October 28, 2013
October 25, 2013
Pigeons. Flying rats. Gray birds good at pooping on everything....including my pony! As the fall has approached I've found them hanging out around the barn more. Steve's grandfather used to race pigeons in Florida, so Steve had a couple ideas to deter these beasts. One way to prevent the pigeons from landing in trees instead of their proper roosting spots is to attach shiny objects to the trees. Steve's grandpa used pie tins.
What a great idea! So we grabbed the latter and decided to hang three pie tins in the rafters above Dani's stall. It seemed to work and the pigeons stayed far away from my mare and she remained poop free! The only issue is that with windy conditions those pans make a racket when hitting the wood rafters. Dani didn't like it at all. I don't blame her. Granted they will make good de-spooking objects but I don't want her to have to deal with that 24/7 in her home.
So we took them down and I'm searching for other options. A fake owl may be a good thing to get. I can move it to different locations and Dani can have a friend....LOL. Or maybe get a live owl....hmmm. I am also going to try sparkly ribbons! Since they won't make that crashing sound hopefully it will be Dani approved.
I'll keep you posted about how Pigeon Deterrent 2.0 works, though I'm pretty tempted to just get a pet owl. How much fun would that be??!!!??
October 24, 2013
I've just not had luck with making my own slow feeder. The DIY slow feeder worked nicely with the lattice but every other week something of the lattice would snap. Could be my mare being to rough with it and trying to get around it to the hay. I was going to try wood but it splintered like crazy cutting the holes. There is probably a better material I could find to use in the trough but I just decided to go with a tried and true feeder. At first I bought a sheet of the Nibblenet to use in the trough but Steve didn't think it was worth the extra effort to figure out how to make the flexible material work in the trough. I'll have to send that back or sell it.
In comes the Nibblenet bag. I bought the XL since it stated it would fit 50 lbs. I really only fits about 15 lbs, I weighed it. Perhaps I'm not stuffing it as compactly as I should but I fluff up each flake to make sure there is no mold. Now my routine is to fill the bag up and then fill up the metal bin, without any slow feeding component on the trough. There is hay left over each day which is good, I'm feeding about half a bale because upon weighing them I've realized that they aren't quite as heavy as previously thought. No wonder she ate up all her hay pretty quickly! I like there to be some hay leftover at the end of the day so I know she always has hay in front of her. In all essence I free-feed hay to her. Dani figured out the Nibblenet quickly. In the evening she has the easy access hay in the trough and then can nibble the rest of the time in the Nibblenet. It seems to be working nicely. I like keeping her occupied when I'm not there. Sigh, what we do for our ponies!
October 21, 2013
While I'm sure the red and orange leaves are very pretty all over the state of Colorado. The golden aspens are also changing and glowing like candles among the dark evergreen forests. I personally enjoy looking at my red mare the most though. She's not groomed here and she's pretty darn fuzzy but man...I love chestnuts! Perhaps it's because the color is so warm like the autumn leaves?
I just love Dani! I love her soft eyes and flowing mane. She's my little red headed girl. Chestnuts just glow in the sun! Granted any horse that is shiny in the light is gorgeous!
What a glorious time fall is! I love the crispness in the air. I love the deep blue skies that seem to be so rich this time of year. I love the way ponies begin to get fuzzy. I love cuddling up to Dani's warmness in the cool autumn evenings. The only thing I dread is the approaching time change and how pretty soon I will be trying to see my mare in the pitch black darkness. I hope my lighting plan will work....stay tuned!!
October 20, 2013
October 18, 2013
I'm surprised that I never posted about the elusive barn kitty! I found out that about 3 cats that supposedly live in the area, GG had brought them and then they ran off somewhere on the property. They are not trusting which is a bummer. I've only seen one cat ever, it's a little white, grey and orange mix....that doesn't have a tail. GG said one day she found a tail sans cat in her shed, Jerico may have stepped on her or something. I've named her Stubs. Apparently she had kittens in the lower barn this summer and the gal down there found them all homes.
There was talk when GG was here that the gal down the "hill", D, was going to get the cats trapped and neutered but there has never been a final decision and now that GG is gone I don't know what is going on. I've talked with D so perhaps I'll mention getting a trap and getting her spayed before we have another litter next time we talk. Vaccinations would be good too. I feed Stubs some kibble and occasionally see her. It's sad that she isn't comfortable with humans, I would love on her like there was no tomorrow. I love kitties!
The other day though, I saw little Stubs running across the field to David's stalls at the very top of the hill; she's almost dead center is this picture above. Then she hung out by his trash can and watched me. I talked softly to her. Eventually she went around and behind Dani's shed row. I know she eats the food I set out once I found a good place for it. It's out of the sight of the Magpies who used to eat it up and poop all over my tack! Stubs likes the 12 inch space between my hay and the outer barn wall. I'm thinking a nice warm bed should be the next addition...
Although, Stubs is slacking off a bit. There is a mouse living somewhere under or near my palleted hay stack. I discovered him over several weeks of seeing something dart from behind my muck bucket away from me and under the pallet. Then one day I lifted the towel off my grooming tote and this little brown body jumped up and scrambled back in among the brushes. He was so cute looking up at me with his beady eyes and little ears. I was tempted to take him home but Steve would kill me! I placed the tote down and he jumped out and ran off. I've noticed that he utilizes my power cord conduit as a little mouse highway. The other day while mucking I noticed him dart from the adjacent stall towards my water trough. Upon closer inspection I saw just where he went. As long as he doesn't chew my heavy duty power cord we'll be fine.
I have about 5 bales left behind Dani's stall. I think I'll use those up before going to the shed to restock for the next couple of months food. When the pallets are empty I can investigate where this mouse may be living...perhaps with the pallets empty Stubs will have a better chance of finding him too. I love mice, don't get me wrong. I had many as pets during college. My feed is stored in sealed containers and I sweep the area of grain bits towards Dani's mouth and she takes care of the rest. It's not a Deer mouse so no big worries about Hantavirus but I still don't want to have a colony develop and tons of mice and mouse poop in the area.
Little Miss Stubs better start being a barn cat and chase after these fuzzy critters! I'll also find out about how to get her spayed and vaccinated. At least they add some entertainment to the barn life!
October 14, 2013
In a previous post I was excited about a water trough filter. I've had this filter for a couple months now and honestly it's not the best it could be. It keeps the water moving, I like that, one can easily add a heater into the filter for winter but I don't think it really filters the water well. I think a fish pond filter would do a better job of getting all the debris out; I still use a fishnet daily.
I do use a tank drop now though and it seems to help with the algae. So combined the two work fine; the water isn't quite as murky. I noticed this first with the filter and more so with the tank drop. I think I'm done for now with futzing with the tank. On my own property I'll figure something else out or just go with the automatic waters that only waste a couple gallons when you clean them. For now this works and Dani drinks well and I don't have to completely drain and clean the tank as often, wasting 100 + gallons of water each time....so I'm happy.
October 13, 2013
October 8th marked the date that I have been owned by my mare for one year!!!
Steve and I met her on a Sunday, she was sweet and gorgeous. I felt comfortable riding her, I got the sense that she wanted to be a good girl and wouldn't take off on me or try anything mean. I felt we could be partners.
Aside from a slight off step on her near side rear leg after the flex she didn't have any major issues physically.
The biggest training issue was the trailer loading. With some training Laurie was able to work with her and bring her home to me. Then a friend at KCRC was able to work with her a couple more times with me on trailer loading. I was able to load her myself when I moved her during the fire. Once I get a trailer I'll have more opportunities to work with her.
Dani lived out the first six months in Whispering winds and made many horsie friends.
I liked it too but it was a bit busy with lots of kids doing fast paced jumping in the arenas, I often felt like we would get run over! I loved the indoor arena during the winter though!
Steve purchased my girl her first blanket and got to learn a lot about horse care.
Dani learned to face her fears about wash racks and indoor arenas, though a tractor running up and down the barn aisle didn't seem to phase her that much.
Two weeks into horse ownership Dani got kicked and had an infection, she was stall bound for a couple weeks. My poor baby!
I got her teeth floated as well, it had probably been many, many years since her last float. She was much more comfortable after her procedure.
I finally got a saddle that fit her and began working on riding her and getting used to her sensitivity. She was easy to steer and once we found our groove it was great.
I tried to ride often but the long distance drive was tough on me. I was on the lookout for closer facilities.
Dani had a good friend in Rock and Jodie, two other horses in her pasture. It was hard to think about moving her away from them.
Steve and Rock were good buddies and we were tempted to see if he would ever be for sale but unfortunately he had a bad deal with colic and was put down. We'll get a horse for Steve soon.
Rock's ordeal made me realize our time with our babies is short and to cherish every minute!
I finally decided to move Dani to a closer location. There was an 80 acre ranch down the road from KCRC so I moved her there. Uschi and I had a heck of a time moving Dani. She even shimmied under the butt bar of the trailer!! My friend from KCRC saved the day and got Dani safe at her new home.
We didn't stay long at the new place because of some advice and information I'd received about the owners. We did find a used Circle Y saddle that fit Dani nicely though.
The following weekend I walked Dani down to KCRC to the self care boarding there. It's worked out though I wish she had more space and a neighbor right next to her. Still I could tell immediately that Dani was much more comfortable here and ate up all her food like she had not been doing in the past 5 days.
I added sand to her run to help prevent her hock sores from the hard packed ground and that seems to have worked nicely. Most of the area is pretty sandy so I purchased stall matts to reduce her ingestion of the sand.
My brother from Virginia came to visit with his son Bryson, so we had Bryson meet Dani. It was a fun family day at the barn!
Then the Black Forest Fire happened and with my job and the fire so close I moved Dani to Laurie's for a couple weeks while I was involved in the response. What a crazy time it was.
Marie came out shortly after and we were pooper scoopers for the 4th of July Parade in Monument.
We tried to recover from the busy summer and take in the nice warm days of July and August, but Colorado received tons of rain. KCRC had part of it's arena wash away. I still got out to ride but not as often as I wanted. I was exhausted from work and from having Steve constantly traveling for his work.
I did lots of ground work with Dani on obstacles and learned how to break things down to get her to understand that an object wasn't going to eat her.
Over the year I feel that Dani and I have developed a mutual affection. She still has very independent moments but I love her and I love riding her and working with her. It's been a good year!
We bought 100 bales of hay in September and are set for the winter. Now I'm saving up cash to purchase a trailer with goals to go on trail rides this coming spring and summer. We shall see what comes along!
My girl is gorgeous, sweet and funny. One time while cleaning out her food trough she nudged the gate into my butt and I almost fell into the bin! I swear she did it on purpose. Sometimes she seems to want to groom me when I groom her, wiggling her lips over my shoulder. She's learning to trust me the more she's exposed to scary things and realizes that I won't have her do something that will harm her.
She is my heart. I'm so glad to have been blessed with such a great horse and hope we will have many more anniversaries in the future. So cheers and happy riding!!
October 06, 2013
October 05, 2013
I've done very little trotting with Dani, honestly it's been really hard to get to the point of feeling like I could trot her. I've done some trots in the round pen, then short spurts in the arena but never much concentration on it. Each time I've tried it's a little freaky. She tosses her head and goes into her trot....which is pretty big (or at least feels that way). I don't know if it's fast, short-strided or what but it's gonna take some getting used to. She's also squirrel-y to steer at the trot, but that's probably my fault. She's sensitive and doesn't require much to steer her, I'm tense with the trot so I probably cue her too much...hence the squirrel-y feel.
Yesterday I was riding in the north arena. This one has a little grand stand to the west for viewers to sit during gymkhanas or other activities. When we first got into the arena I longed her to get her in the right frame of mind...she's really good at realizing it's time to work and to soften rather quickly. An owl flew out of the stands and off to a field. Dani glanced but didn't seem too worried. I was distracted and kept glancing to watch him fly off.
Finally we were done with our warm up and I was ready to mount up. I tightened the cinch one last time (been using the western saddle a lot lately). Dani hasn't been ridden in about 2 weeks I would guess. I tried to Sunday but had a hoof chip issue that scared me to my hubby and I forfeit that idea until the farrier could come and take a look at it. Dani was a bit fussy about mounting, doing her backing and/or moving her hindquarters but a swift pull on the reins and a whoa seemed to suffice.
I started by walking her around the arena perimeter and discovered she was just a tad worried about the grandstand. So we walked past that many times, where she was really worried I turned her in small circles each way, yielded her hindquarters etc. Then in a couple more passes she had no issue with it at all. The issue I'm talking about is just a hard stare and snort...no spooking, but I want to prevent that if I can.
After walking around a bit, doing some flexing I decided to trot. The first attempt she turned quickly due to a panicky aid I must have applied. Further on we tried again, and I tried my best to keep my reins calm. I had my hand on the horn at first (gotta love western saddles) but eventually was riding free with light contact.
We did short spurts of trot at each end of the arena, each time felt a little better but each time the shift into trot started with a head toss. I think I'll be able to work on this on the ground this winter. Since it will get dark soon my ability to work her during the week will be limited but my plan is to get one of those light stands people use when painting their house. It will give us enough light for ground work, not sure I'll feel safe enough for riding so I'll be limited to weekends for under-saddle stuff. Anyways I felt accomplished.
I've been scared to death of speed and have needed time to build a solid relationship and foundation with Dani. It's been almost a year of being owned by her, so it seems silly to some that I haven't done much trotting but honestly I haven't been ready yet. I've been so scared since those falls I had before buying her, the fear is deep and I've slowly been working on it. It'd rather take the time and work on fundamentals, concentrating on my seat and hands, getting her softer etc. We have a ways to go but I feel that the trot will continue to improve on both our parts. What a good little mare she was, she could easily have gotten upset at my tension but she just trekked on and was still her sweet self after the ride. I love her.
October 04, 2013
It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, Steve and I headed to the barn ready to ride. I was gonna get Steve on Dani and do a little instruction and see how the two did together. I'm contemplating a second horse come next spring and want him ready! We started Dani in the round pen and I showed Steve how to direct her and explained the exaggerated body language I use to communicate.
When Dani stopped and rested I noticed the tiny chip on her hoof had expanded. She wasn't lame but I wasn't going to risk it, no more work today... I put a call into the farrier and sent a picture of Dani's hoof.
She's been chipping in this same area for the last couple of trims. I probably need to up how often I apply hoof oil (recommended by my farrier). We've had a lot of wet and then dry weather and that's not fun for hooves. It seems like Dani's hooves always flare a bit 4-5 weeks after a trim, mainly on the front hooves though. I've started her on a new supplement in addition to her regular vitamins and minerals. It's SmartPaks Smart Combo Senior. Yeah she's not a senior but it was the best supplement for the price that included joint care and hoof care. The main thing necessary for hoof care is omega-3, biotin, lysine, methionine, etc. Hooves are built on protein so these key ingredients will hopefully help her develop stronger hooves and a thicker wall. She doesn't have bad hooves but I think being on a hay only diet this will fill in the gaps. I probably won't see much change for a few months, I'll be keeping my eye on her coronary band though!
I'm liking the SmartPaks, I decided to not buy the tubs and buy the pre-measured stuff instead, it was actually cheaper. It's great! Sand clear I will still have to measure and administer myself since the price is actually less at the local farm store. I got a call while feeding and watering later that day from my farrier. She was headed back to Colorado Springs from Denver and since she boards near me could easily swing by and check out my girls foot. Yep, nothing major, she said after seeing the hoof in person. All my farrier ended up having to do was snip the split and file it down. It wasn't deep or much of an issue, I am still a worried first time mom! I have a rasp and have tried to file the problem areas to prevent this from happening but I'm not good at using it. Thinking about getting a Riders Rasp to help maintain the roll in between trims. Anyone ever try one?
Glad to say Dani is doing well and so are her hooves! Happy riding!