Monday, September 29, 2014

Ranger showing his Age—or is He?

Ranger showing his Age—or is He?

We think Ranger is around 25 years old. There is no doubt that he has some arthritis and he’s getting a cataract in one of his eyes, but overall, he is doing well. Ellen has had to limit his riding to make sure she doesn’t overdo it and make him sore. He no longer will canter for her—she is sure it is physical since he has always loved to canter in the past. He doesn’t trot near as fast as he used to either, but he still has his great walk.

Last weekend, she bought him a new girth. She rides him English. His old girth was too short and she had to use a girth extender to make it work. Also, it was stretched more on one side than the other which was evident when on she would hook up the billets. It was a very expensive, brand name girth, but it just wasn’t working right, anymore.

She bought a longer girth, so that Ranger no longer needed a girth extender. The new girth is also contoured for comfort. She didn’t get the expensive brand, again, since she didn’t like how it pulled at his long winter coat. (She had to use a girth cover to prevent it from bothering him.)

She tested it out on Saturday. I was on Dante, and as I followed along, I was marveling at how perky Ranger seemed. He had had a few days off, and I just figured that was the reason. Ellen did notice that he moved smoother than he had been when she went down slopes. She attributed it to the new girth.

Dante had a sore hoof on Sunday, so Ranger ended up going on the longer ride—even though he had a brisk ride the day before. We figured he would be grumpy and unenthusiastic—even though it was to his favorite destinations—the show ring. I rode Cole.

Once we started trotting, I was surprised how fast Ranger went. He wasn’t tearing up the trail like he did 10 years ago, but I was able to follow at a comfortable posting trot—and he stayed like that for all the trotting we did. By now, we were starting to become suspicious. It was Day 2 and rather warm for a horse with so much winter coat. Could it be the new girth?

We talked about it and thought we would just see how the whole ride went. When we turned to go home, he pouted—as he usually does. He used to live up there, and he always thinks he is leaving home when we turn to go home.

Once we got far enough away from his old barn, though, he picked up the speed. Now, that wouldn’t be unusual for the Ranger of years gone by, but this is a pretty long ride and for the last year or so, he would walk slowly all the way home. Cole had to keep stopping to wait for Ranger to catch up. We attributed it to his age, but now, we are thinking a little different.

Horses don’t change their behavior for no reason at all. Maybe the reason he walked slow on the way home was that he was aggravated by his girth—not by his age. Maybe he is now walking fast on the way home like he used to because his girth isn’t bothering him anymore?

We met Kevin on Starry on the way home, and Ranger happily led his herd back to the barn.

Ellen just ordered a new girth for Dante…

Friday, September 26, 2014

Update on Dante’s Hoof

Update on Dante’s Hoof

The farrier was out, yesterday to give the guys their pedicures. Ellen explained the abscess, so Ken took a look. He found a hole on the bottom of his hoof, opened it up a bit and it was as dry as could be. It didn’t seem to bother Dante at all, too. They spot where it busted out on the top of the heel is dry and only a little sore. Ken said to go ahead and ride him—and Dante will let her know if it is bothering him.

As it turns out, this weekend is going to be the prettiest weather of the whole year—70s’, sunny and no humidity. We are glad that he gave his blessing to ride. Dante will go on the geriatric ride, tomorrow, with me in the saddle. Ellen will ride Ranger. If all goes well, he will go on the main ride with Cole Train on Sunday.

Hurray for heeling hooves!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thunder Worries

Thunder had a bad weekend.  He started having diarrhea, and that made him so uncomfortable that he would vomit when he finished with the litterbox—at least that was the best I could figure out.  It started Friday evening.  By Saturday morning, he wouldn’t eat.  I went to the barn to ride, and then rushed back home.  He started eating a  little—I didn’t really want him to eat a lot, but I was glad he was interested in food, again.  He needed a lot of consolation.  He likes when I sit on the floor while he sits on one of his pedestals and he will just lean his forehead on my face and purr while I pet him.  If I leave him, he calls out to me to come back.  He just doesn’t want to be alone.  By Sunday evening, he was much his normal self and I didn’t have to take him to the vet Monday morning as I had planned.


What a relief.  He is back to his old self.  He gets very upset when he doesn’t feel good.  A hairball is a big deal, and if I am at home, he needs petting and consoling for at least a half hour.  He gets so upset that he shakes—it is awful.  And then he will be just fine.  I feel bad whenever I find out he had a hairball, and I wasn’t there to comfort him.


He reminds me of my old horse, Mingo.  When Ming would get a hoof abscess, and he had many, it was the end of the world.  I remember once when my sister saw him laying down in his stall because of a hoof abscess.  He saw her watching him.  He nuzzled his back hoof to show her the problem and flopped onto his side and said he was going to die.  What a contrast to Dante this weekend!  We thought his foot was fine, and he ended up blowing out the abscess during the ride.  He didn’t even limp.


I guess animals, as well as people have different tolerances to pain.  I also know that some animals will hide it because they don’t want to appear vulnerable.  I don’t think that was the case with Dante, since it was evident he had an abscess a few days before.  It probably just moved to a spot in the hoof that didn’t cause him pain when he put weight on that foot.

Forever Morgans

Forever Morgans
If you haven’t figured it out already, Ellen and I are big fans of the Morgan horse.  My first horse was Morgan, and though I then branched off to a couple of Morabs, I still loved the Morgan side of them.  Ellen’s horse, Ranger, is suspected to be a Morgan mix.  When it came time for her to buy another horse, her first thought was to get a Morgan—resulting in Dante.  Kevin’s first horse, RB, was a Morgan, too.  If he hadn’t fallen in love with Starry, (really, it was love at first sight for him.)  I think he may have found himself a Morgan, too.  He still admires them.
Morgans make awesome trail horses, so they are perfect fit for people like us.  They are hardy, sensible, intelligent and enjoy having a job.  They are known for their stamina and some can really trot fast.  I personally think they are beautiful, too.
They are also very popular with the Amish, and when they get a little bit too old to go 20-30 miles a day, they tend to end up at the auctions—and we all know the potential fate of any horse that ends up at an auction—ask Ranger.  That’s where he came from.  The meat man bought him, but he was put in the wrong pen and didn’t go in the trucks with the other horses.  A kind woman, seeing his potential, bought him from the meat man and later sold him to Ellen.
That is where Forever Morgans steps in.  They are a Morgan horse rescue group that purchases horses from the auctions or directly from caring Amish owners, puts them in foster homes and finds them homes. 
The reason I mention this here is to let you know if you are looking for some excellent future trail horses, please check them out.  Many of the horses are registered.  They are upfront on the horse’s abilities and limitations, and they only want them to find the perfect home where they will be loved and cared for, for the rest of their lives.  There are some horses that are only suited for a pasture pet, but many of them are sound and young enough to have years of riding. Their prices are very reasonable, too.  In other words, you can get a great horse for a great price—and feel really good about it. 
They are also on Facebook

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Making Lemonade

Making Lemonade

My sister and I take our vacation days together so we can go riding. We have to pick our days weeks ahead of time because if the way her employer’s system works. It’s not like we can look at the forecast and pick the days with the best weather. Instead, we just guess.

Our vacations are notorious for having bad weather and high rivers. If we get a long weekend where we are able to ride as much as we like without being affected by the weather, it is rare.

Well, we planned a 3-day weekend, and the weather wasn’t the problem this time. The week before, we found out the park would be repaving the road that runs adjacent to the bridle trails. A few days after that, Dante started acting like he had a hoof abscess. Yes, it was vacation time.

It looked like Dante was brewing a rear heel abscess. He was reluctant to place weight on his heel and he was a little lame. We were doing the soaking routine, and nothing seemed to happen. Our farrier was scheduled to come out in less than a week, so if it wasn’t better by then, we would have him drain it.

Saturday, Dante’s hoof seemed better—so much better that he wasn’t showing any lameness at all! Could it have drains from a tiny hole, and we didn’t know about it? We led him around and turned him out to trot around.

They are only working on the street paving during the week, so there was no problem with going on a trail ride. We then took Ranger and Cole out for a ride up to the show ring area. It was a fun ride with a fair amount of trotting.

Sunday, we led Dante around outside on the hard and stony ground. He still didn’t show any signs of lameness.

Ranger can manage one longer ride at a time, but we don’t want to overdo it with him, so Cole and I left 20 minutes before Ellen and Ranger. We had a vigorous ride with a lot of trotting and cantering while Ellen had a slower and shorter ride with Ranger. I met them on the way back right at the spot where Ellen was planning to turn around, and we walked home together. She said Ranger was rather slow, but when she told him to “find Cole,” he started to neigh and went faster. (We used to play this game with Ranger and Cruiser, and they learned the find command back then. Starry knows it, too.)

Monday, our vacation day, was the day we made lemonade out of the lemons. Ranger earned a day off, so Kevin graciously offered us Starry.

Starry is a great horse in so many ways, but he has the misfortune of having a very, very uncomfortable trot. I have never ridden a worse one. You have to post, of course, but it is so bouncy and inconsistent that it is very tough to post. Once we got across the river, we started to trot, and the first words out of Ellen’s mouth were, “This is horrible.”

I just trotted happily along behind them. After a while, I suggested she try cantering, and she did. She found his canter much more comfortable than his trot. When we got to the spot that Cole loves to run, I took the lead and left them in the dust, as usual. Ellen cantered and trotted along at their own pace. I waited for them to catch up. I think she had fun.

We crossed the river and did a lot of walking because the trail conditions are horrible over there. When we got out to the street, we could see they had just sprayed the road with some sort of sealant. We didn’t want to step on it—not knowing what it was—but we were able to ride over to the intersection and go around it on the other road. Though neither horse has ever done that before, they both took it all in stride.

We then have a quarter mile of good trail, so Ellen took the lead with Starry and we began to trot. I don’t think she could manage the trot any longer due to muscle fatigue, so she asked him to canter. Cole just trotted behind. We made it to the end had headed home.

One the way home, we realized how lucky we were to pick our two best horses in traffic. By now, the paving was beginning. There were lots of alrge noisy equipment on the street—things that would have gotten Ranger all wound uup and way more than Dante’s ever been exposed to. Dante might have been fine, but Ellen would have been so worried that it would have ruined her ride. Cole and Starry didn’t seem to notice.

All the loud noise did bother us, so we trotted to get away from the worst and then walked the rest of the way home. We were so happy we had the right horses for the ride.

Back to Dante. Ellen rode him in the arena and he seemed sound, but a little slow. She then took him outside and we walked the loop. We discovered he thinks wild turkeys are cool and wants to follow them.

When we got back, Ellen found that the abscess had busted out of his heel while she was riding him. Now, we just have to wait for him to heal his heal.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Long Weekend Update

Dante is doing so well, I have very little to report. Basically, we are just working on building Ellen’s confidence. I say “we” because Dante and I are doing together.

We had a3-day weekend. As usual, on the first day, the river was too high. It was rainy, anyway. We worked on the hill. We took each horse separately. First, Ellen went with Dante. This is to help wean her off Cole. Dante was fine by himself—he always has been. He does tend to cry a little bit. He has the hoarsest voice I have ever heard on a horse.

At the bottom of the hill, we have a smooth, flat section that she trotted back and forth. Dante was a little fast and hyper to start with, but then he settled right down.

I then took Cole on the hill by himself instead of with Ranger. That way, I could do faster work. We did a lot of trotting, some cantering and Ellen placed some small logs on the trail so we could try jumping. He mostly trotted over them. Once, he did a large canter stride.

She then took Ranger on a quiet trip around the back loop with me walking beside them.

Saturday turned out to be a much better day. We took Cole and Dante on the short, fast ride. We did lots of trotting and a little bit of cantering. Since the river was still a little high, Ellen just rode Ranger on the hill. He was quite full of himself and trotted rather fast on the bottom.

Sunday was the best day of them all. We took Cole and Dante up to the show ring trails. There was a show at the ring, but we went nowhere near it. We just trotted The back trails. Both horses behaved lovely. Ellen then took Ranger across the river as l hiked along. They found Kevin with Starry along the way, and that made it even more fun.

On a sad note, but days are getting shorter and there is barely enough time for me to get a trail ride in after work. Kevin and I have had such a nice summer of trail riding in the evenings this year—I am really going to miss it. I just can’t get into the mood of working in the arena. I have one more week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Goldenrod Ride

The Goldenrod Ride

My sister and I love to ride up to the show ring trails all the time—but particularly when the goldenrod is blooming. Sunday was a chilly, sunny morning—a perfect day to see the goldenrod. Instead of Dante, Ellen took Ranger. Ranger loves the trails up there since he used to live there. He gets all excited on the way out and pouts on the way home.

This day was no exception. He was a little slow to warm up as any 25-year-old would be, but once he did, he was very eager to be out. Ranger is the bully of the barn, and he loves to pick on the other horses. He likes to lead at the trot and gets angry when other horses pass. If we are walking and the bugs are bad, he wants the other horses to go first, though.

In the last few years, he invented a new game. Instead of trotting fast so other horses can’t pass, he slows down or stops to let them pass and then makes angry, threatening faces at them as they try to pass. Cruiser never cared—he was just happy to be in the lead. Cole and Dante get intimidated. We don’t like it because we want to keep trotting and not play the game at all.

I decided to try something new. Ellen would trot off with Ranger. I asked Cole to stop, clicked and treated him. That gave Ranger a chance to get 20 feet or so ahead. Then, I asked Cole to trot and match Ranger’s speed. The speed was a little slower than Cole wanted, but I just kept praising him and telling him what wonderful horse he was. The only time we ever caught up with Ranger was the time I wasn’t paying attention. It worked like a dream. Ellen got to trot Ranger as much as she liked, and Cole didn’t get picked on.

As we were trotting through the Lagoon, some people were standing in a parking lot by the trail. They pointed out Ranger and watched as he went by. I told Cole that this was our chance. I quit posting, squeezed my legs and Cole launched into his “Show Trot.” Ellen heard me chuckling, and she knew just what happened. I don’t know if the people looked at us, but if they did, Cole looked fantastic.

Ranger marched along to the big hill. Ellen leads him up because she wants to make it as easy as possible for him. (She has been getting spoiled from riding up with Dante.) We walked through the pretty pine forest and then we reached the “Pig Trail.” It is the best trail in the whole park since it is no where close to the river and is not subject to flooding. We trotted along—stopping only where it got muddy. Then, suddenly the trees ended and we were out in the field of goldenrods—and they are at their peak of blooming. It was yellow everywhere—except for the places that were the homes of purple asters and the last of the Joe Pye Weed. The sun was at a perfect angle—it looked quite magical.

We trotted along to the end of the trail, turned around and headed back. We did a little bit of trotting, but we didn’t want to overdo it with Ranger. We explored one side trail that doesn’t go far, but it is a fun trail, nonetheless. It is seldom traveled and many tall plants were obscuring the trail. Ranger had a great time eating. I was able to keep Cole from eating, and gave him a carrot at the end for resisting all that temptation, but I don’t know if he understood it.

After a walk break with Cole in the lead, Ellen thought we could try trotting with him in front. She doesn’t want Ranger to push himself too hard, so I would have to keep Cole at a slow and steady speed. I used to do this back we would ride with Ranger when my niece, Sarah, rode him, so I knew that Cole was up to the task. I asked Cole for a slow trot, and he went so slow that Ranger caught up to us and Ellen told us to speed up. I could feel Cole reacting to the pressure of Ranger being close to him. I asked him to go faster, and he did—but then Ranger turned into a bully—and Cole said, “I’m out of here.” He took off like lightning to get away from Ranger. I stopped him as soon as I could, looked around and saw Ranger charging down the trail. I missed his kitten buck and a couple of canter strides. (Ranger doesn’t canter under saddle anymore, so that was the real surprise. The kitten bucks are normal.)

So much for that experiment. After that, we walked home. At times, Ranger would want Cole in the lead, we would pass, he would make faces and sometimes get upset that Cole was then in the lead and insist he went in the back. Poor Cole. He was always glad to get behind Ranger.

It was a great ride, and I think that Ranger really enjoyed himself. Ellen and I sure did enjoy ourselves. I hope Cole did…

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More Cuteness

Holiday Weekend

Holiday Weekend

Dante did great this weekend. On Saturday, we went out to the Brookpark Bridge for the first time. It is a massive bridge and very noisy. Cole Train was nervous the first few times under that bridge. Dante asked to touch the pillar. Ellen let him. Cole stood and watched—appalled. Ellen clicked him and gave him a treat. It was a very hot and humid morning, so we didn’t go really fast. we met Kevin on Starry on the way back. it turned out to be well over 2 hours.

On Sunday, we did the show ring trail. it was ordinary and a very nice ride—just hot and humid.

Monday, the heat and humidity continued, so we decided to do the shorter ride. Ho hum. Uneventful. We met Starry on the way back.

The big news is my garden! I have been harvesting non stop. My freezer is getting filled and my dehydrator has been running non stop. I have piles of zucchinis—yes piles. This may have been my best garden, ever, in spite of my tomatoes getting blight. I have so many of them, I don’t care if the plants die early. my lima beans have hit their stride, the beans just won’t slow down and I am still eating cucumbers. My peppers were the only underperformers, but the have started to produce, too. my only problem—will I be able to eat all the veggies I have stored for winter by next summer?

On Saturday, Kevin and I went downtown and caught the end of the air show. The Blue Angels put on a fine show. We also got a few good hikes in over the weekend.