Friday, August 23, 2019

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Four Days Off for Cole--Mistake

I ride Cole nearly every day when the weather is good.  We both seem to thrive on our schedule.  Cole really enjoys his time on the trail--as do I.  I do try to give him a day off a week, but things don't always work out that way.  Sometimes he has a day off after 2 weeks--and sometimes I lose count. 

Well, when your trails are hard and somewhat rocky, riding that much really wears the shoes down.  Cole also has a little hind leg twist when he moves.  The outside of his rear shoes get so thin that the heads of the nails wear off.  My farrier knows just how to pound the nails in, so if there are still nails in his shoes, they usually stay on.

One thing I just learned is that my farrier goes around to other clients showing them Cole's old shoes--just to see their reaction.

Well, 4 days before my farrier's scheduled visit, Cole was in a very hyper mood.  After the ride, I turned him loose in the indoor arena to roll and play.  Play he did--he careened around and around with no urging from me--kicking as high as he could.  Yes, even a horse that is ridden every day sometimes has way too much energy.

He threw a shoe.

We spent the next few days walking around the arena, doing tricks and grooming.  I finally got his mane and tail combed out.  It has been months since the last time,  He was looking great.


My farrier came and shod him.  We were good to go.

The next day, I rode in the park with Kevin on Starry and Shari on Bella. 

Right from the start, I could feel Cole's excitement.  The ride was going to be a challenge.  As we were trotting, his energy kept building and building.  We were in the last position, so whenever I started to have a problem, I just yelled up to Shari and Kevin, and they would walk until Cole settled down.

It wasn't long after we started to trot that Cole felt like he was going to explode.  I took a stronger contact on the reins, and sure enough, he tried to pull his head down to buck.  He did some small hopping things, but I succeeded in preventing a full buck.

After that, he seemed to settle down a bit.  We got to our favorite stretch of trail, and I told them to go ahead and trot.  It was touch and go for me and Cole.  Once, he tried to canter.  I warned everyone, and tried to stop him.  He went slower and slower, but he was intent on cantering.  Finally, it felt like we were cantering in place, and he tucked his hind legs way under him--and stopped suddenly.  I had to use all my strength to keep from flying onto his neck.

We got to the next river crossing and turned around to go home.  Shari's time was short, so we didn't have time to cross.  The problem was that we had to get Cole back in the back.  Recently, we were in this very same spot, and Kevin was in the lead.  He wanted to stay in the lead after we turned around, so that meant Cole had to pass Starry.  Though Kevin made Starry stand still, I think he swished his tail.  For some reason, Starry's tail strikes fear in both Dante and Cole.  This time, Cole took off running just as he passed Starry.

Cole didn't forget that event, so when we tried to do it again--Cole froze with his head up in the air--facing Starry.  I warned Kevin, but Starry wanted to be with Bella--and he wouldn't listen.  He started to walk past Cole--aggressively.

This shouldn't have scared Cole, but it did.  He flew backwards faster than I have ever seen a horse go backwards.  That terrified Bella.  Shari shouted to Kevin to stop Starry.  Kevin was in awe of Cole's reaction, but he did finally get Starry to stop.  As we were going backwards, I bent Cole and that seemed to break him from his panic.  We then went into the woods--far from Starry and had him pass.

The rest of the trip home went really well.  We did have to stop trotting a few times when Cole got excited, but there were no more antics.  When I got back, I let Cole play in the indoor arena, and he ran and bucked and ran and bucked.  (I guess I should have let him do that before the ride.)  He was back to normal the next day.

And that is what happens when Cole gets 4 days off.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Friday, August 9, 2019

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Unexpected

The Unexpected

 other day, I planned to go on a ride with Ellen in the morning, but it was raining.  We waited and waited, and finally, she had to leave because she had to go to work. 

I still wanted to ride, and so did Kevin.  We waited together for the rain to stop.  Finally, it did, and we headed out on the trail.

It really didn't rain that much, though some places had rain the night before.  The river was a little higher and muddy; but totally crossable.  We crossed and started trotting out to the next river crossing.

It wasn't that long before I noticed the river looked a little funny.  Our trail goes somewhat parallel to the river.  Most of the time you can see it.  It just seemed a little high.  Kevin didn't notice anything, so I thought I would just keep an eye on it.

A few minutes later, I was sure of it--the river was going up.  I mentioned it to Kevin, and he agreed.  We continued to trot on down the trail.  I was thinking that it was already too late to turn around, anyway.

By the time we got to the next river crossing, the water was raging.  We had a few choices--all of them involving walking home on the street.  We could cross on the ford we were at and go home that way.  The problem with that was it would mean we didn't have much of a trail ride, and much of the way there were no driveways to duck into if traffic got bad.

The next option was to go to the ford north of us and ride up our street to our barn.  That meant riding up a long, steep road with cars whizzing by.  I didn't want to do that, at all.

Option number 3 gave us the longest trail ride.  We would ride up to the trails by the show ring--out to the street and home on the road that way.  It seemed like the safest way--and we even got the best ride that way, too.

We turned around and headed home.  That did mean we had to pass up where we usually cross the river.  Starry was in the lead and refused to pass up the trail to go home.  Kevin had to circle him a few times to get him to go.  I followed along.  Just as we were passing up our river bank, Cole jumped, spun and tried to run down the bank to the water!  It was lunch time at the barn, and he wanted to go home!  I just spun him all the way around until he was facing the right direction.

Reluctantly, Cole followed Starry down the trail.  All went well from then on.  We did have a little trouble when we wanted to go up the very steep hill to get to the show ring trails.  Kevin has to lead Starry up it, and since I still hadn't gone that way this year, I decided that would be the best idea for me and Cole, too.  Well, Starry said he didn't even want to be led up the hill; and he started backing down it.  Cole needed to lead, but he refused to pass Starry because he was being rambunctious.  I showed Cole that he could follow me to get past Starry, and he was happy with that.

The trip on the street was only about 15 minutes, but since I don't like riding on the street, Cole really didn't have much experience with that sort of thing.  Ellen said we did do it once, many years ago, just as a training exercise.  I didn't really remember that, but it could explain why Cole was very good and surprisingly relaxed.

We made it home, safe and sound--and had a nice ride, too.

I guess it must have really rained hard upstream...

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Vacation Curse Continues...

The Vacation Curse Continues...

Day #3 of Ellen's 4-day weekend went beautifully--as far as riding was concerned.  The weather was incredibly hot, so the ride wasn't that long--but i was a great ride.

The problem that we had was Princess--she was sick.  Princess is the most devoted, loving and temperamental barn cat in existence.  She has stolen our hearts with her very large personality.  Since her person has moved to a different stables down the street, we have been tending to her needs.  Well, that morning, the little cat with the appetite of a large dog, didn't want to eat.  She followed us around a little bit on Ranger's walk, but after that, she just laid on a chair in the "sick cat position.  Her tail was barely flicking, she didn't want to be petted and she didn't attack us or any of the other cats all morning.

We were really, really worried.

We were hopping it was something like a bad hairball--she has long hair--and it is very thick--or she ate a bird that disagreed with her.  We decided to give her 24 hours before we panicked and called her mother.

We both worried the rest of the day.

Day #4 of the 4-day weekend started out with good news.  Princess had her appetite back!  What a relief.

It was still very hot and even more humid, if that was possible.  We were meeting Shari for a ride, but we didn't think it would be wise to go far.

Everything started out well.  We got down the hill and across the river without incident.  Once across, we started trotting right away.  Bella was in the lead, followed by Dante and I came up last with Cole.  A couple of airplanes came over, but Ellen kept Dante trotting and all went well.  Then a really loud airplane approached.  Ellen decided to stop Dante and have him stand quietly.  As the plane passed over us, Dante got frightened and spun.  Ellen kept him spinning until he once again faced the direction we were traveling.  It surprised us all, since at least a dozen planes had flown over us so far on the ride without him caring in the least.

We continued on our way.  A couple minutes later, another plane approached.  Dante stopped and stood like as statue--as if to show Ellen that he wanted to redeem himself.  He was great with planes the rest of the ride.

We turned around and started toward home--keeping the same formation, but there was a lot of distance between each horse.  As we trotted along, Dante started to get a little excited.  Cole tripped.  Dante heard him and that was just the excuse he needed.  He took off running.  Ellen yelled out a warning to Shari--who stopped Bella and positioned her across the trail.  That was all Dante--the horse who is afraid to pass other horses--needed to convince him to stop.

After a walk break so Ellen could calm her nerves down, we did some more trotting without incident.  As we got closer to home, we just walked to cool them down.

Once again, there was a lot of space between us.  Bella was in a hurry because the bugs bothered her.  She was leading.  Cole came next; followed by Dante, who was just relaxing.  I could see a horse go to pass Bella and come our way.  As he passed, he gave out a loud stallion cry.  It was a stallion.  This got Cole's attention.  He was a stallion until I bought him as a 4-year-old.  He knew just what it meant.  Bella was in season.  The stallion was prancing about.  I turned back to give Ellen a warning--remember, Dante is afraid to pass other horses--and a prancing stallion might just be too much for him.

What I didn't know was that Dante heard that neigh, and for whatever reason, he just took off at a gallop towards us.  As he rounded the bend, I turned Cole to block the trail to see if we could stop him.  I didn't know if Cole would hold his ground or want to run, himself.  To my relief, Cole seemed to know it was important to stand still.  He held his ground, and once again, Dante stopped rather than trying to pass another horse.

I warned Ellen that a prancy, neighing stallion was up ahead, and she decided to get off.  The rider of the stallion was simple wonderful.  He took the horse through the trees to the paved trail that was close by to let us get passed him.  By now, Dante settled down, but Cole was wired.  He decided he was a prancy stallion, too.  I felt him start to dance sideways.  I decided my safest bet was to dismount and try to get him to relax.  It did take a few minutes, but once the stallion was well out of the way, Cole became a gelding, once again.

We were close to the river when this happened, so we led them until it was time to cross.  Poor Ellen was quite shaken by the whole experience.  When she went to mount, her muscles just wouldn't obey.  She decided to just lead Dante across the river.  I mounted and rode Cole across.  It felt great to be on the other side.

In all my years of riding, nothing like this has ever happened before.  We have seen stallions, and we have ridden with mares that were in season.  The stallion really didn't do anything wrong except to neigh and prance a bit.  Bella was great.  Dante wasn't even close to the stallion.  It was all very weird.  Since it never happened before, I would conclude that it is unlikely to ever happen again.

Of course, it had to happen on Ellen's vacation.

When we got back to the barn, Princess greeted us.  We were reminded about what was the most important.  We were all safe and healthy.  That is really what counts the most--every day.


Friday, July 19, 2019

The Vacation Curse

The Vacation Curse

It seems that Ellen and I have always had a really tough time with vacations--things just go wrong.  All we want to do is go for a trail ride.  Usually, it isn't anything serious.  The weather plays a big part in the problem.  The park loves to do trail maintenance on our days off.  Sometimes it will be a sick horse.  I don't know how many times Mingo's hoof abscessed on a vacation.  One time, we both took a week off--and we were sick most of the time with some sort of intestinal bug.  (We rode, anyway.)  That's just how our vacations go.  We expect things to go wrong.

Of course, since I retired, every day is a vacation day for me.  Still, when Ellen is off--those days are special. 

She has been having a really tough time getting vacation, this year.  Finally, she got 2 days off.  Though they were in our least favorite month due to heat and bugs, we figured we would make the best of it.

Of course, the weather thought it was funny.  We ended up with the hottest, most humid days in years!   To make matters worse, we had rain right before it, so the river was too high for Ellen to cross on the first day.  She had a very hot arena ride.  I went for a ride with Kevin in the park.

The second day, she could cross the river, but it was still a little muddy--and she just didn't feel like it was a good idea.  There was a project she wanted to work on in the arena, anyway.  Since it never cooled off, over night, the morning was already brutally hot.  She wasn't missing much.

Kevin and I were going to go on an easy trail ride.  A new boarder at our barn, Faith, wanted to join us.  Her horse, JP, still isn't a consistent river crosser, and she wanted to follow us.  (She is only now, as she is reading this, realizing the risk of going on a trail ride with me.)  Her horse is an adorable, Morgan-looking gelding.  JP stands for Jackpot--because she hit the Jackpot with him.

Ellen was going to meet us on the other side of the river to go for a walk when we were riding.

All went well going down the hill.  I did notice tire tracks--and thought that might be a sign of a problem.  Sure enough, as we got toward the bottom of the hill, we discovered a large piece of machinery in the water--the park was finally fixing the river bank!  Ellen's gut was right!  It was a bad day for her to ride in the park!

At that moment, Ellen called Kevin on his cellphone from the other side of the river to tell us what was happening.  We continued down to the bottom.  There were a couple horses ahead of us that had turned around and were heading back.  As they came passed us, one of the horses went sideways into Starry, JP got worried and started backing up--right into Cole.  Cole was troubled by both JP and the woman's horse who was trying to trot past us.  Sigh.  I have had problems with this woman's horse, in the past.  I didn't have the patience for it, again.  I just ordered her to stop her horse so we could get everything sorted out.

She was able to, and we did sort it out.  Then, Starry didn't want to lead anymore.  All we wanted to do was ride to the end of the trail, so we could turn around and do the hill a few times.  And then--the guy on the machine saw us.  He drove it to our side of the river and stopped it to allow us to pass.

He asked us if our horses would go by, and I told him, very confidently, that Cole would.  I really didn't know if he would, but I was sure going to try.  Cole marched down the bank and walked right next to the machine to pass it.  His only hesitation was with the mud that was churned up by the machine.  I was so proud of him.

We got to the other side to wait for Starry and JP.  I wasn't in a position to watch what happened next.  Starry started to cross.  Of course, he didn't have a problem with the machine--the only thing that scares him is turkeys.  Halfway across the water, he changed his mind and started backing up.  Kevin had to circle him in the river to get him to go across.

All of this was too much for JP.  He refused to cross at all, so she took him home.

I called Ellen, who was already back at the barn, and told her to come on down.  We made it.  She was very surprised.  Kevin and I trotted off, happily.  We only went to the next river crossing, turned around and walked home.  After a while, we met Ellen, she joined us, and we all went back together.

When we got back to our river crossing, the man was still working on it.  He saw us and pulled the machine up on the other side--out of the way--and shut it off.  Over the years, the park workers have been absolutely wonderful when they see us.  Not once, has any of them been any less than courteous.

Starry and Cole crossed and walked by the machine with ease.  Everything is less scary when we are going home!

So yes, we had our typical vacation curse--but at least Ellen's intuition was right.  She would have hated to ride Dante through all of that.  (I really don't think Dante would have been scared, though.  He would have just wanted to touch the machine.)

Cole Train

Cole Train

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Update on Ranger

Ranger was sick a few days ago.  Since Ellen was going to have the vet our a few days later, she decided to move the appointment up.  Before the vet even got there, we could see some improvement, but once he had some banamine, he was just fine.

It wasn't colic, but just a lot of discomfort.

The vet took some follow up bloodwork.  He had been on antibiotics for a month to help with his liver issues.  We assumed that was still the problem, and he would have to go back on the antibiotics.  The results from the Cushings test had come in, and he is starting to get it--but the vet said that would have nothing to do with what was making him sick--it was his liver.

She was wrong.  When she got the bloodwork, it showed that his liver was fine.  The antibiotics worked.  What was wrong was his sugar level had skyrocketed--and that would be due to the Cushings.  It is time to get him started on medication.

He is at least 29 years old, so it is no surprise the Cushings caught up with him.  It is very common in older horses.  We will just deal with it.  When you have a horse as special as Ranger, you don't give up easily.

On the bright side, the vet said that for his age, Ranger looks phenomenal. 

I will keep you updated.