Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Herd Goes Wild for Tumbleweed

I've decided to call Foxy Bonus Mama, rather than Surrogate Mama.  He had a good mama who loved and raised him, and now, he has a good mama who loves, protects him, and is training him to be a horse.

Today, I let he and Bonus Mama, Foxy, out on our North Pasture--which is about five acres. It shares a fence line with a much larger pasture, where I locked the herd.

But this was a bit nerve wracking for all involved.  Me, because I didn't want one to jump the fence and get him, and Cowgirl, who was trying to control her herd.

Tumbleweed, however, is a social butterfly, and there was no keeping him away from them.

So, I moved the herd into the turnout pasture, which has a sturdier, taller fence.

And Bonus Mama was able to introduce them a little.

So far, so good.

Foxy has been showing him the fence line, little by little, taking him further and further out.

And helping him get to know the others through the fence.

There is one issues--he is extremely herd bound to Bonus Mama.  That is going to take some work, on my part, to fix.  If you're leading him, he stomps, throws his shoulder around, and tries to go ahead.  If he's in his stall, he bangs the panels, runs around, and whinnies.  Mind you, this is only if you take mama away from HIM, not if you take him away from mama.

I  haven't pushed him in this area because it's already stressful enough being weaned without adding in separation anxiety.  I'll probably work on it in very small doses.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Tumbleweed's Surrogate Mama Rocks

Today was the day I felt comfortable putting Foxy and little Tumbleweed together for turnout.   And, oh, did it go well.

He tested her a little bit, as babies do with their mamas.

But mostly, he just wanted to cut loose and play!

And run!

The other horses wanted to check him out over the fence,

but Foxy came over and stood with him protectively.

T: I'm with her.

F: This is my baby now, girls.

If all goes well, I'll release them into the North Pasture by themselves tomorrow. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Tumbleweed At Four Months Old

Having a foal is like being a new mom--it's scary.  Is he getting enough to eat? Is he getting enough exercise?  Am I training him right?  Can I keep him safe?  Is he getting sick?  ...and on and on.

Here is Tumbleweed today, running the fence line, then doing a stop and turn.

He's very fast and nimble. 

Here he is afterward, in his stall. (See my mama couch outside of it?)

I tried to feed him Mare and Foal, but he hasn't developed a taste for it.  He does, however, like whole oats and DAC, held together by DAC Oil.

dac Oil is kind of smelly, and I didn't think he'd like it, but he loves it.

My question is, if I'm going to feed this with an unfortified grain--whole oats--how much should I feed?  Is it better to mix it with beet pulp?

He eats a lot of grass, and it is there for him free choice all day and night.  He doesn't have any problem chowing it down.

I don't want him to get too fat, but I don't want him to get too skinny.  I don't want him to grow too slow, but I don't want him to grow too fast.  I don't want him to get a D.O.D. (Developmental Orthopedic Disease).  

In summary, I want him to be perfectly healthy.

We worked on the bigger bridge today--the one suspended on tires.  It's tall and scary, and he didn't trust it.  I got him to put his two front feet on it, and we called that a success for today.  It was a success!

We also walked a little further from the barn and hand-grazed.  I locked up the dogs beforehand because they can scare him.  He did really well, and he's learning more and more to trust and look to me.  It's a process of growing a relationship.  I love every minute of it--even the new mama worries.  I expect they will soon pass.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Two Week Weaning Anniversary

(Not sure what to do about our goat. He has figured out how to get into T'weed's stall and eat his grain.  He's an old goat.  The last of our goats.  Over thirteen years old and ornery.)

I've had to work a lot this week, and it kind of sucks the life out of me by the end of the day.  I'm not really cut out for some of the work I do.  My education is in teaching and writing, not accounting and bill collecting.

Makes me wonder, what kind of person would actually enjoy collecting back payments, billing and dealing with insurance issues, and balancing the books.  I don't enjoy it, and I actually benefit from what I collect.  The whole process is painful.  I mean, I'd love to give services away for free--but we do have to make a living at this, too.  Luckily for me, our clients are good about it all, but it's still emotionally taxing--because my personality is NOT cut out for it.  Thinking about money is like kryptonite to me.

Horses, on the other hand--heaven.

However, the last couple of days have been short on horses.  No rides.  No training.  There has only been feeding and petting.  I take that back, I did work with T'weed on Liberty stuff in his turnout.  We worked on disengaging his hind and front quarters with hand signals.  He was funny.  At first he didn't get it, and he'd run away from me.  But then the light bulb went on, and he completely understood and realized how easy it all was.

Last weekend was full of horses.  I returned to riding Cowboy bareback and working on body signals versus reins.  He was dirty and the butt of my jeans was filthy when we were done.

We had visits from some special LITTLES who got to love on Tumbleweed and ride Penny, our golden girl.

Today is the two week anniversary of T'weed's weaning.  TWO WEEKS.  It went so fast!  Of course, I was sick for most of it, so it was hard to separate my sadness at the whole process from just feeling miserable.  Now that I'm well again, I can tell you, it's still sad.  It's like eating meat, but not being able to butcher a cow you raise.  I want the weanling, but it's hard to separate him from his mama.  Let's face it, every one of us owns a former weanling.

Tumbleweed has matured a lot in two weeks.  He doesn't act like a baby as much.  It used to be common to see him laying in his hay and eating.  Shirley sent me videos of him doing it at her house, and I sent her a video of him doing it at mine.

Now, at a whopping FOUR months old, he's a more serious fellow.  And, so far, he's a horse's horse.  He likes horses, and they like him.  He's not an in-your-pocket type with his human peeps.  Which is interesting, because I told my friends a month or so ago, that I would prefer a horse who gets the job done to a horse that's in  my pocket and doesn't get the job done. 

Although, you can bet, I'll be trying to get both. 

Watch out T'weed!  Someday you're going to realize how much you need me.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

First Trail Ride Since Back in the Saddle

The toughest part about my injuries was waiting to get back in the saddle with Cowboy and Leah.  I had worked so hard with Leah through the fall/winter/and spring and she was doing so well on the trails, I worried that she would forget most of that work.  With Cowboy, I had started bareback and bridleless work--also put on hold.

Yesterday, I planned to ride Leah at the state park near my house.  I gave myself plenty of time to work with her ahead of the ride on the obstacle horse--to make sure we were together.  And, I was fully prepared to cancel the ride if we weren't.

I took her through the course, first, in hand.  She did awesome.  I saddled her up and rode her through the course. She did awesome.  We were together.  She was gentle and listening, and looking back to me for a rub on the neck of congratulations for a job well done.  We were a team.  A partnership.  Everything I'm always looking for.

So, I told my friend we were ready for the trail.

There are three or four spots on the trail where I'd always had issues with Leah, but we had worked through them.  One, was the entrance to the trail--earlier in the year, she would attempt to avoid entering it by bolting to the left.  Second, was a juncture where two trails meet and become a steep descent to the river.  Leah has tried bolting there, too, in the past.  Third and Fourth are both spots where the trail splits before heading down to the river.  There's also a fifth place of trouble--the point at which the trail heads back to the trailer. Leah used to want to break into a trot or lope there to hurry back, and she would spook at little things to make it seem like she had a reason to do exactly that.  We worked and worked to get her past that by circling back until she'd walk, and not run, back to the trailer.  In the early days, that would add on at least an hour to our ride.

Of that list, she tried a little something on 1-4 (looking and slightly pulling to the left), but mostly at point 2--the steep descent to the river.  When we reached it, she stopped and looked to the left, where another trail leads away from the descent.  I was wearing spurs, but I didn't use them because she hadn't made a move to the left yet.  Instead, I reached down and patted her and said, I hear ya, girl,but it's okay. Let's go. I fully expected her to bolt, like she has done there in the past, so I was ready for it.

However, I think it's important to acknowledge their communication with us if we want to encourage more communication.  They are truly our partners.  Leah has alerted me to MOOSE, wild turkey, dogs, ---you name it.  She can see and smell and hear what I cannot see and smell and hear.  Someday, we may get to that point--which is a blind corner, by the way--and something may be there.

So, that little, quick pat on the neck of reassurance was all it took.  I bounced my legs on her flanks--gently--and asked her to move on--and she did.

That was the most excitement we had.  The friend who was with us on the trail was duly impressed with Leah.  She commented about how she was always looking back to me for a pat and a praise.  When we're on the trail, Leah is completely tuned in to me, and I have to say, I am very, very proud of her.

And thankful.