Wednesday, June 27, 2012

River's rough-up rundown

River is the most injury/accident/problem prone horse on the face of the planet.  In about 7 months, he has had:

Swollen legs needing antibiotics
Persistent scratches
Hair loss
Various cuts/scrapes/kicks
Hives from bug bites
Some sort of injury to his forehead causing extra bone to develop
Heel cracks needing $200 shoes
Tweaked hip

So basically, we're averaging a little more than one new health issue per month.  Pretty impressive, huh?

Now my question is:  HOW did this horse hold up to about 10 years on the track and 90 races?  HOW?!  He's barely survived just hanging out in a field, eating and being a horse!  You'd think the stress of racing and training would bring out any problems, but nooooo, not Princess River.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

River can trot without looking like a giraffe!

Because it's been a concern.  Until recently, there hasn't been much evidence that he was capable of trotting without his nose straight up in the air.

(And his tweaked hip is better, as he's now moving normally.)

I tried longeing him in side reins.  After trying them long a few times, I shortened them enough that he could feel them when standing with his head moderately up/out.  Silly guy had no idea what was going on.  He was very politely confused and even tried backing up a couple steps.  It took a minute, but he figured out he was supposed to move *forward*.  I asked him to walk and trot, and while it was better than without side reins, he was still pretty inverted.  So I got a bit creative.

Disclaimer:  I am not generally a fan of gadgets or using anything to force a horse into a frame.  I tried something new on Riv in the hope that it would show him how to move without looking like giraffe on crack.  So please don't read and think I'm taking shortcuts or whatever... I felt that teaching him to move more correctly as soon as possible was wise so he wouldn't develop all the wrong muscling, which would make things even harder later on.

The side reins were adjusted as long as possible, and the adjustable end (which makes a loop of leather) was put through the girth of the surcingle, coming up between his legs, and then snapped to the bit.  The idea being, if he tries to stick his nose straight up, the reins would pull straight down.  At first he had no idea what to do, and when asked to walk forward he did some lovely turns on the forehand.  So I walked at his head, using the longe whip to encourage him to walk forward with me.  When he was doing that not like a moron, I slowly moved back and had him keep walking.  He got the idea and walked with his head held in a normal position.  Then we tried trotting.  It took him a minute to figure out that he COULD trot without imitating a giraffe, but then he really got it.  He was trotting forward, nicely stretchy, and even stretching forward and down as far as he could.  Then we switched to the right, and repeated the whole "you can walk, honest!  I swear, just try!  Please, just TRY walking instead of turning on your forehand, I promise you can do it without dying or exploding" thing.... boys.

In the end, he really seemed to figure out what I want and was such a good boy.  Even when he had no clue what was going on, he was polite and sensible.  What a good pony!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good news and bad news and bad news and good news

Good news:  River is sound (mostly)

You can see he takes a slightly weird step a couple times, but nothing I'm worried about... It'll take time for his heel cracks to grow out and get everything 100% stable.

Here's a still from the video:

Bad news:  He was feeling good enough to spook and buck me off.

Bad news:  Bucking me off was apparently too strenuous for him and he tweaked his hip.  So he was moving a little funny behind.  Pretty sure I have the only horse in the world who bucks off his rider and hurts himself.

Good news:  I'm fine.  Well, my butt is a little sore, but no big deal.  It was my first fall since my bad accident, so I was pretty happy to have a not-too-scary fall.  I got right back on and all ended well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


River got his teeth done on Saturday.  Yikes.  Poor guy's mouth was terrible.  The biggest issue was the numerous sores and ulcers on his cheeks and tongue.  The dentist was a great great guy.  He really wanted to get Riv's mouth taken care of, so when it became clear he wouldn't be able to get the job done without drugs, he happily waited 40 minutes for the Dormosedan to kick in.  I felt bad that he had to hang around doing nothing, but he had no problem with that because the important thing was to get River's teeth fixed.

So it took quite a while, but River is now free of hooks and sharp edges and all that, so now his mouth can start healing.  I think he's eating a bit better now, too.

Drugged River waiting to get floated.

Dentist checking... something.

River and a month old foal saying hi.  She's apparently quite taken with him.

We're still working on our bug repellant supplement taste tests.

Bug Check
River - huh?  Is there something in my grain?  8/10
Me - Mmmm, this stuff is YUMMY!  I'd eat it with a spoon (but then, I looooove garlic).  10/10

Friday, June 8, 2012

Riding and Bug Control

I rode Princess the last couple of days.  He's doing much better.  Still a wee bit off at the trot, but almost sound.  As a rule, I won't get on an unsound horse, but in this case, I don't think walking him around for 10 minutes will do any harm.
He looks extremely tall in this picture...  and do you like his pink ears???  I've had them for years, now I finally have a horse who can wear them!


I seriously starting laughing out loud when I saw this picture.

Oh, and his lumps on his head that are benign and permanent (I mentioned them already, didn't I?  If not:  He has lumps on his head that are benign and permanent) are growing!  Yeah!!  And it's apparently tender, because he didn't like me touching it.

Because he can't wear his fly sheet (although we'll try it again when the round bales come back), I'm trying feed through bug control.  I got free samples of a few from SmartPak.

Here's our review of the first one:

River's take - On its own, ewww, poison, don't touch!  Mixed in grain, oh, okay, guess it's not so bad.  6/10
My take - Very dry and powdery (which makes sense, but not pleasant).  Quite bitter and garlicky.  Not enjoyable, although I do love garlic.  The bitterness was a problem.  3/10

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bad me, bad me!

River is a special boy.  Look what he did to his foot a few weeks ago:

Lovely, huh?  So I texted it to my super-awesome farrier asking what he thought.  Answer:  Probably going to need shoes.  Greaaaaaaaaat.  Thankfully, super-awesome farrier was going to Michigan or Wisconsin or something, so he was able to stop by on the way to check Princess out.  The verdict?

Aluminum bar shoes!  Yay!  I love spending hundreds of dollars on shoes for a horse I've barely ridden!

Princess being a princess, he was not very well behaved.  And to be fair to him, you can see how much bruising is on that sole (not the foot with the crack).  Poor guy was hurting bad.  Super-awesome farrier had to get out his training.... thing.... because Riv just wouldn't stand.  At some point, we had to say "okay, yes, we know it hurts, we're sorry, but you need to suck it up and let us do this so you can get better."

Not only does he do feet, he gives lessons on how to not be a total wimp about everything!

Here's another shot of his foot with the bruise.
I wrapped it with Animalintex for a week.  I didn't see an abscess break, but it may have come out through a nail hole.  Farrier was very certain there was an abscess in there somewhere.

I personalized his flymask:

And then he got a fly sheet because he's uber-sensitive to bugs.
(Note:  He's no longer allowed to wear the flysheet because he learned he could get through the electric fence while wearing it.)

 Here's a view of the crack with the shoe on:

So River is now sound.  He unfortunately lost a bit of weight while he was hurting so much, but that's picking up again.  I rode him today for the first time in a while.  We just walked for maybe 15 minutes, but he was a pretty good boy.  Hopefully some "work" will encourage him to eat well and gain weight...  I can hope, right?