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...