Monday, March 2, 2015

Update on Ranger

Update on Ranger

A few months ago, Ranger was having trouble breathing, and the vet said he was starting to get COPD. We started dunking his hay, and he has been improving slowly.

Previously to soaking his hay, he acted like he wanted to snort and couldn’t. Within a short time, he got his snort back. Gradually, his breathing got quieter and quieter. Sometimes, we can barely hear it at all.

Another good sign—he had been slowly losing weight. We increased his grain, and he stabilized. Well, the last few months, she has had to lengthen his girth by several holes. Some of it might be his yak-like coat, but not all of it. He has had this coat since November. He is liberally shedding, right now, so we’ll see what he looks like when he loses all his fuzziness.

Ellen has been working lightly with him all winter. On the real cold days, she leads him for a half hour—preferably outside. He is a great horse to lead. He walks at a fast, steady pace with perfect manners. Now and then, he might get a little spooky, but that’s about it. If you want good exercise, you take Ranger for a walk.

She has ridden him in the arena sporadically. The first few times, he started out very unsteady, and she was quite disturbed about it. When she led him in the arena, there was no unsteadiness at all. One week, when it was simply too cold to go outside, she rode him 4 times inside. By the third time, the unsteadiness disappeared. She now thinks it was caused by the cataract he has in one eye. When she led him, he just depended on her. When she rode him, it must have taken him a bit to get his bearings with uncertain vision in one eye.

They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary, and since he was an unpapered auction horse, we don’t know how old he was when she bought him. We are very happy that he has shown improvement and look forward to taking him back out on the trail this spring.



Kevin was out riding Starry on the hill, and Ellen and I thought we would go see what he was doing. We had already ridden our horses in the indoor arena and out on the loop outside, so we were going to go on the hill on foot.

The snow was very deep and hard to walk on. We made it about halfway down when we they caught up with us on the way up. Since it was so hard to walk, we just stood there as Kevin trotted Starry past us and on to the spot where he likes to turn around.

Starry was trotting rather fast, and then he broke into a canter. It was a pretty sight to see with snow spraying in all directions—but it wasn’t what Kevin wanted to do. He pulled the reins back and said, “Hey. Hey. Hey.” Starry didn’t listen to his command and kept on going. Finally, he managed to stop him, turn him around and come back to us.

We all walked down the hill together. We have a flat section at the bottom, and Kevin asked Starry to trot it. Starry had better ideas—and cantered—and bucked. Once again, Kevin pulled back the reins and said, “Hey. Hey. Hey.” Starry did finally stop at the end of the trail.

They trotted back to us, and we pointed out to Kevin that Starry has no idea what “Hey. Hey. Hey.” means. If he did, he would probably think it was “Hay. Hay. Hay.” It’s not likely that would do anything to slow him down.

We said to try “walk” or “trot” or “whoa” since he knows very well what those words are. He didn’t even realize he was making that mistake. I guess he got out of practice over our long winter.

I write this not to make you think that Kevin is an inexperienced dolt—he is far from it. Over the years, he has learned so much—it amazes me. He intuitively seems to know what to do and how to handle pretty difficult situations—not from riding Starry, so much. Starry is a great horse that doesn’t give him many problems at all. No, I think that Kevin has learned the most from riding with Ellen and I on our green horses, Cole and Dante—who aren’t green anymore and volunteering to go riding with anyone with their green horses when they are looking for a quiet horse to go with. In fact, we just got a new boarder who bought a very lovely, well-behaved horse—who has never been on the trail. We volunteered Kevin and Starry for her first few rides. (We warned her that we would be a bad choice because we like to trot and canter a lot.)

No, I am writing about this to just remind people that when things aren’t working, take a look at yourself. You may be doing something as simple as using a verbal command that your horse never learned. We are all guilty. I had Cole more than a year when I realized that he never learned to stop when I pulled the reins. He was so awesome with the verbal command that I forgot to teach him the rein command. Just last month, Ellen realized she did the exact same thing with Dante.

None of us are immune, so whenever you are having a problem, look to yourself, first. Your horse will thank you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cole in the Snow

I think if it keeps snowing, I will need a bigger horse!

Boring Blog

Ellen on Dante

Boring Blog

I have so much to write about that is on my mind—some good and some bad—but it is too early. I want to make sure what’s good is really good, and what is bad isn’t as bad as I think.

What I can write about, I don’t feel like writing about--the weather and the way it is ruining our riding. It’s pretty bad when I can’t manage my arena rides because of the weather, but it’s true. Some days, it is too cold to ride Cole. Ellen can ride Dante, because he is a sensible horse. Cole feels like I am riding a stick of TNT—ready to blast at any moment—and he does, too. On those days, I let him run and play and then we do our groundwork. This cold spell has to break, soon. Sometimes, it is a little warmer and I will take Cole outside and ride him around the loop, but that doesn’t give me much to write about.

I have been daydreaming about gardening and eating fresh vegetables. I still have a freezer filled with green beans, but they are steadily declining. I sure do miss looking at flowers outside. All I see is snow, snow, snow.

Maggie isn’t getting as long of walks as she should due to the cold, and she is driving Thunder and me crazy. At least she hasn’t been going on any nighttime rampages anymore. I think she may have finally outgrown them. It was really bad the night she got into the cupboard and ate a whole package of microwave popcorn…

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Playtime in the Arena

Playtime in the Arena

It was a really, chilly night last night.  When I got to the barn, it was only 5 degrees—warmer inside, of course.  It was warm enough to ride, but Cole had that look in his eyes—that crazy, intense look he gets in the cold weather.  I turned him out to play in the indoor arena, instead.

With very little urging from me, he ran around and around and around.  There were lots of bucks and craziness.  After about 15 minutes, he started to settle down.  I couldn’t find the ball to play with.  I didn’t have a lead rope with me to aid in practicing shoulder in—something I haven’t done on the ground for a few weeks, but he is doing them great in the saddle since his ground work lessons.  He was all parked out, waiting for me to do something.  We practiced bowing and silly walk.  Hs silly walk is getting as high as a Spanish walk, but he was going much faster that I’ve seen horse do Spanish walk.  He was also adding some Cole Train flair.  He was really getting into it.

I was ready to bring him in, but he parked out and refused to go.  He still wanted to play games, but I was getting cold.  On Monday, after our ride, when I did try a new ground work move—side pass.  I gently laid the dressage whip along his side from shoulder to hip.  (Yes, he is that small.)  He took some decent steps on both sides that day.

Well, yesterday when I wanted to break him loose from being parked out, I lightly touched his shoulder and hip with my hands without thinking about it.  The little guy did a spectacular sidepass.  I mean with big, definitive steps and enthusiasm.  Click time!  it was no longer too cold to work.  We did sidepasses about 10 times on each side and he did super on most of them.  I didn’t want to overdo it, and decided to bring him back in—and he parked out and got stuck again.  I think Cole would play clicker games all day if I let him.  After a few bows, I was able to dislodge him and bring him in.

I did miss the ride, but I really think he enjoyed the games much more.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Not Much of an Update

All I can say about the last few weeks—is that this weather stinks.  It has been either cold, very cold, very snowy or very snowy and cold.  The last few nights have been well below zero.  I have even missed a few rides.  I can manage to ride if it is around 20 degrees in the indoor arena, but much colder than that, Cole becomes too fractious—and I just don’t have much fun.  I let him out to play, and then we will do tricks or groundwork.  

Last night, it was only 5 degrees outside, but the arena was 20 degrees, so I rode.  The long term forecast offers no hope.

Dante and Ranger behave more consistently when it is very cold, so Ellen only needs to cope with the weather—not hyper horses. 

Kevin took Starry out on the hill on Saturday.  Ellen and I opted to stay inside and ride.  It was in the middle of a snowstorm.  It took Starry 15 minutes to walk to the bottom of the hill—it took him only 5 minutes to walk back up to the top.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cole Train Mane

Here is proof that Cole Train's grooming is totally neglected.  Yes, he has a long and lovely mane--but I only comb it out a few times a year.  Maybe that is why it is long and lovely?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Starry D and Kevin

You here about them all the time--here they are. Meet Starry Decisis and Kevin. Starry is an Appendix Quarter Horse. Kevin is Irish. They are a perfect pair.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cole Train in the Snow

We had a lovely weekend. They predicted rain—and we got sunshine! On Saturday, I was able to take Cole Train out on the hill—the first time in weeks. All of our weekends have been either very cold or the driveway has been too icy. Finally, everything worked out—and there was sunshine, too.

Ellen opted to play it safe with Dante in the arena, so I was on my own—well not really. Ellen walk—or I should say tried to walk with us. The snow was so deep that it made walking tough. I was glad to let Cole do the work.

I didn’t know how he would be, but he had been so good all week when we were riding outside in the back of the property that I was pretty hopeful about his behavior. I was right—he was great. When I asked him to trot, he stepped so high to rise above the snow, that I could barely ride him. After that, I decided to stick to walking.

He did jump once when a large clump of snow fell out of the tree and landed on him. Another time, he did one of his Cole Bursts. That’s when he suddenly leaps forward out of excitement. I was able to get him back to the walk, immediately, so I forgave him for it.

We rode up and down the hill three times. On the last trip up, we found Kevin and Starry on their way down.

Our mini thaw is over, and now we have lots of ice and the snow is like walking on Styrofoam. I don’t know when we will get to enjoy another trail ride. The forecast doesn’t offer much hope at all. I’m so glad I managed to get Cole out this weekend.