black Wintec Semi-Quarter Western Trail Saddle, and a Professional's Choice Roper Elite Pad.

The saddle is really light, which can be appreciated by horse and rider alike. And the pad is flexible enough that it gives and fills out as need--making an excellent cushion between horse and saddle.

We started by doing a little general desensitization: the plastic bag on the end of the short whip. He needed a bit of a refresher--and I think it was partly because he was remembering this was the spot where he had his bath--but he pretty quickly recalled that he should look to me when scary things were going on.

After, he was introduced to the saddle pad. He was interested in sniffing it--new and right out of the box I'm sure it smelled a bit weird.

Checking it out.

He didn't balk, try to run, or even flinch when I tossed the saddle pad on him. I patted on it, wiggled it around, and so on and he remained entirely unimpressed by it.

No big deal, lady.

We also did a bit of lunging around with the pad on--just at a walk so it didn't fall off. He was unconcerned by moving with this thing on him.

Next was being introduced to the saddle. This also got a thorough sniff, and a muzzle search-over.


Same thing, with the pad--I tossed the saddle on with absolutely fanfare or reaction from Gobie. He wasn't oblivious to it being there, he just didn't seemed bothered by it at all. And, true to form, he was more interested in where the next treat was coming from.

Hey, I think you left the treats by the fence.

I didn't cinch up the girth or anything this go around--I figured I'd keep it short and sweet. The majority of our work today--for the most part unphotographed--was lunging. After all, before you hop on a horse it's handy if he knows cues for walk, trot, and "whoa" at the very least.

This is something we've been working on for a while and I'm happy to say Gobie and I have both gotten loads better at it. I haven't gotten better at trying to simultaneously lunge and video it:

But, you get the idea, I think! Today we did a lot of walking and trotting on both sides, with some pretty stellar switching over. His whoa could use a bit of work, but since this was all in a halter with voice commands I think we're doing really well.

The flies, you may be able to tell, were out in full force. I put some swat along his legs before we began which seemed to help a lot. You may also be able to tell that Gobie's looking pretty FAT, too. Hopefully more work means a more trim and healthy pony!

After our good work I turned Gobie back out with his friends and he ran down the hill to the pine trees to greet them. I hung out with the whole gang in the shade for a little while before going home. After all, a little socializing after work never hurt anybody.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First Bath

Over the winter Gobie's coat had gone a little crazy. He evidently had some insect bites, and had rubbed naked patches on his neck and shoulder, and had a bit of dandruff around his mane as well. So as soon as it got warm I vowed to give him a proper bath.

Easier said than done, of course, to a rescue pony not use to that kind of thing. I have no idea if he ever had a bath in his life but I suspect not. Last summer Bonnie would bring the hose out to spray on the horses to help keep them cool, but Gobie wanted none of it.

The first step was just getting him wet, so as soon as there was a weekend in the 80s I brought him out to meet the hose. Bonnie had an old one with an adjustable nozzle attached to the house, so I took him under the trees and tried it out. Gobie was decidedly not a fan. I did manage to get him wet, but he was terrified of the thing. He backed up, ran around in circles, and pranced around with his front feet. But he got wet, and we ended on a positive note.

This weekend I came prepared with some shampoo and a new hose. With the new hose I could attach it to a water source closer to the fenced in work area, it was coiled for easier handling, and the adjustable nozzle was all new and pretty water tight so it didn't make any scary hissing water noises.

All in all it went rather well--and extremely well, I'd say, because I was doing it all myself. It's a bit tricky after all, to manage one nervous horse in one hand, and manage a crazy hose in the other. He was much more calm this go around, but still wanted to run about in circles. It was also brutally hot--which was helpful because I could tell in his moments of calmness that he did enjoy how the water cooled him off.

Things did get a bit dicey when he stepped on the hose. It's coiled, remember, which means that if he stepped on it just so it would wrap around his leg. Horses generally don't take kindly to feeling like their legs are trapped so he would start kicking to remove the bother, which would sometimes mean the hose would wrap even MORE around his leg. Removing such a thing from a bit panicked horse can be dangerous--you run the risk of getting kicked, or your fingers stomped on. But, as a testament to the great trust between us, Gobie was very good at listening to me asking him to stop, and then allowing me to deftly removing the coiled bit. It was dangerous at times, but entirely successful and most especially, built the trust between us even more.

On to the pictures:

Dry pony, pre-bath.
All wet, and looking a bit silly.
Some consolation noms.

Here also, for your viewing pleasure, a video. This is directly after his bath. I was hoping he would take the opportunity to dry off a bit and roll in the grass, as opposed to the dust (and therefore mud). But, as you can see, he thought about it but never did roll. Fortunately he dried off pretty quickly and rejoined his friends.

The aftermath of the bath:

Halter and lead rope drying in the sun.
Now I need a bath...!

My other motive for giving Gobie a bath was to help manage all the beastly little flies harassing him.

The crazy jerks have been awful this year, biting his poor little legs and ears. After his booster and vaccinations he was feeling out of sorts--so we called the called the vet and the recommended we give him some bute. I also suspected the flies were bringing him down, too, so the bath was part one in trying to manage them. After he was clean I slathered a bunch of SWAT on his legs and in his ears to help sooth the bites and to kill and repel the flies. The stuff works magic and highly recommend it. The next day he got some fly spray over the rest, and I tested out some equispot on him. Not sure how much staying power either of those will have, but we will see.

Bonnie suggested I try a fly mask on him, too, so that may be the next step. Meanwhile the horses are all trying to beat the heat by staying out of the sun and in the shade.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Booster and Teeth

A follow up visit from the vet today involved Gobie getting a booster shot, and one last vaccine. He didn't let the doctor take his temperature this time, but the other parts went off without much event. He still tried to run away, mind you, but it was better than last time.

The really eventful part of the visit was Honey's dental care. I can't recall the last time I saw a horse get their teeth taken care of, so it was interesting to watch.

Honey, like most horses, had to be sedated to get her teeth tended to. Some of her teeth had gotten kind of sharp and had been causing her some discomfort. So it was time to have her teeth rasped. This involves squirting fluid into the horses mouth to rid it from any debris, strapping on a speculum to their head so they keep their mouth open and don't bite anyway, and brushing at the teeth with a rasp--kind of a big metal toothbrush that files away jagged bits.

Honey took the whole thing rather well, I thought. When she was done she was greeted by her boyfriend at the fence, and had no trouble getting back to eating.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Visit from Molly

This weekend featured a quick visit from our pal Molly. You might remember that Molly and Gobie have met before.

It was awfully hot out, so there wasn't a lot of action. Gobie was ever handsome and a bit naughty, per usual.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


There was a buttercup explosion at the barn! Yellow flowers everywhere. The bottoms of my pant legs were discolored from walking through all that polleny sunshine. The horses don't seem to mind it one bit.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vet Visit

Gobie had his first visit from the vet--with me at least--on Wednesday. He had been vetted before I adopted him almost a year ago so he (and the rest of the horses at Bonnie's) was ready for his annual shots.

It was not a great day for it, to be frank. It had been raining all day and it was still pouring when I arrived at the barn. All the horses were in the far paddock getting soaked despite the fact that there were trees and shelter available.

The only horse with any sense was Honey, who stayed pretty try under a pine.

I thought for a moment that the vet had cancelled on account of the weather, but she was just stuck in traffic and soon everyone was ready for their turn.

As far I know Gobie was always sedated for vetting (and for hoof trimming for that matter) so I wasn't quite sure how it was going go. But the veterinarian was exceptional--understanding, calm, very patient and above all quick!

She started with a physical exam that all went rather well: checking the mouth, the teeth, and taking temperature. That part was fairly easy since Gobie is just a curious character to being with.

Then it was on to the Coggins test. Even though I have no solid plans to move him, or foresee him interacting with any new or strange horses I figured it was just best to keep on it. It was a pretty quick draw of blood--he didn't try to run off or anything after he was stuck.

The final bit were a few shots. These didn't go quite so uneventfully! After he was stuck he would want to run off--which is better than wanting to fight by kicking or rearing--but not particularly helpful. But the vet was very efficient and as soon as she stuck him she was able to push in the vaccinations and that was that. Three shots, three sticks!

I was really grateful for Dr. Hendrickson's expertise and bedside manner. We chatted a little bit and she made a comment about how focused Gobie was on me even as he was a bit fearful of what was going on. She also commented on how food motivated he was--and that he'd probably respond well to clicker training. Add that to the list!