Thursday, June 24, 2010

18 days and counting

Ace was such a brat on Saturday that I decided to limit him to things I knew he could do without driving me to drink. Up until Tuesday, I thought that included longeing. It doesn't. Tuesday when I longed him, he grabbed the line and ran around like a maniac, and you could just see his little brain trying to figure out how to wrap me up in it and spin me like a top. But, he was still very good in cross ties. So, today I decided to put him on cross ties and groom him a little... just to give him a chance to behave and earn a treat.
As usual, through his stall door he was calm and sweet and let me pet his forehead and muzzle and fuss over him. But we all know this is just a ploy to get me in the stall so he can have his way with me. But today, when I went in for him, my mother had just handed him a giant foot long dandelion plant she had pulled out of her garden, and his whole head was full of dandelion. I easily threaded the chain through his halter while he rolled his eyes and munched, completely preoccupied. It was amazing! No shadow boxing. **Note to self: arm yourself with giant wads of foot long dandelion leaves. ** Then he plodded quietly down the aisle on a loose lead ...still munching.

He stood fine on the cross ties, diddling with the ropes while I groomed him, washed under his tail, and sprayed him with fly repellant. He loves his grooming time, and when I go into the tack room to get a mint, he is all attention, waiting expectantly for his goody. He always takes it respectfully, so pleased with his reward. And today I am pleased with him. I have loads of respect for anyone who can raise a stallion to be a well behaved adult.... This is probably why so many stallions end up isolated and locked up in a stall. I can say I feel a whole lot better about him today than I did on Tuesday. Little Monster.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Save the Date

Ace has a date with Destiny on July 13th. Yes, lucky 13! First off, I'm not too superstitious, but the week before presented some scheduling issues, and I'd rather not wait until later in July. I just look at it this way... at least I won't have to travel on the 13th, and that's what makes me most nervous. Not 10 years ago, I could pack up 2 horses and drive 8 hours through traffic in three very busy cities, arriving at our destination at 2am and not think much of it. Since then, I've read way too many horror stories on the internet which make me a nervous horse hauler.

Besides hauling him 3 hours one way, the second thing that worries me is that they won't find the retained testicle. The vet asked if it was inguinal or abdominal, and my best guess is that it's abdominal. In those cases, he says they make an abdominal incision, start the clock, and if they don't find it before time runs out, they close him up. Dear Lord, please don't put us through this and then leave it in there!

And thirdly... I will be totally broke for the rest of the summer!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baby Blanket

Ace has a pretty baby blue fly sheet. I've been using it when we go out to hand graze. I figured it would be a good way to get him used to wearing clothing. The first few times he was a little worried about getting it put on and taken off, but now it's old hat.

When he gets fidgety, he pulls at it. I don't think it would last too long in a turnout situation, but in case the bugs get really bad, we have it on hand. This is one from Dover which they have on sale each year for $29.90. Can't beat that, and they are nice sheets. Grey has had his for two years and it's holding up great.

Ace finally outgrew his weanling halter, and fit into his yearling halter, so I changed that out today. He hasn't gotten any taller (still 14.3), but he has gained a lot of bone in the past month. The clinic and I have been playing phone tag, but we're going to get those trouble makers removed next month. Finally!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Hussy and the Jackass

**News from Copy’s new home**

They have discovered what a lovely thing she can be when she’s in heat. They A.I.ed her last week, and left a phone message that she was “a damned hussy”. Well.... can’t say we didn’t warn them.

Mom has had the opportunity to speak with them since the hussy message and had this story to relate. It begins a couple of years ago at their last farm on the opposite side of the county. They had recently moved there, in what can only be described as some of the prettiest, quietest rolling farmland in Pennsylvania. Shortly after their arrival, they discovered that a neighboring Amishman owned a jackass. And said jackass would bray repeatedly, especially when there was a mare in heat. Now anyone who has had the pleasure of living in the same neighborhood as a jack or a mule (even a miniature donkey) can tell you that braying, much like a barking dog, can get on your last nerve. That rusty heehaaaw can carry a good long ways. In fact, that was one of their few complaints about their new neighborhood. They were quite pleased when the Amishman sold the jack, and peace returned to the valley.

Fast forward to last week when Copy came into heat. They have since moved to a new farm, on the eastern side of the same county, but at least 20 miles as the crow flies. They were laying in bed one night when in the distance, they heard a familiar voice. “HeeHaaaaw-HeeHaaaw-Hee-Haaawwwww”. They would know that voice anywhere. It was that damned jackass. He now lives in this neighborhood. Terriffic.

When Wayne got up in the middle of the night (remember, he switches turnout groups at 2-3 a.m. so every one get’s fly free turnout) to get the mares… no mares. He went to the back of the pasture where Her Highness hides out. No mares. Copy had broken through the fence and taken her two mare friends with her on a love quest to find the Jackass. It once crossed my mind that I might like to breed Copy to a jackass to get a five gaited mule baby. I decided it would be in poor taste, and her previous owner said she thought Copy would be offended if the the foal was less attractive than her beautiful self. Apparently, she was wrong. Copy was on her way to find a suitor.

Fortunately, they live in rather rugged country, and Wayne found Copy and the mares at the foot of a steep gravel bank. Copy was dedicated to her mission, but a mountain stands between them, and it remains unrequited love. When Mom told the story to my step dad, his reply was… “doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary to me. Loose hussys get out and are bred by jackasses every day.” At least in our town.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maternal Influence

Now that Copy has been gone for two weeks, we are starting to see a change in Ace’s personality. He’s settling down! Hooray! He’s still a mouthy egotistical teenage boy but it’s easier to get him to think. He isn’t constantly worried about what his mare is doing and where she’s doing it. Or with whom.

I’ve been trying to get him out and about more, so we’ve been doing more hand grazing. The other day on my last post I noticed a weird anxious behavior. When we would first bring him out, he would take a few bites of grass then paw impatiently. If you said “Ace… just eat” he would go right back to eating. It took me a couple of times to figure out where it was coming from. He paws impatiently when he eats grain. If there is a lot of activity outside when you take him to graze, he starts the pawing out of habit. Knucklehead! He hasn’t done it the last two times I’ve brought him out. He’s beginning to be ruled by his stomach rather than his nuts. That’s a good thing.

Today when I turned him loose in the outdoor arena, instead of the usual “I’m Free!” rocketing off, he immediately started grazing. Hmmmm… imagine that. After a little while, I walked to the other end to entice him into a little exercise. He immediately began galloping big loops. What impresses me most about this is that he has natural flying lead changes. Some Saddlebreds don’t because they are bred more to trot. My grey horse doesn’t have a flying change at all. Ace has a pretty good automatic change. I was impressed.

As he got hotter, and more tightly wound, he started sticking to the gate corner so I would call him out “Acey… C’mon.” and he would come trotting down the rail, knees popping, head up and eyes bright like a show horse. He’s pretty proud of himself when you call him and as he got bolder coming down to the far end where I was standing, I realized when he was about 15 feet away that he had no plan for stopping or going around me. I gave a yelp and jumped one way, and luckily he jumped the other. Had we both jumped in the same direction it wouldn’t have worked out well. But that bright happy “Here I Come” face was worth it.

When it was time to go in, he was easy to catch. Then you have to get him thinking again which takes a few minutes. Mom uses the whapper stick as a pacifier, but I’m trying to get him weaned off of it and the corresponding nipping and neck wrestling. Just outside the gate she gave it to him and I cried “don’t give it to him, he can’t think with that thing in his mouth” as he proceeded to walk over top of me. But a swish of the longe whip got his brain engaged, and he dropped the whapper and started to act like a horse again. He’s like a puppy with a chew toy. In fact, it's pretty hard to keep things out of his mputh still. He'll eat any old weed, and I'm constantly removing the ones I know he shouldn't eat.

He deals very well with biting flies. Some Saddlebreds can’t cope at all. The horse flies and deer flies are really nasty this year. He always has at least one welt on him from being bitten when he’s out over night. I ordered him a fly sheet and its on it’s way. In the mean time, he’s getting used to having Grey’s put on. The first time I tossed it across his back he was pretty worried. But he doesn’t freak out, he just studies my face frantically as if to say “is this OK? What are you trying to do to me? What am I supposed to do?”

He’s even managing to cross tie without the whapper to chew on. He doesn’t fidget with the ropes as much and he keeps his eyes glued on me. He loves being crosstied and fussed over more than anything in the world. He studies every move I make and just soaks it all up. He’s fun to groom. His coat is so fine, and his color so deep I could just polish it like fine mahogany all day.

Copy is doing well in her new home. She was bred by A.I. at home earlier this week. We’re waiting to find out how that went. We did get a phone message informing us that she is a “damned hussy”. Hey, we warned you. She’d walk over you to get in the trailer if she thought it was going to Sex Camp. She has bonded with her old friend Wayne. He’s such a dedicated horse husband. When he goes out at 2 a.m. to change the turnout group, he has to go all the way to the back of the pasture to get Copy.

Here’s a photo of her departure.