Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Horizons

Ace’s mom Copy is off on a new adventure. Her adoption contract is being picked up by the woman who bred her, and she will be raising more babies. This year she will be bred back to Clint for a full brother or sister to Ace which will be fun to see. In fact, it was Ace’s quality that sealed the deal.

Since Copy really is an “extra” horse for us, and her female presence often causes unnecessary hubbub around here, we’ve been hoping to find someone else nearby who would want her for a broodmare and have been spreading the word. Of course having her go back to the program she came from is the perfect solution, and if that doesn’t work out, she can always come back here. But I think she is going back to where she really belongs and will be there for life.

The fun part is that after all these years she seemed to recognize the woman’s husband and wanted his attention. From an aloof old gal like her, that is really something. What can I say? She likes men… the floozy. And he isn’t even a horse person per say, just the most dedicated Horse Husband I’ve ever seen. Whenever we see them at a horse show, he is always running in her wake carrying towels and stretchy cuffs and just trying to keep up with her.

So Copy will be headed off to live with them. They got to work immediately building her a stall, and putting up fence so she could have her own turnout. It has been a flurry of activity, and we’re excited to be a part of it. They live just a short distance away so we will be able to visit and enjoy the breeding and foaling process with them. And of course, we will keep everyone abreast of how it goes. Mom has been helping with the breeding plan, getting contact numbers and working out the schedule. She's already all excited about the breeding, and as an extra bonus... this time she doesn't have to wean it.

Copy will probably be going back to her "maiden name" which is Fifi. That's short for Filly's filly. It cracks me up. Everytime I think of it I picture the old broad in a pink feather boa and fake eyelashes! Photos of the departure are promised.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just a little sore

Ace has bounced back like nothing happened. He even stood for the farrier yesterday. We were prepared to skip the hind feet if he was sore and objected, but nope, he was a good boy. As an added bonus, he seems to not to have had any reaction to the tetnus shot he got while he was lying flat out. Everybody else in the barn is limping around and feeling sorry for themsleves, but Acey is just fine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exploratory Surgery

We were hoping that we had found the second nut, smaller, forward of the scrotal sac. No such luck. Today the vet came out to check. He sedated Ace and palpated. Undecided.

We moved him out to the arena where he palpated him again. See, this isn’t always an easy call…. Gave him more sedative and dropped him… palpated some more. He decided it was worth a chance to make an incision. He says sometimes you’ll get in there, and the second one will be up alongside the larger one and no bigger than a peanut. He’s seen that happen often enough to feel an incision was warranted.

Mom held the hind leg on a rope, and I comforted Ace while Dr. Tim made a 3 inch incision and explored. He was in there a long time. Mom and I held out hope. But in the end, no nut… peanut or otherwise. Mom was so disappointed. Dr. Tim looked up and said “Don’t cry Brenda”. But it could have been all over! Right then! I think we both sort of felt like crying.

Ah well. Ace’s boo-boo will be allowed to heal, and then he will be scheduled for abdominal surgery in Cleveland. He lay there quietly for about 10 minutes until I uncovered his eye. He rolled up onto his chest and waited for about another 10 before getting to his feet on the first try. It was sort of nice to be able to handle him while he stood placidly allowing me to play with his forelock and finger comb the unruly part of his mane behind his ears. I waited until he was looking pretty bright and starting to chew on the rope before leading him slowly but surely back to his stall where I left him tied, subdued but bright-eyed. Not much gets this boy down. Of course, there were only three little drops of blood, and it was only a skin incision, so whoop-dee-do. It's not like we ripped them out. He will be on antibiotics for a couple of days, and his one good nut has gone into hiding for the time being. I don’t blame it.

Administering the second dose of sedative...

Explaining to Dr. Tim that he would be featured on Ace's Blog...

Down for the count...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Battle of Hormones

When I got to the barn today, Ace was standing calmly in his stall and put his nose through the bars in a friendly invitation for petting and nose-kissing. I thought perhaps I would just slip in while he was quiet, and see if he would remain calm and friendly. I immediately discovered that this sweetness was merely a ruse to lure me in so he could get down to his real agenda which was to rape and pillage. Well buddy, if it’s a battle of hormones you want, two can play that game. I went back out for the whapper stick and returned to his shoulder.

He gave me the hairy eyeball and would duck and dodge, teeth barred, frothing, looking for an opening. Each time he made a move to grab at me, I thwacked him in the chest with the whapper. As his frustration increased, he began to shove with his shoulder, and loom over me. If I reached for his halter he pushes towards me, not away and whe I protested, he swung his butt at me. We went a few rounds with the whapper and relearned the “face me” rule. Back to the attempts to bite, and the whapper thwacking. After a little while, Ace wisely conceded that it was still a bad idea to try to bite a human. He opted instead to channel his aggression on the water bucket and the hay net which suffered several attacks. He accepts human dominance, but he hates it.

Last Saturday I gave him another short longe session, and he was just as smart about it as the first time. Two days ago he banged an ankle (most likely pawing at dinner time) and was a little sore and had Bute for a couple of days. He's very good about taking medicine, whether you shoot it in his mouth or mix it in his grain. Today the swelling was done, and he was ready for another learning session. I got the line clipped on him quite easily. I guess he retained the “don’t bite” lesson for at least half an hour and I was rather pleased. Mom showed up at the barn and told me Copy is in heat again. That would explain the rape and pillage agenda, as well as the wall thumping coming from her stall.

Ace’s main focus when I am leading him from his stall to the arena, is oddly not the mare’s stall, but the cross tie area. He is enchanted with it. That’s where he gets fussed over and then he gets a carrot so it’s his favorite place. This is how things go when I allow him in there:

Ace heads for the back corner and the door to the tack room
Ace: “oooo kitty…. I wanna pet the kitty. Here kitty kitty....”
Me: “Ace, no. You can’t go in there. You’re like a bull in a china shop.” I drag him to the left as he reaches for the fly spray bottle, knocking it off it’s hook.

Ace swings around, he sees a double bridle hanging from a hook on the opposite wall, and his eyes widen
Ace: “ooooOOoo That's so cool... what is it?.” He grabs it by the caveson pulling it off the hook. The double bridle unravels into a net of leather, tangling in the lead rope.

Me: “Ace, no. That’s not yours. Please look with your eyes, not your mouth. Let. Go.” Have I ever mentioned that once he has hold of something it’s impossible to remove from his mouth? I pry a finger inside his mouth, poking under his tongue “Let. Go.” Ace loses interest and drops the bridle in a pile on the floor, his eyes moving on to the next interesting object.

Ace: “Hey’s what’s this?” turning off the light switch.

I manage to separate him from the light switch “on-off on-off on-off... look, it moves!” and fasten one cross tie.

Ace: “Ah a SNAP. I loves snaps!” Ace makes a wild grab for the rope.

I struggle to snap the second rope as Ace resorts to a game of keepaway. “NahNahNah you ca-an’t catch me.” AAAAGGGGHHHHH!

So, today we skipped the grooming routine and went straight to longe lessons. Once again, he’s brilliant. He “gets” it. He even seems to enjoy it. I begin introducing planned gait changes and more word commands. He understands “Whoa”, and “Whoop-Trot” (which only applies to downward canter-trot transitions). Today I begin to introduce the others. “Walk” this is a toughie but he finds it somewhere between "whoa" and "trot", a trilling “trot” which is an easy concept and “ca-anter” in a sing songy voice. He begins to catch on. The key to teaching gait changes is timing. You watch what the horse is about to do, and you use the right word.

Ace is getting a big kick out of this. He forgets about rape and pillage and happily lets me approach either shoulder, and pet his face taking credit where credit is due for his excellent obedience. He needs to work on “front and center”. He can’t seem to keep his eyes straight ahead today, but it’s a huge improvement from the vicious stallion attitude he had in his stall. He is a dychotomy of personality. He hates human dominance, but give him a task and he is fully absorbed. His eyes soften, and he looks to his handler for approval glowing with each "good boy".

After about 10 minutes of perfect obedience, he has a hormone surge. Suddenly he is cantering around grabbing for the longe line. He can’t seem to catch it, and it’s making him mad. I stand in the center chuckling at his little melt down. “Ace. ‘Whoa’ !” He comes back to earth a bit dazed and confused. “I don’t know what came over me.” I think learning is over for today. Time to quit.

I turned Ace loose, and he went on patrol of the arena. He found a fresh pile of manure from the Grey Horse, and in the course of five minutes, had pooped on it twice. That boy just isn't right!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Child Prodigy

I would tell you that I taught Ace to longe this weekend, but in actuality, there was no teaching involved. What I did was put the longe line on him and begin to longe him. Both ways, at a walk and a trot. No problems. Ace grabbed the longe line, went to the end of it and began circling like a pro. Within 5 seconds he had judged this new activity as being far more palatable than walking shoulder to shoulder with a human.

The only awkward moment was the first time I told him "whoa" and he refused. Since I had him on the line, I just realed him in. The fact that he was being drawn in by some unseen gravitational force caused him some frustrations, but he finally submitted.

As payback for my new found unseen gravitational force, Ace decided I was not allowed to approach him from the right, which is our oldest argument. But I persist... So he tries to bite. Same old same old.

Sometimes it takes awhile, but eventually he will stand quietly without biting. He feels a lot less smart about himself being on a line, so no snorting or showing off. Just boring work. **sigh**