Herdbound Horse

I’ve been riding Diego now for a couple of months. We started out with a lot of groundwork over the winter (driving, lungeing, clicker, Lyons, TTeam, and Parelli exercises, etc.). And of course the big, bad trailer loading issue was the first thing we tackled. Although his issues were pretty well entrenched, and his anxiety was very real (like a human with claustrophobia), he came around surprisingly quickly. He now loads reliably on the first try. No more refusing, swinging, rearing, or bolting off. He seems calm and happy when he is on the trailer as well. So that was a big success.

When I started riding him back in late February, he was remarkably steady and quiet. Given that my left elbow was freshly out of a cast (after surgery to reconstruct the shattered joint), I was very careful not to ask much of him or put him under any stress. We started out in the round pen, just walking and asking for nice soft halts, one-rein stops, walk-trot transitions, sidepassing, circles, and the beginning of neck reining (so I don’t have to use the left arm too much).

My theory has been that if Diego can practice good behaviour long enough, and have enough successes, he might overwrite some of his own bad habits. Since I’d never ridden him through any of his antics, nor have I seen the worst of them, I have been sort of feeling my way along to find out what his hot buttons might be. I definitely wanted to avoid any explosions, since I am physically not as capable of dealing with that sort of thing with only one good arm. He’s been known to buck on occasion, though never yet with me. The peak (or depths perhaps?) of his behaviour problems happened last summer when he spooked badly and dropped his rider (and owner at the time). She suffered a very seriously broken leg.

After that, and my own riding accident on Dressy, I’m being vastly cautious with him. We’ve been doing many walking trail rides, and careful, repetitive exercises. I’ve seen a considerable improvement in his confidence level as a result, and he has been a pleasure to ride for the most part. Soft-mouthed, willing, and calm. He went to Aprilfest and Queen’s Bush Training Ride, and was absolutely stellar. Very reliable on trail, and easy to ride.

But Cayuse Canter two weeks ago wasn’t quite as successful. Ares was paddocked right next to him, so he was very well behaved overnight. And well behaved to tack up. But the start was somewhat chaotic. And although we had a staggered start for the Set Speed ride, we went out at the beginning with horses all around us. I would not have chosen that if I could help it, but I was also in charge of the scoring afterwards so I just couldn’t afford to be one of the last riders in. (And as an aside… I really don’t think I will willingly both score AND ride anymore. It’s just way too much to take on now that we are getting such large numbers of entries in Set Speed rides!)

The start at Cayuse Canter curves through a big open hayfield in a swooping ‘S’. Halfway around you have to go down into a gully and back up, curving back towards camp, then away again. It just seems to set all of the horses off into high anxiety. Diego was desperately trying to stay right with Ares (who is Mr. Anxiety even at the best of times), with horses swirling around nearby, and horses visible well ahead and behind us too (not to mention the donkey and the alpacas). Diego did nothing too terrible, but there was an awful lot of dancing, head tossing, and bouncing around. Then a friend rode up behind us on her somewhat high-energy Arab. She was planning on riding with us, but it became apparent very quickly that another horse in the mix was not going to work for Ares. Sue, who was riding him, used extremely good judgement and got off to lead him. We sent Tracey on ahead with her mare. That gave Ares (and Diego too) a chance to settle down somewhat.

Emily on Duke, and Andrea and her big Belgian X mare, Skye were with us too, and the four horses walked for a couple of miles until my two found their brains and relaxed (the other two were, of course, perfectly behaved throughout). By this time Diego looked like he was wearing lipstick because he was trying to keep his nose in contact with Ares’ hip and had rubbed the red grease marked entry number all over his muzzle. Sue was giving Ares a gaiting lesson, which was both good for Ares’ brain and kind of fascinating to watch. Like most Standardbreds, he is very prone to gait, and if you ride them correctly they will develop a variety of smooth gaits. I don’t know what it was she had him doing… but some sort of amble or running walk. I think he started out a little alarmed at having a stranger on his back. But Sue was really good with him, and he worked hard to please her. He’s a good boy, but not uncomplicated, and still quite green.

We started to trot about 2-3 miles into the loop. Diego was still a little ramped up and we tried switching positions a little on trail. Diego still gets anxious when he’s out in front, and at one point when I asked him to take a left turn to a smaller trail he refused and reared. I drove him forward strongly (being somewhat outraged that he would rear) and for the rest of the loop he was much more settled and steady.

That probably would have been the end of any shenanigans from Diego if Ares hadn’t been pulled at the mid-check. Ares’ heart rate would not come down, and when Ana noticed the little flicker in his flanks, I realized that he was likely getting ready to thump. That’s caused by an electrolyte imbalance, so we shoved a few extra doses of electrolytes into him and he came around. But we pulled him out of the ride anyway. He’d only done seven miles at a very moderate pace, and he ought to have been fitter than Diego. But it was a bit warmer than the horses were used to and obviously he’s another of those dark non-Arabs that need more electrolytes.

Diego was down to 48 within a minute or two, with almost no sponging. He’s one of those Arabs who just loves the heat. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all. He really seems fitter than I have any right to expect, given how slow we’ve been going.

Anyway, at the end of the check, Diego had to leave Ares. Sigh. It wasn’t too pretty going around that big hayfield again. And this time, on the way up the far side of the gully he reared again. And this time it made me even madder. I got after him and he abruptly came down and subsided totally. “Yikes! Sorry…” From that point on he was a different horse. Very polite and traveled smoothly down the trail. Emily and Andrea, who, bless their hearts, stuck with us for the second loop too, must have been tremendously relieved to have the real Diego back.

The upshot of all of this is that Diego is herdbound. He wasted an awful lot of energy trying to stay in touch (literally) with Ares. I didn’t enjoy the foolishness on the first loop. But none of it was catastrophic. And he definitely does respond reasonably when I insist on decent behaviour. It gives me a focus anyway, now that I have a better sense of what is likely to cause him anxiety. I am now thinking through some strategies to teach him confidence alone (or more correctly… confidence with just me).

The first step is that I’m going to separate him from the herd for part of the day. My round pen is just about knee deep in grass. It’s maybe 100 feet from the nearest paddock. So he can go out there every morning for breakfast and stay for a few hours. We’ll see how that goes. I have some ideas for groundwork and riding exercises too, but I haven’t been riding much since we got back, since my elbow has not been handling the load well at work and I’m quite sore at the moment. I’ve just picked up a brace for it, so we’ll see if that helps. Riding doesn’t generally bother it, but cleaning stalls is tough. It’s not that strong and the joint seems a bit unstable when I lift anything.

Unfortunately, I suspect that Ares is not a good trail partner for Diego. Two anxious horses together definitely does not result in comfort for either of them. Though perhaps when both of them are a bit more confident, it might work better.

[I’ve heard a rumour btw… that Cayuse Canter might re-locate the start line next year 🙂 ]

Suspended Registration

Well. Bloody marvelous. Venice (Woizero) has had her Arabian registration papers suspended. She had a foal at her side when I got her. Another lady bought the filly at the same time that I took Venice. Now the filly’s DNA test has come back “inconclusive”. The lab figured out first of all that the sire of the filly was not Fabio as the breeder thought, but Komiss, another stallion on the same farm. But the mare was still coming back as a mismatch. More research turned up an exact match between Venice’s DNA and her older full sister. In other words, the DNA sample that was sent in to the registry was actually her older sister’s sample. Or… the older sister was registered with Venice’s sample. Or… some other unknown sample was used for both mares. The breeder thinks that it was just a mixup and she sent in the older sister’s sample for both mares. Which she apparently remembers from 3-4 years ago (whenever she registered them). This is the same breeder who mixed up her stallions, so I am less than supremely confident that she has a clue.

The next step is to re-test Venice and try to identify her correct parentage. Which requires a DNA kit ($89.25). The registry sends that to me, and I submit it to the lab in Ottawa. It’s going to take months.

I told the registry that I think the breeder should have to pay for another round of testing, not me. And they agreed to at least try to assess her for it.

So at this point, I don’t actually know who Venice’s sire and dam are. There is a possibility that this will not get sorted out at all and Venice will have no papers. Meanwhile, Venice’s daughter is also in registration limbo until Venice’s papers are restored.

In the good news department though, I’ve been able to turn Venice out in the small barnyard and catch her again to bring her in. She is standing pretty well for grooming out in the barn aisle, though I can’t yet go below her knees or on the front of her face. I can toss a cloth on her back and flap a rope or bounce a stick off her neck, back, hindquarters, and even her ears and face. I have to go slowly and rhythmically, but as long as she expects it, she holds steady.

Today I worked on backing. She very quickly learned to back from a touch on the chest. After a bit of initial alarm, she grew quite pleased at her own genius. By the end of our short session, she was taking three fluid steps back with just a very light touch. She nods her head as she gains confidence, which is rather charming. “Yes! I AM a clever girl!”

Wise Affair Goes Out to Play

So poor Weezy has been mostly living in a large box stall since she came home. First because she had a heavy lice infestation (and also the risk of contagious diseases), which required quarantine, and secondly because she lost all her hair and was at risk of sunburn.

But she is finally growing a bit of a coat. After two treatments, there is no sign of any lice. Her skin is clearing up and a lot of the scurf is gone. She has put on a remarkable amount of weight. At this point, we can all see improvement every single day. She is, of course, co-operating heartily in her own rehab by eating voraciously. She’s also rude, pushy, and fizzing with an overabundance of energy.

So today the boss said we could turn her out in the paddock between the fillies, Esmerelda (her little sister) and Diva, and the recently retired racehorses, Parker and Vegas. Her coat is still too short for her to go out all day. But she went out at 6 am and got three hours to cavort and eat. Which she did with gusto. She snorted, galloped, whinnied, bucked, rolled, and greeted the other horses. Okay… well maybe she threatened the other horses once or twice too… she is her mama’s daughter after all! Diva and Esmerelda were intimidated and ran off after Weezy said some rude things to them. But Esmerelda was kind of put out about that and kept coming back. She is ALSO her mama’s daughter! But in the end, Weezy demonstrated superior bossiness. Then she went over and had a discussion with Parker and Vegas. Those two are just dorks. “Hullo! Weezy! Ummm…. We like you! We think?” They are very harmless dorks, and Weezy soon realized that they were not worth putting much effort into and ignored them in favour of the delicious grass.

Click on any of the pics for a closer view. They are cell phone pics, so they are rather grainy.

New Halter for Venice

I stopped at the tack shop yesterday, and got a new halter for my little feral mare, Venice. The one she had on was really too big. It was “cob sized”, but was still slopping around on her fine little Arab head. So this time I got a pony halter for her.

004

It fits pretty well. But still needs to be loosened one hole on her left side. Since her left side is her flinchy side, I wasn’t able to do that for the moment. I can touch the halter on that side, but still cannot grab the buckle itself. Getting the halter on in the first place took about half an hour since she’s still very head shy, so I didn’t really want to take it off and start over. It’s only just slightly too tight, so she should be fine in it for a day or two until I can loosen it.

She continues to improve, though we do have setbacks when I go away for competitions or get too busy to work with her every day. She reverts to her feral state very quickly if she’s not handled daily. However, despite my erratic schedule lately, she will now let me groom her on both sides, from behind her ears all the way back to her tail (though I have not yet tried to comb her tail). I have been able to groom her right side for a long time. But I wasn’t even allowed to look at her left side, much less physically be on that side until very recently. So grooming both sides from ears to tail is another big advance.

I can lead her and she is quite soft about it. But the risk of a spook is still there so I don’t lead her anywhere that she could get away completely. I bought another lead rope to leave attached to her halter (the old one shredded from being dragged). It’s a very short pony lead. She’s clever with it. If she steps on it, she knows to take her foot off without any panic. With the old shredded one, she got it caught up a couple of times, and just waited for rescue.

In her own odd way, she is very friendly. She likes to rest her nose against my arm. I am not allowed to touch her face, but it’s okay if she presses her nose against me. It just has to be her idea. She softly blows up down my arm and tickles me with the edge of her nostril. She greets all her meals with a nicker. And if I’ve been away for a day or two, she greets an empty-handed me with a nicker too.

Wise Affair Gets Peach Fuzz

I was away this weekend at the Cayuse Canter Ride, and while I was gone, Weezy appears to have bloomed. I was amazed to see her this morning. She has put weight on visibly over the last two days. Last week we started adding a bit of Equine Senior to her beet pulp/flax mix, and she was thrilled with the new taste sensation.

The vet came out to look at one of the other mares on Friday and had a quick look at Weezy in passing. He was very pleased with her progress.

And she is growing new hair! At the moment it’s just the fine fuzzy beginning of a coat. But soon she will look like a horse again 🙂

014

A Little Training Ride Turns Into a Weather Event

On Sunday, there was a training ride up near Owen Sound. That’s an absolutely beautiful area, and although it’s only a short 12 mile ride, it’s still challenging, with plenty of steep, rocky, technical trails.

Veronica has been working hard with the Standardbred mare she’s been leasing from me. Ella will be five years old next week. She’s a smallish, friendly, placid (errr… lazy) mare with no spook, and even less competitive spirit. For Veronica, who is coming back to riding horses after many years away, she seems to be working out quite nicely. They’ve had a few little hiccups, but Veronica worked through them and Ella is turning into a rock-solid reliable trail horse. She has a resting pulse of around 28-30, so she may have a bit of potential as a competitive trail horse.

Since they’ve been working so hard, and Veronica has volunteered to be my pit crew this year, I thought it would be nice for them to go up and ride at the training ride. The ride manager, Doug, gives out ribbons even if you only finish one six mile loop. Which was really all they were ready for. So we went up there just planning to do the one loop. Just walking it if need be.

Veronica went up first thing in the morning so she could listen to the talks. Her husband Bryan had himself ‘volunteered’ as a timer again. (If he’s not careful, he’s going to make himself indispensable!)

I went in to work to feed at 6 am and was back home by 8 so I could load the horses and head out. Ella loaded up pretty well. I had to glare at her once and then she decided it was best to just load right up. Diego though… well. He was a star. I walked him out, stopped. Asked him to back with me. Asked him to walk forward. He walked directly up, turned around and stopped to look at me. “What would you like me to do???” I asked him to step back off slowly. He did. We turned and walked back on. He again asked what he should do. I backed him into his stall, and he stood calmly while I did up the chest bar. That was pretty much the best he’s ever loaded. He’s been doing it well lately but there’s still been signs of stress. This time, he was calm, cool, and relaxed.

So off I went, blithely expecting a reasonably nice day. Weather report said a chance of showers in the afternoon, but nothing remarkable. I drove across highway 9 to Orangeville and turned north. A few spatters of rain on the windshield. Hmmm… well. No big deal. Then it rained a bit heavier. Darn. Then just before Shelburne the rain started to seem a bit more solid. Sleet. Yuck. Temperature must have been dropping. Just past Shelburne, the wind really picked up, blowing the truck and trailer around a bit, and the snow picked up. Soon it was near white-out conditions. REALLY??? What the heck was I doing? Did I really want to ride in this? Did Veronica? REALLY? But, it was still a long way to Chatsworth, so I kept going. Weather is fickle stuff after all.

I pulled into the field next to Doug’s lovely white fabric arena. It’s a great location for a clinic. The arena is actually used for dog agility training most of the time. But it’s very handy for the talks and for vetting horses. Even from the truck I could hear the wind slamming the building around though. The fabric cover was flapping heavily, clanging the metal struts. The wind was blowing snow straight across horizontally. Lovely.

I elected to leave the horses on the trailer. In the past that would have been an issue for Diego. I opened the top door above the ramp, and watched him for a moment. He was quite content to stay right where he was and eat hay while I went into the arena. When I checked on him half an hour later, the poor guy was shaking with cold and I had to put a blanket on him.

After the talks were over, Veronica and I got the two horses and brought them into the arena. It was loud, with lots of startling noises. Diego is a fairly reactive guy, and this was Ella’s first ride. So I was a bit concerned about bringing them in. Ella tromped in and looked around with mild interest. Diego slithered in after her. “Ella!! Don’t leave me Ella!” I parked him beside her and gave him a minute to settle down. He actually handled it pretty well. No tantrums or fussing. He did have one spooky moment when he trotted in hand down to the far end and the door flapped loudly. He tried to circle me a couple of times and barged into my space. I stopped him, got him steady, asked him to back up, and when he recovered his focus we trotted back politely. Luckily, at training rides, the judges have time and are quite willing to wait through horse training opportunities.

Ella was remarkably calm throughout the vetting. She stood nicely. Trotted (ummm… paced actually) out well for the judge, and ambled back out like she’d been competing for years. Once she was tacked up and Veronica was on her, there was a sudden moment when the light went on… “Oh!! It’s a race or something??? Who are all these other horses??!!” Veronica got a bit worried, but I had her ride the mare over to the other side of the trailers with Diego and Duke (Emily’s grand little Quarter Horse who rode out with us). Ella calmed right back down. I think it’s just too much work for her to stay excited, because that was the sum total of Ella’s stress for the day. About 30 seconds of walking fast with her head up.

We let the other horses start first and then went out at a walk. The awesomely reliable Duke out in front. He walked along, snorting at every step. Emily says he does that whenever he goes somewhere new. He was a perfect gentleman in every other way. Diego was quite calm and steady behind Duke, and Ella brought up the rear, which seems to be where she always travels. Except when she can deke out in front and slow everyone down to her preferred speed. She’s all about seeing the scenery and not breaking a sweat, is Ella.

We went fairly slowly, but for Veronica and Ella it was a challenge. They have just been riding around the farm at home, mostly at a walk, since early winter. Neither of them had done any sustained trotting before. Veronica did not whine even once. She did ask if we could walk a few times but was ready to go again as soon as she caught her breath. I was prepared to walk in the rest of the way once they’d reached their limit. But they never did. Ella was perfect out there. She went up and down hills, around rocks, over logs, through mud puddles, and over a concrete bridge. All without flinching or even appearing to be anything more than moderately interested.

Diego was a bit more than moderately interested in a few of the rocks when he had to go out in front. He thought some of them were small horse-eating monsters. But all-in-all, he was still very good. Mostly when he’s afraid, he just slows down and drifts off course. And when another horse is out front to be eaten by the horse-eating rocks, he is cool as a cucumber.

About halfway through the six mile loop, it started to snow with rather more ferocity. The wind was whipping the snow into our faces, and Diego dropped his head, turned sideways and cowered behind Duke’s conveniently large Quarter Horse butt. Diego is NOT fond of rain, snow, or cold. He says he’s a desert horse and should not be expected to perform in blizzards. I had put a wool quarter sheet on him to try to keep him warm, but I think all it really did was make the saddle slip back on a steep uphill (it sits between the pad and his back). Using Dressy’s old breast collar on him didn’t help the slippage problem either. Even on the tightest setting it’s still a little big on him.

At the end of the six mile loop I briefly considered going out to do the second loop. The brim of my helmet was dripping ice water on my nose. And my fleece jacket was soaked through. My gloves had wet snow caked all over them. And I thought to myself “I do this for fun right?” So I wimped out and quit for the day.

003

Diego and Ella both loaded up on the trailer lickety-split and dove into their hay nets.

Are you getting me a carrot?
Are you getting me a carrot?
Never mind, I'll just eat my hay
Never mind, I’ll just eat my hay

Meanwhile I had to get out of the field that now had snow accumulating. Towing a steel 4-horse head-to-head with a two wheel drive truck. Up a grade. Sigh. Yeah… that really wasn’t going to work 🙁 Doug had to get his tractor and tow me out. I got mud all over my knees from crawling under to try to hook up the chains. Added to my already soaked clothes, I was in quite a bedraggled state. I turned on the heater full blast and steamed myself for the entire two and half hour drive home.

Despite the miserable weather conditions though, it was all a big success. Veronica was thrilled with her accomplishment and with Ella’s stellar behaviour throughout. They got a ribbon and a certificate. And the photographer (Wendy Webb) took a whole lot of good photos of Ella, Diego, and Duke.

Wise Affair Gets An Attitude

Every day, while I clean Weezy’s stall, Linda takes her out and hand-grazes her on the lawn. She drags Linda around while she voraciously mows down every bit of greenery in sight. Last week, we wormed her (with Ivermectin) and later let her graze for a bit longer than normal. Which, in hindsight, was probably not the best plan.

002

She didn’t finish her dinner that night, or her breakfast the next morning. When she went out to graze, she immediately lay down (though she kept grazing). Then she got up. Lay down. Got up. Lay down. Rolled. Yikes! Colic. We called the vet right away, since we were not sure if she should have banamine in her condition. But he okayed that, and by the time he got there, she was already much improved.

Her appetite returned. But she has started demanding tastier food. “Hay cubes???? YUCK! I don’t LIKE hay cubes!!”. Then two days later… “FLAX???? Why would you give me that??? It’s just disgusting!!!” So far, the beet pulp still passes Her Highness’s taste tests. And if I keep the amount of flax small enough and mix it into the beet pulp really really well, she’ll eat it. She is eating tons of hay, and the alfalfa disappears like it’s candy coated. I hide a few carrots in her hay, so when she comes in from grazing (gets DRAGGED in from grazing, totally against her will), she enthusiastically flings the hay around looking for them.

016

While I don’t think it’s really visible yet in photos, Weezy has definitely put some weight on. The hair loss has made her look worse. But we can see the hollows filling out. And Weezy has been getting more and more cheerful (and rude).

In the last few days, Linda has been having some trouble with Weezy’s energy levels. She goes out doing her little sideways racehorse prance. A couple of times now, Linda’s had to bring her back in the barn to control Weezy’s antics. There she is, a bald, scurfy bag of bones, cavorting around Linda, while Linda vainly tries to hang on to her with a chain shank over her nose. Linda was calling her the “rotten, bald ingrate”.
008

It’s hard to get mad at the mare though. She is obviously feeling better. Euphoric even, from the look in her eyes. We will all be very glad when she can be turned out in one of the paddocks.

Baby Zara… the Little Imp

Bernice’s foal is Zara. She’s a cute little bay filly with a star and very fine little stripe. The stripe is hard to see, but up close it’s awfully cute. Zara is, of course, very cute all over (she’s a baby horse – how could she be anything else?). But she’s kind of got her mama’s brain. Maybe not as bad as her mama (Bernice has a lock on crazy), but definitely a reactive baby.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Zara, trying to get her to trust people more. Lots of little visits and scratches (foals are very itchy little creatures and can usually be seduced once you get your hands on them). Today I went into the paddock with Zara and Bernice in the hopes of adjusting Zara’s halter. Zara thought I’d come to play tag or chase or something fun like that. So no halter adjusting got done. But I did get some pics with my phone… (Click the thumbnails to see larger pics)

Feeding Wise Affair

Quite a few people have asked what we are feeding Wise Affair. Because she was so starved and her digestive system is rather fragile right now, we started with just grass hay and a very small amount of alfalfa. We have been increasing both the hay and the alfalfa daily. We had to add an extra water bucket in her stall, because she was drinking a bucket every 3-4 hours. She has slowed down some on water in the last day or two, but she’s a hay dunker (every mouthful, every time.. splish splash!!) so she’s always going to go through a lot of water.

Aha!!! Found the carrot!
Aha!!! Found the carrot!

A couple of days ago, I started soaking hay cubes for her and adding a handful of beet pulp. Each day she gets a bit more beet pulp added to it. Yesterday she got a dribble of oil and a small handful of ground flax added. We have also been adding a general vitamin/mineral supplement and salt. All of this will increase gradually over the next little while. But it has to be very slow. It’s been a long time since this mare has seen better quality feed, and there is actually a risk of killing her with concentrated calories. It’s called “Refeeding Syndrome“.

So far, she seems to be doing extremely well. Her manure is normal, and she is getting more cheerful and demanding by the day. There’s been no sign of colic or any metabolic problems.

She is currently living in a box stall and is only going outside for an hour of hand grazing while I clean her stall in the morning. We have no way of turning her out in any of our paddocks that would not allow her access (over the fence) to the mares and foals. We cannot risk her passing either the lice or some other unknown pathogen on to them (not to mention that Wise Affair’s own immune system is likely pretty weak). It’s turning out to be a good thing though, since the poor girl is losing all her winter coat. Which normally is not a problem, but there is absolutely no sign of a spring/summer coat underneath. Just bare skin. She cannot be out in the sun for long, since she’d definitely burn.

It's hard to see in a photo, but the muscle along her spine is completely wasted away. Her ribcage forms a shelf.
It’s hard to see in a photo, but the muscle along her spine is completely wasted away. Her ribcage forms a shelf.
The hair is loose, and peels away when you rub your hand over it
The hair is loose, and peels away when you rub your hand over it
Luckily she has no idea how odd she looks
Luckily she has no idea how odd she looks
Talk about a bad hair day...
Talk about a bad hair day…

Here is Wise Affair in better days…

She was a beauty (and will be again).
She was a beauty (and will be again).

Wise Affair Gets a Bath

001
It’s a lovely warm day today, so Wise Affair had a bath. I imagine it’s her first one in years. There are still a whole lot of lice eggs apparent when you look closely at her coat. But at least there is nothing moving around in there after we treated her a couple of days ago.

She had what looked like years worth of greasy grime caked in her coat. The first bucket of soapy water lost all its foam almost immediately when we sponged it on. The coat was so dirty is just emulsified instantly. So for the second bucket I added about three times as much soap. She thoroughly enjoyed being scrubbed and hosed down.

009

016

Her tail was just disgraceful. She’s had a low-grade infection in her uterus, so there’s been a lot of discharge. Which ends up in her tail and down the inside of her hind legs. That’s what caused the scalding, and is why all the hair is completely gone down the inside of her hind legs. The tail was just awful to get clean, and unfortunately some of the tail hairs pulled out in the process. She really can’t afford to be losing anymore tail hair.

023

Her coat has all been falling out in patches. It’s so loose that you can pull out chunks just by rubbing your hand over her. She started out looking moth eaten, and ended up looking like a plucked chicken after her bath. Poor girl. It will all grow back, but for the moment she’s not looking too glamorous. She smells better though. And I’m sure she feels better. She’s been putting on weight visibly over the last week. We think it’s probably mostly just re-hydration and her digestive tract now being full of hay (she’s working hard to keep it that way too!)

039

041

046