April 2006

April 26 , 2006

I have been really lax about updating this blog this month. For most of the month there was really nothing to update, and then everything began happening all at once.

First, about me: A couple of weeks ago I started riding lessons with Pam, the dressage instructor I took a lesson with a few months ago.

The lesson was on her schoolmaster, a lovely -- and very steady -- warmblood. The steady part was incredibly important. I've been so scared to ride again that I really needed to get on a steady horse. I'll be able to concentrate on me instead of worrying about what my horse is going to do.

The lesson was, once again, excellent. However I'm so horribly out of shape that I exhausted my quads really quickly. Instead of cutting the lesson short, we did intervals. That worked great... until the lesson was over and I got off the horse. My knees buckled, and I fell. Hit the ground. Couldn't get up.

I literally couldn't get up. My quads were completely shot. Do you have any idea how embarrassing that was? I could barely walk for the next two days. I'm really torn about the next lesson. I want to do it... but I don't want to be that sore again.

Second, a Princess update. She's perfect! She's just the sweetest, friendliest girl, and she adores human attention. I haven't been working with her, because there's really no need. She's trained already, and I'm not planning to ride her. Her job is just to relax and enjoy her life.

Christina trimmed her feet earlier this month. Princess just stood there, calm as could be. She did show a little pain (or anticipation of pain) when Christina first lifted her back feet, but she settled when she realized that Christina wasn't going to push her or lift the foot to extreme angles. Christina said she likely has a problem in her pelvis and suggested I call a chiropractor.

She also said that the white line on her right front hoof was really stretched, which means she could founder. She suggested that I keep her off grass and cut out any grain or alfalfa she might be getting. She wasn't getting any, so that wasn't hard. The grass is harder. Miss Princess doesn't leave you to guess what she wants, and what she wants is to graze!

Third, Blue. Isn't he gorgeous?

I went to Olympia yesterday and spent the day with Leslie and Blue. He's doing fabulously and progressing by leaps and bounds. His attitude improved immensely when Leslie began doing a lot of liberty work with him. It was so cool watching them work/play together. He was so stunning -- I could hardly believe he was mine.

He has worked through some major issues, and he's so much calmer, more at peace, than he was last time I saw him. He was also happy to be hugged and kissed, which I did liberally. I guess I'll always be a twelve-year-old girl at heart! I told Leslie that just the willingness for him to be touched like that was worth every dime I've paid her.

Finally, Rowan. Who's Rowan? She's the best birthday present in the world!

Last week a couple of draft-cross fillies called Willi and Wonka came to the feedlot in Yakima and appeared on the CBER Web site. I had originally gone there looking for such a horse -- and found, but ultimately lost out on a youngster named Tango -- but when I desperately needed a companion for Guin, I adopted Princess. Now they had what I was looking for, but my adoption dollars had already been spent.

The people on the CBER bulletin board weren't going to let that stop me though. They decided that since I had saved Princess and had lost out on Tango to a group adoption, that they should do a group adoption for Willi and gift her to me. They started raising funds, but it was going slowly, so I mentioned it to Leslie. That was when it took off.

Leslie is amazing. She knows lots of horse crazy people, and she's not shy about calling them to help out with a horse-related cause. She raised the bail for both Willi and Wonka!

Willi, now named Rowan, will be delivered here later this evening. She's a tall, black, Perch-cross with a white star on her forehead. The rescue volunteers guess that she's between one and two years old, but she's unhandled, so they couldn't get close enough to verify that. Right now she's shaggy and muddy and terrified.

She'll need to be quarantined for a couple of weeks, minimum. Since Princess can't be on the grass, I'll have to put Rowan in one of the pastures. I would rather have her in a smaller area, but I don't have that option right now. I'm thinking that I might section off a small part of the pasture I'm putting her in to make a second "dry" lot. I have areas in both pasture number one and pasture number two that don't have good grass on them, so sectioning off one of those areas wouldn't really "cost" me any pasture.

I'll update with pictures of the new girl tomorrow.

April 27 , 2006

Pictures of my new baby!

The pasture she's in is roughly an acre, with some trees and scrub... Lots of room to move and places to hide. So it's easy for her to avoid me. And since it's a pasture, she has plenty of food, so that "card" is out right now.

I went out this morning, originally intending to drop a teaspoon of oats in a pan for her. I realized immediately that she wasn't going to come near that pan though, not with grass available. So I went to plan B, approach and retreat.

I walked toward her, watching her body language. If she seemed like she was thinking about moving away I stopped and waited. If she turned toward me or took steps toward me, I clicked and retreated a few steps. If she walked away, I paralleled her, keeping the same distance.

I worked my way to about 15 feet, and then decided to get my camera and snap few shots. I was planning to go in after that, but she relaxed a bit and I was able to get closer. I got to about five feet before I decided to go in. When I got that close I regretted not having carrot bits on me -- those are tossable. I'll try that later.

She's coughing, and her nose is a little snotty. White, not green. I'm going to check with Leslie to see if I should go ahead and call the vet. I was hoping to hold off until I could handle her -- I mean, how could he examine her? I'm not sure how we'll get antibiotics into her, since I'm not really in control of her food.

April 28 , 2006

Didn't accomplish much during the day today. I went out a few times, but Rowan was determined to stay away from me. She started walking away as soon as I headed toward her. I even tried to go out there and read, but she didn't want to be anywhere in my vicinity.

I went out about 8:30 this evening, however, and she was much more willing to stand and "be" together. The flies and gnats are driving her nuts, and she had found a place under a tree where the evergreen branch was keeping flies off her face. Smart girl. I was able to stand really near her for a long while -- almost close enough to touch, in fact. When she did decide to walk away, I steered her over to the hay and water to be sure she was drinking. (I'd seen her graze all day, but she hasn't drunk much.)

Her nose was really snotty earlier, and she hadn't drunk much, so I started to get worried. But when I went out this evening, her nose wasn't snotty at all, she coughed only once, and she ate a good bit of hay and drank some water.

I've gotten a better look at her. I can't decide if she's really black or just black bay. She has had a hard life though. She has several scars... Long curved one on her nose, a long one running down the front of her right rear cannon bone, a healing cut on one flank, and at least one more I can see through the shaggy hair on her body. Impossible for me to tell though whether any of these came during interactions with people.

Her attitude is good. Calm. Not cranky. Not particularly fearful. No offer to kick. Quick to make direct -- and soft -- eye contact, ears forward. I suppose she's still shell-shocked, but she seems like she'll be sweet.

April 30 , 2006

Last night was awful, but something good came of it.

Yesterday morning I called a second vet to get an opinion about whether I should just try to let the shipping fever run its course or if I should try to catch and treat her. The opinion was, again, give her time -- if we can't catch her and examine her, we can't prescribe for her. Since Rowan's nose was't as snotty, and she wasn't coughing as much, I was okay with that.

Then came an unexpected "winter" storm. Temps fell during the day, and the rain started. Then it started snowing! We had a rain snow mix for an hour and a half. None stuck, but we had a layer of slush on the deck. It was cold and gross out, and Rowan was in a pasture with no blanket or barn.

Look, I know horses live outside. I'm cool with that. I don't keep them in stalls or blanket them constantly. But this is a sick baby. I went out, and she was standing under a tree, shivering, coughing, and with a nose more gunky than I'd seen yet. Yikes!

Okay, I have to do something. I decide to try to get her into a stall in the barn. I moved the mares to a pasture -- not thrilled about that, because it would mean that Princess would have to stay on grass. Then I opened Rowan's pasture gate, which would funnel her into the aisle and then the drylot connected to the barn. Rowan would have none of it though. A couple of times I got her to the corner with the gate, but she would dodge around me to avoid going through it. Blast!

So I went in and called Leslie. Help! She asked me lots of questions and ultimately decided that Rowan would be less stressed if she stayed where she was. I hated it, but okay, I could see her logic. So I closed up Rowan's pasture and put the mares back in the drylot. (They were thrilled to get out of the rain.) Fortunately, it stopped raining soon after, though of course the temperature was still mid-30s.

The rain had soaked the hay that had been out for Rowan, so that night took her a fresh flake. Previously hay and water had been fed by the gate, and she had only picked at both. Maybe, I thought, she would eat it better if I fed her up in the trees where she liked to stand?

I made my way (in the dark) through the pasture and into the trees. I got as close to her as I could and gently tossed the flake at her feet. She jumped back a step, then came immediately forward and began chowing down on it.

This morning I went out and she'd pretty much cleaned up that hay -- contrasted to the two flakes that had been picked at for days up by the gate. Lesson learned. I took her another flake in the trees. She avoided me at first -- are you going to chase me again? -- but when I tossed the hay she reversed and came quickly to it. I stood with her a while as she ate.

It will be a challenge to get a hose out there, but I'm going to see if I can get her a water bucket in those trees. Maybe, instead of feeding big flakes three times a day, I'll break them up and feed smaller bits six times a day just to get her used to me bringing her food. I think I'll try an oat mash too.

Jay and I bought step in posts yesterday to make a small paddock within the pasture she's in. The plan had been to make it in the corner with the gate, taking advantage of the two sides already in place. I'm thinking now that I'll make it up in those trees where she's most comfortable. May have to buy more posts, but I think it'll be better in the long run. The nice thing about that is that there's less grass up there, so if I do close her in the paddock, she's not going to overgraze a "good grass" area of the pasture.

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