Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Emperor's New Clothes

I think I am seeing something that isn't there . . .

I talked to Soooossssaaaannn (you have to say it in a scary voice, like in Monsters vs Aliens) last night about how Ashke looked and how he moved. She said she thought he looked great and seemed to move well. She made the comment that he didn't look lame.

The farrier said the same thing when I was having Ashke move for him.

I finally realized that perhaps what I am feeling is the difference between his gait and the other horses I've ridden in the past. I've never ridden an Arabian, or any horse with such a short back and the kind of action Arabians have. I think that what I am stressing about is his gait.

He's not moving like anything is hurting. At the trot his front and offside hind move in perfect unison. He isn't head bobbing of toe stubbing any more. His action is loose and he has nice movement.

He also has a sweet little canter. Nice three beat when you listen to it. No tripping or clipping any more. Smooth. We just need to work on him moving like this when I'm on his back.

I need to chill and just start to enjoy. His back and butt are getting stronger with each passing day. He's not too heavy and he's going out in the pasture four or five times a week with Lacey and Stoli.

I'm not giving him treats until we are completely done with our work. It has helped cut down on the biting/nipping. I have the cinch thing worked out and know exactly how tight it needs to be.  I'm pretty happy with him and I think he is pretty happy with me.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seven on Sunday

Today was the trail ride that I gave up Broncos tickets in order to attend. Ok, so I did organize it. And advertise it. And promise everyone I would lead. So, it is a good thing that Jake and T and J and Barb all got to go. They had a great time. The game was pretty good, although really hot, and I got to spend the day riding Ashke.

When I got to the barn, the first thing I saw was Miracle Man (one of Chris' horses) outside at the end of the barn eating grass. No person around. No halter on. When I realized who it was I gathered up his halter and put him back in his stall. Then I locked the stall closed and went to tell Fernando that the stall had been left open. Ashke was pretty upset with all of my walking back and forth without saying hi to him. The fly sheet seemed to work pretty well, was still on him and there was no more swelling of his neck.

Nicole, Abbi and I got them groomed and moved out to the big arena. I worked Ashke in a few circles at the end of his rein, and then mounted up. We walked and trotted and watched Nicole and Callie. Nicole moved Callie to the west end of the big arena and worked her in circles. At one point, Nicole asked her to canter and Callie exploded. She galloped and bucked and sunfished for a good fifteen minutes at both directions. Nicole kept her at that gait until she was breathing pretty heavily and finally ready to listen to Nicole. I really thought part of the problem on Saturday was that Callie hadn't been warmed up enough and allowed to work out whatever was bugging her. She was much better today after exploding in the arena.

Finally, it was about that time and we were ready to go. There were seven of us.

From the left of the picture is Susan with Kiele, Nicole and Callie, Ashke and me, Abbi on Rhythm, Grace on Jazz and Mike on Vanna.  Marit on Lacey took the photo. Mike was the only male rider and Ashke was the only male horse. Everyone did great and there were no issues with any of the horses. There were several obstacles we had to work through but everyone was calm and patient and willing to wait to give those of us riding green horses an opportunity to train our horses. Abbi, Nicole, Marit and myself all had those moments.

Marit on Lacey, who has limited experience outside of the arena. She is in the stall right next to Ashke and everytime he saw her, he would whinny like he had lost her. Silly boy, she was walking right behind him most of the day.

Mike, Grace's husband, is riding Vanna, who is a fjord horse. Not a pony. Just a short horse. He said he was really sore at the end of the ride. I was too.

Vanna was a rock star. She was rock solid and seemed to really enjoy the ride. Her ears were up and she had no issues with leading the pack.

We moved at a walk, a fairly comfortable walk, but a walk nonetheless, for the duration of the ride. The horses were pretty tuckered by the time we got back to the stable. It's just about 5 miles and took just about two hours to ride.

Kiele seemed to enjoy being ridden in a way that didn't require making circles. She and Susan did a great job, although she was not real interested in the flapping black nylon windbreak staked out across an area of land the Parks and Rec people were trying to rehab. I offered Susan the use and training practice of my car wash and tarp obstacles in the arena to help her familiarize her horse with them. We will see if she is interested.

The lake was pretty fun, although Lacey was the only horse who actually went in the water. Ashke stepped in the mud, which was an improvement over the last time we were at the lake. He got in the mud up to the top of his hooves before deciding it was too scary. Maybe next time we will actually touch the water.

 Grace, our barn manager, on Jazz. Jazz is a Paint-Arabian cross. The only Paint you can see in her is the white sclera around her eye and Grace says there is a small dot of white on her belly. I haven't ever looked so I can't tell you the size or location. 

I don't think Kiele tried to go in the water. I think Susan was more comfortable watching. It was a nice change from the day before.

Callie has got the best mane in the world.

There is a section of trail that meanders under the trees and Ashke wouldn't walk into the shade. Lacey came up and backed down the trail, because she wouldn't walk forward. Vanna moved into the front and led the rest of the way home. There were no other issues.

See the big trees in the background? Very scary.

More shade, more trees, Vanna was leading so there were no issues.

All of the horses were pretty beat by this point.

Some of us got off and walked the verge on 144th. I was one of them. I figured it was safer, although I think Ashke was tired of me getting on and off. My mistake last time we rode around the lake was not getting off when it felt like I should. I didn't make that mistake today. I got off even when I think I could have managed from the saddle. Ashke is so much more relaxed when I am next to him on the ground and next time he will remember that and be okay with me on his back.

Nicole got back on but I waited until we hit Pecos to mount up again.

Almost home.

Kind of spaced out. The horses were getting pretty bushed. Callie was regretting her frantic galloping in the big arena about now.

Nicole was pretty happy with Callie. I was pretty happy with Ashke. There were no issues or problems with any of the horses, so everyone was happy about that.

Our next ride is going to be the in a couple of weeks. We are going to try a different time so Chris can join us. Between now and then I will have to see if I can find other people to ride with me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Ride

Today was the day I agreed to ride with Pam at 1 pm. I told Nicole and Paul that we were going out, so they both decided to join us. I'm not sure Pam was happy with my inviting other riders, but I figure she can get over it.

Nicole and I had arranged to meet to ride because I had been given Broncos tickets by my boss on Friday. I talked to J and we decided we wanted to invite a boy that T knows from the barn to go with us. I called Nicole and told her I wasn't going to be able to ride on Sunday and invited her to come with Pam and I on Saturday. As it worked out, I ended giving my ticket to Jake's mom, so she and J and T and J are all going to the game and I am riding on Sunday anyway. (It's a preseason game and J is taking the telephoto lens - the tickets are on the 25th row.) However, since I helped plan and advertise this trail ride, I feel that I should probably be there.

So, I got to the barn about 12:30. Nicole was showing Rhythm to a potential buyer in the big arena and Pam had just gotten there. Paul showed up a few moments later. I went and spoke to Nicole, then went to get Ashke. Guess what I found?

The Jammies that Ashke had under his sheet cut off the circulation in his neck and caused swelling at the top of his chest. I could have cried. I took the sheet and jammies off as quickly as possible to inspect the swelling. I'm going to send the Jammies back because I don't see a way to prevent it from happening again.

I had Nicole double check it for me and she wasn't too concerned. The swelling went down pretty quickly and it didn't seem to affect his performance, ability to graze or to drink. But it made me feel awful! And J wasn't happy either! If it's not one thing, . . . I really hate it when I am the cause of him being uncomfortable.

I got Ashke groomed and rubbed his throat a bit to help the swelling go down. I cleaned his feet and took pictures.

Front left foot with the shoe. Can I just say that he was tender on this foot while I was warming him up in the round pen (tossing his head up and down, visibly favoring it at a trot) and continued to act like it was killing him in the arena. Ashke was favoring his left front right up to the point where we opened the gate and headed out.

His back feet look pretty good.

Once we were out of the arena and on our way, Ashke forgot to favor his front feet, pricked his head up and started walking out. He has gotten very spooky. So has Callie, actually. I think that maybe they are sharing a brain.

Pam and Allectra are in the front, and Paul on Rupert are second. Allectra is a nice little Arabian and Rupert is a thoroughbred. Neither of them had been on a trail ride with anyone before and neither of them really understood trail etiquette, which became probamatic in my opinion.

This is Nicole and Callie. Callie is a QH/Friesan mix and is only 3 and a half years old. Nicole has been riding her about as long as I have been riding Ashke, which is one of the reasons we enjoy riding together, because our horses are at about the same place in their development. Callie was pretty tense and Nicole was reacting to her tension.

As we were making our way to the greenbelt, there was a galvanized steel gate that gave the horses fits last time. It isn't latched tightly and it bangs against the post with every breathe of wind. All of the horses spooked when it banged as they were walking past. Callie had spooked badly the last time we had ridden past it and Nicole decided she needed to do a little training. She swung off and led Callie to the gate, banging it and knocking it against the post. Callie figured out pretty quick that it was just noisy and wasn't go to hurt her. Then Nicole retied the gate so it wouldn't swing any more.

While Nicole was working with Callie, I stopped Ashke and waited for her. I understood what she was doing and why, and when you are riding with a group, it is smart to wait. If I had ridden on, Callie would have been isolated and it would have raised her anxiety. It would have separated her from her herd. Pam and Paul didn't stop and continued to the top of the hill. It was a pattern that would continue for the duration of the ride.

The road we were on goes up a hill and at the top of the hill is a greenbelt. It moves to the west and then south and then back to the east in a big square. Pam and Paul reached the top of the hill five minutes before Nicole and I did, but neither of their horses would go past the edge of the fence onto the greenbelt. I asked Ashke to move forward. He balked a little bit, but finally moved between the fences and onto the greenbelt. We led the way. About half way down the greenbelt, Ashke stopped to poo. (He still won't walk and poop at the same time.) Pam yelled from two horses behind me, "Why are we stopping." Ashke finished and we moved on. When we came around the corner and headed south, Ashke stopped. He absolutely didn't want to move forward toward the ditch. The last time I rode him that way, I had to get off and lead him down past the culvert. Again, when Ashke paused to evaluate his options, I heard Pam asking why we were stopping. It wasn't the question so much as the way she asked. I pulled Ashke aside and said, "Pam, you can go ahead." I figured if she was in such a big hurry, she could lead. Pam and Paul moved past me and then Ashke was willing to follow them. That whole herd instinct thing.

Nicole had to dismount to pass the ditch. Callie was very tense and Nicole was smart enough not to push when she wasn't feeling safe. Callie followed Nicole with no issues, but Ashke started to get really tense. Pam and Paul were a block and a half ahead of us and not waiting. I asked Nicole why they weren't waiting when I had asked several times for them to wait, and Nicole said Pam didn't want to ride near Callie. Pam was afraid Callie would spook Allectra. I answered that it didn't make sense since Allectra was behaving just fine. Nicole said that Pam was just that way. I wasn't real impressed. When you ride out as a group, you should stay together as a group. As it was, Ashke got antsy and started to dance.

Ashke wasn't being mean about it, he just wanted to be with the group he could see ahead. He reared a little bit and then started to trot as slow as he could walk. You know the dancing little trot I am talking about. I kept pressure on his mouth and kept telling him to walk. Nicole moved Callie up next to us and that seemed to help. Ashke settled and we made the rest of the ride pretty close together.

 Toward the end of the greenbelt loop is an empty lot with a low lying ditch. The past couple of times we rode this way, the ditch was empty. Today it was muddy. Ashke walked up to it and reared a little, then stomped in the mud. He was a bit surprised when his feet sank a good four inches into the mud. We had to go around it, cuz I wasn't up for jumping. And I'm not sure it would have ended well. Paul and Rupert crossed it over the dry part, like Ashke, but Pam didn't even try with Allectra. Callie went over the ditch in a small bound.

This is what Ashke, Callie, myself and Nicole saw for the majority of the ride. In Paul's defense, he did tell us he was having trouble slowing Rupert down and since Rupert takes one stride for every three Ashke takes. I enjoyed riding with Nicole, which I always do. I had thought I would enjoy riding with Pam, but not really so much. I think Pam might have been upset that I invited other people to go with us, but she really didn't make any effort to talk to me.

Nicole seemed to have a great time and she really appreciated riding with me.

When we got back to the barn, we unsaddled and went to rinse the horses off. Nicole washed Callie first and then I started to wash Ashke. I had him soaped on one side, when Grace went running past me. I called out and asked her what was wrong and she told me Rhythm had gotten free from Abbie and had taken off. Nicole, who is leasing Rhythm to Abbie for the month, went tearing by in her truck a couple of minutes later. I rinsed and squeegeed off Ashke, thinking that Rhythm knew where the barn was and she would be on her way home. I figured I stood a better chance of catching her if Ashke was with me. Once he was rinsed off, I untied him and we headed out on foot toward the lake. 

At the lake, Abbi and Bailey had taken Rhythm and Coyote to play in the water. Unbeknownst to me, J had video taped them on her iphone. Rhythm was the one in the water.

According to J, as Rhythm came out of the water, she began to act up. She was circling around Abbie at the end of the lead line. J said that one of the times Rhythm came around Abbi no longer had the lead in her hand. Rhythm took off for the barn. T started running after her on foot. Abbi started running after her on foot with no shoes on. J jumped on her bike and took off after her. Rhythm outran them all. There was one major road that Rhythm had to cross, which she did safely, thankfully, and then she was on Pecos and headed home. Pecos is closed at that point for car traffic, so the likelihood of her being hit diminished sharply. J turned around when she saw that Rhythm had crossed 144th safely and went back to Abbie, who was close to hysterical at that point. J handed Abbie her boots and then handed over her bike and told her to go get Rhythm. J went back for T's bike and then went to gather him up.

Ashke and I turned up the hill on Pecos to see Abbie and Rhythm coming down. Abbie had J's bike in one hand and was leading Rhythm with the other. Ashke and I walked up and I took the bike from Abbie. Nicole called at that point and Abbie let her know that Rhythm was safe and we were on our way back to the barn. Poor Abbie had tears streaking down her face and wanted Ashke and I to walk her back, which we did. I reminded Abbie of two things: first, Rhythm could have spooked and taken off in any direction, increasing the difficulty in locating her; second, Rhythm wasn't hurt. The bottom line is Rhythm being loose could have been traumatic for everyone if she had been hit by a car. She was smart and headed for the barn.

Nicole was at the barn and talked to Abbie when they walked in. The first words out of Nicole's mouth were "I'm not angry." She handled it very well and spent some time talking to Abbi about how to calm Rhythm, how to redirect her energy when she gets anxious, and what to do in the future to prevent something like this from happening again.

I finished washing Ashke and then turned him out in the field. I turned Stoli out with him.  They were very sweet together, right up until he ruined my wash job by rolling in the field.

They were out together for about 30 minutes. 

Doesn't he look awesome?

They stay ten to fifteen feet apart.

Isn't she nice looking? At five months.

He is doing awesome! Now if I can just get his feet worked out.

Nicole also gave me a fly sheet that is too small for either of her horses. Callie has outgrown it and so has Rhythm. We put it on Ashke and although the back leg straps kind of bothered him, he didn't over react. 

It is very loose and shouldn't aggravate the swollen tissue on his neck. We sprayed the exposed parts with fly spray. 

I'm sending the Jammies back.

Wonder what will happen tomorrow . . .

Friday, August 24, 2012

My 100th

This is my 100th post since starting the blog 22 weeks or so ago. Thanks for reading . . .

Shoes . . . and then some work.

I wanted to start with the Jammies by Toklat I ordered online and received Wednesday. I would have bought them from Murdocks, but Murdocks only carries QH and TB sized stuff. My Ashke is more of a cob or pony sized horse, especially his refined head, and Murdock's has nothing that fits. Neither does Brighton Feed. So, online ordering it is. I like the color. It's almost the same color as the sheet. Chris is going to give me her sheet from Joey (Leopard Appy she had to put down a couple of months ago) and see if it fits Ashke any better than the one I currently have. At least the Jammies kept the sheet from rubbing any more hair off. I took the picture after I had started to take them off, while Ashke was trying to get out of his stall. Booger.

Today, Thursday, was farrier time. Ashke has started favoring his left front again and I thought maybe it was time for a trim. This is his front left foot. Do you see the big groove? That is the growth line that indicates when we moved him into the stable. It will have taken 8 to 10 months for his feet to entirely grow out, by the time we have reached past that line. Dan says the left front foot just grows differently than the other four - it splays out to the sides and the toe is shorter. 
I think the toe is shorter because the silly bugger paws in his stall and wears the toe down. The hoof below is the primary reason I had Dan come out. The sole and the hoof wall are inversed (the sole should be up off the ground and the hoof wall should be absorbing the impact.) Sorry, I didn't clean his feet first, but I was in dress clothes because I was on my lunch break from work. This foot is also almost entirely black, which makes it harder and more brittle, with only a bit of white. It had chipped up from the riding we have been doing.
Dan said, after looking at his feet, that he couldn't do much other than shape them up, because they were too short, especially in the toe. (His heels on his left don't grow as fast as the hoof on the right). After discussing the things I am feeling when riding him and our options, I agreed that we needed to put shoes on the front again. The shoes will keep him from wearing down the toes, keep the sole off the ground and help protect this foot from chipping.
As Dan started paring away the sole of the hoof to prepare to put the shoes on, I noticed a bright red line between the hoof wall and the sole. I have done some research and have been validated in my earlier prediction of the pre-condition for developing laminitis. It was this post:
The red line between the wall and the sole is indicative of laminitis. Dan thinks it was bruising from the coffin bone when his toes were long and he was on the hardpacked clay and rock in Texas. Since this is the last of the old hoof, and we know exactly where the change in diet and exercise and care began, we can predict that the issue should disappear in the next couple of trims. This red line was present on both front feet, but not the back ones, and it was worse in the left front versus the right front. I did not see the spreading of the white line (but I also didn't know to look, which I will be sure to do next time), which indicates tearing of the laminae. I am hopeful it was just from his feet being long and the malnutrition and the hard packed dirt he was existing on and not a long-term, chronic condition. Dan has done a good job of trimming the foot to improve his breakover (contributing factor in laminitis) and Ashke is getting zero grain, which has the quick sugar that aggravates this condition. 

I also discovered when searching for information on the interwebs (how wonderful is that?) that some Egyptian Arabians are prone to club feet, but in looking at the images provided, I am happy to say I don't believe this to be an issue for Ashke (Like I need something else to worry about.) I have also discovered that "club foot" is not a proper term - rather stumpy hoof or bear hoof is the proper veternarian term to use.
Here is the back left. It is much more of an up and down foot. The hoof wall is in line with the pastern and the angle is good (although this is a horrible position for the camera in order for you to see it that way.)

This is the bottom of the back left hoof. You can see the difference in the sole and hoof wall. Ashke obviously does not paw with this hoof.

He was so excited to see the farrier. Can't you tell from his attitude in the crossties? And he also knew I had peppermints in my front pocket and hadn't given him one yet.

Rasping on the front right foot. The red line on this foot was much smaller and not directly over the toe. It was more broken up and to the side of the front of the hoof. This hoof is a combination of both black and white hoof.

Dan shaping the horse shoe after heating it in his little forge. Pretty cool stuff.

Do you notice the vice grips? That's cuz the shoe is still hot. I guess some farriers do hot fitting, where they use the shoe to scorch the bottom of the horse's hoof to get a decent seal between the shoe and the hoof. Smells awful and I don't understand why you would want to shoe that way, although the interwebs say most farriers use hot fitting to check the fit of the shoe to the hoof, and then rasp away the scorch marks. The farrier I watched do it did not do the rasping and I was told the hot fitting was to better the fit. Hmmmm . . . .

Ashke's attitude with the shoes being fitted on and a definite lack of enough peppermints. I do have to say that he got lippy standing there and managed to snag my work shirt over the right breast, so I got to go back to work with a large dark green mouth stain in a very conspicious place. I was not happy.

On a side note, do you see his nice pectoral muscle development in this picture?

Dan fitted the shoe and then did some shaping before nailing it on.

I was happy with the results. Although, I am not so happy with the focus ability on my iPhone camera. Looking at that picture makes me feel like everything is in focus but his hoof. Damnit!

Dan set the nails, pinched them into the groove in the hoof he made under each nail and pinched them down. Then he buffed the hoof and put on some hoof flex. He said that overall, Ashke's feet are getting progressively better. He did not seem unduly concerned with the red line and seemed to think it would work itself out over time. It's funny, because I thought Ashke's feet and legs looked the best when we went to Texas the first time, but that's because I had no idea how bad they had been before.

Last night we went out to the stable after dinner and I worked Ashke. He was pretty surprised to find a small human (boy about four) rolling all three of the blue barrel racing barrels down an incline towards us as we walked around the edge of the stable. From Ashke's reaction, he was more startled by the small human than he was of the blue barrels. Although, just for kicks and grins I rolled one of the barrels into the round pen for him to look at. He promptly lipped and rubbed on it until I made him get to work. I didn't let him do the same thing with the small human.

Then we moved to the big arena. We did some cantering, some trotting and some walking. I think Ashke was still getting used to the shoes on his front feet and might still have been a touch tender. We didn't work for long and I am looking forward to being out on the trails this weekend.

There is definite development of back muscles and Ashke is no longer clipping himself. He had one spot, but I know that happened in the field with Lacey and Rupert and he kind of tripped in the small ditch. Otherwise, when I am riding him he is keeping his feet away from one another.

And a touch of cantering. We did do a full circle and a half without him stopping. Today, Friday, he gets the night off. Tomorrow I ride out with Pam and Allectra for a short trail ride. Sunday, we do one with a bunch of people.

Pam had Allectra checked out by the vet. The vet said everything was good. He proscribed a medication to help with her flexion, since she is getting older and was perhaps a bit stiff. Otherwise, this so called friend of Pam's was just being mean.

This is the picture Pam's daugher took the other night. Too good not to share. (I asked permission first.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012


On Sunday, before I left, I put the sheet on Ashke. It's light weight and helps keep the flies off of his back, hips and belly (basically all the places the tail doesn't reach). Grace texted me on Monday and said she had taken the sheet off to turn him out and she discovered the sheet had rubbed all of the skin off his shoulders.

It's not raw and the skin isn't broken, but it does look pretty bad.

The long line is a shadow from the cross tie and the smeary parts are the antibiotic I applied and he rubbed over his coat. Pretty messy, huh?

So, being the good mom that I am, I immediately searched the interwebs to find this:

They are equine Jammies by Toklat
 Ours is in a royal blue. It covers the shoulders to prevent the sheet from rubbing. We ordered it in medium and I think it fits pretty good. I'm still not crazy about the sheet, but since the damn thing cost almost a $100, I'm also not very crazy about not using it. Shoulder rubs must be fairly common for someone to come up with the idea of Jammies. It is made from lycra material and operates by the same principal as biking shorts. Nifty, huh? I left him all covered with both the Jammies and the sheet and will be back out there this morning about 11:30 to have his feet trimmed, so I can check him then.

I will try to take pictures of his outfit when I first get there, plus pics of his feet before and after the trim.

Last night was pretty sweet. He had only been lunged and worked from the ground on Tuesday after having Monday off. Last night he was groomed and saddled, then lunged in the round pen. I pretty much let him work himself, which was at a canter, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. By the time he had taken the edge off it was coming up dark and I was ready to be inside. The indoor arena is nice but it is somewhat smaller than the outdoor. We still have not gone the entire oval at a canter. The ends are pretty tight corners and we are still working on our balance.

Ashke was pretty dancy. It took fifteen minutes of consistent trotting to get him to settle into a sweet trot. I am getting back into my riding fit and sitting a trot is becoming so much easier. I find that it is taking me less time to realize I am stiff and poised on the balls of my feet, which triggers me to relax my legs, settle my seat and drop my heels. Once I've done that, I stop fighting the movement and my body takes over. We are still struggling with the canter. I really think I need to find a nice long track that is fairly smooth to work him in the canter. He needs some long straight away to stretch out and settle. His balance is getting so much better at the trot and I am feeling fairly comfortable at the canter. I just need to train my body to ride that gait like we have rediscovered sitting the trot.

We worked on some side passing in both directions. He really doesn't like heel pressure and has a tendency to swish his tail. I am sure to praise his try and to not overwork him on any of the things I am asking for. Tonight the plan is to groom and lunge. Then he gets Friday off and I have trail rides planned for both Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Car Wash

I saw this idea on an email alert I received from Tellington-Jones about a clinic for starting young horses. It's called a car wash. I was able to utilize some of the stuff we had laying around the house to create one to practice with Ashke on. This is the video from Saturday.

That was from one direction. This is the video from the other direction.

Today, I put it up again with longer black plastic so that even when it was blowing in the wind, Ashke was forced to let it touch him.

As you can see, it was kind of a non-issue. Tonight he had his head up and ears forward as soon as he could see the flapping plastic. He didn't snort or blow, though. I wasn't able to keep it up as long as I wanted, since Pam brought Allectra out to the round pen and that nice little mare lost her mind. It was stressing out Pam, which made Allectra worse, so Ashke and I worked through it a couple of times and then I took it down.

I couldn't film myself and work with Ashke, and Jenn was cleaning out his stall, so no video. You will have to take my word for it that he walked with little hesitation under the very scary flapping black plastic.

I took down the car wash and rolled it up so Allectra wasn't freaking out in the round pen. Pam asked me to come watch her move and wanted to know if she was stiff in the stifle. I watched her canter and trot and she looked fine to me. Even loose in the round pen, Allectra moves in a collected trot and canter. Add to that, the fact that she is an Arabian, and she looked really good to me. I listened to the four beat sound of her canter and couldn't detect any misstep or hesitation in her hoofbeats. Pam pulled Allectra out and I took Ashke in for comparison.

Ashke was a real fool. He cantered around and around. I acted like I was going to go after him and he would snort and toss his head and kick out in play. Or he would do the Arabian version of scootlebutt around the round pen. I could see the muscles in his back move as he did and any trace of soreness he might have had on Sunday was gone. I didn't saddle him, since we only wanted to be out there a short amount of time, in fact I didn't even groom him, but he did get in a twenty minute or so wild canter around the pen. All of the veins in his body had popped out, his nostrils were flared and he was warm but not sweaty when we were done. I probed and prodded his back when I was washing him off and there was no trace of tenderness. I may ride tomorrow, or I might just lunge him until he gets his feet trimmed on Thursday. Like I said before, if he is tender any where it is his left front foot.

He didn't get as tired as fast tonight. No stumbling or bumbling. No tripping over his own pasturns. In fact, he looked pretty good.

I have to pause here and interject a comment or two.

Pam wanted me to watch her horse move because a woman she knows was at a horse show that Pam rode in. It was Pam's first show and Allectra's first show since Pam started riding her. Pam has been taking lessons for two years and Allectra is a fine little mare. Several years prior to Pam buying her, Allectra was a National Grand Champion in Canada. She is very well bred and well trained. In Pam's first show, they placed third out of five, which is very respectable. Pam was over the top happy at their success.

In steps Pam's "friend" who rides and shows Tennessee Walking Horses. She tells Pam that Allectra looks lame in the right stifle and she shouldn't be rode. She then goes on to say that Allectra is being abused and mistreated because Pam didn't listen to her friend and pull Allectra from the rest of her classes. Pam is now feeling like there is something wrong that she can't see (and I can't see. and Jenn can't see) and that she is a bad horse owner. Pam has told her friend to eff off and leave her alone, that she no longer wants to be friends, but this other woman keeps texting her like mad.

I don't understand. It is obvious that Allectra and Pam love and trust each other. Even tonight, when Allectra was losing her mind over the waving black plastic, she still listened to Pam, didn't crowd her or get out of control. She takes verbal cues and walks over to Pam whenever they stop working the ring. There is no fear in her when she is with Pam. There was also no hesitation in her stride. I told Pam she should stop worrying about what someone else was saying about her horse and listen to her horse. Not only that, but Pam was at the show with Gary and Gary (the trainer) didn't see anything wrong with her mare. Pam hasn't been riding long and doesn't have the self-confidence to be able to tell when someone else is just plain being bitchy.

I told Pam she should call her cell phone carrier and have this other woman's texts and phone calls blocked. No one should have to deal with that, especially someone who is doing this because she loves her horse and just wants to ride. We are supposed to be riding out together on Saturday. I don't understand why some people have to be like that.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seven Snippits for Saturday

1. Today marks the end of 21 weeks since we moved Ashke north. He is getting fat. I would show you pictures, but I'm a little embarrassed. I really think I need to stop feeding him Amplify until he starts showing signs of needing the extra. I also need to ride him longer, but that would involve trails, since he is sick and tired of the arena.

2. I found another person who wants to ride trails. Her name is Pam and she has a wonderful little Arab mare named Aleectra. She has shown Aleectra one time and isn't real interested in doing it again. She has been taking lessons for two years and although her trainer wants her to continue, she doesn't see the need. She's been riding out by herself and it should be a lot of fun to ride out with her.

3. First big group trail ride next Sunday. Maybe as many as ten people are going to ride out. Should be interesting. Sounds like there are a bunch of people who want to, but haven't organized anything.

4. Riding out alone on a trail you have ridden with other people is scary and can lead to some unexpected behavior. We had several startles, but no bolting.

5. Ashke's pasturns are still a little weak. And his feet need to be trimmed again. Seven weeks is just too long. Good news is the old hoof is almost completely grown out.

6. Ashke is doing turn out with Stoli and/or Lacey six days a week. And loving it. Stoli now nickers when she sees him. Marit wants to know if I will help her do trailer training with Ashke and Stoli. I said of course. Should be good practice.

7. 21 weeks. Over all, I think he's doing well.

Friday, August 17, 2012

12 Step Program

I am going to have to start a 12 Step Program for Ashke. That's all there is to it. He's started nipping again and I'm blaming the peppermints. I created a monster and now I am going to uncreate it.

Reasons for the program:
1. Bit at T's face last night, as well as his shirt, his fingers and his shoulder
2. Bit my finger two nights ago, plus my hands, my shirt, the front pocket of my jeans
3. Bit at J's hands several times

I have tried the Ttouch and it just pisses him off. He is acting like a spoiled toddler and I'm going to have to take some drastic action. I'm thinking about biting his ear the next time he tries. There are two problems with that . . . he can get his head higher than I can get my mouth and I'm not sure he would understand the cause and effect if I can't do it immediately. I just know that biting a toddler immediately after they have bitten you is a fairly effective way to curb this behavior. Of course, toddlers are much smaller and easier to get your mouth around. And less hairy.

After Ashke went through his biting fit, I took him and locked him in his stall without carrots. All of the other horses know that when Ashke goes in his stall they all get a small bite of carrot. Ashke searched his bin and then began whinnying at me. I ignored him while I put the whip away and locked up the tack room. By the time I turned around from the tack room, Ashke had stopped whinnying. Instead he had his head pressed against the bars of his door, the tips of his beautiful ears sticking out, wuffling his nostrils at me with the softest of wuffles. I walked back to the door and he gave me the softest eyes ever, still fluttering his nostrils. I asked him to back away from the door and he did. I opened the door and asked him to back again. (All without touching him). He backed away, his neck curved and his chin almost touching his chest, still fluttering his nostrils. I caved. Carrots went in his bin and he rubbed me in thanks as he reached for them.

I understand that he is going to be food aggressive. He was starving just 21 weeks ago. I don't mean hungry. I mean starving. That leaves a mark that will take years for him to overcome, if he ever does. I've had animals that have been starved before I got them and they have lived their entire lives without ever getting over it. He just has to figure out that he can't be food aggressive with us.

I also understand that Ashke is going to want affection and attention, since he is an Arabian and has been neglected. I think that at least in part, he is feeling bored or stifled in our process. I know he wants to get out of the round pen, but I haven't had the time to work him in the big arena this week. T started back to school and we have a new routine in place to deal with homework, et al. I can't stay out as late at the barn as I was, since his bedtime is 9 pm. That means I have about an hour less than normal to groom and ride. Ashke was pretty anxious last night. I think he needs to spend some quality time working through some obstacles tonight. I'm thinking cavaletti and labyrinth and maybe something with the barrels. I'd like to figure out a way to make a "car wash" using the barrels and a curved pole, plus plastic. At least the weather has cooled off and it won't be so hot setting up the stuff. I'll be sure and get pictures.