Choosing Happiness, Starring Drew the Colt

So far, the weekend hasn’t gone as planned. I woke up bright and early this morning to get Apache all ready to finally get to his training, but there’s no trailer here. And I thought we were going to all be going to the Steak Stein and Wine event in Cameron today, but Lee doesn’t feel well, and there’s no one to go with. Am I upset? Nope. I have contingency plans, and am having a lovely day!

I’m all saddled up, but not being ridden yet.

I just left Apache in the round pen after I groomed him, where he was happy to nosh away at the grass and crow poison in there (I think he actually avoids the flowers). His saddle and stuff was ready, if the trailer had arrived. Meanwhile, I got myself into my nice, comfy car and drove over to the training place, where I proceeded to have a great time!

I’m fine. I’ll just walk myself over my poles and get in shape.

I enjoyed watching Drew get groomed and saddled, but the highlight was getting his feet cleaned. He picked up his back feet! Then he stretched them out to get them in better shape! He’s been improving consistently since they started working with him.

The trainer says he has just gotten to the point where he is in good enough shape to be ridden. He had to have a lot of work done to his back muscles, which were all confused, as well as a lot on his haunches, especially on the right side, which I knew was at least part of his problem.

Look at that back right leg moving like it should move!

He’s getting bodywork monthly, and that is helping. I can see how much muscle he has put on. He is working hard (and I think saying WTF about that), but learning so quickly. The trainer says nothing he does wrong is out of malice; it’s more that he doesn’t understand what he’s being asked, or he’s not quite able to do things yet. I’m really proud to have such a good learner with a willing disposition to work with!

Not cantering here.

Drew is way better at the ground work. It turns out the horrible noise his sheath always made when he was running fast was from having his back all tense. Now, when he isn’t tense, it doesn’t make any noise at all. It’s convenient that geldings have this handy alarm system. You just have to look at mares. I was really astonished at how he responded to very subtle cues. It turns out he does not need big corrections or anything like that. All you have to do to get him to trot is to life the rope and crop, and he will stop when you turn sideways. He also canters on command.

His cantering is a work in progress, because his back was so messed up that his front legs and his back legs were not coordinated. He is learning to start off on the correct “lead” (which I am not great with yet, but will be). It’s obvious he’s making progress and trying to figure it out.

I’m sure he’s having fun.

What else can Drew do? Well, to build up those back leg muscles, he’s jumping over an obstacle while going in circles. He apparently doesn’t like it, but he does great.

Hill backing.

He is also practicing going up hills backward (it’s a small hill they got installed in the training pen, very cool) and going over the hill while running in circles and not zooming down. I was told he is making huge strides with this. All of it is building the muscles he needs for being ridden.

Backing uphill.

Something I felt good about was confirmation that Drew was born in the fall. He is three years old, but NOT three and a half, judging from his teeth. I thought he was younger than he was made out to be.

This is more practice for his legs, and for getting on and off trailers. Now that his legs feel better, he does it fine.

The most fun thing I got to do this morning was practice giving Drew the subtle commands to walk, trot, and stop. I did pretty well, and he paid good attention to me. I was just beaming when it was all done, and the trainer was, too. She is so happy with how both Drew and I are doing!

I’m doing it. Go me.

And oh yes, she is training him not to rush at you at feeding time. This will be so good. I saw how she is doing it, so I will work on the other horses to see how well I can get them to act.

A moment of not cooperating.

One more thing I learned to do was some releases on his head. I learned three different ways to relax him, all of which were easy. He seems so happy when this is done. It’s a good reward for all his hard work!

I like this thumb poking into my head thing.

I tried the releases on Apache. He liked two of them, but not the third. He seems to have something going on with his head, anyway. Or he hurt his foot jumping over poles yesterday.

So, I had a great morning, then I came home and shoveled a lot of horse poop. Lee said he wasn’t feeling well, so we’re staying home today–he did tell the lady he was working with that he wasn’t coming, so she wouldn’t be looking for him all day!

Here’s Drew going in circles with the slight hill in them. He looks relaxed.

I’ll just hang out and see what the rest of the day brings and whether we do what we’d planned to do tomorrow, which was go to Austin and get some of my stuff. That can be done without the trailer, thankfully, but I want Lee to feel okay. Oddly enough, I feel fine other than sore arms from my vaccinations yesterday. You just never know!

I’m ready to enjoy the moment, and I hope you are, too!

Poor Patchy Horse

I tell you what, Apache is one good horse. Yesterday he was scheduled to have a lesson, but when I looked at him after work, he seemed down. I went to say hi and saw he was crying and blinking like crazy. His right eye was a mess (sparing you photos).

Look. I’m in a building.

I cleaned him up, though he did not like the eye wash (who would?). He seemed okay, but he stepped on my foot, like he was unaware of his location. Or he was nerved out because the tire on the trailer was getting changed while I groomed him. Here’s why:

All the tread fell off on the way up here. Oops. It was ok. Lots of wheels.

He round penned very well and seemed happy, so off we went. When we got to the training place, the trainer took one look at him and said he might be contagious. He looked awful.

I did get to see Drew and check on his progress. He’s doing so well.

We decided to take him straight to her vet, which is only a half hour from her place. He was already in the trailer, and it would be better to get him looked at fast, before he hurt himself rubbing on the eye. She was nice enough to call and get us in, just before they closed.

Pretty Drew.

We got to the place, and it was SO nice. I filled out the forms, then Apache politely got out and walked to the waiting area. The vet tech commented on how calm he was. He even went in the building like he did that every day. He never had! And the door closed so loud.

The tiny vet did a great job. She flushed out his eye and stained it. He didn’t like the shots much, but between than and getting twitched, he was great.

A twitch is a thing they use to settle horses for being worked on. It doesn’t hurt; in fact it relaxes them. Who knew?

She said he was not injured, and probably just has a blocked tear duct. When she checked his nose, it had very thick mucus. So she decided to clean him out. That was something else to watch!

Look closely at his eye.

The vet used a syringe of saline and slowly squirted it up his nose. It came out of his eye! Horse anatomy is weird. But he should feel better. She sent home some ointment with antibiotics and steroids. He also got an antibiotic shot.

Getting him back to the trailer was funny. He was a very relaxed horse. Apache walked out with his wee wee hanging out (why his name used to be Dingle). I had to get a nice man to pat his butt to get him to go in the trailer. But wow. Drugged Apache is easy to tie up.

I was so pleased with how well he behaved. And I sure hope he feels better today!

Still Here!

I know some of you worry if I miss a day posting, so I’m sorry I missed yesterday. I was busy with work and a Master Naturalist meeting. And I must admit some pretty yarn showed up and I wanted to knit.

Lion Brand Mandala

I’ll tell you what I’m making after I show the recipient the work in progress tomorrow.

Today was also a really busy day but let me just say I got good news and a lot done. Highlight? I saw Drew!

More tomorrow. For sure.

Drew Heads off to Colt College

Oh, sniff. It’s so hard when you have to send your teens off for further education. They look like such wide-eyed babies, even when they are dapple gray quarter horse colts. And moving them into their dorms can be a real struggle. That was true for Drew today as well.

My baby heads off to training land. Look at those eyes.

Now, of course we are really glad it’s been raining a bit for the past few days. But, this morning was the Big Day that we were scheduled to take Drew off for training, and Apache also had a lesson scheduled. I knew the trainer doesn’t cancel lessons unless it’s raining at the time, so I went ahead and got Apache and Drew loaded into the trailer, while a steady drizzle fell. Apache was rather annoyed, and let me know. But, in he went, and I even figured out how to lock the door that separates the horses in the trailer, too.

Drew went in, too, though he entered as if he was jumping a hurdle. What a good boy. Right as we were getting leaving, we found out it was raining at the trainer’s house, so we parked again and sat on the porch, watching the rain. Apache was not a happy boy. Stomp, stomp. Sara gave us her appointment time, so we were able to head out later.

I don’t want to get out, sorry. But I appreciate the gentle pressure.

Now Drew was the star of the show. First, he had to get out of the trailer. You may recall that he is not really great at the exiting part of trailering. I was hoping he could have a good experience exiting today, with professional help.

I’m thinking of getting out, so I can hang out with the cute dog, and that sorta nice lady.

My dream came true, as the trainer patiently encouraged him to get off, without yelling or punishing him. He got closer and closer, becoming quite curious about what was outside, not scared! After about 15 minutes, he jumped out, and immediately started sniffing the poop of new horses. MMM.

Ooh, so many new smells. I think there are many friends here.

But, he was NOT there for fun. He was already at school! He got a great lesson on keeping out of the space of the human he’s with. He only took a few big corrections until he was getting the idea and needing much less correction. He went from tense to relaxed, too. It was great to watch, and I learned a lot.

I’m not getting it yet.

He went to his new paddock happily and tried to make friends with a mare. He did better than we thought he would. I think he liked it just fine. The trainer remarked that he was smart, learned quickly, and not a spooky boy. I was proud, even though I didn’t give birth to him; I just brought him home after the family found him for me!

What happened to Apache, you ask? He finally got to get out of the trailer, and we had a short lesson in the same kind of thing Drew was learning, only he was a bit better at it. He should be, since I’ve been working on it, right? He got to eat a bit of grass and got some attention, so he got to feeling better. He loaded much better that time, so I’m glad he had a positive experience in the end.

I really miss Drew already. It felt weird not to feed him this evening. I keep looking for him in the field, too. I guess I got used to him pretty fast! But I have great hopes for him and for what he will learn when he’s in training. I want to spend many years together, so having a good start is important.

Talk about Comfortable

Today, Trixie was supposed to come and look at Apache’s feet, but Drew stole the show. I had gotten both of the horses, in preparation for her arrival, and Apache was quietly waiting for us in his pen. As we walked up, we couldn’t see Drew. Where was he?

having his spa day

Yep, he’d decided to just take a nice nap on the warm sand. That’s a sign that a horse is comfortable with the people he’s around. The best part is that he didn’t jump to his feet when we approached, like most horses would. As prey animals, they are always alert.

Zzzz

The fisr thing Trixie did was check out the big paint’s head, because it seemed sore. Drew got up and watched that intently, standing close so I could rub him. Trixie remarked that Drew really seems to be a people horse.

Apache’s feet are looking great, by the way, and he’s looking more and more normal. He even shrunk a horseshoe size. As he was being a model farrier client, I realize that I had lost Drew.

It’s more cozy over here.

He shifted again and really fell asleep, with fluttering eyelids, and deep, deep breathing. That was one comfortable animal.

I feel safe here. It’s where my food lives.

We could not stop laughing as he kept snoozing away even when Apache was finished and left. His little lips were quivering like he was having a nice dream. Damn, it was cute.

Melts our hearts.

Once we finally got him up, he got some spa treatment, as Trixie massaged his gums like she had done for Apache. We think he liked it.

It tickled!

He then let his front hooves get trimmed, but still was no good on the back, so Trixie is gonna come tomorrow and work on his issues again. He still walks a little. Funny, and we want him all ready and happy for training.

I guess I’m in love with both these equine wonders. My heart swells with love when I see how much progress we are making together.

Chickens and Snakes

I heard a loud noise last night from the chicken coop, and this morning I discovered something had gone after Babette. Her head is a mess, but she seems okay. In case Bruce did it, I separated her from the others, except Star, who is still setting on her eggs.

Good news

But it is not all bad! Blanca, the True Blue hen, finally started laying yesterday! What beautiful eggs she lays. Sky blue! Now we’re just waiting on Betty the Easter Egger to give us some green eggs, and Billie Idyl.

When I was out fetching the horses, I spotted this snakeskin, most likely a rat snake. It has these cool ribbon-like segments, I guess from its belly. I’m glad Trixie liked it as much as I did.

Well, this was fun. My new laptop is also a giant tablet. I typed this from my chair, with the computer flat. I am fancy now.

What the Heck is That?

Fiona and Drew knew something was up this morning when the round pen suddenly turned horseshoe shaped.

The grass is nice and crispy here.

Then a big rolling thing came right up to where Drew was attempting to eat. How rude!

What’s THAT?

The thing turned around, stopped, and made some loud noises. But it wasn’t TOO scary. It looked tasty.

Tastes salty.

Then it made more loud noises, and that scared Fiona and Drew off for a bit. But soon, Drew had to check out the back of the big red thing.

Fascinating.

So, that thing is our other shipping container, which had been living over at Mandi’s house back when we were trying to renovate it. It’s the second part of the shelter for the horse pens. Now that it’s there, once it’s finally in place, we can empty out the other one and turn it into our tack room and hay storage.

Temporary home.

It was fun watching the unloading, so here are some pictures of how that happened. I also enjoyed talking to the wrecker guy, who knows everyone in town, of course. A fun time for all!

Some Help for Drew the Colt

As you may recall, I’ve been concerned that Drew, age 3 or so, seems really unbalanced and has trouble standing on three legs. I reported that in my Drew’s Clues post last week. Some of it may well be just growing pains. He’s definitely in growth mode right now. But, when Trixie last looked at him, she was pretty sure he had some issues that were causing him to hold one hip higher than the other, making balance difficult. So, today was the day to prod Drew in earnest to see if we could give him some help or relief.

This is my favorite picture of Drew and Trixie in relaxation mode. Yes, Drew has a hole in his mane. But it’s growing back in!

Some of the stretches and other manipulations she did could have been a bit painful to him, so we constructed a fake chute to put him in. It protected Trixie and kept him from squirming.

He looks skinny here, but he’s really fine. This is his “chute.”

Both Trixie and I were impressed with how well he took to all the handling and odd positions he got put in. She said he really has a good disposition and can be a forever horse for me if I keep doing the right things for him. That made me happy, because I get really good feelings about him, too, even when he’s being a bit of a teenager.

Picture for reference

I took the above photo for his trainer, to show his muscle development and such right now. One thing I can tell is he’s gotten lighter in just the time I’ve had him, and his legs have more muscle. The biggest difference is his neck, which is filling out well, considering it was pretty skinny when we got him.

By the end of a lot of muscle movement and massage, a couple of miracles occurred, at least for Drew. He is able to stand on either back leg and even cross each leg way over to the other side of the one on the ground. I was shocked at the improvement.

And, his hips are even. Granted, he’s standing a little funny in the picture below (he looks “cow-hocked” but I am assured he isn’t normally), but he looks much more balanced. I hope that by getting him worked on a few times in the next month, he’ll be able to be balanced in training.

Nice healthy poop, too. His tail has grown at least an inch this month!

Many times we’ve noticed that the horses really get relaxed after being worked on. Well, Drew was really REALLY relaxed. I told Trixie I bet he laid down as soon as we took his halter off.

Tired little teddy bear.

He looks about like I feel. As hard as I try, my mental health is not holding up. But, don’t worry, I also went to the doctor! I had my first telemedicine appointment today, which was an interesting experience. It worked great.

That leads me to my big message for today: if you need help ASK for it. And be glad you aren’t a horse, who has a hard time asking.

I Said I Wanted Fun, Once in a Blue Moon

In today’s family meeting I said I wanted to do fun stuff. I’ll be careful what I wish for.

Well, hello equines.

The fun started yesterday when I went out and found Drew chomping away on the nice grass by the round pen. It turns out I may have left a gate open. The second time I found him out there, I began to wonder if he’d opened the gate himself. No way to know. I am a bit forgetful these days.

Ow.

Today when I went out, I discovered Drew looking like this. Something had bit the heck out of him. Maybe Apache, but then I realized I hadn’t shut another gate, the one that puts a buffer between Grandma (who is on a liquid weight gain diet) and my guys. My guess is he went after her food this morning and she made it clear that wasn’t a good idea.

Ow.

From the look of him, he didn’t listen very well. Tomorrow he gets a bath. Today was the other horses’ turn, so I’m waiting until evening tomorrow.

The round pen is a good place to dry off.

Later, I came back out to give the chickens some apple core. I was surprised to see not just Drew, but Apache and Fiona out grazing by the henhouse.

We’re the lawn mowing brigade.

I’d let Drew out on purpose, because the little pasture is all dry and perfect for Apache right now, but not for a growing boy. But how did Apache get out? It turns out it was Kathleen’s turn to forget to shut a gate. We all laughed at ourselves. She told me that was the fun I’d wanted!

I’m doing better. I gained 100 pounds.

At least they will be easy to get back in their pasture if I dangle good at them.

The other “fun” we’ve been having is rearranging furniture, putting away books, and decluttering. Now, I’ll never be minimalist enough for Carol, our old real estate partner. But my office looks better. That’s the second rearrangement in two weeks.

I also cleaned off the desk Lee stopped using in the great room, though I still don’t know what to do with his giant yellow/and-black tote. it WILL be gone soon!

The fact that you can see the surface and there aren’t piles of neon printer paper there is evidence I did something.

I brought a couple plants from Austin to help make that house more spare. It makes the corner that used to have plants and a beautiful stained-glass lamp look a little better.

Reading corner.

What happened to the lamp? Heck if we know. One day I looked over and the glass was separating from the metal top.

Wah. This was not a cheap plastic lamp either.

That was not fun. Stuff like that just happens once in a blue moon, and that’s today!

Drew’s Clues

I’ve talked before about my concerns about my 3-year-old colt, Drew, and his issues with balance. He can’t get his back feet cleaned, because he can’t stay upright on three feet long enough. And he’s fine with the front feet. And he stumbles on his back feet when he’s running. Something seems wrong.

Can I hold him up with this? No, Fiona.

Today ended up being farrier day, because we had a schedule mix-up, but it all ended up fine. I told Trixie about my concerns, wondering if he was just lazy, as had been suggested, or if there was another reason.

Checking Drew out.

Trixie felt around and tried a few things. She agreed he has a problem. His pelvis is tilted, with one side higher than the other. That makes it hard for him to put weight on one side, and hard to bend the other side. I asked about how he clamps his tail down, and he said he was doing something to his sacrum with than (I forget what; forgot to take notes).

Perhaps this Vulcan mind meld will help.

Her theory is that he could have scar tissue or adhesions from being gelded in a popular way I’ll not describe here. That makes sense to me. So, she worked on him. He loved neck stretching but not foot work, which didn’t surprise me.

Ima fall down! Help!

Not much helped his pelvic area, though his head and neck felt good, from his reactions. Trixie will have to come back Monday and do some other stuff.

Do what you have to do, ma’am.

I’m so glad I paid attention to the clues he’s been giving me, so I can get Drew in better shape before he goes in for training. Luckily there is good news! Drew let his front feet get trimmed pretty calmly for a first timer! I’m proud of my little boy.

Meanwhile, Apache slept through most of Drew’s stuff and his trim, even though we had a few little showers. He was a model citizen and even stood perfectly for his back feet!

It is NOT sunny.

The weather is so weird. It’s so pleasant outside that I can sit and enjoy Lee’s pond after spending some time with the horses. It’s August. It should be 105, not 77 right now. And the grass should be brown, dang it.

Weird

The Other Horse Gets a Turn

I’ve been concentrating a lot on Apache lately, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten Drew! He won’t let me forget him, anyway, since every time he sees me, he comes up to see what’s going on. That’s really a good sign! He’s doing a good job learning not to crowd me, yet be close enough for affection. That’s got to be hard to learn (they call it staying out of my bubble).

We are in each other’s bubbles on purpose, here.

He continues to learn in the round pen, and I want to try some of the things I’m learning with Apache, but I am not going to step right in front of a cantering colt to get him to pay attention. I’ll figure something out, since I do have the long coach whip. He tends to ignore it, I guess because he hasn’t felt it. The other round pen issue is that he stumbles on his back feet occasionally. I am going to have him checked to see if it is just young horse awkwardness or something else. He does not appear to be ill.

He has put on some weight and is all muscled. It’s fun to watch him run.

But otherwise, we have great fun going for walks and not eating grass, so maybe he won’t form that habit. The idea is if his halter is on, he doesn’t eat, which is a thing I’d been inconsistent with on Apache. I know Kathleen will keep me honest with that. We can all learn new tricks!

I settle down sometimes.

I really enjoy his spirit and ease being around me, the dogs, the chickens, and Fiona. He is just a fun little guy.

Wheee!

His eye is still goopy, but better. Other animals here also have it, and we humans, too, so we are chalking it up to allergies from the very wet year we’ve had. Speaking of the other animals, the other four horses here have had a nice week or so of pasture rest. They spent a lot of it licking a cow mineral block with molasses in it, and had very brown faces. But, they finished it and look more normal now.

Granny’s muzzle is back to normal. She is the friendliest of the bunch, and always comes to see me to get her daily does of scritches and pets. She remains thin, but she’s old.

All the others are looking quite healthy. Mabel especially seems much better since her injuries were addressed. She is filling out and looks like a race horse or something. Her legs are amazing!

Suna just says nice things, because she wants to ride me someday.

The two buckskins stay together all the time. It’s very sweet to watch them out grazing. All in all, they seem to be a happy herd that will be ready to do more work soon. I enjoy watching them!

We are holding a memorial service for the empty cow mineral bucket.

Fiona is a very happy donkey. She gets to wander around the property during the day, eating whatever she wants, wherever she wants to. She actually doesn’t go very far, but it’s nice to just walk up and love on her while I’m dealing with the chickens and such. Things are settling in nicely!

Feeding time for my guys. Everyone gets their own spot. I clean poop while they eat, just as I learned from Kathleen!

Oh, and one more thing! Now that I finished my Friends of La Leche League newsletter I have time to do things I should have done a long time ago, and I finally blocked the shawl I made for Kathleen. It should be dry and looking much more like a shawl by tomorrow! See, I don’t spend all day every day with horses.

This clash of colors is a bit nauseating, but I think the shawl will look cool with its little scallops on the edges.