Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend update

We had a great weekend for riding. Friday evening, I took Cruiser out for a fast and fun ride (gotta keep his insulin in control aka excuse to ride more)

Saturday morning, my younger neice came out to ride again. Her posting is becoming solid. Unlike her sister, she didn’t fly off at the canter. We only cantered a little. She has very little experience with it, and I could see her going too far off the saddle and I didn’t want her to lose her balance. It will come in time. My sister rode Mingo—his first ride in nearly 2 weeks. He did well and seemed to have fun. Cruiser was great, of course. It is unusual for us to take all 3 of our horses out at once—and surprising how well they behave. We decided that home is not the stables but the herd. When all 3 of the herd is out, there is no reason to hurry back to the barn. They just strolled along and took their time.

Sunday, I finally got to ride Mingo, myself. We took him and Ranger up to the show ring area and trotted about. He seemed sound. I will ride him again, tonight. I rode Cruiser by myself, and halfway home, it started pouring rain. It quite by the time we got back. At least it wasn’t a cold day. I’m riding him again, tonight.

My garden is growing so well, my sister said it didn’t look like my garden. Usually, I struggle so much. I picked over 100 radishes this week! I think they are nearly done, now. We are starting to eat small turnips, and the lettuce is great.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday night at the barn

I had a lovely ride last night on Cruiser. He was in a great mood. We went about 5 miles—trotted and cantered on the way out—walked and trotted on the way home. He offered some gaiting, too, I think to get away from the bugs. It worked.

Mingo is healing fast. His front foot is 100%. His back foot is about 75%. There is no pain when he walks or trots. It is still warm around the heel and hurts to the touch. I’m still soaking. I don’t think I will ride him until the weekend at the soonest. I did turn him out to play, and he did some awesome bucks and ran about like a colt.

Tomorrow, my oldest niece is coming out to ride with me. It will be her first real trail ride. The younger niece is coming out on Saturday. She was supposed to ride Mingo, but she will have to ride Ranger. She will also have a crash course in posting. She can easily sit Mingo’s trot, but posting is necessary with Ranger. She has never ridden him, before, so it will be a good experience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mingo's Month

What a Month for Mingo

Early in May, Ellen and I went for a ride up to the show ring. Mingo was stumbling on his back hoof, and it reminded me of last fall when he got an abscess in it. The ride was uneventful—that alone should have been a clue. Mingo still hadn’t settled down for the year, and suddenly, on his favorite ride, he was behaving? I was suspicious.

I brought him home, and put him in his stall. I kept an eye on him, but nothing seemed amiss, so I saddled up Cruiser for his ride. Ellen was going to drive down to the trail and hike out to meet us. I left before she did. When she caught up with me, she told me Mingo was miserable and had an abscess in a hind hoof. He told her he couldn’t even walk, and he was the unhappiest horse in the world. Mingo is known for drama.

I hurried back, and Ellen went returned to the barn, too. I brought Mingo out of his stall and led him about. It really wasn’t that bad. He could walk on it, and only favored it slightly, but I could tell it was an abscess. I’ve had way too much experience with abscesses.

I called my farrier. Last time this happened, I called the vet and my farrier said that was silly because he would have been glad to come out, and he would be cheaper. I left him a message to call my cell phone. This was on Saturday. By Monday, I didn’t hear from him, and that was really strange. I figured he was out of town. (Turned out, he did call—I just haven’t figured out how to use cell phones, yet.) I spent my time soaking Mingo’s foot. You should have seen the expression on his face. It was one of plain misery—yet he could still walk very well.

Monday morning, I called the vet, and she took a look at it. She said it was ready to pop out of his heel, and she couldn’t find a place to drain it. It must be under the frog. My job was to soak it some more and let it resolve itself. As Kevin led him around, she marveled that he wasn’t favoring the foot at all—just going a little slower.

The next morning, Ellen was cleaning Ranger’s stall, and she saw Mingo trying to lie down. As he slowly lowered himself, it hurt and he reversed direction and stood up. He tried it again and just about crashed to the ground. She checked his heel, and it was wet. It probably just burst. She left him that way, and I soaked it in the evening.

After a week of soaking and leading, I took him on a short ride down the hill. All seemed well. The next time I took him out to ride, he was limping on a front leg! I ran my hand down his foreleg, and he had a large area that was hot, swollen and very painful to the touch on the inside of his cannon bone.

I couldn’t believe it. I iced it and called the vet the next morning. He came out and said it was too swollen to determine the cause of the problem. It could be a bruise or a suspensory ligament. Of course, he had been resting in his stall, so it shouldn’t be a ligament, but how did he get a bruise? And, by the way, he has an abscess in the heel of that same foot, and it is ready to burst! Once again, it was in at spot that the vet couldn’t drain.

I had to ice the leg and soak the hoof in hot water. Mingo is a wonderful patient. He allowed me to do both at the same time. In a couple days, the abscess burst and the swelling in his leg was going down. A week later, I called the vet, gave him an update, and he told me to start working Mingo again to see how he does. That night, I trotted him on the lounge line, and he seemed sound. The following day, we rode down the hill and did some trotting, and once again, he was sound.

The next day, I decided to take him out on a real ride. We went out by ourselves. He walked slowly down the hill and crossed the river very much like his old self. I started to trot on the other side. He seemed sound for the first 10 steps or so, and then I felt him go down in the hind. I groaned, but then I realized that he didn’t sink due to lameness, he sunk down to better launch himself into a huge buck of joy! When I got him to stop, I quickly checked my tack to make sure it was a joyful buck and not one from a bad saddling job. The saddle was fine, and we trotted on.

A little down the trail, he bucked again. As we traveled along, he got faster and faster. Once we got to the spots that we like to canter, he really, really trotted fast. There was another buck and a big spook. Mingo felt fine, and he wanted me to know it. I had my horse back. I figured if his leg could survive this ride, it was proof that it was just a bruise. I brought him home sound, and he was fine when I rode him the next day—if a little hyper. He has been sound ever since, and he still hasn’t settled down, either. Maybe in June…

Our New Apprentice

Our New Apprentice

Many years ago, Ellen and I were blessed with two nieces. The first niece, Sarah, started going on “rides” when she was just two years old. She liked to ride, but her little sister, Missy, was afraid to try. Every time Sarah came out to ride, we would ask Missy if she wanted to ride, and she would shake her head and hide her face from us.

One day, when she was five, I asked her again and this time, she nodded. We put her up on Cruiser, led her around and she was hooked. Over the next 8 years, she and her sister would come out to ride about once a month. Eventually, we didn’t have to lead them, anymore. Missy would ride Ranger and Sarah would ride Cruiser. They took a liking to riding down to the river. Sarah graduated to riding Mingo. Finally, Missy went through a growth spurt and her feet reached the stirrups. One day last fall, we let them cross the river, and we went on a trail ride. Now, Missy was really hooked.

Missy is now thirteen. Last month, she suggested coming out with us on a Saturday without her mother. Her older sister, being in high school, has a very busy schedule and if Missy waited for her to be free, she would be waiting a long time.

I picked her up on my way to the barn. We decided she must be very serious about this since she was willing to get up early in the morning on the weekend, so we decided to put her into training. She is now our apprentice.

To accelerate her learning, and she has so much to learn, we decided she would saddle and bridle all three horses. This would triple her speed of learning how to tack up. Since each horse acts different, she would learn that much more. This was great—Ellen and I just supervised.

The ride was about an hour long, and very uneventful. Well, Ranger did spook at a chipmunk, twice, but both times consisted of a tiny hop. We did a fair amount of trotting so Missy could practice posting. Mingo and Cruiser were just along for the ride. Cruiser took the lead and Mingo stayed in the back. Everyone behaved so well that were wondering if they really were our horses.

When we got back to the barn, Missy cleaned 12 hooves, and we just relaxed. It’s nice having an apprentice…

Needless to say, Missy had a wonderful time. We already picked out another date for next month.

Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

I shouldn’t listen to Kevin. Last week, the weather forecasters predicted only a slight chance of thunderstorms, so when we were leading the horses down the driveway, Kevin was sure those big black clouds would pass to the north of us.

I suggested just riding up and down the hill, so if it started storming we would be close to home. Unfortunately, I let Kevin convince me to cross the river. I should have known better. I did say that when we got to a particular spot on the trail—only about 10 minutes away, we would reevaluate the weather and turn back if it looked bad.

We were trotting along and were nearly to that spot when the wind started blowing really, really hard. I decided right there that we should turn back immediately. It was too late. Seconds later, it began to pour. I shouted to Kevin that it felt like déjà vu, and that I was having flashbacks. I was remembering the time that Ellen and I got caught in a sudden storm with a lot of wind and a huge tree right next to us crashed to the ground—fortunately away from the trail and not right on top of us.

The words were barely out of my mouth when I heard a loud crack. I turned Cruiser towards the sound. If a tree was falling, I wanted him to be facing it. I saw a large branch break. I didn’t see it hit the ground because Cruise was startled by the sound and began trotting. He was easy to stop since he was heading towards the noise and away from home. Kevin did likewise. Once the horses were back in control, we turned around and headed home.

We didn’t have to ride far, but we got soaked. At least it wasn’t a cold day. We got back to the barn, scraped the excess water from the horses, finished our chores and headed to his house to watch a movie. Friday night is movie night for us.

As I have often said, the risk of a tree falling during a storm is less likely than a day or two later. The wind and rain weakens the tree, but it may not fall right away.

Sunday, I took Cruiser out on my own. It was very cool and sunny—perfect riding weather. We simply had an awesome ride with a lot of trotting and a little cantering. He didn’t sweat a drop. On the way back, I met Ellen, who was hiking out to meet us. We walked back towards home. About 15 minutes later, we noticed a Ranger’s car in the street by the trail—it was there to stop the traffic—a tree had fallen right across the road. It was close enough to the trail that even the best of horses would spook if they saw or heard it fall. Ellen didn’t see it when she walked by, so it must happened recently.

I felt like I was the luckiest person in the world.