Monday, May 20, 2013

News on Shoes

Well, it's been three and a half weeks since I had shoes put on the Germ.

When they went on, all the shoes had a slight bumps where the nailheads sat in the "trough" of the shoe.  These little "off-road studs" were less than 1/8th inch, but were very clearly there and providing traction.  Bad cell phone photo below:

Left fore, showing prominent nailheads.

Today I looked hard at the shoes and realized that on the outside of the left hind and right fore, he has worn the nailheads smooth, and is actually now working on wearing the surface of the shoes themselves.  I'm no expert, clearly, but this seems to suggest to me that his feet needed some protection. If the shoes weren't there to be wearing down, it would be his hooves.

Left hind; outside nails worn flush with shoe; shoe starting to wear

Now, why it's only the outsides of these feet... well, I'll have to get some advice and counsel on that.  But this realization makes me feel like it was the right thing to do to protect his feet.

The primary difference in his "way of going" that I have noticed is his sudden and complete willingness this week to sit down on his hind legs and carry himself when we go down hills.  He no longer carries himself halfway, then lets go to fall forward on the forehand and run out in a trot.  He sits, carries himself, and walks with great control and dignity.  It's pretty dang cool, and I have to credit it to the shoes.  Yes, greater strength and balance overall, but I suspect the support in the hind legs has a lot to do with it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shilling for a Worthy Cause

Keeping Sherm and all his friends company here on the farm are two wonderful Coonhound companions, both of whom were brought home from animal shelters.

This one is Jake:

Hi, I'm Jake.  Love me.

We found Jake at Animal Care Sanctuary in January of last year.  He had been there for six years, waiting for someone to take him home.  

This weekend is the annual Mutt Strut fundraiser at Animal Care Sanctuary, and we're participating.

If you would like to help horses, cats, pigs, and hounds like Jake, please consider making a donation to our online fundraising page. Thanks!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Afternoon Dapples

Look at my dapples, not my lipid-based dimples.

You keep taking photos; I'll keep eating...

Abstract impressionism: sunlight on dappled haunch

Battle of the Bulge 2013

The rich, green grass has arrived, and just like last summer, it's here just as a bossy gelding boarder moves away from our farm to go live with his person at her own farm.  The relocation of the bossy gelding leaves Celby and Sherman alone on 3 acres of slightly-weedy, but still-way-too-much grass, and no one to keep them moving and active.

If I want to avoid another round of Fat Camp for the Bay Boy Wonder this summer, I've got to get him off the grass.  Or off so much grass.  Or off it part of the day.  Or something.

Last summer, we tried a grazing muzzle.  This was neither popular nor successful.

I'll have this off in two hours.  Have fun hunting for it.

So this year, I've been plotting how to sub-divide pasture for him and Celby.

Not comfortable with that preposition.

But, of course, as I'm trying to work this out, we're getting indications that we've got additional boarders coming who will likely need full pasturage.  Of all the potential new horses, there is mention of only one gelding, but he is a paint, which should make things lively for the boys, who really get spooked by paint horses. So one gelding who keeps them active, plus regular riding, should almost neutralize the grass and keep them reasonably fit.

To a Morgan, this might be a cow.  Or a demon.

In the meantime, I still need to get them off the full pasture for at least part of the day.  Yesterday afternoon, I tried the boys out together in the small paddock by the barns.  This is Celby's "bachelor pad" turnout spot, attached to his run-in stall.  We give him this run-in space to keep him active and exercising his 28-year old arthritic legs. In return, he keeps the road-front space tidy and trimmed for us. He even gets to go out sometimes in inclement weather when icy lanes keep the other horses in.

That's right; I'm a senior.  I have seniority to come and go as I please.

After shutting off the one-horse-wide run-in door, I took both boys out yesterday afternoon to finish their day of turnout together.  

Why is this kid in my pad?

Celby was a little perturbed and ran Sherm around a bit, but it looked a lot to me like he was showing him the ropes-- he looked for all the world like a broodmare herding her foal around on its first outing.  These are the fences; these are the footing hazards, hey, those are my mares across that lane, junior, back off!

Then they settled down to eat what there is to eat.

Okay, there are edibles here too...

Sherm seemed quite interested in the activity on the road-- he's never been this close to the motorcycles, tractor-trailers, and other vehicular oddities that pass by on a daily basis.  The neighbors across the road were setting up their camper for weekend guests, which gave the Boy Wonder an afternoon full of entertainment in and around mouthfuls of grass.

Hmmm...fine dining with live entertainment...

By tomorrow afternoon, the boys will probably have caught up to the grass growth and then be living for a few hours a day on scrubbier dry lot.  We'll see if the buildings he can reach survive Sherm's beavery tendencies once the grass isn't there to distract him...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Went to the Fights, and a Hockey Game Broke Out

Or, in our case, we went to a dressage clinic, and a Roadster Under Saddle class broke out.  The experience was embarrassing and demoralizing and a lot of other things that weren't good and didn't make me at all happy about the way the only-outing-I-could-afford-this-year went.  But with Bad Eventer as my lemons-to-lemonade (or limes-to-margaritas) role model, I've elected to shake it off and see the humor in it all.  Here goes.  All photos by my amazing friend, my rock, my documentarian, and co-conspirator, Bonnie.  All captions by the BBW himself.

What do you mean go in there? I haven't been turned out yet today!

Yeah, Sherm was a little up, a little overwhelmed by the circumstances, and a little speedy.  And a little disobedient.  And this was just walking in.

Perhaps you didn't hear me when I said I wanted to go out.

Yeah, right, obedience is what dressage is all about.  Yeah, we don't quite have that yet, even when we think we do...

I'm taking off when I get to the corner...

Though our "course walk" around the arena wasn't brilliant, he still stands beautifully at the mounting block, and after the horses I've ridden these past six years, I'll pay cash money for that obedience.

Ladies in the gallery, get ready.  You're going to see my fancy.

And he was pretty with all his dapples and fancy duds on...

Damn, I'm good-looking...

So I mounted, and he stood. And he plotted his revenge while he quietly munched his TicTac.

Number One, prepare to engage Morgan warp drive.

And then we began our Roadster Under Saddle class.  The awesome thing I did learn at this clinic is that I can ride a Roadster Under Saddle class and not really even break a sweat doing it.  So maybe if Sherman can't get into the U. of Dressage, he'll make it in his safety school, Roadster State.

This is only half as fast as I can trot...

What's that about relaxation and swishing tails again?

I told you earlier, I want to go out!

And then the clinician said that I really needed to take control.  So we began to have a conversation about steering.  It went so well that I'm thinking about having a logo made out of this one:

We both know I can go in two directions at once.

And so we did some steering and running...

Steer all you want; I can run for five days.  I'm a Morgan.

And then sometimes we seemed to be following the action on the polo field...

I'm still not tired...

I practiced my grip of death on the reins, which alternately irritated and was ignored by Sherman...

Pull all you want, human. I'm still running.

Late in the game, we got a couple of decent circles...

I can do this, but why would I want to?

And we talked more about steering, using the wall as a barrier to keep him from stepping away from the rein pressure.

Take a look, Ladies.  I'm sexy, and you know it.

And then Sherman said what he thought about that approach...

I told you the first five times, this is stupid.

And then there was more running.  And more steering. And more running.  For about 30 minutes.

And then the poor clinician prayed that we would go away and stop making everyone frightened.

Are we done yet?

So we did.

Finally, what we should have been doing all along!

Sherm got a little grass and a brief roll.

Ack! The stink of obedience!  Get it off me!

And then he showed me how he really felt about the day thus far...

I don't do this in the arena, you know.  But I want to.

After this all-too-brief respite, it was time to put him back in his stall in the very busy stable.

Back INSIDE? Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

In the end, I decided that after this outing, 24 hours in a stall in an unfamiliar (and much busier than he was used to) setting wasn't going to make our next day's ride any better than the first, so I scratched and brought him home.

It wasn't the outing I'd hoped for, not even close.  But we came home alive, generally undamaged, and with a lot to think about.  And we've got amazing pictures.  So, hey, sometimes it's like that.  Thanks to the inspirational good humor of Bad Eventer, I am able to laugh at it.  Though we mere mortals can only dream of riding as well as what she considers a horrific ride, her model has gotten us through this lousy outing, and we shall live to ride another lousy outing in the near future; I'm certain of it!