Thursday, August 27, 2009

Well, I made it through orientation last week (it was intense) and now am on my second day of classes. We have begun dissecting our dog. Thank goodness the dog looks nothing like my dogs! I already feel behind in classes and I'm looking forward to the weekend to be able to try to catch back up and perhaps get ahead...although I don't think that happens in vet school...

I'll keep in touch. I did work with my horses last weekend when I visited home and this weekend I'll do so again. I have a volunteer recruited (my neighbor) to help me get Griffin worked through his stranger danger (which I don't think will be an issue at all, since a couple weeks ago, he scratched Griffin on the neck). The week after is Griffin's castration appointment! I'm super excited to see this, especially since it sort of has a lot of relevancy for me, being in vet school and having the option to specialize in equines...which I might do if the wildlife route turns out to not be what I'm into. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Posts will taper off now

Well, the summer is over for me now. Tomorrow begins orientation for vet school. I'm settled into my apartment in the big city. I will be going home many weekends (it's only an hour and 45 minutes away) to be with family and play with my ponies. But that means that posts will be tapering off for a while. I'll probably only manage 1 per week at the very most...unless of course, you all want to hear about what's happening in vet school...but that won't be very horse related! I WILL for sure post about Griffin's castration coming up in a couple of weeks.

Wish me luck! I'm about to get super busy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

8 hooves trimmed

Yesterday I trimmed Griffin's back hooves! He was pretty good about it, but it was so interesting how different I had to deal with him as compared to Kachina on her back hooves.

With Kachina, she was quite nervous about it, and was continuously stepping away away from me. But it was because she was a little nervous, so I just had to keep with her and make sure to really reward her by giving her a break when she stopped moving and stood for a second with my holding her hoof.

With Griffin, I had to work through getting him comfortable, just like I did with Kachina, but then very quickly, he was standing there and I was picking out his back hoof with him very relaxed about it. This was the first time I'd picked up his back feet too! He's just so quick about learning. But after I'd starting nipping his hooves, he began not wanted to stand there. I was very patient at first, with just continuing to ask him to pick up his hoof and hold it for me, but it became obvious that he wasn't upset or nervous...he just didn't really like standing there like that. So I gave him a firm slap on his butt after he'd taken his foot away again. He jumped in surprise, and I kept asking him to pick up his hoof, which he did...then he stood great! He tried another couple of times to get tired of letting me work on his feet, and a firm smack for that, got him to relax and let me work with his feet. I only smacked him 3 times, and it was so interesting about the final time that I had to smack him. I smacked, he jumped, then took a very deep breath, licked and chewed, then stood like a stone as I picked up his foot and finished trimming the whole thing. His response told me that was what he needed...a bit firmer handling to show him that I really do want to be minded. I did also give him breaks when he'd been standing really well for a bit because I wanted him to realize that he did get to have his foot back eventually and didn't have to take it away from me.

Now, all 8 hooves on 2 wild mustangs have been trimmed and are no longer in danger of putting strain on their young tendons! Yay! I'm so happy about that!

I almost can't believe how comfortable the two are with me now. I really don't feel like I've been pushing them much at all, and I'm sure I could be even further along with them if I'd been working with them every day, but I'm so pleased with them as they are! They are both very comfortable with me, and they actually like to be with me (Kachina likes to be with me more than Griffin, but even he wants me around him).

Today, I am moving into my apartment in Madison. I feel like trimming their hooves was a great last summer activity to show me how far I've come with them.

Griffin gets gelded in a couple of weeks. I think he's ready. I'll still work on "Stranger Danger" with him a bit more, but yesterday, one of my neighbors (Griffin has never met this neighbor before) was watching me work with Griffin and I had him come into the pen with me and he rubbed his face and scratched his neck while I stood on the other side of him. So, I think that we'll be just fine when the vet comes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hoof trims on the wild ones!

Today I trimmed Kachina's back hooves (this took some patience but by the end she was standing still and was very comfortable with me)

Then I trimmed Griffin's front hooves! He was great! And I hadn't worked with him much lately either. He was very comfortable compared to Kachina's first time.

Kachina's front hooves after her big girl trim yesterday.

Back hooves before trim

Back hooves after trim

Whatcha doin' down there? Taking pictures of your hooves my gorgeous wild pony!

The sunflowers around Griffin's pen are flowering.

Griffin's super long front hooves! This is before trim.

This is how much I took off!

One hoof done, one still to go!

Pretty trimmed front hooves!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kachina is out!

Well, not really OUT! But I did actually lead her outside her pen for about 10 minutes today! That was all she could handle! She did really well, but she was breathing really fast and obviously nervous, even though we stayed right next to her pen where surroundings were familiar. She did try to bolt a few times, but it wasn't to get away from was to get away from my dad who was standing in the pasture keeping an eye out for the other horses (making sure they weren't coming in from the outer pasture). We walked a couple of circles around him, and when we'd get to where she felt like he was behind her, she bolted forward, but as soon as she came against the leadrope (which I had a really good hold on and my weight set against her), she came around and faced me and stopped freaking. We just kept walking in circles and changing directions (she's leading so well now!), and she did start to calm down. Then I put her back and she was super relaxed.

I also trimmed her front hooves for the second time. I think they are pretty close to where they should be now. A lot more sole peeled out with this trim and her hooves look nice and concave and I think that we got to the bottom of the furrow between her hoof wall and sole. This time, I was able to give her a full blown grown up horse trim, with the hoof stand and rasp and everything. She's really good about it. I just had to take my time and let her check stuff out and give her breaks before she got tired of standing with her hoof on the stand. She was awesome. I also spent time picking up her back feet, but I'm not asking her to hold them up for very long yet and I have not picked them out. But I think I will very soon. Now that her front feet are normal size (and tiny!), her back feet look terrible. Her and Griffin have feet that are just as overgrown, but her feet are smaller so they don't look as bad as his...but they are.

I also dumped hydrogen peroxide into the furrows on her hooves to try to work on the thrush problem. It hasn't gone away with just trimming, so I think I need to treat it and help it go away. Kachina, the sweety that she is, just lets me dump the foaming bubbling peroxide onto her hooves where it runs all over and fizzles!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kachina experiences "stranger danger"

I worked with Kachina the other day, and then both Griffin and Kachina a little bit today.

The other day, with Kachina, I worked mostly on getting her to be comfortable with me rubbing her hips and butt. It seemed like every time I got down by her tail, she wanted to step her hind end away from me. So I had to stick with her and pivot with her and keep my hand on her until she stopped moving. I had to do this many times and finally she did stand, but I think it just shows she's not 100% comfortable with me back there yet.

Today, we decided to take the tractor in and scrape out Kachina's pen. Griffin's pen is a little higher up and sloped so the water drains better, but Kachina's pen tends to get very mucky when it rains, and we've had a lot of rain recently. It's impossible to work with her in her pen when it's like that because it is so slippery. So, we just blocked her in the barn, and scraped out her poo pile and all the old matted down hay and muck. Now, when it dries out, it's going to be nice and firm. And her hooves will dry out better.

She took the tractor coming in very well. I was proud of her.

I worked with Griffin right afterward. I didn't really intend to work hard on him, but I had the halter, and I just wanted to catch him and rub him a bit. My aunt was there and my parents, and they all sort of wanted to see what I could do with him, so I ran him briefly through his "paces". Then my dad wanted to touch him, so we worked on "Stranger Danger". My dad did a lot of approach and retreat, while I just stood next to him and talked to him and rubbed him. My dad started by letting him sniff his hand, and then he was able to rub his forehead and walk away before Griffin decided to step back. Griffin was uncomfortable, but he was okay. It was a good lesson. After everyone left, I spent some time scratching his butt and he was very comfortable and happy.

Then I caught Kachina and worked on touching her back end. Then I led her for a bit, but because my dad was watching, she was a bit sticky with leading. I had my dad come in the pen to practice "Stranger Danger". Kachina was pretty worried, but we played with her for a long time. First just sniffing my dad's hand and he'd walk away before she could get too worried. Then he walked around the pen, and Kachina and I followed him. Then she led very well! She wanted to follow me following him. She stayed right on my heels and I hardly had to tug on her at all. So while we followed him around the pen, my dad would stop and turn and let her sniff his hand, then walk away from her again. She was so funny. She definitely got worried, sometimes, but it was cute. I petted and laughed at her while we helped her relax with my dad. Then, I had him squat down, and I sort of led her up to him (back and forth because there was no way she would walk straight up to him), then I turned and squatted down beside him. When I squat, she always lowers her head down to my level and relaxes, and she did this when my dad was sitting there too. So, I kept asking her to drop her head, and my dad would have her sniff him, and I would rub her forehead, and then he tried to rub her forehead (but she'd pop her head up), so I would ask her to lower it again. She was so cute. She wasn't really concerned about my dad there kneeling until he tried to rub her face. Most of the time, she was looking over our heads at something in the yard. He was able to rub her face once without her pulling her head up, so then we were done. When we both stood back up, she became quite worried. It was so funny! Her eyes got all big and the whites showed and she backed up. I stood next to her, my dad asked her to sniff his hand one more time. She did sniff him, then she reached over and bumped my arm to make sure that we were okay...just checking in with me about this scary guy and reassuring herself that we were okay. It was so cute and so flattering! I love it when a horse trusts you enough that they'll touch you with their nose to reassure themselves. That, to me, is the ultimate in trust. And Griffin, did sort of do that today with me, but it was not as obvious or sincerely completely trusting as Kachina was. She's just so sweet. But so flighty!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stranger danger

I've set up Griffin's appointment to be gelded. Sept. 5th. I hope that gives me enough time to get him to allow another person to touch and handle him, as the vet will need to in order to administer anesthetic.

I worked with him today. I scratched him all over, spent more time on his butt, rubbing to his hocks and down his front legs, and I cut him a little "halter" path. I've saved the hair I cut from both of them. It's like baby's first haircut! It's one of those little milestones!

I also lunged him a little today and he was much better about leaving calmly on his good side and also better on his bad side (although he still hesitated at first, and was a little more uncertain about it, but definitely better than before). And when I asked him to whoa, he turned in to me with interest. By the end of our little lunging session (which probably only lasted 5-10 minutes), he was actually coming all the way to the center (with a little extra urging with the halter) to meet me when I asked him to whoa. That's wonderful for him. I do think that he feels more comfortable standing with me, than when I am pushing him around the pen. That is a good thing.

Then my mom appeared around the corner. She hadn't seen me work with Griffin in a long time (not since before I could halter him). She was surprised. My mom is a little uncertain around horses. She just doesn't understand their behavior well, and they are so big and she's so little.

Since my mom was there, I decided to see how Griffin would handle another person in the pen. Griffin and I stood in the center of the pen as my mom climbed over the panels. I stood next to his head and we both faced my mom. I scratched him occasionally and talked to him. He watched her approach with a little concern. I asked my mom to be slow and extend her hand for him to sniff. I touched her hand first to show him she was okay. Then he reached forward and sniffed her. He was on alert, and when my mom lowered her right arm, then went to raise her left arm for him to sniff, he bolted! And my mom bolted too! She ran for the panels, and Griffin just ran to get away from this new danger! My mom stood at the top of the panels on the safe side, and I laughed at them both! She said she thought she was having a heart attack. I let Griffin move a little bit while my mom stood on the panels (he skirted around her), then I asked him to whoa and stand in the center with me again.

We tried again. This time, I told my mom to just listen to my directions and we were going to do some approach and retreat. So first, I had her just approach and stand about 6 feet away. I talked to Griffin, scratched him and watched his concern. I told my mom to just look away from him and act interested in something else, then walk away. Then come back, stop, then this time, extend her hand and let him sniff. As soon as he sniffed, I said turn around and walk away, and I explained how that was rewarding the behavior that we desired, which was standing still and showing interest in her. My mom doesn't quite understand how they can figure out that's what you want, but it does work. It's because of the relief they feel when you release that pressure. Then she came back and stood closer and asked him to sniff her hand again, then she backed off. I stood next to him, scratched him occasionally. Then I switched to standing on his other side, and we did it again. He did not bolt this time. He stood next to me the whole time and although he was concerned, he was okay. Then my mom left. She was nervous too, and that was enough for both of them for their first try at getting over "stranger danger"!

After she left, he was so much more relaxed with me standing there with him. I think we were a team when the "stranger" was approaching. What a way to build a relationship! He was such a good boy. We are definitely becoming friends and he listens to me without exploding. He does still snort when I first enter his pen if I ask him to move straight off, but he's getting better. The more relaxed he gets, the more expressive he is when you hit the good itchy spots. Today, I swear, he was itchy on his whole body. He kept his head turned toward me without me having to pull him around when I was at his side, and his lip was twitching the whole time. He did try to groom me again, but again, I just gently dissuaded him with my elbow. He really wants to return the favor, but I don't want his teeth on me!

The other thing I've been doing with Griffin, is jumping quickly, just to surprise him and make him realize that just because I move fast, I'm not gonna get him. He's now just spooking in place, and then usually he licks his lips immediately afterward. I think it's almost a release of tension for him that has slowly built up with my presence with him. He's getting more and more fun to work with. He's not as cuddly as Kachina is, but he's nowhere near as flighty and picky about new things or new movements I make.

I didn't have time for Kachina today.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Here are Kachina's newly trimmed hooves. It looks like her left one could use more off the toe to make them even, but it could also be a camera/hoof angle. It's too wet in her pen right now (just rained last night) to really tell for sure.

Today, I spent time on her back feet. First I tossed the rope I was going to use all over her. She was pretty good about it. Then I looped it around her hind leg and used my stick to pull the ends toward me. She did very well with the rope around her leg, and also with me pulling on it to ask her to pick it up. I stood back near her hip with her head tipped toward me and I rubbed her hip and leg in between asking her to pick up her foot with the rope. Then I rubbed her with my hand all the way down to her hoof, then I asked her to pick her foot up with my hand. She was great. No freaking out at all. Next time I'll ask her to let me hold it up, then perhaps I can trim those back ones too!

I took these series of pictures after I was done working with her. She is definitely turning into an attractive horse. It's something to appreciate when their condition changes from being brushed and taken care of.

I didn't take any picture of Griffin today, but I did work with him. We made friends again today. He was even more comfortable with me back near his hip. I kept his head tipped toward me as I rubbed down his hip and his butt. He knocks his feed bucket off the panels everyday trying to itch his butt on it, so when I got to his butt with my hand, he was in heaven. I rubbed and scratched and scratched his tail and even his boy parts (briefly). He liked it. He turned his head even further toward me and trying to groom me, which I gently dissuaded. Then I asked him to lunge around me. I just spent time over and over asking him to go and them come back. It's the "go" part he doesn't quite know what I'm asking. I really really change my body lanquage to aggressive, and even then, he still is not sure he should go. He tries to stay facing me. We worked at that a while. He got it pretty well on his left side, but his right side needs a little more work.

Oh, and I actually dewormed both of them today! And both of them took it very well with no reaction other than the chewing and trying to spit it out afterward. I prepared them for it (stuck my finger in their mouth repeatedly, then put the dewormer tube in without dispensing the stuff), and they acted like it was no big deal. Even afterward, they let me put the dewormer tube back in their mouths with no fuss. Wish my tame horses took it that well. Well, actually, Cody and Chico do, but Catlow always has a fit. I do prepare her for it, but she still get's really mad at me for giving her the dewormer. She's a picky girl.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Yuck! My hands reak!

And I've washed them three times!

Guess what that means? Yes! I was successful trimming Kachina's front hooves! I started out with my usual routine, of haltering her, brushing her down (today I brushed all the way down to her back hooves), and combing her mane and forelock. Then I got my stick and string and rubbed her, then threw the string all over her back and around her legs. She was flawless with that today. She stood and watched me and was not worried a bit about the stick and string.

Then I got out the hoof pick and nippers. I picked her feet out first. Then I sat looking at them, trying to decide how I was going to trim them. I've never trimmed hooves that were this overgrown before. I should have taken pictures. I mean, they weren't THAT bad, but the heel was so long and everything just needed so much off! And the sole was just as long as the hoof wall! The frog looked like it was just about lost up in inside. The frog was the only thing that didn't need any trimming. I knew from things I've read that everything I was seeing was old dead hoof that just hadn't been able to slough off, so I should be able to trim it without causing her any discomfort. Luckily, there was a huge furrow between her sole and hoof wall where they had become separated.

Now, how was I going to trim them? I needed two hands and I didn't want to trap her hoof between my knees in the typical farrier's stance. With my horses, I usually rest their hoof on my knee as I crouch beside them, but I wasn't sure how that would work for Kachina either. I wasn't sure if she would stand still and keep her hoof on my knee. But I actually felt more comfortable trying that because I think they tend to feel more trapped when their hoof is between your knees.

It took a little patience, but I was able to convince Kachina to leave her hoof on my knee. And she actually really relaxes when I am kneeling down near her. I think I'm less intimidating, plus I've been kneeling beside her head when I ask her to drop her head down. So, I think that my kneeling was a clue to her to relax. Once she was standing well, I stuck the hoof nippers in the furrow and started going around her hoof nipping it off. She did get nervous a few times, so I made sure to move around a lot, rub her leg, rub her belly with my hand...I didn't want her to freak out if the hoof nippers touched her belly. She did spook a couple of times and dash sideways, but we just started over and she was relaxed as before. I wore my helmet, just in case she was to panic and kick as she was spooking, but Kachina is such a sweetheart. She trusts me...she just gets nervous sometimes, and she never once kicked out. She just would dash away when something spooked her. All in all, I think she spooked about 5 or 6 times in the course of doing both feet.

After I got the hoof wall off and evened out her heels, then I had to use the hoof nippers to cut out the sole that was now the longest part on her hoof. Once I started with the sole, a lot of it peeled out. I think I removed about 3/4 inch of sole at the thickest part!

I was able to really take my time and even things out well, and carve the sole out with the nippers to be a somewhat normal shape. There is still plenty that needs to be removed, but I didn't want to go too short the first time. I figure I'll let her walk around on them for a week, then check them again and see what has come out on it's own and maybe lower them a few more.

I wonder what she thinks of her new feet. They have to be more comfortable than her old ones!

I didn't get a chance to work with Griffin, but I did get to see him acting silly. When my tame horses walked past his pen, he whinnied and whinnied to them, then ran into the barn, and then back out, leaping over his hay bucket as he went. He did this several times, shaking his head, jumping and leaping. He was funny. That would be the most "studdy" I've seen him act, but I don't necessarily think that was all that studdy. I think he was feeling good, and would really have like to have gone with them.

I do think that Kachina is in heat. She doens't really display and Griffin doesn't really pay much attention to her, but she was peeing, and she looked puffy.

I rode Chico earlier today. It was actually the first time I've ridden in several weeks. I know, it's kind of strange that I'm not riding much, but I'm at least doing a lot with horses. It takes so much work to gentle wild ones!!! I'm going to try to rearrange my priorities, quit procrastinating, and try to ride most days now...especially since I'll be moving down to start school in two weeks. TWO WEEKS! Yes, I'm a little nervous, and really shocked that the summer went by so fast, but I'm also ready to get busy again!

I rode Chico bareback (this is my favorite way to ride when I just want to feel in tune with my horse). We went on a blackberry survey today. I wanted to see where the biggest, ripest blackberries were on our neighbor's marsh. They are much bigger there than on our place. I think it's because they grow in sand on the marsh. You wouldn't think that blackberries would be bigger and juucier in sand than in clay and black soil, but they are. Chico was very good, especially for not being ridden in forever. He was just as into exploring as I was, so it was a very fun, relaxing ride.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I procrastinated again! Today was the first time in another 2 days that I worked with the wild ones. I'd like to say I was busy, but really I have no excuse.

I worked with them both today and I played with Griffin first.

Today was the FIRST time that he stood and waited for me in the center of his pen! Usually he moves away and waits in the corner. Today he was in the center! I haltered him right away and he actually sort of tucked his nose to make it into the halter! Then I sprayed him down with fly spray (no jumping at all!). Then I wanted to brush his mane out for the first time, so I showed him the lotion (he smelled it really hard because it actually has a scent), and the brush (quick sniff with no concern), then I proceeded to rub lotion into his mane and forelock and brush it out. He was staying with me so well that after I'd brushed him out, I decided to see what I could touch with the brush in my hand. I found Griffin's itchy spot. The middle of his back. I was able to brush his back, sides, down to his knee on his foreleg, and down his hip to his tail, (with his head tipped toward me). He stood pretty well, and only got worried a few times, but he just backed up so that I was near his head when he couldn't take it anymore. When I hit his itchy spot, he turned his head and tried to groom me, but I just wiggled my arm until he quit trying. He was very with me today. I actually think that he was enjoying my company. It makes me trust him more and act more carefree with him when he is comfortable with me, which helps both of us relax. I also asked him to step toward me with a pull on the halter, and he was getting it pretty well. He's not leading really, but taking steps forward to sideways to pulls on the halter. He's not quite comfortable with me enough yet to officially lead around his pen because his pens is pretty small and that'd require that he be very close to me. Griffin is a very smart horse. Once he learns something, he's got it, and then the next time I work with him, he is even better than he was when I left off previously!

Kachina progresses well, but she's not quite as quick as Griffin. She's still flightier by nature and is likely to run first, think later.

With Kachina today, I haltered her pretty much right away, like always. Kachina does get a little worried when I step into the pen and pick up the halter, so I just stand relaxed in the middle, while she circles me once, then stops at my back. At that point, I just turn around, approach her, rub her face and halter her. Then she's good.

I brushed her whole body with the hairbrush down to her hind hocks. I didn't have as much time with her because it was getting dark, but I worked with picking up her front feet. I'm still leaving the back ones, but they are next. I progressed from just asking her to pick up her foot, to allowing me to hold it up for a bit, and then I went and got a hoof pick and was able to pick out both front feet! She stands very well. Her feet are in terrible shape. She definitely has bad thrush (it smelled awful!), and her hooves are so long. Tomorrow, I am going to try to trim her feet. Her sole is so overgrown too! Once I get her fronts trimmed up, then I will make her back feet a priority to work with. Wish me luck! I've never been the one that gave a wild horse her first trim before!