Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When good plans go wrong

After the extreme freeze we have been in, with temperatures not even breaking the 20 degree mark for over a week, I hadn't had much chance to ride since I don't ride if it is below 10 degrees.  When it suddenly warmed up this past week, I jumped at the chance to ride and planned to ride every day until I gave a lesson again on Friday.

I went on a nice trail ride with the TWH on Saturday and it started out really nice.  I took my GSD with us as she loves long walks, I tie her retractable leash to the saddle and both the dog and the horses are okay with this arrangement.  For 3/4 of the ride we had a great time, the TWH was just gaiting along, bebopping along without much care in the world.  As we got to the last leg, however, I figured we should slow down and go at a walk since the roads were still covered in packed snow and we had a big hill to walk up.  The TWH had a different opinion, however, and refused to go at a nice walk and as soon as I would let up contact, he would power into a nice gait.  Which would be fine except I asked for a walk.  I tried bopping him with the reins when he would speed up and that didn't work.  I tried asking for lateral movements and while it sort of worked, it required contact and I didn't want contact. The TWH was quite out of character with his behavior as he typically does what I ask without much fuss but he would have none of this walking.  At one point my dog went on the wrong side of a mailbox and so I was trying to coordinate her with the TWH and he started throwing a fit, he did not want to stand still nor be patient while I worked the leash.  He got some hard kicks and yanks before he stood still and when we finally continued on towards home I gave up and kept a nice short rein to force him to walk at the speed I wanted.  Unfortunately I was against a hard timeline and didn't have the ability to go around the block a second time to reinforce the walk like I needed to.  Will do it next time for sure.

On Monday I rode the TWH in the arena and he was much better behaved.  We worked on getting him into the outside rein at both a walk and a trot and I was very insistent that he provide a true trot.  We also worked on contact with the bit as he doesn't care for contact at all and will avoid much contact all of the time but insists on no contact in transitions.  At the end of the ride it was much better and he is coming along, the trot/walk/halt/walk/trot transitions are helping as he isn't getting time to avoid contact.  Next week we can start cantering again (still under rehab instructions from his lameness at the beginning of the month), it will be fun!

My plans were to ride every day until Friday as I need to be back in the saddle to prepare him for our first show in either April or May.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all in the 50's so it would be awesome weather to ride, it would be great!  Because the weather has been so strange and it has been raining every day, the pastures are a sloppy mess.  I have been locking the horses in the arena and leaving the donkey in the barn until lunch.  This gives the horses a chance to eat their alfalfa hay so the donkey doesn't get it and then the donkey is turned out in the arena.  When I went out on Tuesday at lunch, I was so happy at the temperature.  Warm, wonderful.  I noticed some of the barn was flooded again.  Damn, that sucks but it happens semi regularly, no biggie.  I grabbed the donkey and went to the arena and my face fell.  3/4 of my arena was under water and I literally had a stream running through it.  The east side (long side) of the arena faces a uphill slight slope and the water and broken the little dam I built and was pouring into my arena.

The water had also reached under the pallets that held the hay stored in the corner of the arena.  I left work 2 hours early and spent about 4 hours fixing it all.  I made a trench in the arena to drain the water, made a new, bigger, dam on the east side of my arena, re-cleared the trench that moves the outside water away from the east side of my arena, moved about 30 bales of arena hay so they wouldn't be over wet ground, made a new, bigger, dam for the front of my barn and moved 20 bales of hay in the barn so they too wouldn't be over wet ground.  I started at 3p, took a break from 5-6 for dinner and didn't get back in the house until 830p.

Unfortunately there will be no riding until at least Thursday as I wait for the arena to finish draining and be fairly firm again.  I will go out at lunch and will try dragging the arena to see if I can make it be semi stable before things freeze again tonight, am just hoping that not much sand washed out this time.  Best laid plans fail.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What does the dentist of the year get? A little plaque

Yesterday was a busy day here at LogDog Acres, after some cancelling, rearranging and last minute finagling, the dentist was out!  His original appointment was last Tuesday so last Tuesday I got everything ready, drugged up the donkey with some Ace and waited.  Unfortunately the dentist called right before his appointment time and said a deer hit him and he had to reschedule so we made the appointment for last night.  When he came, he showed me pictures of the deer accident.  The deer didn't just hit him, it went completely through his car, all the way through.  The car in front of him clipped the deer, it went airborne and came into the car's passenger side windshield, through the car and out the passenger side rear glass.  OMG the pictures were scarily amazing.  The dentist said he was so glad he didn't have a passenger, they likely wouldn't have made it through the accident with as much damage as the deer did to the passenger side of the car.  The pictures were jaw dropping.  Glad everyone but the deer made it okay, and at least the deer didn't survive and suffer.  Yowsers!
Donkey is very unsure about this
That night the dentist cancelled, I had a drugged donkey.  Since donkeys tolerances for drugs is a good bit different from horses, I decided I might as well see how she reacted, was 2cc's of Ace going to be enough?  I brought her out and tried clipping her bridle path, a task which I have tried only once before.  Without drugs I would say her reaction had been about a 9 on a scale of 1-10 with lots of leaping, jumping and body bumping.  With the drugs it was about an 8.  Ugh.  I called the vet and asked for an opinion.  He had me try again with a different dosage but the second test failed too.  We had a talk and he sent over some xylazine to mix with the Ace..
No idea why this is sideways, can't figure out how to fix :-(
Unfortunately the xylazine has to be given IV and not IM and only lasts about 30 minutes.  I had heard donkeys are really hard to stick and they weren't kidding.  It was HARD!!  I finally got her vein after tying a tourniquet around her neck and sticking her, getting plenty of blood everywhere else in the process while fumbling for the syringe. *sigh*  Nothing is easy with her is it.  After letting her hang out for about 10 minutes we went to work.  The dentist was very nice and calm and handled the donkey with skill.  And she handled her treatment very well!  I am very glad I decided to go with the drug route though, she may have been obviously drugged but she still gave him a hard time at a few spots.
Toward the end, drugs have certainly helped her relax!
The little bit of blood on her chest is from the IV stick.  Her neck is also shaved
in an effort to get the IV better.
He said her mouth was in very good condition.  She had some pretty sharp edges but that was her only issue and her tooth health was very good.  Yay Donkey!  He did a lot of rasping and rinsing and let her take quite a few breaks, 20 minutes and she was done.  He finished by saying that she isn't as old as I was told, she was supposed to be 8 or 9 when we got her back in 2010 so she should be 10-11 now.  The dentist said she is just now about 7-8, guess now we know!

He's an old pro at this
Up next was the App, I told him the App's short history and the dentist was impressed with his teeth.  He said the App has some sharp edges but for being almost 20, he has really really good teeth.  He still has plenty of tooth left so he isn't even close to having mush yet and had no breaks, cracks or other tooth issues and still has all of his teeth.  Yay App!
Stupid sideways picture.
The App is an old pro at this stuff and has never needed sedated to have his teeth done, he just stands there and takes the abuse.                
He doesn't look too thrilled does he?
Finally we had the TWH and I figured he had something going on since he can be so inconsistent with bridle contact.  I expected there to be some issue we would need to address or something, turns out he only had sharp edges as well.  His back molars were really sharp but his teeth are also in really good condition and a quick rasping session got him back in line and to his hay bag.

What is he doing to me mom??
The best part of the App's and TWH's dental visit were their expressions.  The App would go from a relaxed look to a WTH look and all looks in between.  The TWH, however, had one look and it was a look of horror.

No matter how many pictures I took of him, this is the expression he had so it looks like I have simply have the same picture zoomed in or out in almost every single frame.  

Mom!  He is killing me!!
When I fed everyone this morning I was very happy to see the App didn't drop any grain while eating and he had finished his night hay, something he has been leaving a little bit of every night.  The TWH and donkey ate like normal, big vacuums, so I am exited to work each of them in the bridle to see if there is any behavior changes.  I expect there to be a change in the TWH, for him to be more consistent in contact.  I am not sure if I will see a change in the donkey but it will be fun to try her out.  It is supposed to be be bitterly cold this upcoming week, highs in the low 20's, so we will see how much I end up riding.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Donkey do not like tires

With my goal of having the donkey in the cart by the end of 2012 dashed, I am trying to have her in the cart by at least spring.  Other things just keep popping up and taking up my time, stupid life events.  When I found I had a free night last night I told SO that I planned on either riding the App or driving the donkey, maybe even both.  He made the off handed comment that the donkey would probably make the decision for me, wouldn't she?

Alas she did.  Her current "thing" is that she doesn't want to come to the gate to be caught at night.  It has gone from severe to minor and then settled in the middle, the worst was one night she was at the gate when I went to bring everyone in for dinner.  I walked up to the gate, she turned around, walked away and went in the arena.  She had been doing this for about a week or so at this point so this time I didn't try to go after her and instead brought the boys in and left her outside.  After about 3 hours I went back out to see if she wanted in and she came trotting up to me and hasn't been that bad since.  She does, however, still walk away while I halter everyone and I have to insist she come closer to me several times before she is close enough (5-10 feet away) that I will relent and go and halter her.  She rarely ever walks away when I finally do go to halter her, it seems to be a power trip for her.  She is making me go to her, she doesn't want to come to me.  This whole week I have been bringing the boys in and leaving her outside until I am done with feeding and then, if she is by the gate, I will bring her in.  So far she has been by the gate each time.

Last night she did the same thing, she heard me call everyone, the boys came out of the arena and came up to the gate while she hung far back.  As I lead everyone out of the pasture, she sauntered up close(er) to the gate.  When I was done feeding she was at the gate.  This time, however, I didn't bring her in and instead haltered her, tied her in the arena and grabbed her harness.  She tacked up just fine and after closing the arena gate, we did some ground driving.

She is doing really, really well with ground driving.  She walks on command. She halts quite nicely and while she does require some bit pressure, she requires very little.  She yields to very little bit pressure in turns and hasn't spooked or taken off for quite a few sessions.  I hooked up a pole and had her drag it around and that too went just as smooth.  At this point SO let me know he had finally found a tire for me.  I had been asking for one for a while, it has been suggested I have her drag a tire before hooking her to a cart as a graduating step and go from there to introduce the weight and noise.  I drug the tire up to her and she didn't seem to care.  I drug the tire to behind her and she didn't seem to care.  I walked with her with the tire and while she scooted a bit, it wasn't bad.  Alright!  She is taking this just as easy as the poles, I thought.   After a circle or so she was fairly relaxed so I stopped her and tied the  rope around the tire to her tugs using the old tie-backs that came with the harness.  They are old and dry rotted and I didn't plan on using them, thus I had no issues with using them for another purpose.  In this case, something that would break if things went awry.  After I snapped the rope that was around the tire to the loop I had created at the end of her tugs, I went up and took her bridle off and put her halter on.  You know, just in case.  Best.  Idea.  Ever.  I walked with her about a quarter circle.  She got fairly uneasy when she was feeling the weight on the breastcollar and after the quarter circle she decided she had enough and took off.  I ended up face planting as I struggled to stay with her and eventually just let her go.  After a lap around the arena the tie-back broke and the tire came to a stop.  She ran for a half circle before facing me and going "What. Was. THAT?!?".

I figured this was obviously a sign that I needed to back off the training and take a different approach.  I went up to her, grabbed her lead rope and walked her around a few moments.  When she relaxed I went back up to the tire and grabbed it's rope and tried to walk with her while I pulled the tire again.  It had worked before, it should work again right?  Wrong.  At this point the Donkey decided she no longer cared that I was holding her and took off again, this time tripping me as she body bumped me, sending me flying into the wall and my shoulder met the support post.  It was a hard fall, knocking the wind out of me and leaving a (so far anyway) large, palm sized bruise on my arm about 3 inches below my arm socket.  It was not humerus (hehe, get it?  Ugh, I am a dork.)

At that point I decided it was not worth getting hurt over so I collected the donkey and took her harness off.  Then, instead of putting her away which she seemed to think we were going to do, I snapped the tire rope onto her halter.  C-ya donkey!  She ran and bucked and kicked trying to get the tire off.  I got comfortable and watched her go and go.  It took her about 40 mins before she really settled down (not nonstop, she took several long breaks of standing around staring at the tire).  She was still occasionally trotting around with the tire but she no longer was kicking or bucking at it, even if it bounced off of the wall.  At that point I grabbed the lead rope and went out to her.  I hooked her up and told her if she walked with me and didn't act stupid, she could be done.  We were almost a quarter of a circle when she started to take off.  I ran her into the wall and told her to stop or she would be out here all night and tried again.  This time we were successful in walking half the length of the arena without a spook or takeoff so I unhooked her tire and called it a night.  I walked her around for almost 15 minutes as I made her pick the arena with me and then I put her away.  She was surprisingly a bit sweaty, as she is rarely sweaty, but she was cool, though damp, when I put her away.

This morning she was her normal self, we will see how she acts tonight.  I can't tie her to the tire tonight as I am giving a lesson however there is always tomorrow!  They say donkeys will first assess a situation and that donkey spooks don't last long, last night was not a donkey night as she didn't show those qualities!  Last night was more horse than donkey behavior.  No worries, the cart will come, all in due time, one step at a time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Being ambidextrous

After sorting cows on Wednesday, I was supposed to ride the App on a 2-3 hour trail ride Thursday morning and ride the TWH in a lesson Thursday night.  When the weather became uncooperative, however, the people I was going riding with cancelled leaving me alone.  Sadly I didn't force myself to take advantage of the situation and ride the App anyway, RB3 came over and we did chores, had dinner and hung out until it was lesson time.

I rode the TWH and hoped the lesson would go well and H could finally see the progress I have been making with the TWH.  Unfortunately the TWH had other ideas, taking advantage of the fact we hadn't done dressage in several days, and it took a good part of the ride to get him back to where I had him earlier in the week.  Between being unsteady in contact, the trot quality being subpar (see last paragraph) and a direct refusal to stay in the outside rein it made an interesting start of a ride.  Towards the end we got it though and H was pretty happy with his progress.  She said he is definitely better then when she saw him in the last lesson and his dressage will come along nicely once I am able to ride him consistently (ugh, that word.  The TWH obviously doesn't like that word and is coming up lame to avoid it).

H asked me my goals and what I wanted to work towards in our lessons.  I told her that I wanted to go BN or N this year at a derby, CT or HT, go to a couple of smaller schooling jumping shows and perhaps a dressage show or two.  I told her the dressage will come along, it just needs to be ridden more but what I really need her help on with him is the jumping.  He is very comfortable in gymnastics but when outside of them he gets quite unbalanced and will often flip/flop his leads or lose gait when jumping a line with more than 3 strides in between the jumps.  He is fairly green when it comes to jumping still and needs more exposure and education.  She was good with these goals and said she knows of a barn somewhere that has a ginormous indoor that usually has a bunch of jumps set up we can school over when I am ready.  Wahoo!

We finished the lesson by cantering over poles on a circle, H wanted to see how the TWH reacted over poles.  Turns out he is quite comfortable when he hits a long spot or a good spot.  When he reaches a short spot, however, is when he becomes interesting.  That is when he swaps his lead, drops his gait or simply will pick up one hind foot and three-leg it over the pole in an effort to make room.  Huh.  H also said she can more easily see why he is so interesting, she said he is ambidextrous and is very flexible in swinging his legs in whatever fashion I ask which is how I was able to teach him to trot.  What I most likely did was show him another way of swinging his legs and when he gets the timing right he is trotting.  It makes a lot of sense because when the TWH isn't warmed up or isn't working correctly, he is "trotting" but his timing is slightly off and it isn't a true, connected trot.  How interesting!

We had planned for another lesson for this week but that had to be cancelled because the TWH decided to be lame last week.  The vet says to bring him back slowly again as if it was a true tendon injury and give him 2 weeks of walking and trot straight lines.  So much for jumping lessons!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The TWH meets a cow **With VIDEO!!!**

Things have alternated between really busy and having nothing of importance going on here.  I have had several good rides on the TWH and his gaits (that I desire) are coming along quite well.  We are currently at a standstill as he came randomly lame last week and appeared to have aggravated a tendon in his hock, it was swollen and quite tender.  After 5 days of bute and poultice, however, he is doing much better and is pretty sound.  I am giving him a few more days off and then back to work!

For several months now RB3 has been trying to convince me to go cattle sorting.  The bigger problem is that it is on a Wed night and she has to leave around 345p to get there and I work at that time.  Right before the new year, however, opportunity seemed to strike and one of my vacation days was on a Wednesday.  After some pleading, the plan was to go to cattle sorting on Wednesday night, go on a trail ride Thursday morning and have a lesson Thursday night.  This meant that the TWH would need to go to cattle sorting and have a lesson, yay!

While I was looking forward to cattle sorting on the TWH, I was really, truly nervous about how he would perform.  Would he be cool and take it in, taking the confidence from his rider like I have been trying to teach or would he have a melt down and have smoke and boiled brain ooze out of his ears like he had done so many times when I first started working with him?  Unfortunately there wasn't anything I could do to prepare him either, it was "go and see".

We got up there Thursday night with very little time to spare thanks to some unfavorable road conditions and as I was finishing tacking up they called my name to be in the ring.  I yelled over to pass me over because not only was I not ready, I really wanted the TWH to watch what was happening before I threw him in the ring with some calves.  I finished getting ready and parked the TWH with his nose against to the round pen panels and let him sit and ponder.  His reaction is absolutely not what I expected, his ears were up and he was attentive but he really, truly Did.  Not.  Care.

The cattle sorting went like this.  There were two round pen circles next to each other with the panel removed where they touched, making the ring be a big figure 8.  There were 10 calves of various sizes and ages and they were wearing a numbered "jacket" that listed 1-10.  The announcer would randomly assign you with a partner and then also yell a random number.  You went in with the other person and you took turns getting the cows in numerical order, alternating one person getting the cow and the other "guarding" the gate to ensure errant cows didn't go in the top pen, the "catch area".  After one person grabbed, say, number 2, the partner would grab cow number 3 while the first person would guard the gate.  When the partner came back with the cow, they would guard the gate while the first person would catch cow number 4 and so forth.

When we went in for our first "draw" I told the partner it was our first time and I had no idea how the TWH would act.  They were very generous and told us to take our time.  I walked the TWH into the cow pen and he walked right over to them like it was no big deal.  We successfully got our calf and brought it back and guarded the gate against errant calves.  At the end of our turn, we had a time of 82 seconds.  Turns out that is really good for a newbie!

As we progressed through the night, the other riders were pretty impressed with our blonde boy!  They encouraged us to go faster and faster and at one point we had a time of 42 seconds.  That is almost as fast as the "pros" when they have the jackpot night where they sort for cash.  Go TWH!!  I know there were a few people really impressed as well that I did it in a dressage/english saddle, the only english saddle there.  Also am pretty certain I was the only fat snaffled horse there, most had a thin or twisted snaffle bit, just another feather in our cap!

Overall the night went really well.  While the TWH never "got" the idea of chasing the calves and would instead almost run them over as if they didn't exist, he did everything I asked of him and didn't give me any issues at all.  I am very proud and impressed with him, who would have thought that cows wouldn't have phased him.  Certainly not me!!

*****Who wants a video of it???  I do!****