Friday, December 27, 2013

Learning new things about Moose

Moose had an appointment with my vet last weekend where he was scheduled to have his teeth floated but I also had a few things I wanted the doc to look at.  First,  this was the first time my normal vet met Moose. Moose was a real charmer!  He won the vet over very quickly standing patiently and letting the doc poke and prod him.  Multiple times doc said how much he liked this pony.

I wanted Moose's eyes checked,  which were reported to look great. I had heard Moose cough a few times so the doc listened to his lungs,  which was also reported to sound great.  He suspected the unusual and random cough to be due to weather more then anything.  Since I had both the boys treated with sand clear a month or so ago,  I had the vet listen to his gut too which he said he heard no sand in.

When the doc looked into Moose's mouth,  we had a real surprise!  The doc reported that Moose was no five year old,  in fact,  he suspected him to be about 11. Wow! That was quite the birthday Moose! Although I'm a little surprised,  my affection for the little guy isnt phased by the new age.  My vet could pretty easily assess that Moose most likely hadn't had his teeth done before, but after an initial inspection he didn't find much to be concerned about.  Moose had some hooks "doc called them fangs haha" on his first molars and some tartar so we proceeded with the float. 

Moose pleased the doc when he quietly accepted his small ccs of the doc's "cocktail" barely flinching at the prick at all.  He quickly started to stagger as we led him to the chute.  I handed the lead to the vet assistant,  a long time rodeo friend,  and took a seat behind the poor doc who had lowered his stool as low as it could go and still had to hunch a bit.  Moose's mouth was cranked as far as his little cheeks could spread and the vet was very kind as he floated quickly and gave him lots of breaks.  He even did a little "hand floating" to which Moose did great. 

I had noticed a strange crunch sound when Moose ate and questioned my vet about it. It mostly went away after his fangs were grinded down but may just be his bite.

Moose did wonderful for his first visit with the regular vet and I was also very pleased in how much better he did in the sterile environment versus the first time he was there four months ago.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Arena ride

Sui I haven't posted in a while.  I'm sorry.  But in some news,  I have found two covered areas within five minutes from home who take haul ins!  My go-to arena is slightly closer and is entirely covered with open rides Wednesday night. The owner is someone I know from the mounted posse and its her own private arena so I'm generally riding by myself.

After hauling in three previous times,  and from putting Moose in with Milo and them being fine,  I decided to work both the horses in the once a week haul in and brought moose with us. This was the first time I hauled both the boys together and it went well with no problems!  I did get to experience how attached they are but I got to work both the horses, in an arena,  with lights, on one haul in fee. It was a great evening!

Pictured is moose watching us as best he could over the stall door.  ;)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Second Reining Fundamentals Clinic

Last month I attended the second Reining Fundamentals Clinic by Patricia Ruff, my my first she put on. This month I signed up for a second (and half already signed up for a third in January). This time the clinic location was in a rather familiar arena, the same covered one I used to haul to and take lessons with Sarah in, and ironically enough, instructor Patricia used to operate her program from this very facility years ago before she and her horseshoeing husband bought their own property.

One of the best things I have found about attending these clinics is the general atmosphere. Although most clinics are much the same: waiting around for long periods, getting cold and stiff, tired horses and riders, the education and approach to learning that Patricia offers is quite exceptional. She never has made me feel that we are miles away from where we should be, or that I am on the wrong mount for the discipline, things I have been told before by trainers in lessons and clinics. Patricia doesnt fairy coat anything, but she understands that the average enthusiast doesnt have a $50,000 horse to compete on either. Thats maybe one of the most refreshing things about these last few clinics. The majority of the horses and riders are basic people, on basic horses ranging from all different breeds and disciplines, skill levels and interests. Therefore, it further exemplifies the training offered - that any horse can benefit from these exercises and although they are geared towards creating a better reining horse, the transformation I have witnessed in the other participants shows the benefits.

This clinic touched on what we learned at the last one with the Five Easy Pieces, but went beyond. We schooled the five pieces to start, then moved on to other things as well.

Milo and I at the clinic, courtesy of the clinic organizer

Five Easy Pieces: Milo is coming along very well with these. I have been a good student the last month in practicing these and even teaching them to the paint mare Splash when I ride her. Patricia even gave me warm fuzzies when she commented "Nina will be teaching the next clinic, folks!" after I demonstrated our five pieces. Milo has learned to work fluidly from one piece to the next, and now we are asking him to up the ante. By far step number three, basically the half pass, is where Milo looses the most impulsion. An exercise Patricia gave me to help with this, particularly at the trot, is to approach a wall at a forty-five degree angle, and cue for step three along the wall. Initially when we tried this, Milo threw his first fit of the day, an episode I hadnt witnessed in two years since we left the drill team. But I ran him a few circles to emphasize NO, and even the other participants commented how he sure looked sorry about that decision. When we returned to the wall it took a few tries but he gave much more effort in step three. I even noticed later how it had greatly improved our work at the walk as well.

We moved onto neck reining: Patricia mentioned a scenario I'm sure we all have witnessed; rider "neck reins" their horse, pulling on the outside rein in an effort to make the horse neck rein "better", which really just tips the horse's head to the outside of the turn. Right? Ugly and incorrect. But how do we maintain an inside bend when we neck rein with the outside rein? Teach the horse to look to the inside when the rein is on the outside. So we all walked round and round the arena, "slapping" the rein up onto their neck, and if no response was given, bringing the head towards the inside with and inside direct rein. BUT to keep the horse on a straight track, keep the INSIDE leg on as well. So, slap the rein up onto the neck, no response, bring the nose in (and this is only slight, no nose to knee action here) and put inside leg on. Repeat. Eventually, Milo, and others, were figuring out that when the outside rein was applied, he should look to the inside and get patted, or have his nose brought around for him.

The word Woah: Milo has learned the word woah before, I taught it to him for his slides. But I learned that the work Woah is much more valuable then I was actually applying it with. Patricia said that the Woah actually should mean "back up". She also emphasized teaching three ways to stop: with the word Woah, with the rein and LEG, and from the seat. All aspects I have taught to Milo. But here is where the aha moment was: to teach each SEPARATELY and apply each SEPARATELY. Dont do them all at once. So first we taught them the word woah. Walk a straight line, say woah WITHOUT using any other cue be it seat, leg, or rein. Just say the word woah, when they stopped "choke down on the rein" and back up. Continue until the horse stops and backs a few steps on the word woah ALONE. Milo got this down after a few attempts. One key piece to remember was that once stopped, dont go forward again on the same line. Basically, when we stop the horse we told them we dont want them going any farther in the direction they were traveling. After stopped, turn the horse a different direction to walk on. Changing direction reinforces the word woah.

The next part of the stop was stopping with the brakes on, as Patricia called it. You hold the reins with enough "pull" that you actually have to push the horse with your legs with every step. Each horse has a different level of threshold they need for the rein stop, so use enough that at any point when you stop using your legs the horse will stop AND back. But never change the level of rein pressure throughout the exercise. Many horses dont like this exercise much because it can be frustrating, but it is a good indicator of your rein stop. After a few attempts Milo had the hang of it.

Finally, the combination of all of these comes together with the seat stop. Which takes time and many other riders didnt have it, but since I have done a lot of work on this with Milo, he has a seat stop and back, all in one fluid motion. The most I got out of the stopping work was in reinforcing the three different parts and not using them all together at once. Ask with the word, if not response, go to the seat, and then the rein.

We loped the horses a little bit to warm them back up, then it was time for some rundown work. I was really excited to work on this, but I seemed to get stuck at the end of the line again. By the time it was our turn, he wasnt really having it.

Rundown: Patricia drew a white line along the middle of the arena the long way, and a mark on one of the posts at the end. The white line gave a visual to try and stay straight and the mark on the post gave your eyes something to look straight and up towards. We werent fencing at this point, just teaching the horse to run straight towards the wall. Stop. Turnaround, then lope back increasing speed. Once past the halfway white line, then to ask for a stop. We watched a lot of other goes and were last to try. At that point we had stood in a cold corner for at least forty minutes. We ran down towards the fence building speed. Milo stopped at the fence pretty well, not too squirrely either way as some horses were when nearing the end. I turned him around and took a breath. I asked him to lope off and he threw a second fit, leaping and shaking his head. Patricia reminded me to not make a big deal out of it and to keep going. I wasnt going to try and lope my horse down the arena building speed when all he wanted to do was leap and buck, so I turned him back towards the fence and ran him hard towards it. He only squirreled up when loping back towards the other horses, when going towards the fence he would get over it. But on the second attempt I managed to get him going decently and tried to stop, which he blew through, although apparently compared to the other horses wasnt bad as Patricia said I should get off to reward him. I commented that that was really bad for Milo so no reward would be given and tried again. The third attempt he still didnt frame up nicely in the lope like he knows how to do, but he put his butt down a little bit and actually stopped this time, which got a few whoops from the group. Still nothing from what I know he can do, but enough was enough with that. We are already five hours into riding in the clinic and I knew there was only so much I could ask for in one day. However, I feel that this exercise is a really good one to work with Milo on at home.

Spins: we touched on spins once again and built on what we learned last time. From last month to now Milo is much more responsive to the cue of letting off my inside leg, he waits for that moment that he leg come soff and goes right into a turnaround. We still lack more forward in it as he continues to try and swap to the outside hind pivot foot. Patricia said each time he did to push him straight out of it, and a better spin was starting to come out. The hardest part is feeling the timing for when to push him out of his wrong leg spin. The trouble is he has learned cadence on the wrong leg so it feels good to me but its really on the wrong leg. I didnt really come away with anything new to work on with this, but I guess its just something to keep plucking away at.

One thing I did get out of the whole experience was I still need to pay more attention to my leg position. I tend to use C in step three when I should be using B, which in turn makes going from step three to step four difficult because step four requires C position and I cant get any further back then that if I'm already at C. I also need to work more on putting my leg forward in position A when I want the shoulder. I tend to stay in B instead of being more clear. So more leg work to work on in the upcoming rides!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Raising the Roof! (So to speak)

I broke down in tears the other night. With daylight savings and carpooling the last week I wasnt getting home until dark or just barely before. That wasnt very condusive to getting anything done but feeding and the manure was piling up as well as the mud on my horse's necks. Add in the rain we received the last portion of the week and my mood was sinking, and sinking fast. Thursday night I ran out to the horses as soon as I was dropped off, trying to get in a few fractions of daylight longer. I grimaced as I saw the pool of mud and urine that poor Moose was standing in. I knew Milo wasnt too much farther off. I peeled back the soaking tarps that where "housing" my hay and broke out in sobs. My hay was wet and nearly ruined. I had already been ripping bales apart to discard the wet pieces from the dry and still usable. I trudged up the hill to Milo and although the mats were helping to keep his shelter halfway dry, the conditions were still muddy and wet. I continued to cry as I fed Moose and gave him a hug. Light had quickly faded away and I couldnt even get the wheelbarrow out in time. I cleaned Moose's paddock in the dark because since he has such little room anyway, I tried to give him a little more clean space to move around.

Feeling defeated, I headed back to the house for a warm shower. I texted the Husband along the way and let him know that I could NOT deal with this any longer. As it was, progress on the barn was pushed out until December with hunting season fast approaching. I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call a little while later from such Husband, who said he went directly after work to the contractor's house, probably begging him to make time this weekend to put the roof up. An upset wife was definitely not something he was wanting to come home to and seemed to be the final push to get things done.

Saturday was slated to be the day the roof would finally go up. The metal had been ordered, and the lumber truck delivered it home. Saturday morning we were up bright and early setting up for the arrival of the contractors, just past daylight. They made quick work to get started and soon enough we were scrambling to have enough hands. By nine o'clock the Typar paper covered half the surface...

And we made quick work of placing the metal...

Did you know I am a forklift operator? Neither did I, but my job was the fork the contractor up and move him alongside the barn as needed. I was starting to get pretty handy with that thing!

By high-noon half the metal was up! And Milo looked on...

Work continued through the rest of the day to finish the other half. It was barely completed in time before the rain came (walking on those metal sheets in the slick rain would make for a horrible environment for the contractors). Light faded quickly to get a photo, but here is one I took this morning.

We are temporarily storing the F450, hay trailer, extra supplies, and horse trailer in it. Horses cant inhabit the structure until the county passes it's inspection and the barn still needs a few more pieces done before that can be scheduled. In the meantime, I have dry hay shelter and a covered grooming area now which is quite exciting!

Did you notice something else in the photo?

Look again.

Moose got moved! I was so surprised when I came home Sunday from an all day clinic (post to come) to find that Husband moved Moose's shelter to a much better location where there is natural drainage. Not only should this help against the mud, but he also built him a much stronger tarp shelter then the one he had previously. Although we hope the horses can move into the barn before Christmas, if things continue to get extended then Moose has a much better shelter for the weather to come.

Moose's efforts to be a llama

Quick story about Mr Moose. I got a phone call when I was less then a mile away from returning home with Milo from Husband, who frantically said "Moose got loose!" Oh brother, I thought, but was so close to home I didnt panic. I figured that with how much fuss Moose throws when we leave that as soon as we return he would be right by the trailer calling to Milo. And sure enough, as I pulled in the driveway Moose was grazing grass until he saw us, then circled the truck and trailer a few rounds until I caught him. Husband was not happy with the little guy saying he got loose earlier in the day too! Apparently when he moved the shelter he tied Moose up but not good enough because the knot came undone and Moose went straight for the grass again. He caught him that time no fuss (halter and lead attached) but I guess Moose would have non of him catching him the second time. I was told that the second escape was when Husband was placing stall mats in Moose's pen, and Moose pushed right past him and escaped out the open gate. I reminded Husband to not take Moose's adversary towards him too personally. After all, it took a long time for him to be totally comfortable with me, and that was after twice daily feedings, daily brushing, and lots of other additional love. Husband hasnt offered nearly half of that to Moose so why should he want to listen to him?

It's hard to be upset about it either way because I see the situation from both sides. But hopefully Moose doesnt learn to be an escape artist. Did I tell you a few weeks ago that he escaped once before?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Moose's Next Step

Over the weekend I was able to get Moose a little western headstall and snaffle bit. Although I'm not sure he thinks purple is his color, and I do eventually want to have him in an English bridle, as he will use that style for cart driving, this is an excellent piece to get him started with.

With the bridle on I longed him to get him used to it. He mouthed it quite a bit, but just before I tried to take some video he quietly held the bit nicely. Such a good boy!


Other then longing really well now, (today he cantered on the longe for a half circle without having to ask SO much) the other day I ground drove him down my driveway and back! It was exciting, but I realized I needed a little more time on giving in his face and more solid voice commands. No big deal, but more to work on before we get there and I might as well continue with longing work and introduce the snaffle. He's doing well with both the drive lines though touching him and flopping around. Sucha good boy! He really enriches our lives. :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Have Access to an Arena!

If you remember a few weeks ago, I started working at a neighbor's down the road helping exercise their horses (mostly a paint mare named Splash), and cleaning stalls. Its a nice way to get a little extra "horse" money, but its helped make a friendship between myself and some horsey neighbors, and more of the horse community because these neighbors are in the "rodeo scene" - a group of people I am familiar with but mostly never really met.

Aside from making a new friendship now and being able to work their horses, they invited me to use their arena whenever I please. It's an outdoor sand arena with nice footing and holds well against the weather. It's really quite convenient at only a mile and a half or so down the road with easy access. I park at their place, then ride Milo down the road to their arena, which is located at their rental house. That's maybe the only downside: the renters are classic redneck trash with lots of barking dogs (who nipped at Milo's heels today), and typical redneck horse sense. But usually they stay in their house when we come down so its not too terrible. And the accessibility to the arena far outweighs them - how can I say no to unlimited FREE arena access only minutes from my house?

So today was the second time I took Milo to the arena. My plan is to make it down there once a week for a ride (probably on weekends, but we will see if I can sneak an evening ride but its getting darker earlier now), since there is only so much hard work I can do at my house. I am able to work on body control and trotting to keep him somewhat fit, but using an actual arena really is a big deal.

I forgot to get a picture at the arena, but I'll try and remember next time.

I got about thirty minutes of work in the arean, with ten minutes of walking to the arena each way. Milo sure says its hard to work in sand again! He feels like he's swimming in there, but it only further shows the necessity for us to come out and use the arena to keep those muscles strong for work in the sand.

I worked more on the body control I was reminded of at the clinic - which I didnt give enough credit for. One of the best things it gave me was more things to work on! It has helped give me some goals again during my rides and things to focus on instead of aimlessly going around. I also worked on riding squares again, and with the use of proper footing, some speed work again. With Milo being so slow and lazy (especially in there), I used the long straight of ways to ask for speed, then hum him down in the corners. He remembered the cue well, by the second corner he was stepping under himself to slow down.

All in all, a great workout and I am SO thankful to have a good arena so close by I can haul to anytime I like!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Horsey Health

I discovered that yet again Milo is chewing on fence-posts. He simply is finding the ones that I didnt pre-rub with soap to deter him. Obviously, he is pretty bored. So with that in mind and wanting to get salt licks for both boys again, I put one up for Milo Sunday night. By the photo below, clearly he is enjoying it, if not for the salt itself but also for the entertainment factor. 

Moose on the other hand, has hardly done this same level of damage to his. After the first day he didnt appear to have licked it at all and I wondered if he even knew what it was. But today I noticed some lick rubs on it, so he must be figuring it out. His water bucket was also a bit less then normal so that probably shows higher salt intake too.

On other nutritional news, I've been considering adding oil to both the boys' grain. I once had Milo on Black Oil Sunflower Seeds for his coat and the trace oil, but ended up stopping, mostly from convenience. But I have heard about oil for lots of great benefits, weight gain, skin and coat, muscle builder, general gut health, and am seriously considering it, but what to get? Some people get Corn Oil in bulk, but I read that that might offer less then even giving them anything at all. Others feed Vegetable Oil in bulk too, but many standard oils in the supermarket have too much Omega-6 fats in them and horses need much more good fats like Omega-3, or Fish Oils. Without paying a pretty penny for labeled "horse oil" I'm trying to find another way...

But in the meantime I'm adding a few more things into both the boys' diets. Milo has had some squirty poo lately, so I'll add Dynamite Excel back to his feed for a while, Excel offering digestive health and pH stability so maybe a thirty day round would help balance him out again. I've used Excel many times and have always been happy with it.

I also have Dynamite Miracle Clay on hand, which I have used at horse shows before for helping with squirts per Sarah's recommendation. I used it only a few months ago too for balance. After reading more into it however from their website, I learned it really aids in detoxifying, poultices, and even ulcer health! If a week or so of the Excel isnt helping I will put him on some clay again to see...but I also have those prebiotics I've given Moose too so thats an option for digestive regulation too. But one step at a time, I'd like to see which seems to help through isolation first.

Thankfully, I have these options on hand!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Late Birthday Present to Myself

A Rubbermaid Wheelbarrow! Its 7.5 cu ft (not that that matters much) but its exactly what I wanted. My non-horsey Mother asked what I wanted for my birthday this last summer, to which I responded that all I wanted was a new wheelbarrow. She laughed and I didnt get a wheelbarrow. But I've wanted one of these for a long time.

You dont realize how expensive things are until you have to buy them for yourself. I never knew how expensive wheelbarrows were until a few years ago when we bought our plastic green one to mix contrete in and pour a concrete slab. I saw then how expensive the really nice ones were. And after spending a large portion of the summer using a wheelbarrow that was cracked, had a flat tire, and about five pounds of dried concrete, I finally had saved for a new wheelbarrow!

I started work a few weeks ago down the road working and cleaning a few neighbors horses. The work paid off and I had enough for the wheelbarrow! My next goal with my "horse money" is the final four stall mats I need for the winter. :)

Its so pretty!
After cleaning at various barns for many years now, I knew exactly which wheelbarrow I wanted. When I worked at J's where I learned how to ride, he had two of these and they have always been, by far, my favorite wheelbarrows to use. They are easy to use even when completely full, maneuver easily - I can keep a hand on the wheelbarrow and one on a gate or anything else. I love being able to use one hand to move the wheelbarrow. I'm totally happy!

It quickly got christened with its first load.

Yay! Happy Birthday to Me!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Small Bit of Progress

In small efforts to evade the mud that was so quickly invading a few weeks ago, I got my hands on a few stall mats for Milo. While eventually (and that hopefully means about a month) he and Moose will get moved down into the shelter of the barn and the mats will only have to get moved again, I got four set up on the muddiest corner of his current shelter. Ironically, the weather forecast says sunny and sixty for the next week so rain wont be an issue like it quickly was before, however I'm not complaining about the weather at all, and at least I will be prepared now. Moose's shelter doesnt actually get muddy inside so I'm worrying about his stall mats a little bit later. They sure are pricey and most people dont even sell them for a good price used, so a little at a time is the best way I can manage to do it right now.

Milo was wary of us carrying those big (heavy!) black things up to his shelter, puffed and snorted, so I tied him to the trailer to keep him out of the way. But he didnt mind one bit once they were laid down and by feding time he had clearly been enjoying the softer surface!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October is the Month for Clinics

Last time I attended a clinic was last October, so it is only suiting that the next clinic I attended was in October! Finding reining clinics around here (or really anything I am interested in...) is pretty hard, so when I heard about a Reining Fundamentals clinic being held by a local reining trainer who scaled back her operation by the time Milo and I were ready, I was eager to sign up!

I arrived at the clinic, which was at a nice facility I hadnt been to before. Very well kept, but the arena was a little small for the ten participants and clinician. A lot of the clinic taught things Milo and I had already learned and worked on from Sarah including body control. The clinician broke it down into "five easy pieces", however, which gives me a nice little set to practice during each ride. They run like this: basic circle, horse in a banana shape and moving with forward energy. The best thing I got out of this was to continue to encourage Milo to move off my leg more energetically and to remember to keep my legs quiet. The majority of this small exercise is with the reins. Exercise one moves into two; a counter bend - horse travels in the same arc but going in a circle the other way. She emphasized that when working on these five pieces to work the same arc. I got reminders for my rein position to "open the door" more with my hands then I do, which was helpful. Exercise three is probably the hardest, a true half pass or two track. We learned this with Sarah as well, and I was surprised to see how well Milo executed it as we havent worked on it much. As a reminder, a two track, or half pass, is when the horse moves laterally in the direction of the arc in his body, unlike a leg yield where he moves away from the arc. Three moves into four, which is moving the hip around, again in the direction of the arc. A good way to work on this is standing parallel to the arena wall, then practicing moving the hip in a 180 degree turn and facing the other way. Milo, again, pleased me with how well he executed this maneuver. I was happy to see how well he remembered these! Step five is backing in a circle, same direction of the circle as the arc in the body of course. I already dismounted for lunch by this point (I thought we were covering it after lunch), but I'm quite confident in Milo's capabilities for this maneuver as well.

After lunch we worked on the lope departure and the spin. She teaches the lope departure as most trainers do, with the "hip to the eye" as she says it, with the horse arced in the direction of the desired lope departure. This is initially how Milo was taught, but after work with Sarah we worked on loading the outside hock rather then bringing the inside hock in. I explained this to the clinician, and showed her, but to be nice I practiced "her way" as well, and Milo loped off nicely both ways.

I was rather surprised by the abilities of the others in the clinic. I understand it was an intro to reining, building fundamentals clinic, but many of the pairs there had basic control like loping, and basic body control. I think that had the group been closer in training we might have gone a little deeper, but the clinician I think recognized our ability a bit and asked to see our lead change which she didnt go over with anyone else. I showed her a lead change on a counter canter, as the arena was small. I hadnt practiced a lead change with Milo in some months, I dont have a proper arena at home, but he was fine and changed pretty well. She pointed out some things I was aware of (leaning forward in the change, looking down) but otherwise said we were good. She laughed and said "we need to be taking lessons from her!" which was encouraging.

We finally got to the spin work, which is where I was really able to take my money's worth away. As I watched a few other people try before me and listened to the clinician, I already was getting a better idea of how to fix our problems. First, we were told to "wind the horse up" before the spin. Per normal, working in an energetic circle and bringing the circle tighter and tighter until the horse begs to spin - an exercise I have worked on before, but an excellent reminder as often I find myself working on the spin from a straight line, lacking a lot of impulsion from the get go. I got a really good cuing tip from her too: normally I kick my inside leg forward, unintentionally as an effort to "open the door", but my bringing it forward and not just off the side, I'm giving Milo a visual block with my leg too far forward. Also, if I keep my leg on him in neutral as we "wind up", when I take my leg off of him to cue to spin it is a much more receptive cue, which I found totally true as we practiced in front of her. She also pointed out each time I needed to push him back out of the spin when we lost forward motion or he switched to the outside leg. I was letting him take a few steps before getting after him and I was usually just adding more outside leg rather then really pushing him back forward energetically out of the spin.

It was a great clinic, and a rare time when I can walk away from a clinic really feeling proud of what we already have accomplished. :) I am planning on attending her next clinic which is already in the works!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Milo and Moose Updates

Its funny, I have quite a few pending posts that never saw the "publish" button...mostly because I ran out of time, didnt get to add that photo I wanted, or already had a post for the day (I dont like double posting on one day). those moments have passed and its time to give a more accurate update.

Lets see...I will start with the most alarming, which concerns me. Everyone in the country (hopefully) knows about the government shutdown. If you are current on me then you know that I, being a government employee, have been effected. I've tried to stay calm about all this because, well, getting hot headed and stressed doesnt do much considering I cant do anything about it all, but it is worrisome for long term. Even missing one full paycheck gets me behind and we are still paying off the beams for the barn, let alone needing to get the roofing, oh and the other $600 worth of corral panels I have to pay off and pick up for the winter. But I digress.

Two weeks ago I put my feelers out in the local horse world for potential small jobs on the side. I got a few responses back but was able to start one my first day sent home on furlough. The barn is just a mile or more down the road from me, is owned my some local acquaintances, and has riding, mucking, and feeding work needing to be done. I can plan to go out minimum two to three times a week as needed for some weekly cash. Even when I go back to work I can do the extra time down the road and it sure is nice to make more connections with horse people that are close by to me. Their horses are all on the rodeo circuit - barrel racers and roping horses primarily. I told them I'd never ridden "rodeo" horses before, but am more then open to exercising them and learning whats what. I rode a tobiano roping mare named Splash on Tuesday. It is nice to get on horses and not necessarily worry about "training" them as I do when on Milo.

Aside from that, the weather has been horrid here with record breaking rainfall and winds. It calmed down the last two days or so but my shelters have taken a beating and the footing is slick. I cant wait for the roof to go up and the horses to be in a more proper barn.

Yesterday I took Milo out on the trail since it was clear(ish) and hadnt poured in at least a day so I figured the ground would be ok. It was. We had a pleasant ride, I got a little frustrated with Milo's snacking and ignoring my leg aids to move sideways, but was reminded of my ride with Splash where she too leaned in to the left and I corrected it by moving her whole shoulder far off to the right, after a few simple leg requests were ignored. I did the same with Milo and he was starting to hold his shoulder up better. I had to get off a few time for low hanging trees that blew over. I'm hoping I can coax the Husband out with me to cut the trees and they are luckily towards the beginning of the trail. But I reminded myself what a placid horse Milo can be as I led him underneath the low tree branches I held up high enough to clear the saddle horn. I come to expect certain things from Milo now and forget how even those small daily efforts from him should not go unrewarded.

In Moose news, I got him a weatherbeeta midweight blanket for the winter. It was a steal at $45 and is in excellent condition. Its a 51" so is slightly large on him since his Tough1 is a 50", but it will work fine. Moose continues to please me daily, even in the simple act of blanketing him. He's been wearing his orange rain sheet and hasnt been bothered much by it; I can lift it over his head with no fuss, adjust it and he's fine. I have to remember with him too that small efforts daily are a big deal from what he used to be like only a month ago.

Moose has been learning how to move his hip and shoulder over and yesterday I started teaching him to longe. Slow and steady of course, but he was starting to get the idea. I then worked on softening in his face to each side, as he will need to learn that in a bridle if I want to teach him to drive. He has a basic understanding of these things from halter training, but is coming along nicely too. I just love that little guy!

Oh and one more thing. Since I was home on Tuesday I decided to turn Moose out with Milo briefly. Not sure why I decided to but I did. Moose walked in like he owned the place, rolled about six times, then headed into Milo's shelter and nibbled some left over breakfast. Milo stood close to me and watched curiously as Moose wandered around. Then Milo walked towards Moose inquisitively. They both turned butts and I made some growling noises at both of them, but Moose was the one to fire. He double barred at Milo who came running for safety from Mom. Moose rolled a few more times, then approached Milo again, not unkindly. He then casually kicked a leg out to Milo. There was never any squealing or really any excited energy from both of them. Moose basically just walked in and said he was the boss and Milo, surprisingly, conceded to him. I was thankful it wasnt the other way around but decided enough was enough and took Moose out. I cant be angry with him, but I wonder how much I might like to turn them out together....I know they were fine the first night and ate together, but I worry if Moose takes dominance too far and puts himself in harms way. In the meantime, only supervised turnout together will be allowed and Moose continues to have his own paddock. For the winter I plan to have them stalled next to each other with joined turnout but we will play it by ear.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

You Asked for It! Wedding Pics

So I'll post a few of my faves, but if you want to see more you can hit up my photographer's website here.

The hundred year old barn on the property. Inside is an antique shop and the grooms quarters
My bouquet, our rings, and of course, deer antlers
Our beautiful cake made by the Best Man's wife. Topper is a Montana Silversmiths bride and groom on tractor
Getting ready with the help of Husband's cosmetology graduate cousin  

Our Wedding Party. The guys have shotgun shell boutineers I made, and the girls are wearing horseshoe necklaces I made as well. 

Dad and I
We're Married!!
We're missing one Bridesmaid in this photo, but the table decorations were white lights, deer antlers, Pendleton Whiskey bottles for vases and various spurs and horseshoes scattered. (Can you believe the blonde is my twin sister?)
I just love this picture with the mini donkey's legs too. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Outfitting horses is so fun

Milo got a new soft green halter and brown lead from a friend and Moose for a hunter orange rain sheet!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Have Fallen in Love Again

It must be pretty obvious that I have grown attached to Moose already. I'm so happy we added him to our family. There was some natural hesitation at first, what with the veterinary and medical issues and general initial buyers remorse, but I wouldnt have changed anything knowing Moose now. He really adds another great personality to our farm and is definitely making Milo happy as well. I love that he is giving me more things to do outside as well, now I have a horse and a half to take care of everyday; a little man to love and bond with and teach him that people are pretty cool too. He is already obviously interested in me. I couldnt help but swell with pride when each and every time I went outside on Sunday, as the guys were working on the barn, when Moose would call when he saw and Milo would follow. One of our friends laughed too commenting on how every time they see me they call to me. Makes a Mom happy for sure.

Moose learned more on patience today (but this will be posted Wednesday, this was Tuesday). We spent time with the dressage whip touching him all over and moreover, standing still. Moose has a hard time standing still for anything (but eating). He's just fidgety and hasnt learned patience. So we stood around together outside the pen. When he stood for long periods without turning to look at me, beg for cookies, or move a leg, he got a cookie. He started standing like a pro! Then I tied him to the trailer and made him stand when I wasnt with him. I cleaned pastures while he stood and occasionally when I looked over he was quietly standing.

Good boy Moose!

Whatcha doing? I'm kinda bored. 
 I've discovered that cookies or treats make him lick his lips. But not normal licking and chewing, he shoved his tongue out the corners of his mouth:  :)

It's hard to catch on camera, but its seriously out far and in the literal corners!

He's a pretty neat guy. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Moose's "Little Problem"

So I got in touch with my vet. I had a fecal test done for Moose last week and I was able to chat with the vet who said that his results came back negative. At least one thing the previous owner said might have been true, he must have been wormed recently. I also got to ask her about the Coprophagia and she said that text still doesnt have any specific answers for it, however in her experience she has seen horses exhibit this when they are either on high diet or antibiotics/mediation. She suspected that the mediation we put him on for his strep has cleared all the good bacteria, flora, in him so he started munching the manure to give those back to him.

Her recommendation was to put him on a PREbiotic. I mentioned that I had probiotics on hand and she informed me that unlike a PRObiotic, prebiotics feed the good bacteria, versus feeding the bacteria to the HORSE like a probiotic does. I learned that probiotics in horses, unlike humans and dogs, dont survive. The equine stomach is so acidic that only about 5% of the bacterium make it to the colon, so feeding probiotics do basically nothing for horses. She recommended a few different prebiotics and I remembered something I had on hand...Proviable-EQ, one of the prebiotics she recommended. While I was on the phone with her I found it and she said it would be perfect for him. She directed me to give it to him for the duration of the strep medication and then maybe another week after that. If we still observe any of the behavior after that to call her and we can go from there.

How was I so lucky to have the Proviable-EQ on hand? Well, remember a few years years ago when I won that gift basket from Cosequin? Well, the Proviable-EQ was in that gift basket, and although I didnt know what it was, I held onto it cause, well, you never know! And nearly three years later I have a use for it!

In final news, I rubbed bar soap all over the fence posts Milo was chewing on and on those nearby as well. Hopefully it will help with that problem. Have I ever told you that Milo tells me what he finds tasty and what he doesnt? I always tell people that Milo will always try something once, and if he doesnt take it again he doesnt like it, but if he does then he liked it. He came over to investigate my fence-post application and eagerly looked to see if the bar of soap was tasty or not. I figured, why not, so I let him try it. He went to take a bit and once he got his lips on it, instead took a small lick. He licked his lips then looked at me, puzzled. I handed the bar soap up to his mouth again and he didnt take it, instead giving me a funny face. Yay! Hopefully the soap will deter him.

Oh, but lastly, Moose was too cute to not share today:

Moose figured out pretty quickly how to fit his little head into the hay bag. That's the only thing I dont like about the bag, is that its easy for a mini (or horse probably) to get into the hay from either side. So first time I saw Moose do that I raised it up on the corral panel. But tonight I caught him redhanded again with his head in the bag! But it sure made a cute picture!

So one more rail up the corral panel it goes!

Weekend Progress on the Barn

I had to work a ten hour overtime shift on Saturday, when I returned Husband and a Friend had been busily working away on the barn trusses. They were up in the air when I got back and the rental cherry picker "Genie" had just arrived.

That big rig is Husband's "Daily Driver" as he works at a lumber company as Yard Foreman
By the end of the evening they had put the cross rail things up on the trusses (I dont remember the real name, but they are those little pieces of wood sticking up on the trusses where the support pieces will rest on for the roof). 

And there's cute little Moose! He has been a real trooper while all this crazy stuff has been going on alongside him. 

Husband was scaring the bejeebus outta me on that cherry picker. We have them at work (although far larger) but workers are required to wear fall protection when in the basket and they DONT stand on the railing edges as I caught him doing a few times!

That was how the evening ended Saturday, and Sunday we were all up bright and early and Husband was off to the lumber yard for more wood. When he got back the contractor was here too and they got right to work measuring and setting the support rails. 

The weather sure was icky out all day with period of thunder and pouring rain. At one point all the guys his under Moose's tarp shelter while the worst passed, but they would get right back out at it again. (If you look close in the photo you can see Milo's bright white face watching us all). 

Oh my gosh Donnie the contractor crawling around up there!
I had to leave later for a ton of hay, but when I got back the majority of the work had been done, just some final pounded nails for the rear truss. 

Phew! Next step is putting on the metal roofing and after that, this is how it will sit until next spring. A very good start!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Coprophagia and Pica

Ever heard of these terms? I had but didnt think much of it as I didnt have a horse that had it. But last night Husband told me, after I returned home from the store, that little mister Moose was eating his own manure. Red flags for sure, but I didnt think the vet needed to be involved yet...from what I remembered that meant there was a dietary or nutritional lack, from boredom, or even from not enough roughage consumption time . I googled searched and sure enough, those were the causes listed.

Coprophagia: consumption of feces; one's own or another's

Pica: eating non-food items such a s wood.

Lets start with the most skin crawling one, it grosses me out to really think about it, but nevertheless I need to figure out why Moose does it, because he doesnt seem to think its disgusting. My first thought is the boredom/not enough chewing time. As you know I have a "slow feed" hay bag that I use for him now and I have observed that he and Milo finish eating at about the same time, so I'm not sure if its really slowing consumption down or not as Milo's hay is on the ground loose right now. Boredom I can see as a real issue too as he's alone in a small dirt pen right now. I gave him an orange traffic cone to stave the boredom, but he hasnt touched it like Milo would have. Without making him a legitimate slow feed box, and with the conditions we have right now the least I can do is give him more chewing time without overfeeding. Today I gave him twenty minutes of in hand grazing for mastication and help the boredom. I do mess with him quite a bit daily from brushing, to cuddling and handling, to taking him out for walks, so aside from putting him in with Milo just yet thats the best I can do until he's healthy enough to start working him.

Now for nutritional concerns. I started him on the same vitamin supplement Milo is on. Dynamite, if you look at the label, has a whole heap of ingredients, but simply put their website says, "It is a complete balanced formula containing enzymes, coenzymes, biocatalyst microorganisms, amino acids, cultered gut bacteria, vitamins, and bioavailable minerals." Coprophagia, as I researched, can be caused from a lack of Vitamin E in a horse's diet, common with horses kept in grassless confinement. I searched the label and my supplement does have Vitamin E in it, however the amount is unlisted just measured in IU, or effectiveness, so it's hard to tell if there is a true deficiency of that in the supplement.

So, how do I fix the problem? All I can start with is continued hand-grazing as I can, and try and keep his mind busy, unfortunately.

Moose out hand grazing
Now, Pica, or wood chewing, is not being displayed with Moose, but Milo. I assume most people know or have horses that do this. Its not really a huge concern except that it destroys fences and obviously also means there is either a dietary deficiency or boredom. In Milo's case...I'm leaning towards boredom. I've noticed him chewing wood for at least two years now. Back when he lived on a pasture and when he was in a stall and run. So the possibility of the nutritional deficiency is hard to prove as he had 24 hour access to grazing on the pasture, and even in the stall and run he has some roughage and was turned out regularly. I lean towards the boredom on this case, but now that he is home and I know goes through periods of time without any grazing or chewing, it begs the argument again on graze time. But being ongoing I just think its something he has learned to do to fill the time. Unfortunately for my fences, and my angry husband about it, all I can try and do is deter the behavior. I heard rubbing body bar soap on the fences help deter? But knowing Milo he might like the taste...when I bleached his water bucket he was licking the sides of it trying to get a taste of the bleach.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Moose Diaries

Today the lady came out with the white stuff in the tube again. She started doing that a few days ago. At first I was startled, but I always get a carrot afterwards so I guess the powder water isnt so bad. I've had a tube in my mouth before for stuff, but this didnt taste the same. I get my carrot afterwards though which I really like.

I dont know why I get fed after the big horse up the hill though. I neigh louder then he does and I always neigh first. Maybe because he is bigger he needs it first? I pace the fenceline though and neigh to the lady each time I see her to make sure she doesnt forget about me. She always brings me food but she puts it off the ground now and its harder to get the hay out of. I figured out how to get my head in it so that was faster but then she raised it higher so I cant do that anymore. I toss it around a bit but it doesnt get the hay out faster.

I didnt realize the lady was gone until I was done with my hay. The sun was starting to come out so I stayed in the shade where it was less hot. I dozed for a while and eventually the lady came back. I called to her as soon as the big loud red horse came in my view but she didnt come right out to me. When she did she had the white tube of stuff again but I saw a carrot sticking out her back pocket. I knew she was going to spray the white stuff in my mouth again but I stood still knowing I would get my carrot afterwards. She cleaned and filled my water bucket then gave me hay again.

I ate while she messed around on the big horse's back. I cant imagine why he lets her do that. She hasnt tried to get on me yet but if she does I'm not sure I will let her like he does. She came back down the hill and I walked towards the fence. Maybe she had another carrot? She put the thing on my head again and took me out of my area. I like leaving my area, it gets boring walking around and digging at the dirt. I wish I could go see the big horse too.

She tied me to the big white box that I came here in. I dont mind being tied but I'd rather move around then stand still. I have to make sure I know where everything is and can see everything. She started brushing me again like she does everyday. I dont mind her doing it, it does feel good and she gets my itchies, but I'm still a little uncomfortable with being touched, especially on my right side. I'm not used to people being on my right side. She doesnt do anything too odd, but I like to turn and make sure she isnt going to do anything, and sometimes I try and put her back on the correct side but she doesnt listen. She picked up my hooves again too but didnt give it back as quick. I pulled away cause I lost my balance but she picked it up again. She scratched all my hooves with a pokey thing this time which was weird but ok.

Then she pulled out this long stinky black stick from the big white box. I dont remember seeing one before, but it wasnt doing anything. Then all of a sudden it started touching me too. It didnt do anything too bad, but I wasnt ready for it. Then it tickled me between my legs. I kicked at it cause it felt like a fly does but it didnt go away like flies do. I paused for a moment and it went away. It kept coming back though but I figured out that if I didnt move it went away. After a little bit she put me back in my area and took the thing off my head. I sniffed her hands because sometimes there are cookies in her hands. But I found none so I went back to my food.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Good News!

I finally heard word back from my vet today - Moose does NOT have Strangles!

OMG when I was talking to the vet my heart was in my throat and then he said he DIDNT have it and a HUGE wave of relief came over me! I've already gotten pretty attached to him.... :)

He does not have the bad S word, but he has a form of strep. He actually have a few different strains of things but fortunately they are all very sensitive to medication and treating him shouldnt be an issue. There are a lot of routes we could take but my vet offered the most cost effective medication that he believes should do the trick no problem. Tomorrow I pick up his pills and drop off a fecal sample for worm count. Both those only totally $50! What a steal! Sure is nice when the dosage is much much smaller ;)

Moose-man you are going to be ok! Only ten days of treatment and you should be as healthy as a - horse!

Oh, and bonus! Vet said what he has isnt contagious! :)

I'm over the moon with relief and excitement!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Never Fear...

Milo got his shelter today!

I found a great deal on a Costco canopy on craigslist (my many, many, many searches finally paid off!) so Milo has a temporary shelter until the roof goes up on the barn, which the trusses should be put up next weekend (or so it is scheduled to be, hopefully the contractor doesnt cancel again).

Milo wasnt all too keen of his new shelter at first. He trotted and snorted around a bit, not going in to investigate. Even when I tossed his lunch in the shelter, he was still wary. But after I gave Moose his lunch too, Milo was wanting his enough to brave the scary canopy shelter. Once he figured out it wasnt so bad he was in and out a few times.

I'm not sure if I will go to the effort to mat his shelter though. Although I can use the mats later, the corner we put the canopy in is a little higher then the rest and shouldnt get too muddy in the next month. We got some torrential rain the last two days, with thunder and lightning, and even after that there is no mud over here.

Oh and in other news, today Husband and I officially named the mini horse Moose. It seems to be the only name that has stuck when I work with him. I've tried calling him by a few other names but Moose just sounded right and well, I guess thats the way you pick it by how it sticks.

Welcome to the family, Moose!

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Stuff is Always Exciting

A true horse owner absolutely loves buying new stuff for her horses. I needed another slow feeder for the little guy (still thinking about Moose). The feeder I have is all netting and I feared with that many holes his little bitty hooves might get caught easier. So I found another version of a slow feeder and it came today.

Crummy camera phone photos, bear with me.

I really like this net. Its 10x easier to put hay into it, and I like that the small openings are not only on the bottom half but also smaller amount. My other net is time consuming to fill and I wonder if it even slows Milo down as there is greater access to the hay then this one. I may be buying another one for Milo. This one will easily hold two or three flakes at a time, although for Moose I only fill half a flake in it :)

I need to figure out another solution for Milo's feed situation. I am a firm believer in the slow feeders. Not only for the horse's health and well being, but it also keeps hay off of the ground:

This is what happens with trying to feed bins. Moose did the same thing.

For my schedule slow feeders work since I can only feed twice a day. But for Milo I cant safely put one up for him. I dont want to attach it to a fence post because the electric wire is so close. I fear him trying to eat and the bag flying around (as it does) and getting caught in the fence, or Milo getting caught or zapped. I also dont want it too low to the ground for him pawing at it. Attaching it to the farm gate wont work either as I dont want him shaking that gate too much (its heavy and all the weight is on one fence post), and the same issues apply with safety.

For the meantime I cant do much, but this weekend we are putting up a shelter for him so I'm not sure if I cant put up more panels like Moose has so I could attach a bag to that then. We shall see...