There are many ways into a horse's mind and heart, these are some of my ideas ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

...Sooky ...

Her ladyship, the ex race horses, aka, Bell, is a softie at heart.

Last Saturday, she had a hair or dust in one eye. I washed it with water, and opened it up to have a look incase there was something embedded in the ball. There wasn't. She rubbed it on me a fair bit and on her knee. At one stage she lay down and tried rubbing it on the grass. I let it weep, knowing it would eventually wash away, but if I thought she was in pain or it was worse, I would have called the Vet.

She stood around with me all day, just complaining about her eye and wanting cuddles and soft talking to. A couple of times I fiddled with her mane, because she likes it. After a couple of hours, the eye had flushed whatever had been in it and she was okay. But she still stayed close to me until her dinner time.

Most days now, when I am home, I give her rubs with the rubber curry to get rid of her fur. She is in full shed now and itchy as anything. A good rub seems to help this.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pelage ....

Moulting, shedding, major itching ....

Her Ladyship the ex-racehorse is in full shed. Hair is literally falling off her. We use a brush and curry comb on her almost everyday to help get rid of it. But almost any tree, branch, thing sticking out, including barbed wire is fair game for a shedding horse.

Itching is the worst thing about shedding, and you really need to be careful what your horses use to scratch themselves with. On warmer days a warm bath followed by a vigorous towelling down can help. Her Ladyship also uses an old woodchip pile to roll in. Literally dives into it. You can see her scratching her back. She so loves it.

Some people will clip at this time of the year, but the shedding is still going to happen, and there isn't much you can do about it. Just watch where it is being done. Keep an antiseptic spray nearby and check the old bod out for cuts and scratches.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A dress for Her Ladyship ...

Our mare finally got her new rug yesterday. We drove out to Narellan to the Horselands there. They were having a sale so we got it fairly cheaply. She also got a new halter. She wears a halter 24/7 as she escaped once and my partner, not being a horse person, had to go and fetch her home again. She was very spooky being away from home, so the halter being on her at the time made her easier for him to catch. She has learned to live with it and doesn't get caught up.
We teach our horses distinct words for things, and in the case of the rug it is "jamas". This came about when ES was young and getting his first rug. We wanted him to know it was something positive, so we allowed him to smell it. We folded it up and placed it over his withers, unrolling it a bit at a time. While he was eating, so that he was partly distracted. Luckily it was something he wasn't bothered about because he had seen us put one on his mother. As she did not fuss about it, he did not fuss either.

His older sister, Goldie (AJC Zelotti), grew very thick hair and totally refused to wear a rug. She was never cold. ES never had anywhere near as much hair and really needed one. The mare does not have much of a winter coat and as it is getting very, very cold she really needed one. There will be frost before the end of winter. The rug is wool felt lined and very warm.

Blue Bell Babe in her blue rug and new red halter.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Training issues ...

Training issue come mainly from one source - people. Therefore as the person who has to solve the issue you have to sort of reverse engineer the problem. Get to a stage just before the horse shows signs of the issue and look at what the next step is that causes the issue and stop there. I am not saying to let the horse get away with whatever it is doing, just observe the steps taken to reach that point.

The next step you should take is to do something else completely different. If your horse is anticipating the issue to arise, but you do something else, the interest is taken away in whatever it is used to doing (i.e. the "issue") and now doing something completely different. Do this a few times and then go back to the issue.

If, for example, your horse takes a step away from you when mounting, make all the movements up until the point of mounting, and then perhaps lead him on and around in a big circle. This will break his anticipation of mounting/stepping away and distract him. You would need to do this a few times, to "throw him off". Then come back to the mounting. If he has begun to anticipate you leading him on, instead of mounting, he should stand. Pat him, and tell him how good he is. If, however, he still steps away, another, reverse action can be taken, for example, mounting from his opposite side.

Horses are two sided animals. You cannot do one thing to one side without doing it to the other. However, very few people think to mount from the other side. They just are so not used to doing it themselves, that it is almost as though you have landed from Mars. But - and I cannot emphasise this enough - you must teach your horse from both sides. So obviously you need to learn from both sides as well. If this is awkward for you, practice on a barrel or something for a while till it is easier. You probably have to retrain your muscles.

We only mount from the near side because it is "traditional"; soldiers kept their swords on their right, so the mounted from the left (near). But we are not soldiers and do not have swords (at least I hope you don't). So there is no real reason why you cannot mount from the other side.

This sort of reverse engineering an issue will keep things calm and not spooky and you and your horse can work fine together. Just put a little imagination into it. You will also find that your horse appreciates a break from "routine" and will probably repond more brightly as well.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Living alone ...

So my mare is still alone. She spends her nights locked into her main paddock, unless a storm is brewing when she will now go into her stable. I guess part of the reason we don't force her to stay there is that the stable used to be used as a training holding gate for endurance horses, and has a concrete floor. Too long standing on concrete, they say, is not good for horses' legs. Oh?

Well, try telling that to Her Ladyship. After her 6.00 am feed of a morning she paces up and down the fence, wanting out. These days with having had so much rain the grass is quite long and the tips are sweet. Does she want out to graze? No, she wants out so that she can stand at the back door waiting for a carrot, a treat, talking to or a brush. She stands with her head in the door so she has full view of the kitchen and can watch the comings and going. One back leg cocked, gently swishing flies with her tail. Even if we are mean and shoo her away, she will go off, sulking and watch from an area nearby. This is in the sun, but she can see pretty well the entire property from that vantage point. Eat grass, you stupid horse. Nope.

The fencing here is very poor quality and has deteriorated since we have been here. We were promised it would be done when we first moved in, but while they keep promising, it has never been done. We thought at one stage of doing it ourselves, however, since we have decided to move on at the end of the year, it really isn't worth doing. So I doubt if we will get another horse just now.

She is going off at the end of July to get ready to be bred. Once she is safely in foal she will be sent to someone's place in Queensland to await us. Otherwise it is too much fussing around during pregnancy. She is basically a happy horse, but she is always a little spooky if her routine changes too much. I don't want to get her pregnant and for her to reabsorb or abort the foal because she is too stressed.

When she went away in 2001 to get pregnant with Eternal Strangers, they chose the hottest day of the year to send her home. The driver drove to Gosford and unloaded all the horses and gave them water and food for the night, and continued the trip the following day. He didn't charge extra for this and we were very grateful he did this. He explained that with Bell on the truck, because she travels so well, he puts her on first and the others follow with much less fuss. She seems to have a quietening effect during travel as well, and the company loves taking her. I guess I should hire her out in between breedings - lol.

EI was a nightmare, because we should have had her bred for a foal this year. Now when I consider the fencing problem, I guess in some respects, for us at least, since she never got the infection, it was a bit of a blessing. The microchip is forgotten and we just live day to day.