Sunday, February 28, 2010

Griffin made it through the first night free

Later on the same day that I released him, I went back to check on Griffin, only to find that he had his first tying lession without me! I worried about that, since he was in the trees so much chewing on them. It looks like his rope got caught, he must have fought a bit to free himself because the rope was wrapped around the bunch of short stems a few times, and he had mud down one side as though he had fallen. When I got there, he was standing still, just hanging out, waiting. I walked right up to him, untangled his rope from the stems, and then took his rope off. Looks like he had himself a good lesson though and learned something about tying.

The next morning after the release, he was doing so well with the mares (they were tolerating him really well) so I decided to turn Chico loose, with a drag rope to slow him down a bit if he got too aggressive with Griffin. The previous picture is their first sniffing.

I shouldn't have worried. Chico is the least aggressive to him so far out of all the horses! He still herded him with his ears back, but no trying to chase him out of the country. Someone in my past had me convinced that Chico was just plain mean to other horses, but it certainly is not true. I should have more faith in him.

But of course, the second that one starts moving Griffin, they'll all perk up and follow along to help. Horses are funny. In the following picture, I caught the action just a couple seconds too late. Chico was going to herd Griffin away, but then lost interest and was turning around to go eat hay. You can see that Cody and Catlow are right behind him to help though.

I'm still going to keep Kachina in for a week. Her and Griffin are so buddy-buddy. I want him to get a chance to build a relationship with the herd, and me, before I turn his best friend out with him. He's been great today about letting me approach and catch him in the pasture too.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Turning Griffin loose was exciting, but also successful! I know it seems like I'm lazy, but facebook is so much easier to load pictures into. So I'm just going to include the link here. Under each picture, I have captions telling the story of how the big event went. I'll just say, no one went through the fence. That's a good thing!

Check out the story!

Below are just a couple pictures from the album to whet your appetite!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Big day tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big day!

I'm going to turn Griffin loose with the herd. Please wish me luck!

For some bonding time, I hung out with him this evening and gave him a good currying. He really has warmed up to me. He still gets antsy when I am near his butt. He'll stand still while I'm brushing, but the second that I stop to clean out the brush, he has to back up and swing his butt away so that I'm at his head. That's where he feels most comfortable. Then he can sniff the curry comb while I clean it out.

His chest is especially itchy. He loves when I scratch there. He also has the most interesting whorl on his chest. I think this is called a "wheat ear". Some people think that whorls in certain places or of certain patterns mean something about the horse...I'm not sure, but I do think it's true that a horse with many many wierd whorls might have some mental developmental difficulties.

LOOK! Proof that spring really IS coming! Griffin is really shedding out! I had a cloud of hair swirling around me as I brushed him tonight.

Then I went over to brush Kachina and try to get some photos of her bites. They don't show up so well in pictures. But basically, each one of these scuffed hair marks is a little bare patch. The worst are right behind her jaw.

These pictures do not do these bites justice. They are huge! But they are also buried in hair.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Big news

Okay, here goes. I didn't want to tell anyone before because things were too early yet, but I just had my first doctor visit and ultrasound and things are going on schedule.

I'm pregnant!

Yes, I'm pregnant, in vet school, about to get married, and I have 5 horses. Life has been quite crazy lately! This is my first baby. Once Todd and I decided we were getting married, we realized we didn't want to wait to have kids. I'm 32 and he is 45. We aren't getting any younger. Vet school can wait a year if it has to, but my body is not getting any younger!

I'm 10 and a half weeks along, which means I'm due September 10th. That is a few weeks after the fall semester starts for my 2nd year of vet school. If everything goes as planned, I'm going to take that year off school, and return as a 2nd year student the following year.

If we had to wait until I was done with school, I'd be pushing 38 by the time I have my first kid! I didn't want to wait that long. Fertility declines and other health problems become more likely then.

I had my first ultrasound this morning. It really made the whole pregnancy so real! Before, I felt like I was getting fat, felt sick all the time, and I was tired, and cranky. No real proof that I'm pregnant (aside from those positive tests and all). But watching the baby in real time on the screen, moving and kicking his/her legs and arms...just plain being so ACTIVE, it has brought a new light to the whole pregnancy. Suddenly, feeling sick doesn't seem so bad, and I'm actually excited again! Being sick and tired, sort of makes it easy to lose excitement.

These are pictures from today :)

And now, maybe you can understand my concern about having 5 horses, two of which need a lot of work...they should both be getting to the riding point this summer. I am planning to work with them on the ground as long as I am able to. I will get them as far as I can. But I can't ride them. Not this year. Maybe next summer...but Kachina will be 5 then, and Griffin will be 4. I know that's not too long to wait, but I feel like the more they are exposed to when they are young, the more solid they will be. What to do? I'll take it one day at a time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Colorfest in Oregon

Oh, how I wish I could go! And oh, how I wish I had room and time for more horses! Can I just quit vet school and gentle mustangs for the rest of my life?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Trimming Griffin

This past weekend, I was going contemplating attempting to turn Griffin loose in the pasture, even though I think he probably won't let me catch him when he's loose. I was just going to do it with a drag rope, start by leading him around the pasture, and then play it by ear. I'm pretty sure I could get him recaptured easily with grain so I was only really worried about if he'd respect the fence. And I would have all the other horses tied/penned while I took him out.

Well, I didn't get around to it, because I decided that he really needed a hoof trim before I turned him loose. I haven't been keeping myself in very good shape since summer ended, because I sit at a desk all day. I try to go for walks, but it's been COLD. And I only get to do horse stuff and outside work on weekends. So, I'm pretty out of shape. So, trimming Griffin's hooves was quite the feat! I had hardly any strength to squeeze the nippers, plus he's got really hard thick toe walls! I only managed to do the first 3 hooves on Saturday because I had to be someplace and ran out of time. He was pretty good about those three hooves though. But then, Sunday rolled around and I attempted to do the last hoof. He wasn't having any of it. I'm not sure why he was so bad about that hoof. Maybe it was the fact that I went right to the back and I usually start with the fronts? Regardless, he became more and more uncomfortable with me back there, till he got to the point where I could get him to stand still, but as soon as I held his foot off the ground, he'd panic and little and take it away, then squirt away from me and circle as I tried to walk at his hip to get him to stop. Before he got really bad, I had actually nipped one edge, so he had one heel trimmed and the other not. I couldn't leave him like that! But it was beginning to look like I wasn't going to convince him to cooperate. He wasn't just being naughty either. He never pinned his ears or kicked at me or anything, he just was nervous about me back at his hind end (he always has been), and had worked himself up to where it felt better to step away from me, than to relax and let me have his foot.

So, at this point, I realized I needed to somehow turn the situation into the other way around. I wanted him relaxed when I held his foot, and uncomfortable if he circled around me. So, I got another rope and looped it around his hind leg. Then I preceeded to ask him to stand and let me pick up his foot. Everytime he got worried and took his foot back and started circling, I just stayed right with him and pulled on that rope around his foot. He really didn't like fighting to keep his balance with that rope on his foot. As soon as he stopped and relaxed, I took away all tension on the rope. We did this several times until he stopped circling at all. He still was taking his foot back, but he was rapidly getting less and less inclined to commit to completely evading me. So, the time he actually let me hold it up, pull it back and wipe on it, I just gave it back to him and called it a day. I wanted him to sit and think about how that had just ended.

I came back a half a day later to see if I could finish his hoof. I looped the rope around his hoof again, and this time, he didn't circle away from me at all! Having that rope was a good reminder for him. I was able to get him to stand relaxed and allow me to finish trimming the rest of his hoof. Trimmed and filed. He was perfect, like he used to be. I owe it all to that rope around his leg! I like little tricks that change a horse's mind.

After that, I removed all the other horses from the pasture (except Kachina, I figured she could stay in), and then took Griffin for a walk around the fenceline. Kachina followed us like a puppy dog most of the way. The rest of the time, she was tearing around and playing. Griffin was quite the gentlemen throughout the whole time. He really respects the halter and leadrope and I just have to pull a little to get his attention was Kachina was telling him that she really wanted to go run off with him.

So, I decided that when I do get to the point of letting Griffin out, I'm going to pen Kachina back up. I think that she will be a bad influence on him and get him running around a lot. I'd like his intro to the herd to be calm. After a week or two of just Griffin with the herd, I'll turn Kachina back loose with them.

I really hope adding a second gelding into the mix with a gelding and three mares doesn't create friction. Chico has already shown that he will defend his mares against strange geldings. I just hope that Griffin is not considered a strange gelding anymore.

A funny side note: Well, sorta funny. Kachina is the bottom of the pecking order, but she's not necessarily resigned to being lowly and depressed. She doesn't necessarily outright challenge the others with the expect that she'll move up, but she is NOT intimidated by them, and she'll let them know it! She still will get out of their way when they tell her to, but then there are times when she will "play" with them. She mostly plays with Chico, and that's probably because the two mares are just grouchy and interested in making Kachina mind. Chico will play back. It is a regular event to see them rearing and playing. Kachina really gets into it. She's lighter than chubby Chico, so she'll readily get up on her hind legs and paw at him.

And one day this weekend, I was walking through their pasture and the horses were standing on one of their trails through the snow watching me. Cody was closest, then Chico, then Kachina. They don't like to walk off the trails because then they sink in the snow. I called them as I started walking away, and they began to follow me. But Kachina was not happy that she had to be in the back...she wanted to get close to me and Cody and Chico were being way too slow, so she took a lesser traveled trail along the bottom of the hill to bypass the slow pokes. When she got alongside Cody (about 25 feet away), Cody flipped her nose out at her (back off! I'm the leader!), and Kachina immediately flipped her nose back at Cody (yeah? Well, you're slow and fat!)and kept walking. Cody was not about to accept that kind of disrepect, so she flipped her nose at Kachina again, then pinned her ears, and went after her. The whole herd then disappeared up over the hill. It was hilarious to see that subtle communication among them!

But, Kachina has some major bite marks and bare patches because of her insolence. The poor girl has thin skin and it abrades easily, but that doesn't stop her from fighting back. Most of her bare patches are on her upper neck, and I'm pretty sure she got those while she was fighting/playing. Because when the mares get after her, they usually end up biting her butt. Her butt only has a few marks on it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pasture dynamics

I took all these pictures last weekend, but I chose to post about poor neglected Griffin instead. Now I've got a dap of time, so I'll post these pics. These pictures are a great illustration of the dynamics in the pasture.

I had been out for a walk in the woods, and so entered the pasture from a different side than usual. I came up over the hill and spotted the horses grazing on their hay and milling about.

Then they spotted me. Catlow is on the left, Chico in the middle, and Kachina on the right. Cody is farther to the left out of the frame of the picture.

Kachina immediately comes over to see what I'm doing and to get a little attention.

She comes up really close and I pet her, then back off to get a picture of her cute face. She looks at me curiously because I don't often have a camera along.

The other three are curious why Kachina came over to see me so fast, so they mosy over and spy through the trees. I bent down to look at the salt block half buried in the snow, and was picking at it with a stick. Meanwhile Kachina stands over me.

They are very curious about what I'm doing, so they all follow the leader up the hill.

I back up to get a good picture of them all together.

I love this picture because of how symmetrical it is! Two dark horses licking the salt block in the center, and two blaze faces watching me on the outside!

Kachina is often gazing into the distance, like a true wild horse, listening for...other horses, predators, the wind...

But she snaps out of it quickly and comes to see me again. This picture is hilarious to me, because I have one almost just like it from the BLM. It was one of her adoption photos. I don't have that photo on my computer right now (it's stashed away at home on a harddrive and right now I'm at school), but you can see a similar one from their adoption photos here. I think she's more filled out now and looks happier for sure.

She comes right up close...

So I run backwards again so I can get something other than her nose in a picture. My momentary run backwards, stops her in her tracks for a second (isn't her shadow cool?)...

But then she comes right after me again.

Well, Kachina is now too close, so I take some pictures of the others. All the horses are a little roly poly right now, but we've had some pretty cold days so I think that is good. This is definitely not all fluff on Chico!

It is still kinda chilly today (high of 15 degrees!), but it is sunny without much breeze, so in the sun it feels nice and warm. Catlow soaks up the sun and takes a little snoozer.

Cody is looking nice and rotund as well. She now has left her salt block and wants to see what I'm up to. She comes up behind Kachina. Kachina yields to her without any fight at all. Cody doesn't feel the need to be mean to Kachina now.

Kachina has moved off around me and now stands in the brush, looking back at me rather dejectedly.

It this point, I decide to leave the 4 on the hill and go work with Griffin.

Kachina is fitting in very nicely. She's definitely at the bottom, though. When I was up there spending time with them, I didn't see a single horse pin their ears at her or make to chase her. I'm sure by the end of this summer, the whole herd will be one collective unit that will actually whinny after any horse that I take out. Right now, Cody, Chico, and Catlow are all so dependent on one another that if I take one out, all the other fret about that horse until they are returned. They are quite pathetic about it. The horse that I have out is generally fine being with me, maybe a little barn sour, but I can take them off and do stuff and they don't call back for the others, meanwhile the others are pacing the fenceline, looking for the lost horse, whinnying pathetically. Even when I take Catlow out, Cody gets all upset. I find that funny, because before Kachina, Catlow was the bottom and the outsider. Cody and Chico have this very tight pair bond and seem to really exclude Catlow. But, if you take Catlow away, the herd is just not complete, so lead mare, Cody, frets about her being gone. Horses are funny critters.