Monday, January 28, 2013


I love this picture.  He knows how to pose to the best of his advantage.

My nephew, Stormy

Isn't he an adorable cat?

 He is a very inquisitive cat, and likes thinking toys.  My cat, Thunder, prefers toys that are human interactive, and solo thinking toys tend to bore him.

This is the toy I got him for Christmas.  My sister hears him playing with it in the middle of the night.

Cole Posing Pretty

This is Cole parking out like a Morgan.  He taught himself how to do this--I just encouraged him with clicking.  He learned it in his stall, and he only recently started doing it outside.  I have to wonder if the desire to park out is genetic.  If he was a Quarter Horse, would he have done this?

 A proper Morgan park out would have his front legs vertical, but Cole Train always over does everything.  No wonder he takes this to an extreme.  It doesn't matter--he will probably never see a show ring, anyway.

His next step, after I click him for this, he will lean often lean back and bow like a dog.  He does it much lower in his stall than outside, but I'm sure he will start getting lower outside, too.  He is a very silly little horse.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cole Train’s Trick of the Month

Cole Train’s Trick of the Month

Last month, I told you about Cole Train teaching himself to bow, but that he would only do it in his stall. Well, he decided he could do it outside, too. When I ask him to bow, he parks out like a Morgan with his front legs forward and his back legs back. I click him and treat him. Then, he starts to shift his weight back to bow like a dog. I click/treat for that, too. In his stall, the bow can get quite low. I expect, in time, he will do that outside his stall, too.

Now, for the new trick. This one was particularly easy to teach and quite spectacular to show off. I got my chance to show Kevin, and he was quite amazed. I think that we spread it over 3 sessions for a grand total of ten minutes before he had it mastered perfectly.

Cole now plays ball.

We have a jolly ball at the barn that belongs to the barn dog. Since Cole understands targeting, I reviewed it with the ball. If he touched his nose to the ball, he got clicked and treated.

The next step was to teach him to follow it. I put it on the ground and clicked him for reaching down and touching it. That didn’t take long, so I started pushing it away from him with my foot. Now, he had to take a step to touch it with his nose.

I gradually increased the distance and clicked and treated for every touch. Soon, he was trotting to it. He thought it was a fun game.

I can now kick or throw the ball as far as I can with Cole loose in the arena. He will trot or canter after it, stop, touch it and stand there to wait for his click and treat. It is really cute. I suppose I could teach him to retrieve it, but this is good enough for me. We now have a little game we can play together.

Only problem is that before I ride, I have to remove the ball from the arena.

I think I have Kevin convinced to teach Starry the same game. I think Starry will catch on just as quick, and since Kevin doesn’t ride in the arena, it will give them a game to play when the weather is inclement.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cruise Improves

I am thinking it is a miracle. I was so sure that Cruise would never recover from his cough. No one heard him cough all weekend. I haven’t heard a cough in more than a week. Kevin heard a couple on Wednesday. That is the last time anyone heard him cough. I am still leading him for a half hour each time I go see him, and he was coughing 9-10 time each time—not anymore. I am so happy. He must have had an infection, after all, and the antibiotics did the trick.

I think he probably had a hay dust induced allergy to begin with. We put him on steroids to help his cough, and they did for a while, and then he seemed to get worse. We took him off hay and started feeding hay cubes, and that didn’t help. That’s when the vet came out the second time. The blood work didn’t show any infection, but steroids can mask an infection—and they must have.

We haven’t trotted or gone on any hills, so I’m not sure if he can do more than walk around. Time will tell. I just want him to heal up. we’ll see what he is like in the spring.

I truly believed that this wouldn’t happen. I was totally pessimistic. Now, I am in a state of shock.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Are Things Looking Up?

The last two times I took Cruiser on his half hour walk, he didn’t cough at all. The two times before that, he only coughed twice. I have gradually reduced his steroids by 20 percent, too. Can I allow myself to have some optimism? This is the best he has been in months! I’ll see how he is tonight. The farrier is coming out. I am going to have him pull his shoes since I’m not riding him, anyways. This will give me the option of walking him in the snow, too. The more I keep him out of the arena, the better.

Cole is learning to park out on command in the arena. For some reason, when I ask him to bow with a verbal command, rather than doing his dog bow, he parks out—like a proper Morgan. It is so cute how when he hears the command, he gets this look on his face (the thinking look) and slowly stretches his legs out. In the stall, I can wait until he squares up before clicking. He hasn’t gotten that good in the arena, and quits when his front legs are still uneven. I’m sure he will fix that in time.

He will now keep his lovely trot as long as I can keep a my seat. Eventually, I get tired and have to stop. Sometimes I forget to breathe—and that doesn’t help. I am building up my strength. I follow the instructions of Mary Wanless of Ride with Your Mind fame. The stuff works, but it is tough. I was dripping with sweat last night—and it was cold out.

I have to get Ellen to video us this weekend. Usually, she is riding Ranger when I’m riding Cole, so that makes it tough.

Ranger is doing well. She is cantering him, now, and there is still no sign of lameness. Whatever it was, it seems to be better. Maybe the vet was wrong and it wasn’t arthritis. We know he has it, but maybe that’s not what was making him lame. I sure hope that was the case.

It’s so nice to be able to write a more optimistic blog. Maybe this will be a good year, after all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


As luck would have it, on Sunday, my plans with my boyfriend were cancelled. I had the day all to myself. This was the first time I have had a whole day alone since Dad died. I have had evenings after work alone and afternoons alone, but Sunday, I was really alone.
Well, as alone as you could be when you live with Thunder the Wonder Cat and Dumb Dog.
I took the dog on a long walk, did some cooking and cleaning, made a nice meal, cleaned up the kitchen and after dinner, I read and took a nap. We all took a nap. Keeping my thermostat at 59 degrees means I have very cuddly animals.

We woke up in time to watch the Golden Globes. This is the first time I have watched any amount of TV in months. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be watching that much. While he was resting, Thunder was planning—a cat party!

What might have become a melancholy and sad evening of missing my dad, turned into a whole bunch of fun. It was a surprise party, and I was the guest of honor. We played all sorts of games. For two and a half hours, there was feather, running, throw, catnip tent, follow, tower sprints and a lot of meowing. I would sit to watch TV, and Thunder would call me back to play. Maggie, aka Dumb Dog, behaved better than normally. She let us play without that much interference. This made the party all the much better. I periodically gave her treats to encourage the good behavior.
By the end of the evening, we were all tired—even Maggie. With all the cat partying going on, she didn’t get her evening nap. She didn’t want to miss any treats. When I sat with her to say good night, she just fell asleep. I gathered Thunder and brought him upstairs to bed, where he fell asleep purring.

When you have great animals, you are never alone.

Cruiser’s Cough

Cruiser’s Cough
Cruiser has had a cough for quite some time. The vet has been out twice, and she is sure it is COPD or some sort of asthma type problem. There is no indication of any infection. Blood work only showed that he has inflammation. Just as a shot in the dark, we put him on a round of antibiotics. He is on steroids and they seem to help, some. I haven’t ridden him in what seems like forever. This is not a happy situation.
A few weeks ago, we took him off hay and put him on hay cubes. I try to keep him out of the dust as much as possible, but it is tough at a boarding stables in the winter. Ideally, he should be living outside, but even if I could find an arrangement like that for him, he can’t eat grass. He is insulin resistant. He would still end up eating hay—which I believe is the culprit—and I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time with him. This stinks.
I lead him for a half hour when I visit. Exercise is necessary for insulin resistant horses. He coughs the most when he exercises. Talk about a guilt trip—I am the one that is making him cough. I could ride him at a walk, but leading is better exercise for me, and I stay warmer.
I haven’t been writing about this because it makes me so sad. My expectations are low for a recovery, and even if he does get better, he will never be where he was. He will never be the awesome athlete that never wants to quit.
On the vet’s last visit, I told her how he had a very bad virus when he was just two. It caused and extremely bad cough. We treated it and cleared up the infection, but the cough lingered and lingered. It happened too long ago for me to be sure how long he was coughing, but I believe it was a couple of months. Since then, he has had allergy issues in late spring and October when the leave fall. Twice before, the vet came out to treat a cough. Other years it didn’t get so bad that he needed medical attention—just time off.
My vet believes he probably had his lungs compromised by the original cough and they just got worse over the years with his outdoor allergies. My athlete probably never reached his athletic potential. Hard to believe that he probably could have trotted faster and further than he did if he had good lungs. You should have seen him in his younger years…
Last night, he didn’t cough a single time on his walk. This is the first time I have exercised him without a cough since this all started. The two previous days, he only coughed twice on the walk. He did roll in his stall and then coughed 10 times.
So, the future looks bleak. At best, I am hoping he can go on easy rides next summer.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Quick Update

Maggie has been in lockdown for 4 days, now, when I’m not in the house. By day 2, Thunder started to get a little better. He began to play a little in the living room. Hide in the plant barricade I made him and play a little bit of throw. When I fed him his evening dinner and walked away, I heard an excited mew. I went back to see him dash through the living room and climb up his tower for the first time in days. Hurray! A breakthrough! After that, he got progressively better. What a relief. I hate to see my Thunder upset.

I had the vet out to see Cruise again for his cough. She still thinks it is allergies and actually saw improvement. She saw how alert and un-sick he acts, so it seems even more likely it isn’t something tragic. Just to be sure, she took blood for blood work. He has been on hay cubes and off of the hay for more than a week, now. She thought that was a good idea.

Cole showed her how he bows…