Sunday, February 28, 2016

Spring naughties

Saturday I took the mares and Shimmer to a groundwork clinic in town.  It was more about how to do the groundwork tests for North American Western Dressage, than training.  And with where I left off last fall with Shimmer, I figured she'd be ready for this.  I was wrong!  She was so naughty!  Not listening, not stopping when I asked her to, blowing past me when I lunged her, looky-looing at everyone, shaking her head when I tried to use the halter to ask her to stop when one point I was just leading her in a straight line and without any warning or anything that set her off, she jumped straight up in the air...literallly at least 3 feet up!  I had to take her outside and do a bunch of lunging and lots of changing of direction before she settled down and could actually pay attention to me somewhat.  Even then, she was still restless, but at least not bumping into me.

I didn't expect it out of her because immediately before the clinic, a friend and I took the mares for a ride on some new trails near the facility, and I ponied Shimmer all saddled up, and she was really good (with the exception of pinning her ears at Cody, which is something she would never have gotten away with in the pasture).  During the ride, the mares where a bit on edge too...walking really fast, just unsettled, but ok.  By the end of the ride they were much calmer.

The mares were part of the groundwork clinic too, and other people were using them (my friend and one other person in the clinic).  Catlow was very well behaved, but Cody was almost as bad as Shimmer (looky-looing, restless...and I hear she got very naughty when I took Shimmer outside to tune her up).

After the clinic, we went back out on the trails with a couple of boarders at the facility and the mares were even more on edge!  You would think they would be tired, or more relaxed after all the work they had, but no.  It was a long day for them.  Their udders where pretty full by the time we were done, so I'm sure they were plenty distracted.  They were all tied to the trailer at the end, happily eating hay from their haybags, while I chatted with a few people over by the barn, when suddenly I saw Cody walking out the gate and back down the trail!  She untied herself and decided she was heading home!  I ran after her and caught up to her and she stopped for me, but she was on a mission!  Heading home!  They all loaded back up and made the trip home fine.

Everyone was pretty happy to be home.

Today I took Charlie out, spontaneously, and took her on a walk down the driveway.  As soon as we walked out the door to the shed, she immediately was on edge, eyes big, nostrils flared.  I should have thought better but I just wanted to see how she'd be down the driveway.  Well, she completely lost her mind.  She was not paying any attention to me at all, and could have been dangerous even as she was walking into me and progressed to half rearing.  I stupidly thought I could work her through it, though I had never done any lunging or that type of work with her when she was actually calm.  It didn't really work, and she was still out of control.  She was more than happy to get back up to the house, and when she heard Cody whinny, she tried to bolt away from me, reared up, and tumbled over half backwards (she didn't get hurt, but it did scare her a bit (more than she was already)).

So, I decided to wean the babies.  I need them to be okay without their mommas!  And I think it will help the mommas focus when we are out and about.  They are almost 10 months old and have grown well.  I was going to wait until the grass came in this year, but I have a clinic and overnight trail ride trip planned for mid-May, so now is as good a time as ever!  The babies are locked in the barn right now.  It's the safest place for them.  I'm going to let the mares in twice a day to let the babies nurse just to help them slow their milk production down before we cut them off completely.  So it'll be a slow wean for the first week, and then it'll be cold turkey.

The babies aren't too happy right now, but at least Charlie calmed down once she was with Denny and in the barn.  They are whinnying often, but this shall pass.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Shimmer and the saddle

I love this little filly.  I saddled her for the first time tonight.  I've only done basic groundwork with her...lunging, sending, some obstacle stuff, taught her to stand for fly spray (she was terrified at first).  She has become a solid little horse.  She's not spooky and is going to be a great kids pony someday!  She took to saddling as though she'd been saddled every day her whole life.  The saddle was more interesting when it was on the fence than when it was on her back.  And the other babies thought it was pretty weird to have a saddle on Shimmer.  She is just a hair too small for my saddles.  She has also not lost any of her incisors yet suggesting that she is still only barely 2 years old, though I was told they thought she'd be 3 this year.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Raising babies

Phew!  Tonight I just finished trimming the last (7th) horse in my herd in need of a hoof trim!  They were all due.  I've been working on them for the last couple weeks.  I can't do them all in one hand strength is not there!  Tonight I finished Charlie.

Sunday it was Denny and Cody.

Denny was a very good boy.  He didn't appreciate being separated from his mama though.  But he was very well behaved.  He is going to be such a cool horse.  I love his conformation.  He doesn't have the huge quarter horse hip, but it's a nice hip.  And he is much leaner built than Charlie...he is not as wide in the hip or chest, but he is just as long.  He seems stouter.  His legs are much bigger in comparison to his body than Charlie's are.  I can't wait to see how this boy shapes up!

I love his ringlets in his tail.  He gets this from his mom.

The babies are still with their mommas.  They will be weaned in the spring when the grass starts to grow in.  I subscribe to the thought that they need the extra protein from mom's milk over the winter when on dry hay with a little grain and mineral, rather than being weaned just after the grass dries up and while they are still growing at an incredible rate.  Being loaded up on grain to keep them growing isn't good for them.  There is research showing an association between high starch feeds and developmental orthopedic diseases in youngsters.

I think my babies are in phenomenal condition.  I can say this since I've seen several other babies to compare them to.  Just this week, I was called out to pull blood for Coggin's tests on two babies just a month younger than my two.  When I first saw them, I thought for sure they were pony foals, and was absolutely shocked when I was told they were quarter horses.  The poor babies were very very thin and had long scraggly hair coats.  You could not see their ribs because their haircoats were so long, but they were very distinctively felt.  They were being fed a couple pounds of a 13% sweet feed, and hay that felt like sticks (it was grass hay just riddled with weeds, specifically long super tough goldenrod shafts).  No salt, no extra minerals.  The beef cows they were with looked fleshy and in good health, but that is no diet for baby horses.  I gave the owner lots of recommendations for them (deworm, shots, change grain, mineral, and try to get them on better hay).  I had to tell her I was worried that they were already stunted because of their poor diet.  She'd only had them a month, so they were like this before she every picked them up.  And perhaps she's never had babies before, so my goal was to politely educate and see if we couldn't get these babies in better condition before she calls me out to geld them.

I was sent a picture a few weeks neighbor was going through their trail cam pictures from the summer and came across this:

I just love this picture!

I will breed my mares again in the next year or two, but not this year.  This fall I am planning a trip to Wyoming with my horses to ride in the mountains with my good friend.  I definitely have the baby horse bug though and I cannot WAIT to do it again!  I love the combination of my beloved mares and a really nice stallion, and I love being a part of shaping who my young horses become.  It is so refreshing to have horses that are just about broke just from regular handling.

And while I am not having any more baby horses this year, I have two clients/friends who have decided to breed their beloved mares...and they are breeding to Rawhides Slvr Bullet!  I am so excited for them, and excited that I get to be a part of it (I'll be doing all the ultrasounding and artificial insemination), and extra excited that my babies will have some half siblings locally!  I'll live vicariously through these horses for now, as my babies grow up.