I had a couple of great rides this week. Being aware of my balance with my hips has been hugely beneficial, and as suggested from Sarah in the last lesson, I have been testing Milo with dropping the inside rein and seeing if he remains straight in self carriage, or needs help. He has been doing well.
I have also been putting sunscreen on him and although most of this week we havent seen harsh rays, I put it on anyways as a preventative measure in case some sunshine does come, then Milo wont have to suffer a burnt little pink nose. When we do have harsh direct rays, he gets his beat up Cashel fly mask with the drop nose and ears (although theres a hole in one so his ear always pops through), to not only combat flies, but to protect the pink skin around his blue eye. Milo hates the sunscreen but has learned to put up with it. His new nickname from my favorite feeder is "Coppertone" because he seems to always smell like it. I think it's suiting anyways because he is a copper tone. :)
In case you are wondering about the ball, it arrived last week. I was disappointed that it wasnt as large as I was anticipating, but we inflated it at home, and on a Friday I brought it out for Milo. Jake had been taken into the arena and so Milo was distracted by the loss of his friend. I threw the ball into the pasture for Milo, who completely ignored it. But by the next morning when we arrived with the trailer for our lesson, it was deflated and limp near the apple tree. It didnt even last a whole 24 hours! But, after retrieving it, we saw that the plastic was quite thin and wasnt that durable. What a waste of $12! Now I am on the hunt again for something to replace it. I have seen the Equine Soccer Balls (or, EquiSpirit), and I think he would love one, but I am not in love with the $98 price tag. I have seen some balls with ropes attached off of them, but none in a soft material, all hard. I dont want him tossing around a solid plastic ball and wacking himself with it, or worse, breaking it into a million pieces.
So I'm not sure yet what to do about a replacement toy.
Yesterday I helped my friend feed all of the horses. I was eager to help her finish quickly so we could ride, and being as it was Thursday, there were no lessons, and the boarders who were riding would be done by the time we were finished. We walked the buckets down to the pastures where Milo is at, and fed the horses. I went to grab a flake of hay from one of the hay shelters, and all of a sudden something really hurt on my arm. At first I thought it was the hay poking me, but suddenly it hurt really bad. I screamed and dropped the hay, Clara looked at me bewildered. I saw a damned black and yellow fuzzy thing on my arm and I instantly wacked the evil thing off of me. Damned bee stung me!! I could see the skin around the sting-site start kind of "bubbling" into little dots, and the point of sting turned red and a few drops of blood came out. I wasnt too concerned because I had been stung before when I was a child and had no complication. So I merely gritted my teeth and finished feeding the horses in the main barn. My arm bothered me the rest of the night, but never swelled up thank goodness. It's still sore if it touches something, but there's only a small red dot on my arm now. I am concerned, however, because as I went to close the hay storage, I saw three more bees flying around it. I certainly hope there isn't a nest forming there. I dont want anyone else stung and I certainly don't want my horse stung. I will have to remember to address the issue with the BO.
Bee sting over, I decided to lead Milo up to the barn then so I wouldnt have to walk back down and retrieve him later. Clara was with me and she was looking hard at Milo's feet as I led him out. I became embarrassed knowing Milo's feet need to be trimmed (farrier scheduled for this afternoon), but suddenly she said "Um, Milo is lame". WHAT?!?! Cars were wanting out of the driveway, so we quickly got him out of the way and waited for them to pass. I had her lead him a few steps and sure enough he was bearing weight on the toe of his left hind hoof. He was walking in his classic "I've got an abscess" manner, and I sighed knowing what we were in for. I led him to the barn to soak him. He wasnt three-legged lame and was leading fine, so I didnt feel like I was torturing him.
As I soaked him with Apple Cider Vinegar (no small feat - a flare on his hoof that needs corrected from the farrier resulted in his hoof not fitting the loaner easy-boot, and he wouldn't keep his foot in a pan, so I had to hold a soaked paper towel wad against his hoof for twenty minutes, re-soaking as needed), I called the farrier to confirm our appointment for the next day. I cited that Milo was lame and it appeared to be an abscess, and he agreed that the ACV soak was a good idea, and he would see what he could do when he saw me on Friday. I hope he might be able to dig it out. At least a solid trim (if Milo can, being as he will have to bear a substantial amount of weight onto that hoof) should allow him to fit into the boot.
So this brings to mind the fact that my horse, it seems, gets abscesses every six months or so. What gives? This was the same hoof as last time too. I will ask my farrier what he thinks might be triggering these bi-yearly episodes. But in the meantime, I want to explore preventative options available, and invest in my own easy-boot. I have also heard some good things about the Animalintex Poultice Pads for abscesses, anyone heard anything about these? And finally, I want to invest in a Rider's Rasp not only because I have wanted one to help with the superficial cracks that form before the farrier arrive (he has a bad one right now where the flare split on that abscess hoof - I wonder if that crack is what allowed bacteria to get behind the hoof wall), but I have heard great things about them and it seems a good preventative measure, not only against abscesses.
So finally on the list of things to update about, I was told last night by Jake's owner that Milo came after her the day prior. Literally, with ears back, charging and terrible attitude. He had tried this in the past with her and I figured that he needed to know she was boss (this is the typical case with any of my friends who need to smack him on the nose a few times for him to figure out he cant bite). I advised her when they first got put in together, to enter the pasture with a longe whip, and not be afraid to use it if necessary, and soon Milo will learn not to mess with her. Things seemed to be going well this past winter, but then she told me last night about this last episode. She said she was so nervous she ended up just leaving for the day. Well, thats not good. As we tried to figure out what his deal was, she told me that she usually gives him alfalfa pellets before entering the pasture to distract him as she takes Jake out.
Woah, that is a HUGE no-no.
Firstly, you don't feed my horse anything without my permission. Let alone alfalfa pellets!!!
Second, if there is an issue of dominance with Milo and her, all she is doing is succumbing to his dominance by rewarding him with his behavior, and ignoring the problem at hand. I know personally when I first bought Milo he had food aggression. I am not surprised to hear that he would pull this crap with someone else who has been giving him food on a regular basis. That, however, doesnt excuse his behavior which is absolutely unacceptable.
Unfortunately, there isnt a whole lot I can do, because, well, we addressed those issues of dominance four years ago when I bought him. And Jake's owner is so kind and nice, she kept saying she would feel terrible hitting him with the longe whip it needed. I am afraid for her, who I know will never display any real dominance over Milo is she keeps avoiding the issue. I suggested that if we need to, I am OK with splitting them up so she doesnt have to deal with him.
This whole situation makes me really sad. Sad because it makes me feel like I have a rank and mean horse, when I know that Milo is the most sweet and cuddly horse I have ever known. But I do know that he was a handful when I first got him, and I find it sad that other people have to deal with that before he learns that they are the boss. My friend Clara said "well he's just a momma's-boy", and that might be. He was really only handled by me when I got him, and as he gained more knowledge undersaddle, I started letting other people get on him. He would throw little hissy-fits, but the competent riders would get him through it and he would get over himself. I'm not sure what I can do about the situation because it is between Jake's owner and Milo. I can't just tell him to be nice to her, she has to display her dominance over him, and as I said, I'm afraid she will never be able to do that, shes just not that kind of person.
So, what is the solution? I am not sure. But the current state of things is not acceptable.