Delousing Wise Affair

Yesterday afternoon the vet came to the farm. He checked Wise Affair and confirmed that yes, she does indeed have lice. LOTS of lice. We had already figured that out and Linda bought a big container of delousing powder. We were just waiting for the vet to tell us it was okay to treat her. He is quite happy with how bright, alert, and interested she is, and told us just to continue feeding her hay as we’ve been doing. She needs some time for her system to start functioning normally before we start giving her beet pulp, flax, and oil. And even longer before she’ll be ready for grain of any sort.

007

At the moment she is living in a box stall away from the other horses. Because of the young foals that we have now, we dare not let her near anyone without a quarantine period. So every day, while her stall is getting cleaned, Linda walks her around the courtyard. Or, maybe, Weezy walks Linda around the courtyard. She’s quite opinionated and marches Linda around as she inspects everything and noses out the best patches of grass. She likes to come back and check on the stall cleaning progress.

What are you doing to my house?
What are you doing to my house?

She bullies Linda into producing MORE carrots. She seems to be quite content to be living in that stall. She doesn’t call to the other horses at all. She definitely does call to the humans though. “Food!!!” she tells us quite clearly “I really like FOOD! Bring more!” She is drinking a lot of water. She washes every mouthful of hay as well, so her bucket is constantly in need of refilling and/or cleaning. In between stuffing her face and drinking, she sleeps. Sprawled out full length on the double depth straw bedding.

Carrots!!
Carrots!!

Today, after her courtyard stroll, we gave her a salt lick to chew on while I poured delousing powder all over her. I used a rubber currycomb to work it down into the long raggedy coat.

Currying the powder into her coat
Currying the powder into her coat

Within a few minutes the lice started to surface, then dropped off like rain.

Lice dying and falling off her neck.
Lice dying and falling off her neck.

Ugh. She was just loaded with lice. It’s no wonder she has rubbed herself raw in so many places!

She's covered in sores.
She’s covered in sores.

That should help to make her more comfortable. We’ll re-treat in two weeks. She’s looking very slightly better now than she did a few days ago I think. She’s certainly getting perkier by the day.

I came directly home and straight into my bathtub. Yuck.

Aprilfest

Diego and Ares both went to Aprilfest this past weekend. I rode Diego on Saturday. He was terrific. I really feel like we must have made some progress over the last six months of training. He loaded on the trailer politely, stood well for the vets, was steady on the trail, and stayed in his electric paddock without pulling out any posts with his teeth (yes, he really does do that when he’s upset).

We did the 12 mile ride with Emily and Sue. Emily’s Quarter Horse, Duke, is a sensible, quiet sort of guy, and Sue’s Arab, Clay, is 18 and an old pro. So that was great for Diego. He was calm and steady on trail. We went quite slowly and worked on good trail manners. There were no spooks. He did look hard at a few things (an old washing machine by the trail, an odd shaped stump). But all he did was look as he went by.

The trail was sandy and it was surprisingly deep in some places. Diego was tired by the end, and he did have one quite bad stumble. He has very flat movement, and that daisy cutter action gets flatter and he tends to drag his rear toes as he gets a little tired.

Emily and Duke looked great. At one point, when they were out ahead, I had to ask her to slow down. Diego has had no serious conditioning for over a year. So my plan was really just a walk/trot easy ride. Emily is used to being left in Dressy’s smoke trail so she’s always worried about holding things up. She said later that the best part of her day was being told to slow down! LOL!

Ana did the ride n tie with Emily on Duke after the 12 miler was finished. Emily, who had a respiratory virus and looked like she needed a very long nap, rode almost the entire 6 miles. Anastasija ran her little heart out. They ended up in 5th place, but were only 6 minutes behind the winners. There were ten teams entered, which is amazing. I haven’t seen that many entries in a ride n tie in years. [Kudos to both the Ride n Tie Chair, Phyllis, and the OCTRA publicity/promotion team run by Linda K who have all been talking up Ride n Tie for the last year or so!]

Duke is puzzled by the silly human antics
Duke is puzzled by the silly human antics

Duke had a bit of tightness in his hindquarters at the end. The sand really was deep, and with those big QH muscles it was no surprise. But he passed the vetting and looked quite cheerful.

I had planned to do another 12 on Sunday. But in the morning I checked Diego’s legs and thought I felt filling. I hate those moments. My brain zaps around in ten directions (No, maybe not. Yes… that could even be heat. No, don’t be silly. Oh for crying out loud. Get the vets to look at him. Oh man, Ana and Ares will have to go out alone and Ares is going to be off his rocker and go too fast. Just go to the damn vet!)

So I had the vet check him. They didn’t see anything and he trotted sound, so I went back and tacked up. But I checked his legs again. And again. And again. And I obsessed. And then finally went back again and asked the vet to look at him one more time. And this time, they checked a bit more carefully and found that he was flinching at pressure on the suspensories in both front legs. So that’s why he didn’t look lame… he was equally sore in both fronts. When trotted on a circle he had a slight head nod. Despite all the crazy voices in my head, I was actually quite relieved. You’ve got to trust your instincts.

Vet checking Diego
Vet checking Diego

He coped remarkably well with being separated from Ares. There was a bit of whinnying for the first few minutes, and I had to walk him for a while to remind him that he has dignity and needs to use it. But he soon enough settled down and took a long nap in his pen.

Ana went out with Emily and Duke. But Ares was rocketing along and Duke had some trouble keeping up. By the time they got to the mid-check, the muscle tightness was back and Duke was pulled. So Ana went out and did the second loop alone. Ares final pulse was a bit high at 51. But I rather expected that. He’s an excitable sort of guy. He just needs time and experience.

Anastasija riding Ares
Anastasija riding Ares

I went back to my camp after doing the scoring [Sue helped me with that, thank heavens… 43 entries in Saturday’s 12 miler!!!!], and having dinner/awards, to discover that my camp was organized, packed, and ready to go. Having good pit crew is just decadently wonderful. Veronica worked like a demon both days. And her husband Brian, who just came along to hang out, disappeared on Saturday and the next thing I knew, there he was at the timing desk, running things. Nancy told me that she just stood back in awe. He had everything in perfect order the entire weekend. She said “We need to KEEP him!”

Notice how clean those pens are? Veronica kept them spotless!
Notice how clean those pens are? Veronica kept them spotless!

Diego loaded very nicely to go home (in under a minute). Ares as well (of course). By the time Diego was back home Sunday evening, all the filling was gone and the legs were both cold and tight. I will keep a close eye on him for a few days. But I think he’s probably fine.

Oh and Jean, who was Head Pulse/Respiration tech in the vet check told me that she was impressed with Diego. She said he was a different horse. Which kind of made my day 🙂

Wise Affair Comes Home

It’s been a long, long day. I’m tired and a bit incoherent so this tale will ramble I’m sure.

A few days ago, word started to trickle in that one of the horses that my boss bred, raised, and raced had turned up in very bad circumstances along with several other Thoroughbred mares. Wise Affair was Exclusive’s first foal. She was the best racehorse of all of Exclusive’s kids in fact.

After racing, she went to another owner as a broodmare. There were serious complications from her first foaling (prolapsed uterus, a rectal tear, etc) and after a very long and difficult recovery she was given to a “good home” as a companion horse. They were told that she was not breeding sound. Those owners bred her anyway. Repeatedly. They also seem to have neglected to feed her. She has a uterine infection of some kind as well as a tear. She has oozing patches of skin, almost no tail, and scabs and scurf everywhere. We haven’t yet checked for lice, but that’s a possibility for sure. Undoubtedly she’ll have worms.

In case you’ve never seen it, this is what a horse looks like when they are graded a body condition score of “1”. It can be hard to see in photos when they have a long coat. But click on the photos to get a closer view.

002

Here is a close-up of her body…

001a

Canter On Equines were working with the owners to get all three mares placed. Linda and I went up with my truck and trailer to get her today. Because the owners were actually (with quite a bit of encouragement) willing to surrender the horses, we did not say anything overt to them about how dreadful the horses looked. (The owner seemed to think the horses were fine and that since the OSPCA inspectors had been around and said they were fine, that all was well. Sure wish I knew exactly how the OSPCA justifies their own existence.) I really couldn’t say a word to the guy, since anything that might come out of my mouth would have been confrontational. So I just took poor Weezy (they had renamed her Shayna, but there is no way we are calling her the name they picked – she goes back to being Weezy) straight on the trailer. She didn’t even break stride… marched right up that trailer and snatched an entire bale of hay out of the next stall, flinging up in the air in her enthusiasm. I managed to jam that back into place, and gave her a fully stuffed hay bag to eat on the way home. Once back at the farm I opened the trailer door to discover Weezy with the empty hay bag on top of her head, looking cheerful. She hopped off the trailer and went right over to see the boss. He held her while we took photos, and she rubbed her head all over him quite rudely… as she had always done to him at the track. She definitely knew where she was and who she was with.

She’s now in a clean stall with a big pile of hay and lots of water. The vet is coming to see her on Monday. We have stocked up on alfalfa, beet pulp, flax, oil, and vitamins for her.

Special thanks to Canter On Equines who did a great job finding homes for all three of the mares. And for lots of other horses too. It’s a good thing there are people like them in the world. Because there’s just way too many of the kind that have owned Wise Affair for the last couple of years.

Emergency Re-Naming Due to Extreme Badness

Lila is a very pretty name, which suits a lovely, sweet, darling little filly. That filly is most emphatically NOT Loula’s kick-butt little hooligan baby. We’ve all agreed that Lila just does not suit her. That is the boldest, bravest, and most bad-ass little foal I have ever seen. That shouldn’t impress anyone much, since I only have a few years experience with foals. But when I mentioned that to the boss, he looked rueful and agreed. Apparently he’s never seen anything quite like her either. And he has many, many years of foals to remember. I think he’s already getting worried about having to start this one under saddle.

Leading her to her paddock in the morning is a bit death-defying. She rears and walks on hind legs, striking madly “Let me GO!!! I have STUFF to do!!!” Then she bolts forward, kicking sideways trying to kneecap the human (me) in passing. Then she gallops sideways dragging me, zigzagging ahead of her mother. It’s not spookiness or fear. She is just P.O.’d that we are interfering with her self-expression. She loves people in fact. We are excellent at scratching miscellaneous itches, and she’s very demanding about that.

Linda commented today that poor Loula (who was standing out in the field watching her kid wheel around her in huge swooping loops at rocket speed, leaning into the corners like a motorcycle, whinnying with glee, and periodically diving in and trying out her kung fu moves on her mom) looked like she was getting a migraine… “Oh good lord… really? Someone get me an ice pack and let me lie down in a dark stall until this kid is weaned”.

I got a very short video clip of her cantering around this morning. For her this is quite sedate. As usual, I missed the really good stuff. I will have to make a concerted effort over the next little while to actually use the camera instead of standing gape-mouthed in amazement.

So. Since everyone seems to be making the exact same comment about her being “Hell On Wheels”, she is now Helen. Sometimes they just name themselves…

Leading Venice Outside

Between the mares foaling at work, and trying to get some riding time into Diego before Aprilfest (which is this coming weekend), I haven’t had time to work with Venice for a while. Today though, I worked with her in the stall for a few minutes, then decided to try taking her outside again (which we’ve only done once and that was just outside and right back in).

I use the 22 foot line with her, so that I can give her lots of run out room and space if need be. She likes me, but she likes me best if I’m not crowding her too much. She’s timid, though she tries very hard to do what I ask. So I use quite light pressure. We do a lot of “ask and wait”.

To get her out of the stall, I back well away from the stall door and ask her to come through. She is very hesitant, but comes out step by step. Then we do the same thing to get out the front door (a narrow human-sized door). Once outside, she looked overwhelmed and trembly, but she didn’t spook or bolt. Just followed me with her back all stretched out and her hind legs trailing about a mile behind her.

I gave Jen my phone to get a video clip of the last couple of minutes. I know she looks very unsure, but there’s been a massive improvement over the last few weeks, even without consistent daily work lately. I’m quite happy with how she’s coming along now.

Baby Horses

All three foals that we were expecting at work have now arrived. All big, healthy, and very very cute.

First was Lila. She is Loula’s baby, and is pretty much the spitting image of Loula. She’s also a right little demon. Loves people, has no fear of anything, and is ready to take on the world. She’s already packed a lot of action into her short little life. Last night she came into the stall behind her mother, on her hind legs, pawing like Trigger. Watching her in the field is actually a bit frightening… she runs like a missile and brakes hard at the last minute, bouncing a bit since she hasn’t mastered a sliding stop… stopping just about an inch from the fence. Here are a couple of quick shots from my phone that I took of her this morning.

016

019

Second was Desi. He is Dora’s little colt. He’s a bit smaller than the two fillies. But very handsome, with a beautiful face… very like his mother’s. His pasterns were very weak behind on the first day, but he’s already coming up nicely as he gets stronger. The vet says that he will grow out of that very quickly, so no worries. He’s much quieter than that careening little hellion, Lila. Quite a little gentleman. Here he is today, posing perfectly for the camera.

010

015

And finally yesterday, Bernice had her filly. She was born outside (accidentally), so I was able to get some better pics than usual of the first few minutes. Usually they are born in a stall, which is pretty dark for picture taking. Zara was born at around 4pm in the bright sunshine though. Again, she’s very like her mother. Tall and rather elegant with long, long legs. Click any pic for larger versions.

My First Horse, Way Back When

My mother and Lady.
My mother and Lady around 1974/75?.
I had a horse when I was a kid growing up in Northern Saskatchewan. She was a little plain bay half Arab named “Lady”. I got her when I was 12. She was a range-bred 4 year old. The rancher that sold her to us figured she’d make a great kids horse. We didn’t find out until I’d been riding her for quite a while that his idea of a broke kid-type horse was that they’d brought her in as a 3 year old, put tack on her. jumped on her back and kicked her to see what would happen. She walked forward. They chased her a bit, and she trotted. “Good enough” they all said, “This mare’s broke”.

As it happens, she was a bossy, confident and very tough little horse that should have been in endurance. I rode her all day, every day through the summers. I rode her in town, in the woods, on the roads, at the fair, to the drive-in restaurant, in barrel races, and keyhole races, and flat races. I rode her western, english, bareback. She was an awesome little pole-bending horse since she had lovely, easy lead changes, and was a handy, athletic jumper. She also had tricks. Bad tricks. Smashing my leg on fence posts. Balking in the middle of nowhere (sometimes for several hours). Jumping into the neighbour’s garden at 2am for snacks. Jumping out to follow other horses going out on trail rides. Jumping out to follow kids on bicycles. Jumping out to go break the stallion down the road out for a few days of gallivanting. Just… jumping out for no reason at all. We got a lot of phone calls to come and retrieve her actually.

I had a friend who rode with me a lot. Lorrie. She had a big rawboned chestnut paint named “Chief”. Very sweet horse that one. Good natured and kind, if a bit umm…. speedy. He was always in a bit of a hurry. So we did a lot of chasing after Chief and Lorrie. Many miles of riding all over the place. In northern Saskatchewan there’s a lot of room to roam. But the best riding that I remember required crossing the river. That was the North Saskatchewan River, which is a big river. We had to cross a rather intimidating bridge. Looking at the photo, I’m boggled that I ever had the nerve. I don’t know that I could get off and lead a horse across this bridge now, much less ride across it. But Lorrie and I did it many times.

A very old photo of the Old Nipawin Bridge. That's a team of horses crossing it. The upper level is railroad tracks, the lower level is for a single lane of traffic. Click if you want to see a larger version.
A very old photo of the Old Nipawin Bridge. That’s a team of horses crossing it. The upper level is railroad tracks, the lower level is for a single lane of traffic. Click if you want to see a larger version.

Over the years, I did manage to get her turned into a pretty good little riding horse. Mostly as a result of so many miles and hours in the saddle and not at all because I had any training skills. I was a clueless little hooligan, but determined to ride. I’m not sure any other horse could’ve survived me. Of course it’s possible that not so many other kids would’ve persevered with such a tough-minded, smart boss mare either. Maybe we deserved each other 🙂

Going Outside With Venice

Today, I had to fix Venice’s halter. She must have rubbed against something and undone the snap at the throatlatch. So I took it off, did it back up and put it back on her using the same procedure as the first time. Binder twine attached to the crownpiece buckle. Toss it over her neck, holding onto the end of the binder twine. Then grab the halter under her neck and use the carrot stick to lift it over her nose. Why she will put up with all of that and still not let me touch her face with my hand is something that only makes sense in her little brain…

She doesn’t really lead in the normal sense of things (where you walk and the horse confidently walks along beside you). But she does, after a week or so of dragging a lead rope that’s attached to the halter, have respect for the halter. So when I put a bit of pressure on the lead, she gets bug-eyed and moves forward, one hesitating foot at a time. It’s slow, but it is at least pretty consistent. She doesn’t go backward, though she does sometimes take a long time to go forward.

I’ve taken her out into the barn aisle a few times now. She’s a little afraid to go through the stall doorway. But once through that, she is calm enough to eat a few carrots and have her right neck and side brushed. I can run my hand down to her knee before she melts down. Still cannot brush her left side, though I can touch it after I’ve worked with her for a while.

After that I took her out the front door of the barn for a few minutes. That’s a pretty challenging thing for a horse. Even well broke horses don’t like to go through it, since it’s a human-sized door, not horse-sized. It took her a few minutes to work her way through it. She moves her front feet first, stretching her body until her hind legs are so far behind it looks like she’s going to collapse in the middle. Then finally steps those hind feet up when she’s looked around sufficiently for monsters.

Once outside she had a moment of sheer panic and bolted off to the side a few steps. But I was using a 22 foot line, so just gave her a bit of slack and waited for her to settle. After a moment I was able to approach and stroke her shoulder, which quite obviously calmed her down. That was heartening to see, since I used to be the source of all her stress, not the solution to it 🙂

I didn’t stay out long, since I didn’t realize that my border collie, Jimi, was outside. He’s a cutie, and wants to be helpful. But he often thinks that horse training is a border collie kind of job. I prefer NOT to have his help with a spooky terrified little feral horse, thanks very much.

So I turned her around and headed back into the barn (muttering “get back” to Jimi every few minutes… he’s very obedient and very smart, but excitement sends his memory flying out his ears). She was again terrified to go through the narrow doorway. But I just gave her lots of time. She’s really sensitive. I don’t have to pull on her head. Just lift the rope enough that she knows I’m asking, and wait. She works up her courage and moves a foot forward and I instantly drop slack into the rope and tell her she’s good. That works amazingly well. Too much pressure and she panics. But ask nicely and she tries her heart out. That’s probably a lesson in many other areas of life too 🙂

Wrangling The Baby Horse

Loula’s filly is very confident and outgoing. To the point of being ridiculously friendly with any handy human. She loves being scratched (as most babies do). I can go into the stall when she’s sleeping, scratch her neck and she tips her head back and rests it on my knee with her eyes closed. Totally contented. Of course Loula is not nearly so thrilled to have me there, but she’s trusting enough of people that she allows it.

We put a halter on baby a couple of days ago. Other than an initial leap of surprise when I captured her head in that halter contraption, she didn’t fuss too much about it. They went out in the front paddock yesterday for the first time. I looped a baby rope (a lead rope with no snap) through the halter, put one arm behind her and gently wrestled her out of the stall. Once we got up a bit of momentum, she was eager to see the world. We passed mama at a trot and then broke to a canter, with me valiantly trying to keep up and slow her down without scaring her. Not that I should be worried… nothing seems to scare this baby at all.

We turned them loose in the paddock and there was a lot of gleeful gallivanting. Baby has very long legs. All babies do. But this one looks particularly leggy and long-striding when she gallops. Maybe all the white on her legs makes them look longer?

Here’s baby in all her flashy glory (not to mention Loula’s glory, since she’s not exactly hard on the eyes either!). Photos taken with my cheap digital camera, so the quality isn’t great.

Class and No Class

In racing, there are classy horses…

Yesterday Black Caviar won her 25th straight race in Australia. She did it easily, just galloping away from the competition. It’s a beautiful thing to watch her run.

And then there are the not-so-classy horses….

Also yesterday, Spicer Cub, while leading easily in a claiming race at Pimlico, bolted to the outside. The jockey, Xavier Perez, got him back into the race, but the the horse bolted again. This time going so far out that he went around the outside of the starting gate (which was pulled to the outside of the track). Perez lost his stirrups and, in what I suspect must have been a case of total adrenaline overload (due to sheer terror), got after the horse with the whip and straightened him out again. Spicer Cub very nearly won despite all the zigging and zagging, but managed to maintain his spotless record of 0 wins in 8 starts. It was a remarkably athletic feat on the part of the jock. I’m guessing he may decline to ride the horse again though!