Monday, February 28, 2011

Little miss Sage updates :)

Though yesterday and today have been pretty much the torrential downpour of the century, the last week or so has been really nice. We even got some snow and nice cold cold (16 degree) weather, which I love. Sage and Brandy are also snow lovers (Brandy being from snowy Alberta). It's always lovely to be around just at dawn to find them frolicking in the fresh snow!

The girls all also enjoyed the afternoon running around the arena the other day, and I snapped some more black and white pictures. Sage, though quite pregnant, reminded everyone that she's still a mustang and took a couple of bucks herself.

Sage's belly is still constantly changing. Some days (like for the past few), she hasn't hardly looked pregnant at all. Then tonight, it's as though she's about to pop. The above pictures were taken on one of those days when she barely looked pregnant. Of course I check her udder every day, and so far no changes. But I still make a point of messing with her belly and udder with my hands so she's well used to handling. It's just a gut feeling, but I'm still thinking end of March/early April. We'll see if I'm right!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More vaccines

I can't be sure, but I'm guessing Sage is roughly 1-2 months from giving birth. Her belly changes a little bit every day. Sometimes, it sticks out a little more to the left, and sometimes it points downward. Sometimes, she hardly looks pregnant at all. I have tried unsuccessfully to feel the foal moving for the last few days.

Although it's hard to notice when you see the horse every day, I do believe her tail head is becoming a bit more prominent. This was the point at which I told myself I'd give her the rest of her vaccines. Conveniently, the Prestige V vaccine was on sale at the feed store, so she got her shot tonight. I'd rather be a little too early than too late, as the idea of giving these just before foaling is to provide lots of antibodies to the foal via the colostrum (and these take some time to develop). We also bought 5 big bales of straw, to have on hand for preparing the foaling area in the barn.

Since this is a busy upcoming few weeks for us as students, you probably won't be hearing much more from me for a bit. But soon, there will be lots of updates with a cute, fuzzy, frolicking baby 'stang! I can't wait!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More people!

Sage has become fantastic with meeting new people! She is a real people horse.

Chelsea, a classmate of mine, came up to the farm today to spend some time with the horses. It was an unusually beautiful afternoon, and I had had the horses out on the grass, so Sage was really dirty from rolling around and galloping several laps with Brandy. Chelsea was able to halter her easily, lead her around, and pick her front feet...and we worked on both sides of her brushing off gobs of mustang hair, sweat, and mud. She thoroughly enjoyed all of the attention, not worrying a bit about a new person around her and handling her all over.

What a good pony!

Monday, February 14, 2011


I thought I would first share some images I took on Saturday of the girls being cute and wonderful (as always).

Sage has been losing her winter coat like mad, and she appreciates a good grooming. Today I got home somewhat early. After toodling around a bit on Brandy (who has had several lameness issues and is slowly being brought into walking-only riding), I brushed her and we played a bit in the arena.

She has been quite spunky since learning to trot with me, and now she is especially a joy to work with. We did walk-trot-stop transitions, backing, circling, and neck reining for about 15 minutes. Then I worked on old things like walking up on the arena wall to stand above her, and balancing my legs on her bareback. All of this will help us when she gets back into real training again!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The horse you lead... the horse you ride.

In that vein, I had some fun doing ground work with Sage in the arena tonight. We of course worked on all the basics (backing, head down, yielding the hindquarters, etc). I bet you're tired of hearing that by now! But really, it's all about repeating things over and over until they become second nature. After that, Sage learned how to trot in hand. That may not seem like a big deal, but she is so incredibly lazy and unphased by pretty much everything that it's really hard to get her moving, especially on the lead rope.

But I coordinated myself enough to jog and use the lunge whip (which has been outfitted with a plastic bag on the end just for Sage), flicking it behind her to get her to trot. She was brilliant. Overall she has been getting more responsive lately, and I honestly don't believe this tactic would have worked a few months ago. It sounds weird to say, because you would think that something like this would be fairly easy, but when your horse won't move, it's kind of hard to get anything done at all.

Once we worked with the whip three or four times, I was able to drop it and get to her to trot with me every time I asked. It was pretty exciting. She was so light and responsive! That was where we quit, and then she had fun playing with Gabby and Luna in the arena, knocking down the plastic barrels, brushes, buckets, etc and trying to dig her way into the pile of sawdust. She's just such a happy little mare.

Her winter coat is shedding wildly, and every time I curry her, it looks like someone blew up a Shetland pony on the grooming mat. I love the fact that spring is coming!! Speaking of mustang is definitely moving around. It sits more in the middle, up under her ribcage, than on the left where I used find it. Pretty much every time I feel for it, I can feel it moving. What an active little bugger! Poor mare. She pees almost every time I see her; I probably would, too, if I had a baby horse sitting on my bladder!

We are getting prepared for foaling. Although this has nothing to do with the actual foaling process, I stumbled upon this really fun "Foal Color Calculator" found here:

Knowing the colors of some of the other horses in the herd, I've been able to determine that the foal could be bay, black, gray, roan, or sorrel (unless there's a pinto out there, which I don't think there is). Of course, the most likely color overall is bay. I can't even imagine having 3 little bay beauties--this is going to be quite exciting!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A blustery day

Today was a blustery, gray day for a walk, but after spending the whole week stuck inside (well, other than to do chores) because of two big exams, I really wanted to get out and walk Sage this weekend. I may have mentioned that I've kind of decided to suspend riding anymore until after this baby business is through, but that doesn't mean she can't take walks, which are really good for the both of us.

Patrick joined us and took some pictures, which was great! He was freezing, though, because Sage is SLOW and for the first part of the walk (which is mostly uphill) she dragged at the end of the lead rope as usual. We planned to walk up through the big grass seed field up to our cousin's mom's house--a few miles round trip. Last summer, her hundred year old house burned down, and now we are enjoying the progress of the new house being built.

Though Sage is normally quite sedate, she does have a tendency to throw small temper tantrums every so often involving some head tossing or spooking. After all, she is still pretty green. And despite what I may say about what she did today, she was really very good, and I think the walk was an excellent experience for both of us.

First of all, it was pretty windy. The result of the wind rushing through the trees was that it constantly sounded like there was a large vehicle coming up behind us. And once we got up to the vineyard, there were guys working on pruning the grapes and there was a jacket hanging off one of the posts that really got her snorting. We went up to investigate, and she was fine if just a bit jumpy. But Patrick had walked across the street to take a picture, and for some reason when he turned around to come back toward us, Sage got surprised and tried to bolt back home. I almost lost her, but the footing wasn't great and she didn't get me off balance, so when she hit the end of the rope I was able to bring her around.

Though she was subsequently a bit riled up, she was content in a few moments to sniff the mailboxes as she normally does. She loves mailboxes, for some reason. And off we went further up the road, slow once more. I'm always careful because there's just a lot of open space up there, and for a young horse that I just pull out of the pasture after not really doing anything with, I could see how it is tempting for her. But she has to learn, and I'd rather her learn while I'm NOT in the saddle!

Patrick would even try to sneak up behind her and get her a bit riled up, but she was pretty good. She got nervous walking through treed areas, but it was really quite loud. And she's not "used" to trees in the sense that there are NO trees where she comes from and she's just accustomed to the ones in her "safe" pasture.

When we got to the top of the hill, it was pretty windy, and Sage was less than motivated to walk (although she was quite happy to eat grass once we reached the house and were taking the time to look at it). Still, she was a trooper. Construction equipment, plywood, blowing flags, big deal.

After a few minutes looking at the house, we headed back down the field. Sage is usually just about as motivated to walk back as she is to leave, but the wind seemed to have gotten a bit worse, and she was feeling like getting home. She was good for quite a while, but she just felt antsy, so we got back out onto the gravel road where I felt like the footing was a bit more secure. As the wind whipped through these two big trees shading the road, Sage decided she had had enough. She did her little nippy thing where she tries to grab my arm, and I think because she knew she would get in trouble, she immediately backed away. But then, out of frustration, she reared up in the air and just stood there for a second, her front hooves just above my head. When she came down, she tried to bolt forward, but I was ready and swung her around.

Patrick was hoping to get a picture of this incident, but she didn't try it again; I told her "NO" quite sharply and backed her up about twenty feet. I felt as though a little bit of "punishment" was warranted because I know that it wasn't a sudden moment of fear that caused her behavior, but rather her desire to ditch me and head home by herself.

We worked on backing, head down, and whoa for several hundred more yards, and she calmed down very quickly. There was lots of licking and chewing.

And even though the men at the vineyard scared her again on the way down, we did not experience another outburst and walked calmly the rest of the way. When we got back into her paddock, we worked some more (so as to let her know that she doesn't just get to go home and be off the hook). We did a bit of "lunging" on the lead rope (which she actually did quite well for the first time) and some more backing.

Overall, I was quite pleased. It was a tough day for a baby horse, and she rose to the occasion. We both learned a lot. Like I've said before, it's good for her to challenge me so that she can learn what the right answer is in each situation.

When we were finished, Willy the cat came to hang out for a minute. Aren't they cute?

Also, look how she stands tied now!