Reno is Accident Prone

Big ick factor in this post… so beware 🙂

So the little doofus has been at it again. Reno, the orphan foal that we bottle fed this past spring, has a bad little habit of flipping feed buckets with his nose. He really needs to be fed in a proper feed tub with multiple attachment points. But because he’s been in the arena with the other kids, we’ve been using rubber buckets hung by snaps to screw eyes.

A couple of days ago, in one of his overly enthusiastic flips, he caught his lower eyelid in a bucket snap. In his escape from the snap he ripped quite a good sized gash in the lid. None of us saw it happen, but it was obvious from the blood on the snap and the bucket what he’d done when I found him a few minutes later, eye swimming in blood.

He’s been on antibiotics for a couple of days, and the swelling has come down. The lid seems to be healing well, and the eye was not involved at all. So he’s in no danger of having his sight affected. We are washing the eye off twice a day with warm water and sterile gauze. He is really quite amazingly well behaved about that. He stands politely, with just the occasional mild flinch. He is possibly the most confident, unafraid horse I’ve ever met in my life. I don’t know if that’s all just orphan behaviour, or if he’s also a naturally confident guy. But it did seem, in the few hours before we lost his mama, that he was very confident even then. No sign of shyness or fear. He certainly doesn’t think people could or would ever hurt him.

Here is a photo of his eye today. I couldn’t bring myself to even take a photo of it before. It made me queasy to look at. And I’m not easy to unsettle.  It’s looking much less horrible now though.

 

Albert the Great and Friends

Of our three foals this year, the least well… likeable… has been Al. He’s a big handsome chestnut. But he was pretty much born snapping his little teeth (gums actually I guess) at any exposed skin within range. He has been trying to overpower us all since the first day. He rears, strikes, and bolts with glee at the least opportunity.

He was sort of gawky and awkward initially. But we figured he would come out looking reasonably okay eventually given his colour and size. It’s so hard to know when they are little just how they will turn out. Lately though, Al has been blossoming into quite a stunning looking colt.

Al’s mama is Bernice. She’s possibly the most beautiful mover I have ever seen in my entire life. Bernice can do things that absolutely defy the laws of physics. It’s visually stunning to watch her playing out in the field (which she does quite a bit… even in foal). But it’s sort of frightening to think about actually riding her.

When he was first born I really didn’t see a lot of Bernice in Al. But it’s starting to show now. He’s developing a long, stretchy, floaty way of going that is sometimes a little startling in a weanling. Every morning I think “wow! look at that gorgeous little demon”… just before he tries to run me over.

Lately Al does seem to have figured out that the humans really don’t like to be bitten. So he’s a lot more bearable than he used to be anyway. And he is definitely friendly. Loves to be scratched and is usually the first baby to come and see the people. It’d be nice if he learned to lead though. Rather than rearing up, and bolting off with humans in tow.

Al has grown bigger than either Esmerelda and Reno (who is not an insignificant size himself). Although Reno is absolutely the king of the kids. He’s vastly more confident that either Al or Esmerelda. Strangely… Reno seems to have absorbed some of Twister’s personality. Kind of an obnoxiously obtuse twerp. The other two kids have become quite dependent on Reno to take care of them. They even try to nurse from him on occasion. Much to Reno’s disgust.

 

Today

There was much pathetic crying at work today. The foals were weaned last night. Twister is in with the three of them in the arena. Al and Esmerelda have been calling to their mothers. Reno is a bit confused by all the chaos (being an orphan already). But he’s is also a little indignant that the other two have been nudging at him to see if he might make a good surrogate milk bar. He thinks that’s very rude and has taken to kicking to defend his honour.

I rode King and Dressy both this afternoon. King was very energetic again today. That makes three days in a row. Which is a hopeful sign. It is likely that he will still have bad days even if the diet does work… at least until the full six months is up. But I’m very cautiously starting to think there might be some actual improvement happening. His muscles feel a bit less tight in his hindquarters too.

Dressy has had a few days off since Seoul’s Corners. Today we did 7 miles at a moderately slow pace. We are working on slow/steady trotting. In the hopes that we can find a gear she can maintain all day. She’s naturally very fast. But she cannot maintain that speed over long distances without blowing herself out.

Her back was sore on Monday. I used King’s aussie saddle at Seoul’s. It’s really not the right fit for her. I can use the Barefoot, but that also gives her some problems (pressure points from the stirrup hangers – she has permanent white hairs from them). So I think for now I’m going to have to resort to alternating saddles again. Until I can find something that does fit her correctly anyway.

I also need to do some work on her feet. I think she has some deep seated thrush still going on. She’s been a bit tender footed lately. And the right front has some raggedy, grungy looking bits. I treated her last week with White Lightning and it looks a little better. But I think maybe that’s why her heels have been growing so fast lately.

Reno and Twister Update

We’ve been soaking Twister’s foot to try to finish draining the hoof abcess. So in the morning, we leave him in the arena until that’s done. Reno stays with Twister of course, since Twister is his surrogate parent. So this morning when they were both hanging out at the arena door, I took a picture of them in the same spot as a photo I took of them when Reno was about two weeks old. He is now almost five months old. And look how much he’s grown!  Twister is 14.3hh. Reno will be dwarfing him in no time. The first picture was taken in the first week of April. Second photo was today (Aug 18).

Tales of Glory

All three foals have attached themselves to Twister (Reno’s foster uncle) at this point. The two broodmares have abandoned their children to him and spend a lot of time off grazing on their own. Esmerelda likes to nibble at his withers, while Al and Reno scamper around him playing. Reno sometimes gets a bit anxious when he can’t even get to Twister because Al and Esmerelda are in the way.

The farrier came today, and Reno had his feet trimmed for the first time. Twister came over to check things out… “Here now… what are you doing to that kid? Don’t be hurting my boy!”

Linda says she overheard Twister telling them stories of his past glory. Yesterday he was Napoleon’s favorite charger. Committing acts of heroism on the battlefield, and then being cheered by adoring crowds lining the streets in his victory march. Today he told them that he had won the Triple Crown. As a three year old AND as a four year old. All the kids listened wide-eyed and credulous “REALLY Uncle Twister? You are so AMAZING! We think you are the coolest guy ever”. Twister nods and humbly agrees “Indeed. Very true.” Linda says that as long as the kids are entertained… who is she to contradict his tales of glory?

Twister and the Kids

Twister is a black 3/4 Arab gelding who has been a boarder here for around 10 years (since he was a baby), and although broke to ride, he doesn’t do very much other than charm his owner (which he IS very good at). This year though, he’s actually got a job. I ponied him (rode King and led Twister) down to the Thoroughbred farm where I work, and he’s been babysitting Reno, the orphan foal for the last couple of months.

He’s got some quirks, Twister has. He’s easily the spookiest horse on an entire farm of racehorses. Reno is far braver than Twister, and has to lead the way every morning. Reno and I march along, with Reno happily surveying the world and looking forward to his day, while Twister snorts, bugs his eyes out at shadows, and generally makes Linda crazy as she tries to drag him along after Reno. He has to wear a grazing muzzle since he’s prone to grass founder, so he sounds like Darth Vader breathing through his mask… and looks a bit like him too.

I used to think of Twister as an easy keeper. And I guess that’s kind of true. But really, he’s just a pig. He eats twice as much hay as the nursing mares overnight. And if turned out on grass, he eats so fast that you’d swear he was about to start cramming more in with one hoof. The grass goes in faster than he can swallow and it starts falling out the sides. The boss calls him “that gluttonous little bastard”.

Twister looks like he ought to be sensitive, especially when you see the spookiness. But he is sort of thick actually. He hasn’t the slightest respect for anyone’s space. He’ll step on your feet, clock you with his head, ram you with his shoulder, and just generally behave like a big stupid oaf, despite being 14.3hh and rather dainty. Not to mention being smart as a whip, despite the stupid “huh? I’m standing on whose foot?” expression. Even if you give him a good thump (while he’s standing on said foot), he just looks back at you blandly as if to say “is that all you’ve got?”

Twister and Reno are turned out in the field with Bernice and her colt Al, and Exclusive and her filly Esmerelda (all three foals born the same day). Linda was a bit worried about Twister initially, especially since he doesn’t belong to the farm. She thought that Bernice would be very protective of Al, and maybe hurt Twister. But no. Twister just ignored Bernice. Even when Bernice spun around him, threatening to kill. He just kept eating. And once when he was trying to get a drink of water, and Al came to investigate, Bernice saw that, panicked and charged to get between Twister and Al. Twister, feeling that his space was being invaded, screamed and double barrelled her in the rib cage. Twice. Right. That was the end of any concern we had for Twister’s welfare.

But of course we still had some concerns about how he’d manage with Exclusive in the mix. She’s the boss mare and no one argues with her. But she’s home now, and Twister is just as bold and fearless with her as he was with Bernice. He drove her crazy the first day, marching up and staring her in the eye. I can’t say he intimidated her, since nothing intimidates Exclusive. But I suspect she sort of gave up chasing him away eventually. It’s just too much work. Turned out with the two broodmares, and with a field of younger mares in the next paddock, he looks rather smug…. if a bit comical being so small and with that big black muzzle on his face.

He sounds like a prince doesn’t he? Well… he is actually. Because he’s absolutely been a superstar with Reno. He’s never hurt Reno, even when the little devil jumps on him, pulls his tail, or bites his butt. Twister will occasionally hunch his rear a little as if he could kick or makes a bit of a face (when Reno is being truly horrid), but that’s it. Reno adores Twister. He seems just as attached to him as any foal would be to his mother. He grazes near him, sleeps near him. And runs back to him when anything worries him.

When Linda goes out with milk replacer for Reno, he comes running to the gate, whinnying (it’s extremely cute!). Unfortunately sometimes other horses come too. Which can be a bit chaotic and makes it difficult for Reno to eat. But Twister, bless his little soul, sighs and marches over, “Here now! Move along. The kid needs to eat.” Even with Al, who wants to play with Reno, Twister just gently suggests that he go see his mom. And Al goes. Then Twister goes back to eating grass… “Right, my work here is done”.

Let’s Be Friends

Reno and Twister are now being turned out with Bernice and Al. Bernice is something of an obsessive mama mare, so it’s been very stressful for her. She is spending all her time trying to control Al’s desire to be friends with Reno. Al is NOT a co-operative child (I call him the Demon Spawn – he makes Reno look like an angel). And Reno is completely fascinated with Al. He slips sideways, sort of crab-like towards Al, all the while trying to look innocent and not attract Bernice’s attention. Once she notices him, she tries to get in between them and herd Al away, while making faces at Reno, who makes baby faces (opening his mouth and sort of flapping it at her – it’s a submissive baby gesture.. as in “please don’t kill me, I’m just a cute little baby!”) but only moves a few steps away before starting the sneak approach again. So obviously Bernice is failing to intimidate Reno as much as she’d like.

Photos by sky king’s girl

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2011-06-06, posted with vodpod

And speaking of not intimidating… Twister has shown some remarkable grit in dealing with Bernice’s craziness. He is very obsessive about food (the boss has dubbed him “that gluttonous little bastard”), so he grazes obliviously in the midst of Bernice’s posturing. She tried very hard to intimidate him in the beginning, but Twister just continued to eat and ignored her pinned ears and threatening hind end. Just carried on chewing. Eventually though, he got tired of it all and marched over to Bernice and Al in the corner of the paddock. She spun around, trying to protect her kid, and Twister just stood and stared her down “Listen lady… I have no interest in your kid. I want to eat my grass. How about you leave me alone, and I’ll leave YOU alone?” Bernice finally just stopped threatening, and Twister ambled away to his patch of grass, satisfied that his point had been made. A day or two later, he was over by the gate, having a drink of water. Linda was standing there watching. Bernice was grazing some distance away, and Al decided to run over to Twister. She panicked and tore after him at top speed, just barely intercepting him at the very last moment. Linda, of course, was very concerned about the little black (borrowed!) horse with the freight train bearing down upon him. However, Twister, unaware of WHY Bernice was charging at him like an enraged bull, had reached his breaking point. He screamed like a stallion, pinned his ears flat, and double barrelled Bernice right in the rib cage. Loud enough that Linda could hear it echo. Then he double barrelled her again, just to make sure she got the point… “All I have is ONE simple rule Lady!!!” Linda saw it close up, but still couldn’t believe her eyes. She has stopped worrying about Twister at all now. He can definitely hold his own and then some. Reno saw all the excitement, and came right over to investigate. Then he saw Linda with the bottles, and squeezed right in between him and the gate to have his snack. Twister didn’t turn a hair. Just finished having his drink of water.

Since then, Reno has discovered that there is a safe zone near Twister. If Bernice chases him, he can scamper back to Twister and Bernice will NOT follow into range of Twister. It’s quite funny really. Twister is little (14.3hh), and has always been quite amiable and non-confrontational with other horses. And Bernice is perhaps 16.2? She comes from an entire family of bossy dominant sisters, and Bernice is quite a strong minded mare. Hard to believe Twister faced her down successfully.

Reno Is Doing Well

Reno has been healing up from his little incident on the weekend. Scabs are starting to come off and all his wounds look clean. The swelling on his face has come down nicely too. He’s been drinking a bit less milk, and eating a whole lot more hay and grass.

Twister is still excelling at his babysitting job. But he’s made a bit of an ass of himself in other ways. Managed to break out of his stall twice the other day. Everything is now double and triple locked in the barn.

More Photos of Reno, the Orphan Foal

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Reno and Twister Photos

Here are a few pictures of Reno and Twister from today. Reno is the orphan foal, and Twister is his companion gelding. Twister is absolutely amazing. He watches over him, gently but firmly bossing the dumb kid. Guards him while he’s sleeping, and suspiciously checks out strangers who come to see the baby. They look remarkably like a mare and foal out there.

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