Monday, December 12, 2011


Chinook was a champion and loaded right into the trailer to head to school. Although nervous at first, once he arrived he was right at home and happily waited in a stall (without even any other horses around) until we were able to look at him. He loved my classmate Camille, who is on the surgery service and took his case, though he wasn't as thrilled about our surgical resident for some reason. He was a good boy, though, and they quickly had him sedated so they could a full exam.

Well, it didn't take them long to decide that he indeed had a bad infection and that it was in the spermatic cord (called a scirrhous cord). The thing is, the treatment is to surgically resect the infected cord, and so I had little option but to send him into the OR. Within a short time, they had placed an IV catheter and were preparing him for general anesthesia. He took it all in stride and behaved so well! I couldn't have been prouder of my little "mutt" horse.

The procedure took about an hour and they removed several inches of tissue. He woke up from anesthesia wonderfully (something that doesn't always happen with horses), and he spent one night in the hospital like a big boy. Then he loaded right back up into the trailer and now he's back at home and taking it easy in the smaller pen area with Gabby. He's still a bit swollen, but I think we are finally over the worst! I am glad that one of our residents convinced me to bring him in, because if this had gone on any longer he would have had an infection in his abdomen, which would have been much, much worse. Hopefully this is the end of our troubles and by $1000 castration!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another visit to the OSU VTH

So, tomorrow morning Chinook will be headed back to the OSU Large Animal Veterinary Teaching Hospital (my current place of residence, shall we say) to be seen by the surgery service for the pus coming out of his incision. It is now much "better" than it was before, but still clearly infected and obviously out of my control. This will be his first big trailer trip all alone.

Let's hope this little devil child behaves himself!! In other news, the weather has been really awesome recently (clear, nice and cold, a little foggy, but dry). I have been able to feed the horses outside for over a week now, and I was able to snap this cool photo in the fog the other night around 8 pm.

I will update soon with highlights of our trip to school!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chinook at 7 months!

Not much to report here, but I just thought I'd post this really cute picture of Chinook begging for food tonight. We are still doing much of the same around here--just waiting to in the next month or so figure out where we're all going to end up after I graduate in June. So far it's looking like things are wide open, and we may quite well be trailering the ponies several thousand miles. More adventures to come!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's the best thing to do on a dark, stormy night?

RIDE, of course!

My schedule doesn't often allow me time to do much of anything, so I take my chances when I get them. And the storm brought warmer weather and, strangely, a great motivation to ride. The horses have been pretty "amped" up because they have been spending much of their time inside (by's WET outside!) So it's really a great time for training. Sage and Chinook have had lots of little spooks, but I want to teach them that our routine--which consists at least of standing tied each day for feet picking--is the same whether or not the boogie man is coming around the corner. Because in reality, there is no boogie man. And if I act like there is no boogie man, sooner or later these horses might believe me. So tonight I rode Sage and started to teach Chinook how to be ponied. He was less than amused, but picked up on it pretty quick.

Last night because the weather had warmed up, I gave stronger consideration to hosing out Chinook's incision. One of the professors at school encouraged this, though I'm sure HE has never tried to do anything of the sort. If you're wondering about using dirty hose water to wash something like this, you just have to remember that it's already infected. And my favorite saying ever is "Dilution is the solution to pollution." Also, the force of the water would help to keep the incision open and draining.

Now, in theory this sounds really easy, but in reality standing outside in the dark with a flower basket watering wand, in the whipping wind and rain, trying to shove a bunch of running water between a weanling's back legs while he's spinning in circles...well, it's not that easy. In fact, it's rather ridiculous and a good way to get hurt. Thankfully, Chinook is a nice boy and did not kick out. And thankfully, the incision seemed slightly itchy and at moments he appeared to enjoy the spray (though definitely not at other moments!). Still, it was nuts, and I didn't get enough water where I wanted for it to be super effective.

So I brought him inside and started to dry him off with a towel, and something about the way he was standing invited me to towel very close to the incision, something he had never let me do. I think he realized that me using my hands was a lot better than a hose! So he stood there while I took anti-septic laden cotton and scrubbed the heck out of everything. It was the most satisfying experience ever, and the incision looked so much better afterward. Even tonight he let me clean it again and pick off more crusty pieces without even so much as a rope on him.

Now, it's pretty darn clean and new pus hasn't really accumulated. It's just so satisfying when you finally convince them that something is beneficial and they let you do it even though they are not so sure at first!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

And we have infection...

About a week after Chinook's operation, I noted that the castration site was still pretty swollen and had started draining pus--despite my best efforts at making him move around. Since his attitude was good and he was eating, playing, and acting just fine (and still is a week after that), I figured I would let nature take its course. After all, infection seems almost inevitable in these situations because a scruffy little mustang laying down in dirty shavings is bound to contaminate the wound. It would be great if it was summer and he was out on clean pasture! No matter how many times a day you muck out an area, it's still teeming with bacteria waiting to make their debut.

And it just refused to look better. So I tried to clean it out (which, let me tell you, is not the best plan). Although he did not kick me and was actually quite good, he really only let me wash the drainage off his legs. Again, I decided to let nature take its course. The wound was still open and draining, and there was nothing I could do without help (that is, drugs).

But the wound has just been nagging, begging for a good scrub and flushing. I considered hosing it, but it's been extremely cold outside and I thought that wouldn't be very nice. Either way, I knew one of us would get hurt without some proper restraint and assistance. So I'm probably going to have to bring him back to school so they can sedate him and clean it up, as long as it continues to look bad tomorrow. The last thing we need is some sort of chronic, persistent, terrible infection. Still, the whole bringing him to school thing is an ordeal, and I was hoping not to have to do it.

In the meantime, I have been away a few days this week being on call and up in Portland taking the national board exam (which was quite a blur!!). But when I've been home the weather has been crazy stormy and the horses have been pretty wild:

And of course, hungry as usual:

Hopefully we can get this situation fixed if it hasn't fixed itself already!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

He's a gelding!

The scruffy little man in the picture below has been a gelding for a whole day! He and Brandy traveled well to school, and he was pretty much the best boy ever. He let my classmates take him to the scale, weigh him, lead him outside, and then the surgery went really well and he was back in the stall and begging for food within an hour. He and Brandy stayed at school for the rest of the day, then trailered back home well in the evening. They stayed together in their own pen overnight.

He is a bit sore today and has a little swelling, but he's been doing very well. I made him trot around a little bit with Sage this morning. Although this seems cruel, this is the best thing to do with newly castrated horses. It helps keep the wound draining and keeps the swelling down. After I turned them all back out together, Sage took it upon herself to clean the little bit of dried blood from Chinook's legs. What a good mother she is. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tomorrow is the day...

...that Chinook goes from wild stallion of the west to best mustang gelding in the world. He and Brandy will come with me to school tomorrow so the equine service can castrate the boy and inject Brandy's arthritic coffin joints with some steroids. Is it sad that Brandy travels much worse than Chinook? Yes. But it just goes to prove that while the boy can be very annoying, he's pretty good in the end. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Putting the mustang to work!

It's hard to believe, I know, but I actually do make Sage work sometimes. I have been trying to ride often in my few weeks at home, and it has worked out fairly well. We've been doing lots of trotting! Long straight line trotting, circles, roll backs. She feels quite good! Almost too good, perhaps...

So I decided to challenge her. That is, lunge on a crisp fall day out in the big pasture. You would think that wouldn't be too hard, but when Sage gets spicy and decides to try to buck, bolt, and run away, she knows just how to throw her head and shoulder so I can't stop her (physically, at least). So I have to teach her to do the right thing, and the only way to do that is to challenge her focus, have her try to run away, and successfully stop her. Look at how cute she is when she applies herself:

It's really hard to take pictures while lunging; suffice to say that she was not this cute the entire time. We had two run outs, to where I had to let go completely and go catch her again with the lunge line trailing. But by the end, I felt like she was responding much better. I stopped a few run outs and got her listening, stopping and turning a lot. I didn't want to chew up the ground, so once we got some calm circles (which, by the way, often come in between big explosions), we moved inside. I think she did kind of get the point that bucking and rearing is bad. I am not afraid to get on her in the arena as I know she feels like she has nowhere to go, so she won't take off. We rode inside for a little bit and called it good. Just had to take a picture to prove it, but she did get sweaty!

She wanted to make a point about how tortured she is:

Which, I guess she kind of was, because I once again attempted to put bell boots on her. There is something about them she really dislikes--most especially the velcro noise, but it's not just that. It's the combination of the velcro noise and something trying to eat her leg. Except that she's dead calm when you wrap ropes around her feet, and she's much better with polo wraps, so I'm not sure what the deal is. I figured that like everything with her, it would get easier each time I tried.

However, I was wrong. It took me an hour to get them on, and one I could only get on her cannon. So I left them on, figuring at some point she would have to be fine with them. Which she was, except until I tried to take them off, which was another half hour ordeal. The thing I can say is that she is much better about the velcro noise now, but this whole concept really gets her in a tizzy. So much so that she was willing to go for a walk with me in the pasture (in the wind, which usually gets her going) and just walk quietly after I took them off.

You might be wondering what the point of all this is, and so here it is: I want to be able to trail ride this horse. No, she will never probably wear bell boots ever. But there is no reason to put shoes on her, and although her feet are excellent, I will not ride her on sharp gravel without some sort of protection. I'd like her to be able to wear hoof boots, which basically grasp the pastern in a similar fashion as bell boots. But if she's going to come undone about it, this may not be reasonable. We'll just have to keep working, and I'm making a note to expose Chinook to things like this early.

The little man himself has been doing reasonably well. He is now 12.2 hands and weighs 500 lbs. I trimmed his feet for the second time yesterday, and he was great with a bit of hay in front of him. He can be pretty squiggly otherwise!

He's learning to not be so pushy about his food, and he's learning to trot up in hand (always a useful skill). He's also wearing a sweatshirt for a saddle and he could care less. I've started feeding him Purina's Ultium Growth feed along with his alfalfa pellets, and at first he was a bit of a pain, spitting it out for the first few days. Not okay at $27.99 a bag!! But he has learned to like it, and he has also finally learned to eat apples all on his own.

Tonight was the first time he was ever really bad. I took him for a walk out in the pasture and he did the buck and bolt trick of his mom...except, he tries to run through you because he figures that's the best way out (instead of running away). He's fairly block-headed and does not respond to sharp tugs on the halter. Or at least, he didn't until tonight. He got in big trouble, and then he went on another walk and was a very good boy. We are constantly working on the back up cue because he's just so pushy. Now it's a matter of backing up quickly, because he's often not very responsive and does things like try to walk on top of you.

He is, however, a very sweet little boy and he loves hugs and kisses. He is going to grow up to be a nice gelding!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy fall!

Lots of news from here! Fall has fallen and the horses are spending a lot of time in the barn (by choice, of course...they can go outside whenever they want, but who would want to when it's raining sideways?). The girls helped us harvest the 135 pumpkins that we grew in the manure pile this summer! Sage was not really convinced that pumpkins are all that cool, but Brandy on the other hand...

Chinook is back out with his mom and Brandy, but now he's a big boy. No more nursing, just time to get some schooling from the mares. He's been a good boy overall. Although he gets pushy when I am away (and I was away for the last week working in Bend), he is capable of learning how to not be pushy again.

He leads like a champ, is much better about his feet, and has a generally chill attitude about everything. He'll stand tied for over an hour! He does haunch turns, forehand turns, and backs up. He, like his mom, is hard to get moving but he'll trot if you really get him going. Today he wore a stirrup leather around his girth, very similar to the setup I first started Sage in, and he didn't have a care in the world. He also wears sweatshirts and saddle blankets over his back with no issues at all. I lay over his back and scratch his belly, and he doesn't even flinch. I am still hoping to hold out until January on gelding him, and so far so good on that front!

Although my time has been very short, I had a little bit of time off this afternoon and set to work on Sage. The only thing we've really done since the last post is go for a walk up the road/field, where she was good but had a few spooky/bucking moments. I had asked my farrier if he would ride her the next time he came out, because I hadn't been getting anywhere and wanted to see her respond to someone else. Of course, I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me thinks there is no problem with where we are at, and the other part tells me she needs something more.

So today I vowed that I would try my hardest to get her trotting no matter the consequences. I am fully capable of riding her even if she bucks, which is just what I had to tell myself. So I got on and I kicked her forward, clucked to her, told her to trot. At first, she did what she typically does: bunches up, slows down, lifts her head, acts like she's thinking about doing something bad. But I kept kicking, and encouraging, and FINALLY she took a few steps of trot. After a few more tries, all I had to do was lay my leg against her side and cluck and off we went! She was so ridiculously floaty, so balanced for a young horse. I felt like I was riding a broke horse. It was like once she figured it out, it was no big deal. We might have done a few circles of the arena total, but I'm sure she knew I was thrilled with her. I can't wait to get out there again and do some more trotting! I was in Bend last week, I happened to catch the beginning of the BendFilm Festival. Amazingly, they were showing "Wild Horse, Wild Ride" (, and I was able to get a ticket. If you haven't already heard me babble on about this movie, I have wanted to see it for months! It follows several trainers in the Extreme Mustang Makeover and has several scenes showing how amazing mustangs are. The filmmaker was also present and answered several questions about the movie. It was fabulous! So, if you get a chance to see it, definitely do!

My schedule is very busy for the next month: traveling to St. Louis and then back to Calgary, giving my senior paper presentation on the unwanted horse, and taking the national veterinary board exam. So, posts may be slow, but I swear we're still all alive and well. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The terrible terribles...

Things have been busy recently, but I did find some time to try to work with Sage the other day. Since I know she has serious issues with Velcro-products around her feet, I decided to try polo wraps. Once again, we had quite the run around. She just gets incredibly, irrationally nervous. Tried bell boots again and it was the same deal. I'm not sure we were really successful at all. In fact, I think we made it worse. However, we did have a great round-penning/free lunging session shortly after where I feel she's been the most responsive ever. So I guess it wasn't all for naught. Chinook, on the other hand, has been moody and crabby. He kicked my mom the other day, and just tonight he kicked out "at me" (well, he kicked the wall) when I went to scratch his barrel while he was eating. I did some work with him on the halter and picked up his feet, backed him up, etc. He did fine. I think it's just the hormones speaking. Kids!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Training always continues

Since the last time I updated, I've done a bit more with Sage and Chinook. First, I have walked Sage at least three times since the last post. For most walks she was really good: loose on the rope, responsive, no rearing. Except up on top of the hill on one walk, she saw two cows and decided they MUST be horses, and just started whinnying and carrying on. Although she would listen when I asked her to back up and stop, she really wasn't listening to me well. And of course, walking back to the house is always a big struggle with lots of stopping and going. It's not like she's overtly bad, but I can just tell that if I was riding she probably wouldn't be listening--more like running away.

But I did ride her at the house, for the first time in a month or so. She was really pretty good. She's been lunging much better (has more perk in her step now, and doesn't require the plastic bag), but still no trotting under saddle. I'm pretty sure that she knows I am afraid she'll buck and she can feel that though I'm asking her to trot, I really don't want her to. This is where I fear we're going to need someone professional. I mean, otherwise we probably won't ever get anywhere. This is not to say that she's done anything bad while I ride. She listens, she steers, she's just young.

Chinook also went on his first walk up the road all by himself. He was super good! He was very relaxed walking up the road but we did have some arguments about his speed going back to the barn. This is inevitable, and I'd like to try and nip it in the bud while he's still young.

Well, we'll see what happens. Next month I will be traveling to Bend and to Calgary for externships and equine hospitals. It will be pretty busy, and the ponies will likely get a few months off this fall and winter!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Clinics suck away your life!

I am pretty sure it's been eons since I've posted, and really not much has happened in this time because I've been on both Small Animal Medicine and now Small Animal Surgery. These are busy rotations and my time with my horses now mostly consists of getting the essentials done: mucking, feeding, watering, and trimming.

Chinook and Brandy have been living together for several weeks now, and he has basically no attachment to Sage at all. Sage is pretty much dried up, and eventually I will put them all back together--probably when it starts to really get rainy here.

Sage has been feeling extra frisky, and I suppose you can imagine what happens if you take a three-year-old wild horse out on a walk on the first chilly evening after summer (and right before her expected dinner time). We made it up the road without too much fuss and I was having a good time controlling her with lots of stopping, backing up, and turning. But Sage can be quite the spitfire, so I was expecting a rearing/bucking explosion. Which didn't happen...until I got her back into our pasture and was walking her back up to the barn. She squealed, she bucked, she reared, she trotted in circles. But I didn't let go, and she didn't win. Or at least I don't think she thinks she did...It's hard to tell with her. We did some arena ground-work after that and of course she was well behaved. But I knew she was still feeling frisky because I could lunge her (with some effort) without a plastic bag on the end of the line. This may be a continuing saga that involves getting a professional trainer to put some time on her...

Then I took Chinook up to the house for his first walk all by himself, and he was a star. Since he was weaned, he has been pushy: walking through you, pushing you away when you try to feed, and just generally thinking you're a pathway to something. Now that he is on his own, I have been able to teach him some manners, and he is much better. He has always lead very well on the halter, but now he's even easier to handle. I also teach all my horses to back up before I hand them their grain pans, which was something that with my hard-headed colt took a lot of yelling and slapping my hands on his face to keep him from running me over. This morning, I walked up to him with his grain and he backed up before I even asked. What a star!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A weanling?!

Why yes, he is. It is done. It has been 36 hours since his last sip of milk, and about three hours since his last bit of whining.

Chinook's just about 4 months old (which in my mind is a little young to wean), but circumstances being as they are, it had to be done. I was about to let him go on for another few months, but we had an incident in the barn aiselway where he nearly ran me over because he couldn't see his mom for just a brief moment. This is in contrast to when he chooses to leave her miles away and doesn't care because it is his idea.

At that point, I made the decision. He's too big to be acting like that, and if that's what it's going to be like in 2 months when he's bigger, I don't want to have anything to do with it. Plus, Sage has been getting thinner and thinner. And the weather now is ideal for weaning because everyone can be outside and I'm not stuck with what the rain dictates.

So on Friday afternoon, instead of going out in the big pasture, Brandy and Chinook went into the pasture just to the north of the arena, and Sage and Gabby stayed in the paddock just to the west of the arena. They can, of course, still see each other, but they are separated by a super reinforced electric fence that does not allow nursing.

Sage, to say the least, looked very relieved. Brandy and Chinook are good friends, and she takes very good care of him...except when he tries to be a brat, as below:

Needless to say, he was not too thrilled with the new situation, but that did not stop him from eating hay and generally nourishing himself, which is good. Over night Sage developed a very full udder, which is terrible to witness because you just have to let it do it's own thing (milking it out would encourage her to produce more). She ate throughout the day, but it was obviously uncomfortable.

In an effort to get her moving around a little bit to reduce some of that swelling, I put Sage and Gabby in the far north pasture over night and Brandy and Chinook in the far south pasture. They can just barely see each other if they both stand at the gates. I'd hoped getting Sage out grazing would get her to walk around more, and she did toodle around for a little while. Until sometime in the middle of the night when Chinook got upset and she took to galloping around, too. Which ultimately helped her out a lot, as when I brought them all in for breakfast this morning, her udder was no longer full and tight.

Now they are back to where they can see each other for the day, and Chinook is still a little concerned about his mom. Sage has adapted very well and I think is quite pleased not to be nursing him anymore. It will only be a short time before Chinook figures out his new life as a big boy and settles right down.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The mustangs go to Silver Falls!

In an effort to have our last outing not be the defining trip of the summer, we took the mustangs to Silver Falls State Park today. Sage and Chinook loaded right up as is typical of when they are at home, and we headed down the road. Patrick came along and took all the pictures below, and we picked up our friend Elizabeth on the way. Silver Falls is a short trailer ride away, and the main horse trail head is quite spacious. It's also usually not super busy if you get there early enough. Which we did...sort of. Sometimes it's just hard to get going on a Saturday morning!

When we got there, there were just a few trailers and other horses around, but Sage and Chinook were quite enamored.

I honestly thought before we left that I would be thrilled if we just got to the trail head and walked around a bit. But both of the mustangs were being really good, so we headed out up the trail into the trees. Chinook was in the lead because it kept him from dragging Elizabeth all over the place to keep up with Sage.

I don't think that Sage had ever seen so many trees or been in such an enclosed space in her life, but she barely batted an eyelash at anything. Even walking across the bridge over the creek! Chinook went first, and he took a big first step onto the wooden planks. Then Sage followed and did exactly the same thing with the same foot. It was pretty cute.

We didn't go very far, but this was the kind of scenery we were in. Very different for a mustang used to sagebrush! Chinook was a great little leader. In fact, it seemed like he kind of got bored of the trail after a little while, because he started playing with the lead rope and trying to bite Elizabeth playfully.

Patrick took some great pictures of us headed back over the bridge.

And then playing in the creek...which Sage loved.

Turns out she loves water!

And then Elizabeth nearly got pulled over because Chinook wanted to play in the creek, too.

Here we are all just about to get really tangled up.
And of course, this is a good demonstration of the types of trails we were on: Up at Silver Falls, it's typically muddy all year, even in the middle of August.

When we got back to the trail head, Sage was acting like she was going to be a good girl and not repeat her last trailering issues.

And Chinook was being pretty calm, too. But of course, there were quite a few more people about as the morning disappeared. And there were some people behind us trotting and cantering their horses with no care for what any of the other people at the trail head were doing.

So our first attempt to get in the trailer involved an extreme temper tantrum that Patrick caught on camera!

She managed to drag me about 30 feet, but there was no way I was going to let her go.

I did finally get her turned around, and after allowing her to calm down and moving the trailer so the distractions were minimized, she did walk calmly into the trailer. Taking no chances, we closed the door behind her and loaded Chinook second. He was a rock star.

In the process, of course some people at the trail head decided to chat with us. They were well intentioned, although I dislike the general consensus that mustangs are crazy. I told someone that this was the worst Sage had ever behaved in the time I've had her, and she seemed though I was crazy to ever get a mustang. Oh well. I mean, horse people are just going to want to judge and have their biases. It was still a fun day, and the horses were quite good. We went from 3 hours to get into the trailer on the way back to 30 minutes and a lot less stress. They also got to see tons of trees, new horses, tents, campfires, dogs, creeks, bridges, cars, and people. So it was quite a success overall. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

You can lead a horse to water...

It's almost embarrassing to write down this tale, but I know I have to because it's an important one in the saga of training horses. Where do I begin? Well, I've kept the trailer hooked up for the last few weeks and I've been practicing loading Sage and Chinook. She hops in quite nicely when she gets some soaked alfalfa cubes as a treat, and she doesn't mind me closing the divider or anything. Actually, she's been quite excellent. Even Chinook is very good at loading up, hopping right in like a pro.

Wednesday night when I got home, I took them for a drive around the neighborhood and they were both great. So Thursday I took them over to my friend's house. She has four horses about 8 miles from our house out near Silver Falls, so I thought it would be a good experience for the mustangs to go somewhere where they would see new things but just be able to chill out for a little bit and just graze with no pressure. Which, in fact, they did very well.

But by around 8 pm when I decided to head back home, Sage made a point of saying she didn't want to go back into the trailer. I didn't give her the usual treat because I thought she'd be glad to hop in and head back home. Chinook definitely was! But Sage refused. For two and a half hours. She hung back on the lead rope, jumped about, got halfway in and then scooted out, bumped her head, got all worked up, and wouldn't respond to food or anything really. And of course it got dark, which made things even worse. We tried loading Chinook to convince her to come in, and he was such a little star; he jumped right into the trailer and snacked on hay and treats for a good 30 minutes waiting for his mom. But somehow, she just decided she wasn't scared or bothered but rather just didn't want to. And when a mustang doesn't want to, she doesn't want to.

Now, it was getting to be about 10:30 and I was extremely embarrassed, frustrated, and angry. I leave the house in Silverton by 6:30 am to make it to school, and 10:30 is way past my bedtime. Not only that, but I am on call this weekend (which means I have to stay in Corvallis), and I had to pack my stuff and get everything ready to start a brand new rotation on Monday.

It was clear that despite several thousand attempts to convince her to get in, Sage was going to keep refusing. So we decided to leave the horses in a stall overnight and have me come get them in the morning, when Sage would be hungry for breakfast and hopefully walk right in. I was nervous about what they would do alone in a strange stall all night--I mean, heck, Sage has never spent more than an hour in a stall ever. But I had no choice. It was dark, we were all tired, there was nothing left to do.

I borrowed my friend's car to go home, confided in Patrick that I was quite frustrated with the situation, and then set my alarm for 4:30 am. In order to get everything done and go to school, I would need at least that much time. But my eyes flickered open in the morning and I noticed that it was light out...and I knew that it was definitely WAY past 4:30. Actually, it was 5:50, which is much later than I ever get up even on a normal day. I must have messed up in setting my alarm because I was so tired.

In a panic, I rushed down the gravel road to my friend's house--thankfully, there's never any traffic. Still, it takes a good 15-20 minutes to get there. I hoped and prayed that Sage would still be in the stall, that Chinook didn't get hung up on something and kill himself, and that most of all, she would want to get in the trailer. Because I wasn't sure that I'd even have time to get to school on time if everything worked out.

In writing this now, I realize that Sage kind of did save the day because she loaded right up like a champ and they rode very well all the way home. She was chewing on some hay when I got unloaded her and looking very relaxed. Chinook was a very good boy, too. In the end, I was able to leave the house with all my stuff and everything by 6:45. I rolled into the clinic office at 7:59 and was on time for everything. Still, it was not a fun experience!

I know that Sage is young and was very good overall, but it's still very scary to think that I could take her somewhere and this could happen again. I suppose it's just going to take more practice, but next time I think we'll start earlier in the day!

Monday, August 1, 2011

One less

On Friday morning we lost little miss Luna to a terrible strangulating colic. She was in so much pain, it was all I could do to get her to the vet school right away. It quickly became clear that her pain was unmanageable, and I elected to put her down shortly after arriving at the hospital. On necropsy, we discovered over 20 feet of compromised intestine due to tumors in her abdomen. They also looked at her legs, and we were able to see just how terrible her degenerative suspensory disease actually was. It sure has been a long time since I took the picture below, riding up the road several summers ago, but it feels like just yesterday. If only it were...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Just to prove that we've actually been doing something!

Patrick took some pictures of Sage and I today, and then we took Sage and Chinook on a walk up the road. It has been cold and rainy here and is finally sunny, so everyone is happy to be outside! Chinook was rather well behaved and walked along like a champ. Although Patrick had to do a little schooling with him, he was still a very good boy. Sage and I have just been walking, but we've been riding outside a lot more--exploring the field, yard, and driveway. She has much more motivation outside, but still humors me in the arena as we try to steer around barrels and walk over poles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Even more riding!

Sage has gotten ridden every day since I've been back. Okay, so that's a grand total of two days, but really, it's the most I've ridden in a long while. It's nice to have a sound horse again, even if she is green and comes with a little baggage (aka Chinook). Here are some highlights of what we've done:

-circled around barrels
-side-passed over poles
-opened, ridden-through, and closed gates behind us
-tried to trot under saddle (didn't work--actually, she just kept getting slower--despite working several times on trotting both in hand and on the lunge line to the voice command)
-ridden in the driveway
-ridden in the paddock
-ridden in the big pasture alone while Chinook was freaking out and playing

For all of this she has been exceptionally good, and very responsive to leg pressure and rein cues. For example, I typically keep a loose rein, but even with a loose rein you have some security in that your reins are "picked up." Last night, we were out in the pasture, and she was thirsty. She motioned to the water trough so I let her drink. But to do this, I pretty much had to drop my reins altogether. So here I am, and it's a cool evening, the neighbors are out, there's lots of stuff to spook at, and I'm sitting on a 3 year old green broke mustang with basically no control of her head. Believe me, thoughts crossed my mind about what she could do to dump me at that moment. But at the same time, I trust her sensibility. She has never given me any reason to believe that she is going to spook and bolt, buck, or anything like that. And I think that a part of giving a young horse confidence is the rider agreeing to trust the horse a little bit. Kind of like people, isn't it? Sometimes you have to trust them to do the right thing, and your confidence in them pays back in many ways.

And...Chinook is doing a bit of training himself. Every night now he stands tied to the grooming post and gets brushed and his feet picked out. Although he still argues a bit about his front feet sometimes, he is being very good overall. He just knows what he needs to do and he loves to be brushed. I even rasped a few edges off of his toes, although with all the rocks and gravel around here, he does a great job of trimming himself.

I have also started "creep" feeding him; that is, feeding him a little bit of concentrate in his own area where Sage can't get to it. Not that he needs more calories! He's definitely big. It's just a way to give him a sense of routine and get him thinking like a big horse. He gets a handful of soaked Safe Choice and that's it, just after his grooming. What a little man he is turning out to be!

Friday, July 1, 2011


I've been busy working at the lameness clinic for the past few weeks, but in the evenings I have been trying to ride and/or lunge Sage. She is doing great! Last night, I saddled her up and took her out into the pasture to ride instead of the arena. She was rock solid, felt so much like a broke horse underneath me. It's amazing. So far we've just been walking, though I'm teaching her verbal commands for the other paces on the lunge line. (I tried getting her to trot once with me in the saddle, but this was unsuccessful--remember how hard it was to get her just to walk forward??)

And, as promised, here are some more pictures of Chinook from the other evening. He was such a wild boy, tearing around the pasture like a race horse!

Bugging his mom, of course...
And there he is, chasing Gabby off like he's a full grown stallion. What a brat!

I can say that he's been very good to work with, though. He walks really well on the lead, and we've been working hard on picking up feet. Now, I can take him over to the grooming area, "tie" him up, and brush him and pick out his feet. Soon his little hooves will need rasped, although he's doing a very good job of wearing them down on his own on all the gravel around here.

That's it for now--Patrick and I are headed out on vacation for a week. More pictures of the horses when we get back :)