Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Foggy New Ride

We're all settled into the new barn - now its time to start getting familiar with our new riding routes.  It is drastically different from our miles of deserted woods trails we've had access to for the past few months up north.  This is farm country, sprinkled with neighborhoods of commuters.  Corn fields, dairy cows, and grass lawns are our new scenery, at least what we could see of it through the dense fog and perpetual mist.  All these roads are paved, which has got me thinking about conditioning miles.  While the boys are super road safe, so the traffic aspect isn't so much of a concern on the secondary roads, the ongoing concussion from being on a paved surface is worrying.  There is a bit of gravel shoulder in many places, but not all.  Rhio is usually shod, but with so much asphalt, I will be hesitant to shoe him.  One of these evenings, I must sit down and go through my boot bucket - matching up usable pairs, replacing a few gaiters, assessing my stock.  I think boots will be the name of the game for rides out from the barn, anyway - good traction on the asphalt, and hopefully some absorption of the concussive forces.  I know from being a runner, that the pounding my own legs take running on paved surfaces is very different from when I run trails, or natural surfaces.  A little bit of road work is good - the even, firm surface feels good and uses muscles differently (its easier,actually!), and it can help build bone in horses.  But too much will lead to soreness, and, I believe, eventual deleterious joint effects.  So, we'll see how it goes...

Given Red's accident the other day, I opted to pony him along today.  The paddocks and barn area are treacherous with a layer of water over ice (it was almost 45 degrees today!), and I certainly didn't want him running about being upset with Rhio leaving.  Good thing we've been practicing our ponying all fall!  It is second nature now. 

We are able to ride off the property at the back side, and follow the edge of a cornfield out to a secondary road, thereby avoiding riding on the busier county road.  We then followed that road about 2 miles to an intersection, then retraced our steps.  Bits of the road were cornfield on both sides and felt very "country," while others felt very suburban, with houses, garages, driveways, and lawns on both sides.  I met a lady who stopped her car to chat; she also has horses along the road - she was very pleased to see horses out and about.  The few other cars and trucks that passed us were very polite, slowing down and moving over.  I think we won't have any trouble navigating the typical hazards of road riding.  Rhio did have to pass some dairy cows, which are much more terrifying than even scary beef cows (I have no idea why!), and despite Red's complete nonchalance, I had a giraffe-necked, snorting, prancing pony.  Silly boy.  Is it too much to hope that living in dairy country might help him conquer his fear of Holsteins? 

Riding along the edge of the cornfield.
Despite the dismal weather (but at least it was warm!), we all enjoyed seeing the new sights and getting out and about.  The boys even found a few blades of green grass to munch and were in heaven for it!  

The view of the farm, from the back (coming home).

Rhio releases some tension after being turned back out.  Must have been those Holsteins!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Horses Are Accidents Waiting to Happen

A little Friday afternoon ride - to check out the new area - was what I had planned when I headed to the barn under a gray sky today.  It would be the first since the horses moved last Sunday.  I brought Rhio into the barn to tack up, listening to Red whinny outside.  For all Red's comfort when riding alone, he sure doesn't like to be left home by himself.  As any of you regular readers will know, I ponied him along every time I rode up north this fall, except once.  Given the setup at the new barn, with lots of horses in close proximity and constant visual contact, I thought things would be ok.  Boy was I wrong!

Rhio and I started off around the perimeter of the pastures, and I was watching Red run up and down from their pen into their pasture, looking very prettily animated and all Arabian while doing so.  He was screaming for Rhio and I was pleased that Rhio was doing so well with ignoring it!  Rhio doesn't prefer to go by himself and can sometimes be barn/buddy sour because of it.  This is one reason I like to get him out and about solo pretty quickly after moving to a new place if I can.  We had completed 2 sides of the 3 we were going to ride around, before heading off toward a corn field, when Red had his accident.  Running full tilt up from the pasture, he slipped and fell flat on his side right at the gate, sliding into the (open) gate, and getting his hind legs (one or both, I'm not sure) caught between the rails.  The gate came off, and fell on top of him, and after what seemed an enormously long time, he got himself free, jumped to his feet, and ran off toward the barn end of the pen.  Rhio froze when the commotion occurred, and I had to jump off and try to lead him toward thrashing Red, which he was a bit reluctant to do.  Luckily, there were several people around as some of the others were getting ready to haul out to an indoor arena to ride.  We all rushed to the scene, and Red was so worked up he just couldn't stop moving or let me touch him.  He was at least weight bearing on all 4 limbs and there were no major cuts.  I had led tacked-up Rhio right into the pen with him to try to get him to calm down.  After hurriedly untacking, I took both horses into the barn to assess Red's injuries.  All I could find were a few superficial (but bloody) scrapes on his right fetlock.  Nothing was swollen (yet) and so I put the two of them into the outdoor arena to move around a bit and let the adrenaline subside (for all of us.) 

About an hour after it happened, Red was calm and had a little heat in the fetlock with the scrapes but seemed otherwise ok.  I am sure he is body sore, and gave him a little Bute to help with that.  I also spent some quiet time meticulously combing out his tail - an activity sure to calm my mind, and it seems to have the same effect for him as well. 

So, now what?  I am thinking through several scenarios to cope with his attachment to Rhio.  He has fallen in love with a mare in the adjoining pen, who happens to be stalled at night, and so was not in the pen next door when I took Rhio out to ride.  I will try ponying him the next time I go, so he doesn't feel left behind again immediately, but I also think that perhaps riding while that mare is outside would be beneficial.  We shall see.  He does not mind being the horse leaving the herd, and going out alone, but being the one left simply overwhelms him.  I sure know that I will be getting a 3rd equine ASAP if I am ever able to take them home to live someday!  Having just 2 won't be an option, clearly. 

Interestingly, this has been a trait of his since the day I bought him, 12 years ago.  Very shortly after bringing him home, I had to suture up a cut on a front leg, acquired by sliding into the fence when his 2 buddies left to go for a ride.  If I look carefully, riffling the hair up, I can still find the scar.  The falling down part also seems to be a theme - and not one I particularly enjoy! 

It is a scary thing when your horse has an accident.  It's especially scary to watch it happen, in the slowest of slow motion of course, and know there is absolutely nothing you can do about it whatsoever.  Thankfully, he seems just fine and tomorrow will be a new day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Well-Socialized Ponies

Red and Rhio have moved again - about 3 hours south of their previous home in the northwoods of Wisconsin, to the Green Bay/Appleton area.  (Obviously, C., I, and the dogs have moved as well!) As expected, my adaptable boys have settled right in.  They trailered with ease (many thanks to friends B. and T. for taking a day and their rig to move them!) and we arrived at their new barn after dark.  I don't generally recommend arriving at night, but this time of year, with sunset at 4 pm, it just couldn't be helped.  They moved into their own paddock and went straight to eating hay and having a good roll. 

We all think about socializing puppies at a young age, making sure our dogs are good canine citizens, exposed to lots of different experiences and able to live among us humans companionably.  Does anyone think about socializing horses?  I suppose some do - but mostly we think about training them to a specific discipline, to instilling good ground manners so that us puny humans can handle animals many times our size without harm, to bending their flight-or-flight prey instincts and wandering ways to fit into our nice neat boxes.  After years of boarding in different places, trailering in different trailers with unfamiliar horses, camping at endurance rides, and sharing the trails with numerous unknown equines, I would say my boys are also well socialized.  They play well with others, horse and human alike.  They get along.  They are relaxed in new environments.  They are easy for anyone to handle.  They adapt to new food sources and methods of feeding, to new water and waterers/tanks/buckets/etc, to new types of fencing and shelter, to new routines, and to new buddies with ease.  I am very lucky.  And they give the Arabian breed a good name - as many folks unfamiliar with Arabs, or only familiar with the 'hot' show Arabs, would never expect them to be so dependable, so predictable, so unflappable, so resilient, so personable, and so calm. 

Meeting new friends across the fence

Paying attention to the new stuff here

Play time!

Love the ears shot!

Yup - life is good.