Friday, June 10, 2011

Popped Balls, Abscesses, Behaviors...Oh My!!

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.


An Image of Grace said...

Big Dee's Tack has a deal on Jolly Balls right not- assorted colors for $9.95. Not sure if they are big enough for Milo - but the price sounded right.

paint_horse_milo said...

Thanks Melissa - I was hoping to find the big ones....

SillyPony said...

Sometimes I think we have the same horse. I totally get how you feel. Nobody wants to have "that" horse. I about died the day I was told "Your horse bit my little girl today". And just last Saturday he tried to walk right through me to get to the turn-out gate. I tell any new stall cleaners that they have my permission to beat him if he shows any sign of bossiness. Nobody does, of course. The experienced and alpha handlers don't have a problem with him. But the timid folks are just not going to step up and prove they're the alpha. It's not really in their nature. I sympathize because I personally don't want to deal with horses that are above me, but I feel like if "I" can get respect out of my horse so can they. But some just aren't interested.

Have you thought about supervising a roundpen session with her and Milo? Perhaps if they can establish the proper hierarchy in that way she will be more comfortable with that than taking a lunge whip at him? I know I used to roll my eyes at roundpenning that way, but I really feel like it made a difference in my ability to establish myself as alpha mare over my bossy horse so I guess I'm a convert.

Remember that horse-human interactions go both ways, there needs to be 100% and if a human is not supplying her share of authority the horse will fill the gap. It's nature's way. Also remember that his dominant feeling over HER doesn't not change the well earned respect he has for YOU. IMHO.

Mary said...

Bummers on several fronts there, I'm sorry for your struggle. Separating the two would probably be the best thing. But really, in all honesty Jake's owner should "grow a couple" (sorry) I was thinking maybe the grade schools might be a place to find heavy duty play balls. Or perhaps, Milo doesn't want another ball, he wants HIS old ball and he maybe he just stomped the heck out of just because...LOL. No other ball will do.

in2paints said...

Yay! Non-embedded comment section... now I can comment again! :)

I have used those Animalintex pads a number of times... in fact, I keep a stash just in case Lilly gets another abscess. They're super easy to use and seem to work really well. They're also big enough to cover the whole hoof, but once you know where the abscess is, you can just cut them up into smaller pieces and save some money that way. I definitely recommend them.

Sorry to hear about Milo's behavior issue. I think you're kind of stuck if Jake's owner won't take steps to mitigate the situation. Without her help, it sounds like the best option is to split up the horses. Do you think she'd actually have to hit him with a whip to encourage him to stay out of her space, though? Cracking the whip, or even putting something loud on the end of a dressage whip (like a plastic bag or something) might be enough to deter him from acting that way towards her...

I hope things get better for you and Milo all around!

paint_horse_milo said...

SillyPony - thanks for the lengthy response! Ha, sometimes when Im reading your blog I think Junior sounds much like Milo too.

I personally did a TON of roundpenning with Milo when I got him. Lately, not so much, we dont need to do it. THe groundwork we work on is all the Connected stuff from peggy Cummings - we just dont need to work on dominance. Now, its a good idea for Jake's owner to, but I honestly dont see her even being able to do that. Her and her daughter are SOOOO "Oh, give them treats and scratches" and thats about it. Their other horse (her daughters riding horse) has such issues with space and leading and is spoiled to no end. FOrtunately for them, she doesnt try and be aggressive or bossy. I honestly dont think even in the round pen that she could be capable of bossing him. Im thinking though that maybe if she could lead him or sorta longe him it might help. SIGH we will see.

I didnt mean for it to come across like I was questioning my own relationship with Milo. Hes my little baby and hes great for me. Ive just invested a TON of time with him, and it's hard for other people to handle him who have not done the same.

paint_horse_milo said...

in2paints - Yes, I got a request to change the comments, and as soon as I did it seemed to make everyone happy. I personally liked the look of the old version, but I would much rather be able to converse with people!

I dont think she so much would have to hit him with it, but I have found that something in your hands with him deters him greatly. Thats why I recommended to her that everytime she goes into the pasture, to have it with her, or at LEAST a halter for jake with a leadrope. Something to swing at him if he doesnt go away. Now, I havent personally seen what he does to her, so she might be saying hes doing something worse than is reality, Im not sure. But I do know that she lets her own horses push her around.

The problem with spliting them up is that the BO really doesnt want to. Shes happy that they get along and she doesnt want to change the herd dynamics in the lower pastures. Also, the other four horses in the two pastures are all mares, and I do NOT want Milo in with a mare. From experience I have found that he gets WAY too attached to mares, but not geldings. So, if he were moved it would have to be with one of the BO's mares. Unless another boarder came down and one of hers went up, but I dont see her being ok with that as the mares are all her broodies she wants on the pasture.

I think the solution is to not tip toe around the situation. She really needs to figure out what she is comfortable doing if we are to keep them together. I just dont know....

smazourek said...

Don't buy a rider's rasp, they're a waste of money. Get a real rasp, I personally use a Bellota rasp.

I've had to carry a lunge whip into the pasture with me from time to time because of the little mustang my horses live with. She thinks it's just fine to turn her hindquarters to me and kick. One smart crack with the lunge whip and she changes her mind for a couple months. The key is to do it hard enough that you only have to do it once- they get the picture without getting bent out of shape.