Monday, May 30, 2011


What better way to avoid studying for final exams (my last set EVER before clinical rotations start) than to write about what's been going on with the ponies this week? I mean, how can you resist this face?

It's hard to see there, but his face is covered with little bits of alfalfa pellets, because he was spending quite a bit of time trying to steal them from Sage and she was biting his head to get him to stop. It's also hard to see there, but the right side of his nose was still just a bit swollen from an incident that occurred last Wednesday. I turned the horses out late because it had been pouring all day, and because I was at school, and Sage got a bee up her butt about something. Instead of just walking out and eating grass like she normally does, she decided to go galloping madly around the pasture. Which Chinook was just fine with...except that he accidentally ran into Luna's back leg. And I really do mean ran into--she would never kick him! They just both happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he was trying to follow his mom running like crazy.

Well, he stumbled down and got right back up (nothing unusual), but a few hours later when I brought them back into the dry lot, he had some blood coming out of his nose and he was quite reluctant to let me touch the area where his little nasal bone and maxilla come together (in a "v" shape).

So what do you do, when faced with this situation?? I will tell you that even after three years of vet school, I still often vacillate about when to call the vet with my own animals. If it was someone else's colt, I would have come to the sane conclusion a lot quicker than I did that a) it was only a little bit of blood, and b) he was still happily nursing/breathing, and c) even if something was broken, there was nothing anyone could do about it anyway. Not to mention d) bones in youngsters heal incredibly rapidly, and in a week, the whole incident would be forgotten.

Well, it was swollen for a few days, and he was a little cranky about it, but otherwise he's just fine. I don't think he's going to be any more careful, though, because just a few hours ago he was racing up and downhill like a Thoroughbred in his pasture, making sweeping circles around Sage. But who can blame him? He's built for speed and agility. Look at those tiny, perfect mustang feet!

He does tire out every so often. See the little speck in the picture below?

Just not for long, mind you!

Sage has been doing very well. She gets brushed every night, and today the farrier came out to fix Brandy's shoes (she's been on a shoe-losing streak), so Sage got a trim as well. I still have him trim her because I feel like the experience is so good for her to have someone else messing around with her. Chinook wasn't too convinced about the whole situation at first, but he lightened up once he realized there was some butt scratching involved. My farrier said he has a nice butt and shoulder. :)

Sage was also a perfect citizen. Once again, he was shocked by how friendly she has become, and by how docile she is with her feet. She just stands like a rock star for her pedicure. My farrier had her back foot up on the post and then dragged some tools forward from his bucket, accidentally scraping them up against the sheet metal on the wall and making a loud racket. Sage just stood there, her foot still on the stand, and he was so impressed he said, "Man, I know so many horses who would have just lost their cookies at that."

Well, we already knew mustangs were perfect, so it was no surprise to Sage and me!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some halter pictures!

Just a couple of pictures of Chinook looking handsome...

He's man enough that he likes to match with his mom and has no issues wearing a purple halter. (By the way, Sage is tied to the horse trailer, and behind her a loud, rattling truck was bumping out of the neighbor's driveway. She didn't bat an eyelash, just stood tied like she's been standing tied her entire life!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

A young stallion he is!

Chinook is growing like a weed...and don't let that innocent face fool you: he totally thinks he is a big, tough mustang stallion! Well, he is a bit more civilized. He leads very well. In fact, we took a walk tonight the 3 of us, up to the garden and back. The cutest thing in the world is to see him following behind, the lead rope swinging, his little feet tapping lightly on the gravel. Makes you wish they'd never grow up. He's also getting very good at picking up his feet, especially the back ones. I might be just a bit biased, but I think he's a pretty smart cookie. :)

He met some of the 4H kids yesterday, and he was a bit wary at first. But pretty soon he was hamming it up and getting scratched from every direction, which is pretty much his favorite thing in the world.

Then he decided that he was going to be a show-off, and he pinned his ears and started "snaking" Gabby--that is, the way you see mustang studs herding mares with their head and neck stretched out flat. Now, you would think a two week old colt couldn't herd an adult mare, but then you'd be under-estimating Mr. Chinook. Gabby listened to him and ran away as he pursued, and this just encouraged his behavior. Now, every time he's near her, he tries to chase her because he thinks it's good fun. Needless to say, this little trick doesn't work on Brandy or Luna...thankfully! He doesn't need to think he can walk up to just anyone and push them around. He already thinks the world basically revolves around him (which, I suppose, it does).

Monday, May 16, 2011


We've had almost 3 full days of sunshine, which is some sort of miracle by western Oregon standards! I took these photos a few days ago, but it's been busy so I finally got around to sharing them here.

What a little dork he is. I think he was shaking away some gnats.

He's curious about everything and loves to play, especially if it involves scratching his belly.
He also LOVES to run, and he's so much more independent now that he can make big laps around the pasture without a worry about his mom (I think she's quite glad for this, because he's kind of a brat sometimes!).

Sage and Chinook go out with the other horses during the day and come in to their own grass pasture at night, where Sage gets extra feed. He's brave about approaching the others, and they are quick to keep him in line. He's definitely learning how to be a real horse!

Did I mention he likes to run?

And that he's also really, really cute??

He's been leading really well. I can halter mom and halter him to take them out to the pasture and other places, and he follows very nicely. Sometimes he pulls back on the rope (as you would expect), but within a few seconds of pressure, he steps forward quite nicely. He's definitely got it figured out; it's just a matter of when he wants to listen and when he doesn't. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Mustang, week one

Week one has brought lots of visitors and lots of new experiences. Sage and Chinook now have their very own grass pasture (not enough to feed them, but enough to keep them busy), and they have spent several hours romping around it.

Chinook is getting very good at using his mouth to sample everything from trees to the fence.

Sage has been a bit more lively. I'm sure the weight of a foal was a lot to carry! I see her trotting and cantering a little bit more now.

Chinook is already getting big! As you can see, his little legs have straightened out and he's gaining muscle. Which is not surprising, considering he runs all the time!

He likes to give his mom kisses, but he also likes to bite and kick at her when he wants to try to steal her food. She has a hook over feeder that if I don't place high enough is always getting raided by the little gremlin. In order to give Sage a bit of a break, I try to work with Chinook at feeding time. And by "work with," I mean basically play with for ten minutes and "train" for one minute.

He always gets his halter on at each feeding time, and he's gotten especially good about it. His little green halter is almost too small now, though his purple rope halter is still a little big. He's learned to yield to pressure side to side and now will somewhat reliably walk forward when asked. I pick up all four feet each day, and of course it's rough, but as long as he is happy and being nice, I'm not going to care that it's not perfect. He's too young for that!

Other than learning how to lead, he's been out in the pasture with the other horses for several days. They seem to have figured everything out, and it's a good humbling experience for him to have to deal with the other horses. He's very respectful and does the foal's submissive biting/chewing gesture.

He's also been in the trailer! I had to pick up another ton of hay because of the rainy weather, and since I had the trailer hooked up, I worked a little with Brandy on loading and relaxing. She was very good; I just have to be more persistent about it and work with it more often. I figured that I would see if Sage remembered her lesson from December, and of course she did. She stepped right in to eat some pellets and Chinook followed her. Overall, although he can be kind of a brat sometimes, he's been a very good boy.

These two are going to be darned good trail horses in a few years!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mustang in training

Once again, it's been a busy few days for Sage and Chinook!

He has been such an independent, big boy! He wears his halter twice a day during feeding time. Although he first pitched a little fit about this, he quickly learned to stand still for me to put it on and take it off. He's also learning a bit about backing up (mostly because he's trying to learn how to bite, and I'm trying to avoid him getting in my space a little too much). It seems that he just that he wants to play, but I can't let him get obnoxious, so I discipline him in the same way Sage would--a little shove, a little "nip."

He's an active little guy and nurses a lot. When he's not nursing, he's running circles around Sage and trying to cause trouble. He LOVES to be scratched all over, especially on his hips, which he can't really reach without falling over.

In order to keep him occupied, I've been teaching him to let me pick up his feet. He's doing really well with that, although his attention span is about that of a gnat, so I don't do anything for more than a few minutes.

Look at that soft little muzzle! He tries to eat grass just like mom, and I taught him to lick the spoon that I use to mix the soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets that I feed. This has led him to try to eat some of Sage's breakfast and dinner mash, but he can't quite figure out what the big deal is just yet.

Did I mention that he likes to run??? They spent a few hours out in the driveway last night, and he would find a spot to hide (like behind the tree or the horse trailer). Then when Sage would call for him, he would come running to her, nicker, and take off again. Speaking of nickering...he's also learning to talk! So far he has nickered at me a few times. He gets a little bored when Sage is eating her pellets, and if I don't spend some time playing with him, he stands at the fence looking very pathetic and lets out a little squeal.

He's also insatiably curious and loves rocks! We have a pretty big rock pile in the driveway from when the barn was built. He spent a long time exploring this, which is great for his mind and for his beautiful little mustang feet. The pictures below are of him scaling the rocks like a mountain goat. He just couldn't get enough of them.

Just goes to show that you can take the mustang out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the mustang!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day one all over again!

Where do I begin?? It's so hard, because the last two days have been such a whirlwind. How can I describe all the things that have happened since Thursday? Chinook is starting out and figuring out life, and meanwhile we've had lots of visitors, and I also have a huge exam on Monday in Large Animal Medicine that is doing its best to loom over me.

Friday I was at home, and took Sage and Chinook out to pasture in the morning.

He is an extremely outgoing little guy, much to Sage's chagrin. She doesn't mind if he comes up to me, as long as he is within about 20 feet of her, but she definitely protects him from the other horses quite well.

Since I anticipate that he's going to be a little firecracker, we're starting out early. Halter on!

Sage didn't worry about the kid having a halter on at all.

Here he comes!

Out in the pasture, Chinook is all about running.

Well, he's all about running anywhere, not just in the pasture. It's hard to get him to chill out, but when he does, he is zonked for good. I wanted to bring them in from the pasture yesterday, but found him napping. I really had to poke a prod to wake him up (it was just about to start pouring!). I think Sage was glad for the relief.

She has been a trooper, but she's also really tired. Chinook is an exhausting kid! He nurses constantly, and the rest of the time he's running around. After I brought him in from the pasture for the first time, he finally let Sage rest for a bit.

Later, when the weather was better, they all went out together. I introduced the other horses one at a time. They have all been extremely nervous/excited about him, and Sage fended them off well. Brandy especially is completely wound up. Luna really wants to see him, because she's had several foals of her own, and Gabby is just not sure what to do. Spending some time all out together settled them a bit, but they still get nervous. Inside the barn, if Luna can't see Sage and Chinook, she pitches a fit.

There was ample time for more running! The weather has been decently cooperative, but not excellent, so they've only been out for a few hours at a time. The rest of the time, Sage and Chinook spend trotting around the arena.

Chinook has also met several people already: both of my parents, Patrick, and two friends of mine. All of this visiting was starting to make Sage nervous. That is especially because one of my veterinary friends and I, we tried to wrangle Chinook to take blood for his IgG test. Did that work? Haha, yeah right!! He is stout and built like a mustang. He jumped and fussed, and we gave up when Sage warned us to. But really, I'm not worried about the little guy's immune system. We did examine the placenta, which looked great, and Chinook offered to demonstrate that he can run circles around his mom with very little effort. So overall, he seems to be doing just fine!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Meet "Chinook"!

Here he is!!! Yes, that's right--a colt, just like we've been expecting! I did get excused from class, so I drove home (let me tell you, that was a very long drive), and there was Sage with her little boy, nursing.

Of course, I took about a million pictures. Picking just a few to post here was so difficult! That's because he is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

He's quite healthy, has nursed several times, and runs around like a little devil. The other girls are quite interested in him from the other side of the fence, but Sage does her best to keep them away.

Look at how he already doesn't listen to his mom!

After I petted him for the first time, he proceeded to tell me that I smell.

Sage is the perfect mother. She nickers to him to show him how to nurse (though he's got that down pat). She keeps the other horses away from him, but she lets me pet him like a star. I checked out the placenta, dipped his umbilical stump, and watched the little guy poop (a big deal for baby horses!), and Sage was content to eat some grain mash while I worked.

She came through just fine. Her hind end looks fabulous--there was no trauma at all! She's enjoying her feed, though. Foaling is hungry work!

She thinks he's pretty cute. :)

After three hours of being up and about, he finally settled down for his first nap. Sage started piling hay on him so that she could eat and keep an eye on him at the same time.

Provided the weather is good tomorrow (it's not supposed to be), these two will go out on the grass. After a little while, I'll introduce the other horses. Gabby and Luna are interested, but Brandy is having a fit. She really wants to see the baby, so we'll be careful with her. I know Sage can hold her own, but I'll give them some time to rest first. Sage has got her hands full with this little one! He's running her in circles already!

As to the name Chinook, I have had this name in my head for a few months now. Chinook has several meanings, but the most well-known usage of the word is to describe the chinook winds. Chinooks bring warm air to rain-shadow of the Rockies (and also the Cascades) that can raise the temperature as much as 100 degrees in one day, melting snow rapidly. In Oregon, a chinook is also a warmish, really wet wind that comes from the south. In either sense, it is a reference to something that comes along somewhat unexpectedly and changes things...which is exactly what this little mustang has done!



Now, before you get too, I don't know whether it's a boy or a girl, and no, I wasn't there for the birth. However, Sage is a pretty smart girl. As you know, I've been watching her for every little change (probably over-interpreting every little change). For the last few days, she's been out in the dry lot with the other horses because the weather has been so nice. This arrangement doesn't allow her to get to her straw, because then all the horses would get in there and mess things up.

Last night, she didn't seem to have any more signs than usual, so I left her out. This morning, I turned them out to the pasture for four hours (about 6:30 am), and Sage was sassy as ever. They came in at 10:30, and she scarfed down her alfalfa pellets as usual. My plan was to let her back out with the other girls, because despite the clouds coming in, the ground was still dry.

But she came back to the barn door as I was cleaning up, and she stood there, and I swear she was telling me that she that she NEEDED to stay inside. Knowing she likes to nap on the ground between like 11:00 and 1, I let her come back in to sleep on the straw. I added some more straw to her aisle way section, gave her some hay, and left Luna in the other section of the barn to keep her company. She peed a few times, rolled (nothing super out of the ordinary, but still I was suspicious), and then went back to eating. I figured I would come home tonight (I have to go to school from about 11:30 to 5 pm) and find her standing, bored, in the arena as usual. Although I thought she was acting a little off, I thought that I was getting faked out again as usual. When I left, she was eating hay.

Then, I'm at school--which is over an hour drive from home--and I get phone calls from my parents saying that there is a baby horse RUNNING around the arena! And that it's brown! And that it's SUPER CUTE! Of course, today is the ONLY day at school where we have a required class (which I'm about to try to get out of), but alas, I am still at school...just waiting to get home! In the meantime, my mom took two pictures on her phone:

So, more updates as SOON as I can!