The journey of a 50-something woman and her sixteen year old Straight Egyptian Arabian, Thee Ashke
Monday, December 29, 2014
The idea of blanketing, or clipping and then blanketing, had never occurred to me, nor was I around people who were showing and keeping their horses clipped for that reason. I guess my philosophy is that I would prefer to leave my horse natural, housed outside with shelter and plenty of food to eat during the winter. I want him to be able to experience the elements and changing temps, to have some say in how he experiences the weather. I might at some point in the future, decide to do a clip, but I would need help and direction and a pair of clippers. Ultimately, I prefer to manage the hairy beast and monitor my riding/his sweat in a way that precludes clipping. Not that I'm dead set against it, I just don't know enough to know how to do it without creating issues.
When I first brought Ashke home, I purchased a heavy weight horse blanket to help him until he gained enough weight to maintain his body temp. He was still wearing the blanket six months later, when the weather turned in October of our first year. Then I moved him to TMR, with it's heated barn and the absolute refusal to have the doors open if the weather is colder than about 50 degrees. This means that for the past two years, Ashke has not been in normal weather. He was locked in a box stall if it rained, if it snowed, if it was windy, if it was cold. His winter coat is slightly fuzzy, but certainly not a real shag fest. Even so, many of the horses at TMR are blanketed all year long, from sheets and coolers to heavy blankets. Some of them were blanketed under two sets of blankets when it got cold. In a temperature controlled barn.
When we moved to SQA, one of the things I was really excited about was the fact that Ashke could pick and choose his surroundings. He is in a box stall with a run. The stall and the run are separated by hanging plastic curtains, which he has learned to negotiate. He is on four flakes of grass hay a day, plus two feedings of the barley fodder. Howcver, the feed is not enough make up for the lack of a winter coat. He is still fairly slick and as he has demonstrated, he is not very good at making the choice to stay inside when there is inclement weather. I have found him shivering several times, even with the blanket on and so was very afraid when the weather turned bad this week.
I talked to the BO about buying an extra bale of grass hay. One of the key things you can do to help eliminate shivering is to ensure your horse has access to unlimited grass hay. This morning when I got to the barn to check on Ashke, he was warm and still finishing his breakfast in his stall. There was a bale of hay sitting on top of my tack box (Thanks Mike!!) waiting for me. I gave Ashke his first mash of the day and then put about half of the bale of hay into a hay net and hung it in his stall. Ashke finished his mash in record time, then turned around and saw the hay net, spooked violently (I honestly think he would have kicked out at it with a hind foot given the chance) and bolted out into the balmy 10 degree weather.
When we went back tonight to check on him, he was standing in his stall munching on the grass hay. He got more Triple Crown Senior with carrots and felt toasty warm under his heavy blanket. I had planned on layering his BOT under the heavy mlanket, but since the temps outside were close to zero and he was nice and warm, we just dumped a bale of shavings into his stall for warmth in case he laid down overnight. He still had a flake of grass in his feeder and a little more than half of the hay still left in the hay net, plus a pile underneath the hay net. I picked his stall (he prefers to pee in the shavings but will almost always go outside to poop), and then spread out the bedding. I plan on going back tomorrow morning to replenish his hay net and give him another wet mash.
I am hoping this process helps him make it through the cold spell. I felt really bad for all of the other horses standing and listening to him munch on his unlimited hay. It is good to be Ashke.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
I never ride in easyboots when I ride in the snow. They could slip and his hooves are naturally sticky. I'm still very careful around ice, but in snow and snow pack he does very well. Today, I was riding in a thermal high tech undershirt (which isn't going to work, since it rides up inside the bibs), a henley long-sleeved cotton shirt, my breeches covered with the bibs, and my Carhartt Jacket. I also wore my new Ovation Dafna Blizzard boots with two pairs of socks. (I'll review them tomorrow, if I can find time.) I was so warm I rode without gloves and with the coat unzipped on the way home in 22 degree weather.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Friday, December 26, 2014
Christmas Day Ride
Christmas morning dawned early, not because T woke up excited and eager to open presents, but because the dogs knew it was morning. J and I, roused by wet nose pokes and ear snufflings (the two pups always sleep on the bed and have no problems letting us know when it is breakfast time) and short, sharp barks when we don't wake up fast enough. Walking and feeding commenced. Then J made cinnoman rolls for breakfast and then we waited. After eight, I sent the dogs up to wake the boy. (I think the earliest he's ever woken up was about 8 on Xmas morning, although he has no issue with waking up at 5 to check the offerings of Zur).
We opened gifts. T was happy with his iPad and new Heelys, J loved her down slippers and fleece lined, wind and waterproof shoe covers for her biking shoes. I received a new mid-weight, waterproof blanket for Ashke, (which was an absolute steal on Amazon and is remarkably solid construction for a brand I had never heard of before), a pair of winter riding tall boots by Ovation (I will do a review after riding in them a few times) and a mohair girth.
Then I guilt tripped my son into doing a ride with me. (I have no shame when it comes to prying him loose from his recliner and xbox). We went to the barn and I found Ashke standing outside, shivering slightly. Silly horse. He stopped once he was inside the box and out of what little wind there was. I don't think blanketing him is making him thicker skinned, although it is nice to have a horse that isn't covered in pee stains. I brought him in and groomed him in his stall (easier to do than standing him at the grooming stalls - my stall has crossties in it.) The mohair girth was too small and Ashke hated it. Hated it. I could feel him pushing his ribs out as I tried to tighten it. It came off and will be going back. I may just order a Toklat fleece girth (like the one I have now) in a size 46". I got his new easyboots on, still really struggling with the right front hoof, size 1W, and we set off.
J took some video of us on our way home. Ashke was going sideways, which is why we fell out of the picture before we began to canter. He is definately stronger and getting better at holding his collected canter. He also goes sideways much faster than before. He was pulling and wanting to really run, but after the leaping and lunging we did on the way out, I wasn't interested in giving him his head. He had plenty of energy and trotted or did his running-walk all the way home. Standing still was not in his vocalublary.
One of the great things about this trail is the public bathroom. It was even heated, although I am not a fan of stainless steel toilets. I am, however, a fan of being able to pee when it is cold. J held Ashke, who goobered her bright yellow jacket, while I was using the facilities.
J and T looked for a geocache while Ashke and I wandered in big looping circles around them. He would not stand still. The few times I asked, he pawed, then backed, then tucked his head down next to his chest and flipped his bit in his mouth. Standing patiently was not in his vocabulary. J and T found the location of the geocache but the cache was missing. While they were throwing sticks (T) and gathering up their bikes, I walked back and forth in a field, trying to help a couple of riders find an Easyboot they had lost. The man was riding an American Saddlebred who made Ashke's behavior look sane, since his horse was more interested in going sideways and up than forward. The guy could ride, which saved him a couple of times. I don't think they found the easyboot, though. I headed off down the trail, once J and T had fought their way clear of the undergrowth.
The little dot right above Ashke's right ear is T and J is just behind him.
T did really well on the ride until we found a small fishing pond covered with ice that he wanted to play on and J said no. He has the same self-preservation that I had as a kid, which is not good from the perspective of the parent. I'm amazed that my mom doesn't have more grey in her hair, but then again, I was a lot more sneaky as a teenager than my mom knew. What happens as a teenageer, doesn't need to be discussed as an adult. T was grumpy (lack of food played a part here) and we were lucky that it was a short ride to get back to the barn.
Ashke moved at his run-walk all the way home, which was almost drama free. As we were walking along the side of the road the hundred feet between the trail head and the barn entrance, an idiot coming down the hill toward us crossed a double yellow line and accelerated to 50 or so to get past a guy in a truck who had slowed down when he saw us. I yelled and J yelled and I saluted him in the only appropriate manner when in that situation. I wish I could have gotten his license number, because I would have reported him to the police. I swear, people are so stupid.
Ashke was dry and ready for his mash when I put him in his stall. I didn't even bother to tie him, I just dumped his mash into the bucket and let him eat while I unsaddled him. I pulled my saddle and gear and threw them into the truck to take home and clean. When I pulled his boots, I discovered that the one on the right front has twisted during our ride. I don't know if I put it on wrong or if the shape of his hoof caused it to twist. I will need to be very careful next time I put them on to ensure that doesn't happen again. I put his heavy blanket on him, because shivering, and snow, and dropping temps.
The best gift of the day was T saying, "I'm going to have to go out with you more often, because that was a lot of fun."
I hope you all had a great day with lots of wonderful food, lively company and love. For those of you who had to work, I hope the time you take to celebrate (not on xmas) is as wonderful, warm and lovely as mine was. Thanks for reading and for those who have become friends, I hold you in my heart on this day.