Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Acey has a Giiiiiirlfriend

Ace has been fixed up with a woman. He has been going out with her a short time each day for the past two weeks as they get to know each other. For the first time ever in his life, he irritated a horse enough to get bitten back. Aside from an a$$-whooping delivered by the Grey Horse one day, no other horse has ever tried to stand up to his crap. This is great news because it is the first step in his long over due socialization and integration into a group. I would have loved to see the look on his face when he got bitten.

Ace has not been happy with the recent turn in the weather. Today is very cold and blustery with driving rain. Like his mother, Ace has a very short, fine, plushy coat, and he does not like to get it dirty. I don't remember ever seeing him roll in the dirt or having to clean mud off of him. He's a hot house flower. Today he was objecting to being out in the elements woman or no woman. His owner said last week she was watching from the house as Ace and his girlfriend ran and acted stoopid, and Ace did a sliding stop into a corner wiping out on his side. He stood up quickly hoping no one had seen that. I'm sure he was just as upset about the dirt as he was about the gravity. Ace would be a perfect candidate for a horsey treadmill. That way he could stretch his legs, get his exercise, and never leave the comfort of the barn.

As for his health, he is doing well on the ulcer medication. When his owner tried to reduce it, he got a bit colicky so he is back on the full dose. I talked with a couple of professional Saddlebred caretakers and both of them agreed that it sounded like the pain from the ulcers were the root of his discomfort triggered anxiety episodes. One related a story of a stallion who had undergone two extensive colic surgeries with a lot of intestine removed. Afterwards, he could not eat hay because it irritated his entire digestive tract and he had to be on a complete feed instead.

In my conversations, I did learn of a drug that has been used to successfully treat the self mutiliation syndrome. It is the anti-anxiety drug Imipradene. Originally used to enhance semen quality in stallions used for AI, it was found to also reduce the mutilation tendencies, although a residue of the learned behaviors did remain from habit. As far as I know, no actual research has been done regarding appropriate dosage to treat the anxiety, but it does sound promising for extreme cases if no other solution can be reached.

So, Ace's life is going well. I don't know if this is directly related to his comfort on the ulcer medication, or just a matter of him growing up, but he is beginning to loosen up in the shoulders and move more freely. His owner is mostly worried now about the coming winter and being able to keep him on a regular turnout schedule. That is always an issue in our area since we have at least 6 months of ice, snow and wicked mud. At Mom's barn, we are lucky to have the 50 x 50 indoor. The paddocks are now off limits to save the seeding for next summer's grazing and turnout is limited to the arena and small dry lot. We had a new load of coarse sand delivered this week, and my step father has been hard at work leveling the ridges and ripples before spreading our wonderful new winter footing which keeps us going in even the worst blizzard and misery.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Moody Mare

Copy rules the roost at our barn. She always has her stall door open with a stall guard across. Her turnout shift is all night, so all day she supervises. And makes her angry camel face. The only time she can be pleasant is when she thinks I have a snack. Or when I'm scratching her withers.

This expression was very difficult to capture on camera as she is so vain that as soon as she sees a camera she poses. The look was achieved by repeatedly blowing raspberries at her until she got fed up. Note the snarl wrinkles over the nostril.

Anyway, Copy lives to terrorise the geldings, and she does a good job. If you lead one past her open door, you have to walk between them and waggle your finger at her. Grey is terrified he's going to get his butt bitten and always scurries past. When she is turned out briefly during the day beside the barn to graze, we have to move Grey from that side of the barn because she will pester him endlessly through window. That's why she can't be allowed to graze over night, and is limited to the sacrifice pen on the other side which doesn't allow her to get right up to a window and act like a hussy.
This weekend, my mother was leading her for grass, and Face-Off, who is very jealous and opinionated, came to the fence nearby and threw one of his temper tantrums that involves standing in one spot, and kicking like a mule. What he was trying to say was "I am the most special horse ever, and I want to go out and eat grass too." When Mom headed back to the barn, she took a shortcut between the garden and the paddock, and stopped to visit with Face-Off. He reached over the fence and touched Copy. Copy blasted a board off the fence, hitting Face-Off in the knee and drawing blood. Face-Off was very upset and stood and cow kicked repeatedly in frustration. Copy feigned indifference.

She is covered in plushy winter fur, and her dapples are sort of like dimples.