Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Checking in with Mom

I'm glad someone is enjoying winter...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Baby's First Christmas

May your heart be filled with

the Wonder of the Season....

I would like to add, that Ace has never had anything put over his head. We swooped the wreath right over, and he never noticed. Nor did he fiddle with it. Then, we dragged him out back through 6 inches of snow covering 12 inches of mud. Again, not a problem. That's where the cooperation ended! He is like trying to photograph a two year old on a sugar high... perpetual motion. We have lots of pics of interesting poses, and there was NO choice of background angle. We would NEVER have gotten him to sit still for Santa! The top one with the cute expression was the result of Mom's genius in making weird noises!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pole Dancer

Today I brought a ground pole out into the arena for Ace to step over. He found it to be a very suspicious item. First he snuck up on it with just his front feet.... the camera snapped just as he began his departure.

Then he used it as an excuse to run around like a nut.

After he settled down, I got a rope and led him over it a few times. Actually, I confess, first I tried to lead him to it without a rope, and he balked, then shifted to reverse, and was about to drop the clutch when I saw his little thought process go..."Uh-oh, pulling away from you would probably be a big 'no-no' wouldn't it?" Yes, young man, it would and I appreciate you keeping that in mind... What a good boy!

I left it out there while I groomed my gelding and Copy and I heard him clunk over it a few times on his own for fun. Of course I'm not expecting him to grow up to be a jumper, but he needs to learn to follow me over strange stuff, which he did with no problem. And in doing so, he convinced me he will probably have no natural jumping ability whatsoever as he managed to step on it with all four feet on his way over. I've been told that Copy is quite a bold jumper, but perhaps it skipped a generation!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Measuring Up

I've only seen Ace once since Farrier day. Between awful weather, running errands, and attending my out of town company Christmas party, it just hasn't worked out. When I came to the barn today at lunch Ace was very happy to see me and whinnied loudly. He was happy because #1 it was lunchtime, #2 it was his turn to go outside, and #3 maybe he likes me just a little. I went right in, put my arm over his back and rubbed both sides of his neck, which is the only way you can snuggle him without being promptly bitten. What I notice immediately is that Ace has grown! He no longer fits in my armpit. His withers were hitting my arm about 4 inches further along. I've had it in the back of my mind to measure him, so today was the day. Ace is 13 hands, 3.25 inches. I also noted when he was playing that he looks much less ass-high which is a good thing. I don't really care how tall he gets (I already have a tall one) but I do want him to be built up hill, and I want as much neck as possible. So this is our first bench mark.

Other than that, Ace had a lot of the devil in him today. He trotted happily to the grooming area and stood without being tied because I have yet to figure out a way to keep Mr. Mouth from constantly fiddling with the snaps, and because he will stand there anyway. But, one time he did push the limits a bit, and in a moment had grabbed his brush caddy and emptied it all over the floor. Then he danced around in a circle, not because he had scared himself but because he knew he was in big trouble. After a brief grooming and event free leg handling, he was turned out to play. I tried to get all the hay scraps picked out of the gateway to the round pen, and he took a break from his playing to try to dump the tub. He had a plan. He wasn't simply investigating the tub, he was targeting the yellow rope handle and trying to dump it. Little pest. He was NOT successful, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Buddy Bopper

Ace loves his Buddy Bopper. I have to sneak up on him to take pictures, because as soon as he sees me watching he stops. He spends a lot of time just standing with his chin resting on Buddy, but Buddy gets a lot of workouts and gets dragged all over the place. He's holding up well. He's only deflated once. He does need a little more pressure now that the weather has gotten colder, and I'll try to take care of that this weekend.
Things have been fine with Ace. Last weekend we had a bit of a wrestling match over picking up hooves, and I have the bruises to prove it. I sought some support and advice on COTH, and you can read the discussion here. We made it through, and haven't had any trouble since. The farrier was here this week. I am so thankful for my unflappable farrier. We brought Ace to the crossties, and Kim held him while I wiped the mud off his legs. I thought that might be tricky, but he barely noticed. Then I held him in addition to tying him to one wall or the other. He was well behaved for all but the right front. We had done the left side easily. The right front he always manages to snatch away from me, but not burly Kim. Kim held on, and Ace tried rearing to get away. The third time he got a lot of height and smacked his noggin on the side of the roof trusses. Besides some dust and cobwebs, he was unscathed. It sobered him up though, and he stood still for the rest.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Wide World

Ace now has access to his own paddock. First I walked him around the fenceline so he could see where it was, then the next day I turned him out with Hairy. As predicted, he could have cared less about Hairy's company, although he did take a couple of swipes at him in passing.

There is a "chute" from the back door of the arena to this back paddock so he can run in and out. There is planty of mud, a drainage ditch, and a pile of topsoil (which he climbs) so he is getting used to handling himself as well as getting used to stepping in "yucky" stuff.

He goes out there half the day by himself. He is only about 15 feet from the outdoor arena which serves as the sacrifice pen for Mom's two geldings. But, he doesn't hang on the fence at all, and seems to barely notice the others are out there. He is very independent and is still simply thrilled at his new found freedom.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Talky Talky

One thing I've never mentioned about Ace, is that since he was a few days old, my mother encouraged him to talk. When she comes to the barn, everyone whinnies (mostly demanding food). Of course, Ace wasn't aware of this protocol, so from day one, she would say in a high pitched "baby whinny" voice... "Acey... Hi Acey..." until he answered too. It was very cute to hear that little "weeeheeeheee" coming from the depths of the stall. If it were dark, and Ace and Copy were out, and she wanted to check on their whereabouts, she could call out "Acey... Hi Acey..." and he would answer no matter where he was.

He has continued to be a talker. Today, when I went to the barn, he hadn't noticed my car pull in. He was eating hay with his back to me. So, I called out "Acey... Hi Acey..." and he turned to look, and gave me a big "hello" whinny. "How are you?" I asked? Ace whinnied one short whinny back, "fine, and you?" and returned to his eating. It's nice to have a horse talk to you when you know they're saying something other than "where the heck have you been? Feed me NOW or I swear I'll knock this door/gate down."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Aching Back

5 hours later, after also cleaning the house, my back is starting to tighten up. I blame Ace....

Since it is Saturday, Ace had a cross tie session. He seemed to be looking forward to it. I led him the 6 feet from the arena gate to the grooming area without bothering to get a rope. Turned him around, snapped the ties, and left to go get a box of brushes. Ace stood happily fiddling with the snaps. I brushed a bit at the dander and scruff all over his back, then opted for a brief curry and a damp towel just to get the dust off the top.

Then I started on his hooves. Instead of starting with his least favorite, the right front, I started with the left front. No problem. Left hind.... very short attention span... suddenly, he decided the left hind was off limits. I held on for a bit, receiving some muddy hoof prints on my already dirty breeches that have not come clean with the first wash. He got the hoof away. I set the pick down, and muscled back into the fray with two free hands. Much better. I was able to set the hoof down during a quiet moment.

On to the right front. He has a very interesting range of motion with the right shoulder which makes holding on to that one much more of a workout. Also, he started to try to lay on me. Elbow to the ribs... lost the hoof in the process. Stand up, drum on his ribs with my fist..."Thou (thump) shalt (thump) not (thump) lay (thump) on (thump) your (thump) human (thump)." Pick up the hoof again. Ace hoists his weight over on to my back and leans. Thump with the left fist. "Stand UP." Ace hippity hops left on three legs and steps in an empty pail against the wall.

Now, I know it is careless to leave dangerous items laying about the cross ties area, but I had decided to leave that there, along with the plastic brush tote, because A. a plastic bucket with a plastic bale is pretty hard to hurt yourself on. B. I also believe in a little spook-proofing, and you might as well start young. That way, you can leave your 6 year old gelding crosstied knowing that if the weanling decides to float an empty paper bag over the arena gate at him for fun, nothing much will happen. Ace likes to do that to my gelding. It must be an invitation to play, and it's kind of cute especially since Grey is already 99% de-spooked on the cross ties, and I don't worry about those things causing a calamity.

So, Ace steps in the bucket. For a weanling who has been on crossties two or three times, you might expect at least a little calamity. Ace's reaction? "Oops, I stepped in a bucket. Sorry, what I really meant to do was LAY on YOU." I managed to get that hoof picked out and set down nearly on my own agenda, and moved on to the last one.

I lifted the hoof up just enough to pick it. Ace started paddling with it. "whhooooaaa, Eaaassyy." He decided to give me that one. I stood up and rested both elbows across his rump, leaning to catch my breath. "Young Man, you try my patience." Ace looked over his shoulder at me, completely unimpressed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Best Friend?

Because I feel bad about me decision to turn Ace out alone to keep him from beating up on Hairy all day long, and becoming an alpha bully, I splurged and got him a best friend that he can beat up. Meet the Horse Buddy Bopper.
I saw this on Quattro's Blog last winter. I thought of getting it for Grey Horse, but hesitated because I'm pretty sure it would be an expensive sacrificial lamb for that destruction monster. Ace is just about the right size to enjoy it now without immediately destroying it.
My husband and I assembled it last night. I have to say it comes with good instructions and they outfit you with all necessary little supplies. However, they expect to blow it up under human power, and that just isn't realistic. So, we used the air compressor even though the instructions warned against it. Then we stuffed it in the back seat of my car... When I carried it up the barn aisle today, it created a chain reaction of gastrointestinal difficulties in each stall I walked by. The horses, intent on eating their lunch, were a bit.... startled...

Ace wasn't going to go up to it on his own, but willingly followed me with just a tug on his halter. He touched it, but hasn't figured out that it is a wrestle buddy. Just as well. If he had immediately accosted it, I would have been less than pleased with his manners. I'm sure after he gets used to it he will get enjoyment out of it. I let my Grey Horse play with it with supervision. He tried to bite it and stand on it. It stands up on it's own well, but doesn't recover well if you knock it down. I think this has a little to do with the sand footing. However, if a horse tries to stand on it, it does rebound and pop upright again. It should be interesting to follow the life of the Buddy Bopper. However short it may be.

Today Mom was in the barn, so we got you some crossties pictures. Mom hadn't seen Ace's Big Boy act on the cross ties and she was impressed...

He really seems to enjoy his grooming...

But some stuff I do makes him mad...

And some stuff makes him bored, but there is stuff to chew on...

We spray his mane and brush it over to tame those last wayward locks...

Pick his hooves...

And tickle the giblets...

We get used to me reaching under and tightening something around his girth...

When he's all done, I break a cookie in three pieces, untie him, and we work on him yielding his poll to pressure so I can put my arm over his neck. Mom had wandered off by then. Ace's attention span is longer than hers! That's an accomplishment! Yay Ace!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trailer Training

The horse trailer happened to be hooked up today, so Ace practiced loading and unloading. He is so brave! He walked right on when asked, and we looked it all over.

We practiced loading and unloading, and pretty soon he was loading ME! He said it was the best game I've come up with so far.

I had Mom and my Step Dad shut the back up and we stood inside and looked out the windows. I tied him but didn't leave him yet. We took a good look at the ramp.

It was a blustery day, and he was very fresh. I didn't have a chain on him since we were practicing the trailer, so it was NOT a good day to try to go for a walk!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Cross Ties

Yesterday little Acey stood on the crossties for his grooming just like a big boy. This included picking out all for feet with no problem. Then I left him so I could go to the tack room and get him a cookie. He is still small enough that a Dumor treat has to be broken in thirds for him. He was so cute standing there trying to act all grown up. I'm sure it helps that most of his life he has watched other horses stand there. He did mess with the ties a whole lot but did not move around unless asked. I think next time I am going to try snapping the ties to the upper rings of his halter. Although I've never seen it done I've heard a portion of the the horse owning population does that with no problems It actually makes sense since it removes the ties from temptation's reach.

Our walks are going well. He is very "brave" and eager to go anywhere I ask.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A regular kinda guy

Today Ace was a perfect gentleman on his walk. He did get to parading around a little when my grey gelding started to run and carry on. Mom came out just a little late to get the best of the showing off.
Mostly we just moseyed around. It was really nice to be able to let him graze without having to keep my eye on him every second and defend my personal space
He is running in and out of his outdoor area all day now, so his life is pretty much back to normal.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Tree

I'm still chuckling a little about Ace's walkabout yesterday. He was much more relaxed and did less rearing and frisking around. We grazed and explored up along the paddock, then down the drive. I noticed he was giving the horse trailer parked in the lawn the "hairy eyeball", so we went over to take a closer look. He walked up to it, gaining confidence from me, and we walked around the back. As we turned the second corner, Ace had an "Oh Shit" moment.

All of a sudden, his legs went in every direction and he squatted low to the ground and swapped ends. At first I couldn't tell what spooked him, but when he stood back up he sort of cowered and looked up... Ooohhh the TREE! He was so busy looking at the trailer, he didn't realise until it was too late that he had walked under the low hanging pin oak tree right beside the trailer. A pin oak always tries to reach down and touch the ground with the lower branches, so it is trimmed at about 6 feet from the ground and it's dense limbs are still full of golden chestnut colored leaves spreading in a solid, tent like canopy.

"It's OK Ace, it's just a tree... can you touch it?" Ace reached up warily and sniffed the leaves. Lucky for him the oak tree turned out to be a peaceful creature. He had much less of a reaction to the firewood covered in billowing plastic. That big hulking mass of leaves that came close to swallowing him was much more surprising. You should see the holes and skid marks he left in the lawn.

After our walk I brought him into the cross ties and half tied him with my husband's help. Tim held Ace's second tie while I groomed. I found that Ace loves the inside of his hind legs scratched. He was very steady and stood still seeming to really enjoy his grooming. I don't think it will be long until he will be used to the routine and I will be able to cross tie him myself without incident. In fact, I've never seen him stand in one place that long... ever. He has been in perpetual motion since the day he was born. Oh, by the way, this is his seven month birthday today. Happy Birthday Ace!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Well that went well....

Today I took Ace on a walkabout. First we went up to the paddock to fraternise with Pinky.

Then we tried to relax and eat grass in the yard. That took awhile. My stepdad brought his fourwheeler past and hooked up to the arena drag because he was working on the footing in the indoor arena. The sand was very compacted, and I was worried when it froze this winter it would be an ice rink. Since it is our turnout of last resort, it imperative that the footing in there remain safe. So he had been adding a new load of sand and leveling it. That set Ace off a little and he got stuck in merry-go-round mode.

I thought he was being pretty good. I would give him an A- for ease of installing the chain over his nose, and removing it. And a B+ for leading. In fact after we had been out 10 minutes Mom commented that he was being really good considering he hadn't been turned out yet today. Hmmmmm... that I didn't know. OK, he was being really, really good!

The "whapper stick" comes in real handy to push him away without having to pull on the lead all the time. He did settle down to eat grass for awhile but remained on high alert. We grazed for about 10 minutes, and worked our way out to the house drive and back. He did rear up a few times playfully but didn't strike or crowd. He just really really felt good to be out. My plan is to take him for a walk each day. I was happy that he did not seem attached to the barn and took his new found freedom all in stride with polite manners. Getting some fresh grass was also important. That will be gone within a month.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Today we tried getting Ace outside a little. First Mom left the big door of the arena open so he could go out into the pipe run area but he would only go out there if she stood out near the fence. Otherwise he was too insecure. He has been very happy being loose in the indoor arena most of the day, but going outside alone was too much for him. He prefers to stay inside and hang around the gates where he can hear other horses and know that he isn't missing anything going on in the barn... like lunch.

Later, we turned him out with Hairy in the outdoor arena. That lasted for about 5 minutes. At first he just walked around and nibbled but then he decided to stretch his legs a bit which he really needed.

After he had run for a few minutes he got anxious for the security of the barn and decided he might try to climb the fence. Not jump… climb.

It was clear he was just going to work himself up, so we caught him. Rather than take him right back to the barn we stopped in the yard to try to calm down and graze.

He did graze a bit but didn’t settle down easily and was still on the move. I guess I’ll have to spend some time leading him outside to get him used to being out again and turn his attention back to more productive activities like grazing. He has not attached himself to Hairy at all and could really care less if Hairy was involved. Hopefully if we don’t let him get himself worked up first he will settle in to graze easier. If it isn’t raining too hard tomorrow I’ll give that a try. At least he was mannerly. After catching him, getting the chain over his nose to bring him back down to earth was a little tricky but otherwise he was not bad to handle.

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Snow

Today Ace got his first good look at snow. Only out the door, not in it. But it still made an impression. As soon as I turned him loose in the arena I could tell he had noticed that the entire outside world had gone..... blank. Yikes! The end of the world as we know it! Or at least an infestation of something! He did an immediate about face and tried to climb in my pocket, but I was ready for this, and was already slipping out between the gates . He wasn't quick enough. It took awhile for him to get bold enough to go near the doors, but he finally did. ...With a lot of snorting and tail flagging.

Beyond that... I'm tired. Tired of this weaning thing. My belief is that the less you handle a colt, the less chance you have to create bad manners. Yes, you need to handle them, do things that need to be done like grooming and hooves, and teach them to tie and load. But excessive handling beyond the day to day necessity just creates more situations where the colt will test you.... and that many more times for you to fail to appropriately train them. As a handler or trainer, you have to choose your battles. Discretion is the better part of valor. Timing is the better part of horse training. So, Ace gets 10-15 minute training sessions once every week or two, depending on both his mood and my frame of mind.

Now I've worked with a few "outlaw" or supposed "outlaw"horses. All but one of them were not really truely bad if handled correctly. But, if you frequent the internet chat sites, you will hear all kinds of stories about horses who border on being downright vicious. Some turn out to have physiological problems ranging from brain tumors to hidden pain issues. Most of them are just dominant horses who have never gained respect for humans, or fearful horses who have never gained confidence. Both ends of the spectrum are the result of poor handling. Either too much or unfair discipline, or no discipline at all.

After reading one new story today on COTH, the nagging fear that this dominant, high spirited colt might have the potential to grow up to be a real darn handful, prompted me to give him a five minute session. After his decent behavior for the farrier yesterday, I was willing to give him (and me) a day off. But his anxious pushy behavior today changed my mind. All I have to do is put a lead rope on him to judge whether he needs to be taken down a peg or not. Today was one of those days.

I want him to walk on a loose line and follow at my shoulder. This is something he is perfectly capable of and has already learned to do. Today, he was shouldering into my space and trying to shove with his head. Armed with only a rope, and my beloved "Whapper Stick" I circled him once to the left with not much trouble, just a bit of nippiness. To challenge him, I then switched sides and asked him to lead off with me on his right side. First he flat out refused. I turned to face him and on a longer lead pulled him to unlock his brakes, first to the right, then to the left. I expected him to follow me and the rope around each direction in a circle. He did. Then I tried to cross back over to his right side.

He didn't want me over there and backed around to keep me on his left. He stomped first his right hoof, then his left, not really striking, but thinking about it.... "Whap Whap Whap" in the chest, I backed him off 10 feet. Try again. From his right side (I won!) I asked him to step forward. He bulled into me with his neck and right shoulder. "WHAP" high on his neck. Look of suprise from Ace. Ask again. Rear up and start to run backwards. OK, "whap whap whap" on the chest again. "NO rearing." Rear up and run backwards again. "Whap" on the ribs. Submission. Ace sighed, began to chew and walked off on a loose lead with me on his right. "GOOD Boy". "Pet pet pet."

I walked him about for another minute. Stopping twice to pet. He was a bit nippy. Each time he reached for the rope he got poked in the nose with the whapper. "Eh.. no bite". The battle line had been drawn. Ace had challenged my authority. I had responded immediately each time with a startling yet painless form of aggression. Ace had submitted, and was praised. Life was fair. I am boss. Ace is not. End of lesson. Time to go in for lunch. I'll say it again. I'm tired.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Ace was prety good for the farrier. I put him out and let him run for about 15 minutes before we worked on him, then tied him in the grooming area and held the other line like a cross tie. He was a bit impatient with the first hoof, which was the right front. He yanked that one away a few times and pulled back and fussed etc. He was better than I expected with both hind feet. Our farrier is very good with the horses. He rarely asks for me to get after a horse, and it usually has to be fairly extreme before he does. He was able to hang on those hind feet better than I can and as a result had less of a struggle from Ace. When Ace would lean on him or try to bully him with his shoulder, Kim would just shove back a little and "talk horse" to Ace. They got along well, as they have from the beginning, and Kim seemed happy with his behavior for a cocky little weanling. Although, when he came in the barn and I was swooshing Ace around he said "maybe you ought to do that a little bit longer". I will say it again... teaching a horse to tie to the wall for a length of time is the single best thing you can do. After he was tied he knew he was supposed to stand. Not that he was happy about it or anything....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cross Ties

Do they call them cross ties because they make everyone cross?

Today Ace went out in the arena by himself. I'm sick and tired of how he is treating Hairy, and Hairy is only reinforcing Ace's dominance. All play dates have been put on hold until we can get him in with Face-Off who will not be pushed around. Ace was good, but finding himself alone he did immediately rinse his mouth. Then he started anxiously ripping hay out of the hay bag. I went and got my gelding and put him on the crossties so Ace wouldn't feel so alone. When we went out for a ride, Ace was fine.

Afterwards, we worked on becoming familiar with the grooming area. I've walked him in there each day, but have been unable to get him to stand. The farrier is coming tomorrow, so standing went to the top of my list of priorities. I shortened one cross tie (they are on blocker rings) and tied Ace to the wall, then moved the lead rope to the other side of his halter, and held that side effectively like a human cross tie, while Mom groomed him. I kept him in line by shoving him around a bit with the "wapper stick" and all went well. He did grow impatient, but I was fairly pleased with his behavior.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's farrier report!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The End of Maternity Leave

Ace is weaned, and it's time for Copy to go back to work. When I put the saddle on her she gave me the awfullest sour pickle face you've ever seen, but I think she had fun. I haven't ridden her for over two years, but this mare's manners are impecable. I mounted her in front of the barn amidst the normal commotion of tractor, manure spreader, and dogs and she stood like a rock, not even calling back to Ace who was screaming his head off. Then she stuck her "view finder" all the way up (I swear this mare is the most high headed horse I've ever been on) and away we went.

I put hunt tack on her so I wouldn't have to pull my stirrup leathers, but I wished after I had put saddleseat tack on her since it would have been more fun. I only rode her up and down the shoulder of the road aways but she put up a really nice park trot for being barefooted and just off the broodmare shift. Please forgive the washed out color on the full body shot. My camera has had a few problems and is off to Canon for repairs, so I had to fade it a bit so she didn't look like a purple dinosaur.

Setting Boundaries

Today Ace decided I had left him out in the arena too long and he wanted to go back to his stall and have lunch. So, in typical Saddlebred fashion, he started to run. Not run and scream, or test the gate, just... run. Round and round this way, round and round that way, sliding stop at the gate. He kept sweeping poor Hairy up in his wake. The hoofbeats grew louder and more insistent. I had washed William P. Grey's tail and was picking it out while he napped on the cross ties. That is, he napped until Ace got him stirred up. He became increasingly agitated, and so did I. William strained to the front of the ties, and begged with one front leg up because he wanted to get involved in the shenanigans. The peaceful grooming time was disrupted.

Ace kept coming to the gate to see if his display was having any affect on me. Yes it was... annoying little s__. There was no way I was going to reward this behavior by returning him to his stall so he could enjoy his lunch. I tied the unpicked portion of WP's tail in a knot, stuck my comb in my back pocket and unclipped a rope from the ring on the wall. Ace's expectant little face brightened. "Oh Good, she's going to give me what I want." Think again Mister.

I clipped the rope on his halter, marched him right over to the wall and tied him to a post. Then I went and got Hairy, who was more than relieved to be done with his baby-sitting job, and put him back in his stall closing the gates behind me. Ace whinnied pitifully. This was a revolting development. I went back to my tail picking since I had tied him in my direct line of sight. He tested the rope a few times, (Note to self: when engaging in a battle of wills with teenage horses, best to use the unbreakable nylon shipping halter) but finally stood and sulked. This all took about 3 minutes and Ace admitted defeat. I went back to the arena to have a word with him. He was more than happy to see me and willing to negotiate. I rubbed his right side and picked up a front hoof... easy. I moved to the rear right. He gave it easily but flung the leg around. I held on stubbornly.

Back around to the left side. He had his front hoof ready for me and that went smoothly, but the left rear was even more difficult than the right. Those draft horse people have the right idea when they strap them into stocks. In fact, local lore says one of the old time farriers once picked up a draft colt and set it across the hood of a tractor. Hmmmmm.... I faced his head, picked the hind foot up forward with my left hand, and clung to his tail with my right and held on. I won the wrestling match. I sure hope my farrier appreciates the things I go through for him

Then on to the neck and ears. I remembered Mom saying when I walked into the barn that Ace was in a stinky mood. This was becoming more and more apparent. Ace dove at the rope knot with his teeth and I got a hand on each ear. I cupped one hand lightly around the base of each ear and wiggled with him. I thought, this is a perfect passive aggressive outlet for someone who wants to out stubborn a horse just for kicks. **sigh** Ace gave in and let me rub both ears and his noggin. OK, you can go in now. I got a hold of the cheek piece of his halter, and loosened the knot with my other hand. I could tell Ace was mad but again had decided it was easier just to humor me.

He led quietly back to his stall. I finished picking the tail and put stuff away. The whole time Ace ate his grain, he pounded willfully with his front foot. I've never noticed him doing that. What a little brat he is today.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Back to Normal

Today Ace was sane enough that he was able to be left alone to play without anyone guarding the gates to prevent escape. I also led him back to his stall without a chain over his nose. He even laid down last night to sleep. And so ends the great Weaning Saga....

Next on the agenda... the farrier is due and ought to be scheduled in the next week. This hasn't been a problem before, but I would really like for him to learn to stand in the grooming area so the farrier can work with better light. We tried standing there for a bit today, but he certainly wasn't still enough to have any work done on his hooves, so we're going to have to work on that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kicking the habit....

The past two days Ace has exhibited a weird behavior that at first I didn't really understand. When I turn him out, for the first 5 minutes while he works out his frustration of not finding Copy out there again, he keeps running to the water bucket and rinsing his mouth every mintue or so. Today we went back to his stall and saw that his water bucket was indeed full, then it hit me....He's trying to break his oral fixation like a smoker. Because he can't go to the mare and nurse to calm himself, he's replacing it with a sip of water! Maybe I need to get him some milk flavored chewing gum! After he settles down and starts playing and exploring it stops. No wonder the poor kid has been a basket case! Too funny!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Establishing the routine

Today was a lot less stressful. I thought about some of the "moments" we had yesterday, and worked around them today for maximum training effect.

1. Slide stall door open 4 inches
2. Reach arm into stall, clip rope on first halter ring available...
3. Insert "whapper stick" (2 feet of hard black plastic water pipe) and push back on chest.
4. Enter and close door behind you.
5. Snub tasmanian devil to post.

I swear, tying is the best thing I ever taught him.

6. Apply chain shank. Now, I've been handling horses for 31 years, and I taught myself a new trick today. I've always clipped the chain up on the ring behind their right eyeball. Well, if you pull the chain around under their jaw and snap it on the ring behind their left eyeball, you don't have to cross in front of them or fumble around blindly. Ta-Da! I've seen that done on horses at the track but it never ocurred to me the brilliance of it in this situation.
7. Slide door open.
8. Wait for composure to return.
9. Unsnub and lead away, taking that extra rope with you, so you can hold on while you remove the shank. I've learned to take the rope, the chain shank, and the whapper stick with us everywhere we go. You never know when you'll have to throw that rope around the nearest post! And yes, sometimes I start juggling and get tangled up...

Things were A LOT quieter today. Instead of rushing around screaming he was quiet, and took time to play and check things out. His brain is beginning to clear.... He walked instead of dashing around, and even stood still on occassion. Amazing. He was also trust worthy enough that I was able to step away from the gates for a minute without him trying to jump over. I thought again, what would we do without this indoor? This is the best money we ever invested in the horses. I can't imagine trying to turn him out in any other kind of fencing. No wonder people get horses hurt during weaning. Even using our "safe" plank fence paddock, how could we possible guard all that fence in case he decided to throw himself into it?

He even interacted with Hairy a little. Poor Hairy. He's still intimidated by this whirling dervish. In fact, before I took Ace back to his stall, I led him around a bit in the arena. As soon as I had him caught, Hairy came up to him, then followed us around like a puppy dog 2 feet behind. He figured he would take the opportunity to check the little guy out. When Ace returned to his stall, he did cry a little, but it was short. Peace and order are returning to our lives.

As for Copy, she is happily enjoying her time off. Today I put her on cross ties, groomed her a little, and tried my hunt seat saddle on her just to see if it would fit. Her head shot up, her ears cocked back and she shot me a look out of the corner of her eye which said.... "Don't even joke about that! That was NOT funny."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weaning Day # Whatever

Things are a bit more peaceful in the barn today. I put Munchkin out in the indoor with poor baby sitter Hairy who has no idea what is going on or what his part is in this. It is a battle to get the chain over his nose. Basically it is like trying to thread a moving needle with mittens on. Frustrating. Then you have to restore order and regain the upper hand, backing him into the corner. He leads nicely and it isn't too difficult to get the chain off again.

Ace ran circles around Hairy screaming his fool head off. I had closed all the big doors which seemed to sort of unnerve him since he is used to being able to see out as well as get out. I stationed myself at the gate with a longe whip to discourage him from trying to come over those. After 15 minutes, Ace was getting warm and more desperate to get out in some direction. And I think Hairy was getting dizzy from standing in the center watching. So during one of Ace's trips to the gate, I got the snap clipped on his halter ring and apprehended him. Then the usual scramble to get the chain situated, and we negotiated both the gate and the walk to his stall quietly and orderly. Negotiating the gate and leading are the only things he has retained in his little brain.

If he was looking for his mother, he missed his chance. She had her head out over the stall watching him, and he strutted right past with his eyes on the horizon. Obviously, he thought, she must be far away if he couldn't hear her. In truth, she just didn't miss him badly enough to say so. Then after I detached myself and squeezed out through the door, he began his bellering and kicking routine. It was a full blown weanling tantrum. I didn't stick around to appreciate it. I put Hairy back in his stall (poor hairy is still confused) went outside to open the doors back up and retrieve William P who was ramming around outside wishing he could join in the excitement. Whatever it was he was sure he was missing it. By the time I got back to the barn Ace had quieted back down.

So the first turn out went fairly well, but all that catching and chain threading and maintaining the upper hand jangles your nerves. Mom, try giving him some raspberry leaves for supper. They are supposed to calm male horses too.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh Woe is Me

Poor little Ace is feeling pretty sorry for himself. He is still calling for Mom now and then, but his little whinny is starting to sound hoarse. He is very anxious for attention and friendship. When you open the door, this is the first thing you see...

But he is being well behaved and respectful. I was in and out of the stall several times to hang his water bucket, and a toy and just to pet him and let him know he hasn't been abandoned.

He has a nice window which he is enjoying. The pasture fence is about 30 feet away, and there are horses there that he can watch.

Copy is (conveniently) in heat this week, so she is calling back to him today and pacing a bit but, nothing dramatic. It looks like they will both survive. Ace is still off his feed. I dropped a horse cookie in his bucket before I left, and he went and got it out and crunched it against the wall. He just isn't interested in the grain that's in there.
All the commotion is starting to tell on everyone's nerves. Even my gelding William P. had had enough. Mom said this morning when she went to take him out his face said "Get me as far away from this as you can".

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yup, still weaned with only a minor glitch...

Mom fessed up to putting Ace back with Copy yesterday because he hadn't eaten anything. As you can see from the photos, he will not suffer from missing a couple of meals. Yes, I was irritated, and yes, Mom is repentant.

Today Mom tried to herd Copy and Ace out of the run in and back to the arena, and Ace cut Copy off at the pass, put on his herd leader hat, and took charge of the situation.

From Mom's email: Ace was not going to let me dictate his day and after all he is this big bossy stud in his little 6 month old peanut nuts brain. That did it! I was not in the mood to have Acey "take his mare" that he is confusing with his harem not his milk source, and think he is smarter than me. He is back in his weaning stall.

So Mister Smartypants is officially weaned!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weaned... I think

The hardest part about this has been getting my Mom to commit to changing her routine. Yes, weaning Ace does complicate things, but he is only going to get bigger, stronger, and more willful if we put this off. So, when I left the barn today, I put Ace in his stall, got Mom to agree that this was final, turned on the easy listening music and left.
Mid-afternoon report was that he ate a little when Mom went back to feed him lunch, and that he commenced kicking the wall since he had an audience. Copy, as usual, seems basically unaffected. I'm sure she will be glad to have the whole stall to herself tonight.
Here are some pictures of Ace this morning playing Cowboys and Indians on the hillside. He was really strutting his stuff along the fence line, but naturally I was not able to catch it on camera.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interval Weaning Day 5

This weaning stuff is why you hear stories of horses that are 5 years old and have never been separated from their dams. It's also the reason you here of horses that are shut in a stall their whole lives. I admit it's pretty tempting. Just shut him in a stall and when he's 2 years old, call a trainer to come pick him up.

Today we started by turning Ace out in the indoor with Hairy our "babysitter" horse. Ace was so excited to meet a new hors! He ran and ran and reared up and walked on his hind legs, and showed Hairy all his best cutting horse moves. This lasted about 10 minutes. Hairy was unimpressed. mainly Hairy just didn't want to get bitten or kicked, and he escaped unscathed. When Hairy failed to play back, Ace lost interest. He then decided he really missed his Mom and maybe he ought to see about getting back to her. My mother stood at the gates with a whip to shoosh him away and dissuade him from trying to jump. He continued to run and fuss for another 10 minutes. He was already wet from being out in the rain this morning, and 20 minutes of running had him steaming pretty good. He was also starting to get tired, so we put him back in his stall where I hoped he might settle in and actuallt eat something.

I left him there for 45 minutes. He screamed and fussed, but was at least calm enough to cool off and dry out. The screaming was getting on every one's nerves. We discussed leaving him the rest of the afternoon or putting them back together. Maybe tomorrow we will cut Copy's grain and begin to help dry up her milk supply. She had already been fed quite heavily today, so we put them back together. Ace hasn't had much lunch this week, but he is still fat and slick and can stand to miss a few meals.

Ace is fairly respectful to handle. You have to handle him like an unruly stallion (which at this point he is) but we have been enforcing manners and he has been pretty good with his greatest infraction being rearing. Of course I don't tolerate that. He is learning to respect the chain shank if not humans in general. I remember one of my sister's summer jobs during high school was with a local Standardbred farm. She was one of the staff members charged with bringing the yearling stallions to the barn, halter breaking them, getting them groomed up and ready to go to the sales in the fall. I don't know what I would do if I had to handle 60 untrained yearling stallions every day. Ughh!

Ace was happy to get back to his Mom and get something to drink. I don't blame him. After dealing with that for an hour and a half, I wouldn't mind a drink myself. I'm glad we didn't breed back. I don't think I could do this every year.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Still Weaning...

We're trying the interval mehod of weaning, so now each day Ace get's seperated from Copy for a meal in his own stall. This amuses him less and less each time. Today he was a little bit angry. First he balked at the door when I asked him to go in. But that didn't last long. Again, he pretty much skipped lunch. And, he got a little more agressive with the stall walls. I just locked him up, gave him hay and grain, and went about my business in the barn. He doesn't cry constantly, but he doesn't eat much either. After about 45 minutes, I was ready to leave so I put them both back out together. Mom said she had a hard time getting him out of the stall herself yesterday. So I ("She who must be obeyed") worked out the routine. I snapped a rope to his halter, snubbed him to the door post, and put the chain over his nose. Good luck threading the needle if he isn't tied up! Then, with the chain on he led out of the stall in a organised fashion.

Really it hasn't been bad. We need to just shut the door and walk away. Many people advise to wean with the phases of the moon, choosing the days the horses will be least aggressive. Each year there is a convenient sticky note in the COTH breeding forum with all the dates. The October dates are this Friday and Saturday. Hang on Acey, your day is coming.

Monday, September 28, 2009

All Alone at the Lunch Table

Remember high school and the anxious moments as you tried to find a group of friends who ate at the same lunch period so you wouldn't have to sit alone...? Ace had one of those days.

Today we had a high wind warning making it unwise to ride outside, so it was an "Ace Day". Ace ate lunch in his own little stall today. Well, to say that he "ate" is overstating things a bit. He nibbled. Eating would have taken concentration, and his concentration was shot. We finally have an empty stall, and it's the cutest little stall... 8x9 with a south facing window, floor mats, and it's own little spill proof bean pot feeder. Saturday I replaced the door latch that had been yanked off awhile ago so it is "Ace Proof". Today when Ace and Copy came on for lunch, I stuck him in the strange stall all alone. He handled it pretty well. No body slamming or anything, but a lot of crying and stall walking. Copy, two doors down on the opposite side gave a few quiet reassuring nickers, and enjoyed her own lunch in peace and quiet. Like my Mom says, "Copy is as good a mother as she is a rotten mare." You couldn't ask for a better mother. As a mare, she can be a raving ding-bat.

Ace did get half of his lunch eaten. He also enjoyed the window. I turned my gelding out and he went to the pipe corral 2 feet from Ace's window and made monkey-shines so we had to lock him up so he wouldn't incite and encourage bad behavior. When Ace stopped crying and pacing, he tried his best to rearrange the stall mats, but I assure you, my husband has them locked in and it will take more than a whiny weanling to move them.

Prior to lunch time, Ace had a walk and whoa session, and was tied to the wall for grooming. He was very good, allowing me to pick out all for hooves, and handle his ears. He is still very very very ticklish on his flanks and legs. He will allow you to touch them, but he cannot stand still for it. He does not relocate or snatch the legs away, but he flinches and squats something awful. To his credit he has never kicked at nor aimed to kick at a human. When he is mad he bites. He doesn't bite people, but he rearranged the quick release knot in the rope to some unidentifiable Boy Scout Knot that I had to pry apart. All in all, it was a good Ace day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sept 21st progress report

Not much has been going on with Ace. He's growing, and behaving. Now and then I have to show up and play the enforcer, but for the most part, everything is running smoothly. He is shaping up to be very upheaded with nice length of neck, and pretty good hinge at the throat. That coupled with his handsome face is causing Mom and I to really look forward to his training in a few years.

He and Copy spend most of the day from breakfast 'til dark in the indoor round pen which opens out into a small pipe corral. Besides being a nice set up for exercise, this puts Ace front and center at the arena gate where he can see anything that goes on in the barn. Last week I had my Grey horse crosstied 6 feet from the arena gate and was rummaging around in the tack room. I heard sort of a start and a low snort from Grey, and looked out to find a paper feed bag lying on the floor at his feet. The culprit...

He just wanted someone to play with, and was offering Grey his toy.

Progress report on everything else...
Weaning: We now have an empty stall for him, and I need to fix the door latch and otherwise babyproof it.
Gelding: I felt for his testicles today, and the one that had dropped was nowhere to be found! **sigh**

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Great Escape

When I began to blog, I often wondered what on earth I would write about and would I eventually run out of material? But you know what? Stuff just keeps happening.

Mom's email from 11:51 pm last night...

At 10:30 Richard took Hunter (Rottweiler) out and came in saying "you have a horse loose" always a news item I can do without. He was in flip flops, I grabbed the flashlight and got into my boots fast. There Copy and Ace were, eating grass by the hitching rail. Richard was ahead of me and got the barn lights on, Ace ran for him and the barn. Copy went to Grey's window to flirt and let me catch her too. They had both insulators broken by Grey's stall and the web totally off and on the ground. Nobody hurt and all is well except Copy is coughing again tonight. Glad no one told Ace that when you get out you run like crazy everywhere you are never supposed to go.

The scene of the crime:

And their Accomplice:

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Showdown at the Not OK Corral

Over the summer, I spent two weeks take home pay on a used pipe round pen. Then, I spent about half that again to buy these rather ingenious Panel Caps to fill the joints and make it safe for Knucklehead who must always rear up and ride his mother around piggyback like a fool. I did all this so that Copy and Ace could have the benefit of grazing in the lush hayfield now that they have trampled down both of their run-ins. This gesture of kindness was pretty much wasted on the unappreciative horses. Well, at least on Copy.

Mom and I led Copy and Ace out to the hayfield. Acey was quite well behaved considering this was the longest walk away from the barn he's ever taken, and it was unknown territory. He sort of led me, but there was no biting, bolting, rearing or carrying on. He was as good as you can expect a young fella to be. Copy, on the other hand, shuffled through her deck of possible personalities and chose "Displeased Herd-Bound Crazymare". This was not helped by William P. who was so jealous seeing his two women walk off out of sight with other horses that he spent the entire time at his window calling for us all to come back.

Copy refused to settle in and graze. She ran the fence because she was suddenly way too far away from the barn, and her barnmates (who mostly don't like her anyway because of her persnickety attitude).

Ace, besides being influenced by Crazymare, was overjoyed at his new playpen with the wide open sky and wonderful view. He would have been running laps anyway.

I finally went in and caught Copy hoping that having her on a rope would settle her in and allow Ace to calm down. She did take a few bites, but told me that in her opinion, the grass here smelled funny. Ace, despite being excited about his new found freedom, and covered in flies since his mother's antics had stirred up and attracted every facefly for a mile, did do some grazing and explored his new "corral" and seemed to say it was OK by him.

After awhile Copy got impatient with me, and the funny smelling grass, and decided to get pushy, stomp around and paw. She did her best to express her opinion that this "corral" was beneath her dignity, not properly placed, and rather a waste of her valuable time. At this point, I was pretty fed up with Ms. Picky Pants. When I snapped her across the back with the lead rope to straighten her out, she threw her head way up and looked down her nose at me in her signature look of scandalised innocence which I find to be the single most entertaining expression I've ever seen on a horse. Even when I'm really really annoyed with her, which I really really was.

At least Ace enjoyed his romp.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mare Maintenance

Through all of this, we have not forgotten about our trusty broodmare Copy. In fact, this week the focus has been on Copy's diet. She is the pickiest eater EVER. She will not eat wet food. She will not eat supplements. She will not eat anything she believes has been tampered with. She doesn't finish her meal when she's in a bad mood, most national holidays, every other Tuesday, and days with the letter U in them. Sometimes she just won't eat. Period. She does like pelleted Trotter, but it has to be dry, plain and unmessedaroundwith. She also has to be hungry. Unfortunately, she has a couple of issues that can be helped through supplements.

Primarily, she is a hormonal floozy. I decided to try her on Mare Magic despite the fact that Mom looked at the ingredients and stated "but it's just raspberry leaves." Who cares what it is, it works. This is the week after her heat cycle, normally a wild roller coaster of emotions. She has been noticeably steady and "normal". Success. Of course it didn't come easy. At first she would not eat the Mare Magic. Mom mixed it with applesauce and shot it in with a syringe. After a couple of days she got used to the look and smell of the leaves and decided to eat them. There was no way to sort them out, and she must have forgotten that her breakfast had been tampered with because she began to eat it again.

Secondly, although we feed hay in a net in the arena where she runs in and out, the floor is sand so I got her some Sand Clear as a precaution. Mom sort of forgot about the Sand Clear this week, and made a tactical error. Day 1 she went and got the SmartPak of Sand Clear, opened it in the stall and poured it on Copy's breakfast while Copy was already eating. Remember, Copy does not eat food that has been tampered with. Cinnamon did not help. She knew the cinnamon had been put there to disguise the tampering and she turned up her nose. Then she decided to skip breakfast altogether. Day 2 Mom tried mixing it with applesauce and shooting it in with a syringe. Copy spat it out in a blob. Mom has rescued the blob and mixed with beet pulp trying to get it into a palatable form for Miss Picky Pants. Of course Miss Picky Pants does not like beet pulp. Maybe if it's dry and she's very hungry and isn't daydreaming about something else entirely.

Thirdly, Copy has hay allergies. What has been an occasional shallow cough over the past couple of years has developed into a persistent shallow cough. The humidity and high mold/pollen count this year has made it worse. So, she is having her hay wet down. I asked Mom if she would like me to order a supplement to help her. I could almost hear the weary sigh through the email... Mom isn't game for supplement number three. I asked "can't you just switch her to beet pulp and hide stuff in there?" Mom's reply... "You ARE naive aren't you? Copy won't eat beet pulp. Maybe if it's dry and she's in the mood for beet pulp"

I also ordered her some Cosequin to help her creaky hocks because I would like to start riding her again this fall. I'm pretty sure Mom hasn't even tried that and my gelding will end up getting it. I think we now have enough joint supplement to last us until Easter. So what will she eat? Grass. And Hay, which makes her cough. Oh, and carrots and apples, but they have to be cut into bite size pieces or you can just keep your carrots. **sigh** There are 5 other horses in the barn banging on the walls and begging their hearts out for food (with or without smelly stuff mixed in it) and here we are trying to force feed Miss Picky Pants who is happy to have her pre-foal figure back, and truly is the glossiest trimmest creature on the place.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Instilling some manners and respect

Yesterday I stopped by the barn with my husband to visit Ace. He hadn't seen him in awhile. I caught Ace and tied him to the wall briefly as, once again, I didn't have barn shoes on. When I turned him loose, he reared straight up as if to say "screw you... you stinky human.... you are NOT the boss of me." In fact, the past week, Ace's entire view of the world has been "screw you". Copy is in heat, and I don't know why some people are naive enough to assume that their yearling or two year old colt will not breed his mother, just because they are related. If I gave Ace a step stool, he'd get the job done today. Yes MA'AM ! On the drive home, my husband said... "you know, that rearing thing is going to have to stop." Well said.

Today was a rainy day, and thus devoted to Ace and his manners. Once I got him caught... not easy since he was busy playing "wild stallion"... I tied Copy and put a chain over Ace's nose for the first time ever. I also had a short riding whip in my hand butt up. Goal for today was "no biting... no striking... and NO rearing." Usually, Mom lets him hold the lead rope which makes him happy and keeps him from biting HER. But, first on today's list of rules was "no biting", and that included the shank.

Ace tried to grab the shank from me. I popped him with the chain. "OUCH, you meany, I'm not staying to play with you." Ace threw it into reverse.... Another **pop** with the chain. Ace's eyes got real wide, and if he had eyebrows, they would have shot up. "The humans have invented new equipment!" He is very very very smart. He immediately stopped to assess my demeanor, the new equipment, and to test out the ground rules. So as not to entice him into his rearing and striking behavior, I stayed back by his shoulder against him with my arm over his back stroking his other side. He reached around to try to bite me instead. **Crack** on the bridge of the nose with the butt of the crop. He didn't see that coming. In fact with the whip in the same hand as the shank, he couldn't really see me move at all, because I didn't want this to become a game which makes him head shy.

I led him off, and practiced "whoa". Again he tested me, but any missteps were met with a light tug on the chain, and any nips towards the shank or me were met with a tap on the snout. In about three minutes he had figured things out. I try not to reprimand with a "No" since that sounds too much like "Whoa". My reprimand is "Eh" or "Quit". We walked and whoaed. While we were whoaed, I touched him all over, and picked up all four feet. Ace stood quietly and respectfully for all of it. No nipping. No fidgeting. You could tell he was thinking hard, and his frequent pooping gave away his inner nervousness as he learned to cope with being attached to this "human with expectations".

I took him with me through the gate to the tack room to get a rope, and tied him to the arena wall for a bit while I talked to me step dad over the gate. He started to paw (his new trick). I stood about 4 feet behind him, and every time he lifted a front leg, I snapped his butt with the whip and told him "Quit!" He would lift a leg, and cock an ear to see if he was going to get away with it or not. Smart smart naughty colt. If my reaction wasn't quick enough **bang** on the wall. Then, because the rearing was so pronounced last time I turned him loose from the wall, I had left the shank on him draped over his shoulder, and when we were done tying, instead of turning him loose, we went for another walkabout on the shank. He was a reformed colt, walking politely, and standing soberly and still while I touched him all over.

So the problems start when you mess with his head (getting the lead snapped and unsnapped) and anytime you are standing in front of him. I did cross in front of him several times so I could repeat my handling on his off side. Anytime I got up by his head, reached between his front legs or touched his chest, he would start trying to nip again. Getting the chain off wasn't too hard. I reached under his chin and unsnapped it from the ring and worked it out of the halter while standing back by his shoulder, the butt of the whip in my left hand ready to rap his nose.

So, yesterday I was worried that I was the part owner of an incorrigible truant stallion, and today I am proud of my smart, trainable colt. As long as you lay down the ground rules, stay consistent, and ask and reprimand for the same things the same way every time, this horse training stuff isn't a problem. It sounds like a big task, I know. It is a huge responsibility to bring up a foal and turn him into a grown up, well trained, honest horse. But don't be fooled into thinking that it is any different when you are handling a trained adult horse. They are learning every day, and every time you handle them, you are teaching them something, be it good or bad. Just remember that.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Today was a clipper lesson. This is by no means the first time he has seen clippers. Every time I clip Copy (every three weeks or so) I rub them on his shoulder and up and down his neck. I even managed to get a short bridle path clipped once when he was a few weeks old. He isn't afraid of the clippers, but in his view of the world, they share similar physical traits with biting or stinging insects, and low flying aircraft and therefore should not be allowed to get too close to his ears. For some reason, he feels the same way about me, and he certainly isn't afraid of me!

So, since his tying lesson had turned into a contest of how high he could paw up the wall, I decided he needed something to think about. First I just put my hand on his poll between his ears. That made him mad, and he tried a few times to take a good chunk out of my ribs. But, he knows he has to give in to that because I am a persistent and insistent human. He is always willing to test me to see if there is a chink in my human armor. After all, there may come a day when humans give in and allow him to continue on with his life doing only those things which seem pleasant and fun. Today was not one of those days.

After he resolved that I was allowed to put my hand between his ears (for today), I tried rubbing the clippers on his neck, then changing them from my free hand to the hand already resting on his poll. Mind you, the clippers are OFF... and cordless. But this still made him mad, and there was more squirming and biting. From there we progressed to him succumbing to me removing the clippers back to his shoulder, and turning them on and off. That is about where we usually leave off. If he will allow me to touch him with my hand holding the vibrating clippers, we call it a day. Today I was particularly determined and was able to touch the running clippers to his halter strap (which sort of cushions the vibration like my hand). At no point did I remove my hand from his poll. This took about 10 minutes, but in the end he stared sullenly at the wall while I turned the clippers on and off, and put first my vibrating hand, then the actual clippers against his halter at his poll.

With babies you have to be quick to reward good behavior, because your window of opportunity will close quickly. I took my hand off his poll, gave him a little pat and unsnapped the rope. He glanced at me in surprise..."You mean I'm done?" Whoopeeee! And away he went!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Today Mom and I led Copy and Ace out to the paddock. He was being very cranky so I had a firm hold of the cheekpiece of his halter. We got in to the paddock, and he decided to try to bolt, but of course I had a firm hold. So, he decided to "throw a fit and fall back in it." I had such a good hold on him that when he reared up he lost his balance and went down, and I went down on top of him. Like Mom says... "better on top than underneath!" I was so pleased that his nasty, no-holds-barred attempt at getting away ended up in him crashing on his own that the dirt stains on my knees were almost worth it. They've been soaking in soft soap in the office sink for 2 hours, and I'm thinking it's not going to come out. I guess I'll have to keep some Lestoil in my barn bag!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

First time off the farm

Ace went for his first trailer ride yesterday, and all went well. We tied Copy and left Ace loose, and just drove about 2 miles around the block. He seemed just fine. I didn't hear any fussing back there, and the trailer hauled smoothly.

Afterwards, I took him out of the stall alone, led him around a bit, then tied him to the wall for five minutes. He did call for Copy, but was pretty well behaved. Then we went to visit each of the other horses, and then turned him back out with Copy. We are taking baby steps towards getting him disconnected from his Mom so weaning will be less traumatic.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Worst fears realised.... only one testicle is dropped. I was pretty sure that was the case, but I was hoping the vet could find the second one. Sometimes they're itty-bitty, and I'm certainly no expert at what they're supposed to feel like. He put him out and couldn't find the second one.
While he was down and out, he at least got a tetnus booster. Mom said the vet was suprised at how quickly the sedative wore off and Ace got to his feet. I'm not. This little guy is a real live wire.

SoooOOooo, we can take him to the clinic and have them dig it out there. Or endure his shenanigans for awhile longer and hope the second one drops in a timely manner. If he goes to the clinic, we will do it before he is weaned so he can ride with Copy. But, I'm not really eager to put him through that if it's going to drop on it's own in a few months anyway. I guess we could wean him and put him out with the older geldings and see if he shapes up or not. I'm afraid to buddy him up with Grey Horse, that would be like throwing gasoline on a fire trying to put it out! Copy certainly needs a break from being slammed around all the time, and I sort of want my mare back. I've been wishing I could ride her now for awhile. I guess wouldn't hurt him any to shut him up for an hour and ride her anyway.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Raging Hormones... Oh Vet Where Are YOU?!?

Ace's impending castration has been put off until Thursday, and we can't wait! When I arrived at the barn today, Mom had tried to give Copy and Ace their lunch in a tub in the run in area, and Copy IS.DONE.SHARING. She had her Alpha-Bitch hat on, and Ace was pretty frustrated. He's not used to her telling him no. I went and got a separate pail for Ace and called him inside. That went OK, but he was already ticked off and hormonal, and I could read his little face every time it came out of the bucket..."hmmm, should I bite you're shoulder or just clip you in the knee cap?" I kept wagging my finger at him and reminding him to "be nice". Since he had been running around like a fool, the biting flies were after him making everything worse, so I gave up on the grain and went for a bottle of fly repellent.

In the meantime, Copy came back inside, and the struggle was on again. As I tried to spray Copy, Ace came at her from every direction. When he draped himself over her back and grabbed her withers I realised the only way to diffuse this situation was a "time-out". I went back for a rope, caught the wicked little shit, sprayed him, and tied him to the wall. Peace and Tranquility settled over the barn. Ace has given up trying to pull loose when he's mad, and has been applying himself to learning how to untie knots. He stood casually on three legs and fiddled with the knot while I groomed Copy. Ahhhh peace. What a lovely thing. Copy twisted each leg around showing me where the worst itches were, and I got her nicely polished up.

Then I went back to Ace. He is already a lot better about having his underpinnings worked on, and he got a good rubbing and polishing as well. When I turned him loose, the little rascal grabbed the rag and knocked the brushes down, which spooked him so he darted off with the rag in his mouth. Then he thought the rag was chasing him, so he started to really run forgetting to drop the rag, which was still after him. It chased him all the way outside before he accidentally dropped it and got away from it. ***sigh*** ...children. When I left, they were casually standing around like the whole lunchtime debacle was a distant memory. Thank Heaven!

Edited to add photo and video from Saturday. Ace had just had a successful loading lesson and all was still under control.