Fun on the Farm!

Fun on the Farm! - www.theessentialhorse.com

The weather around here is finally starting to calm down a little bit! We did have a huge wind storm yesterday, but it was blowing the storm away not in… so today was gorgeous!

Two days ago I wanted to take Sky for a little drive and went to get her Cavallo boots only to find that she has worn holes through the soles of them! We got them last November and maybe put about 10 miles on them because of the winter. I can’t believe they didn’t last longer. I emailed Cavallo and they are sending me another pair, hoping that this pair was defective somehow. I hope that is the case as well!

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I will say that they are so slippery in the grass, I can’t drive Sky in grassy areas with them on. She just slips and slides around, proving they would not be good boots for CDE’s! So after using them just a little bit and watching Bonnie wear her Easyboots off and on since December I have to say the Easyboots are longer lasting. They are very well constructed and Bonnie seems very comfortable in them even though she rarely gets to have them off. I will be purchasing more Easyboots for the rest of my ponies, but will not be buying the Cavallo boots again. I love having the options and appreciate their customer service, but can’t afford boots that can’t be worn anywhere we want to drive!

Sky and I went for a nice relaxing drive. Because she didn’t have boots we started out driving around the front yard doing long figure of eights and circles then crossed the driveway and drove around the hay stack and then went out on the road a little bit. They just put down new gravel and it’s deep and lovely so she didn’t have too much trouble out there! We wandered down to the corner where our neighbors gate was open… we couldn’t resist! We went through the gate and walked and trotted around the corner of their field. Sky was so interested being somewhere new! The sun was shining so pretty and I just felt so very happy!

When we were walking back home there was an antelope in the middle of the road. I didn’t get that on the video because I couldn’t drive her one handed while encountering an antelope! LOL But she did great and the antelope panicked and crawled through the fence to run off with it’s brother or sister. Antelope make a funny ‘honking’ sound when they are calling to each other. I hear it often and look around trying to figure out what is making that sound only to remember it’s the antelope!

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Sky looking at the Antelope alongside the road.

When I got home I brought Bonnie out and we went for a short 15 minute walk in the very soft deep grass in the front yard. I took her boots off she she could have a little break. I also took my shoes off so I would be sure to stay in the very soft area and not wander into the harder ground. She isn’t ready for that yet!

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This face! I love it!!

Bonnie’s blood tests came back positive for IR, but negative for Cushings. Based on the numbers (which I don’t totally understand yet but am researching!) Bonnie may do well on the Thyro-L powder. We will give it a try and if it doesn’t help we have some other options. This goes to show that it’s a good idea to get a couple of opinions as another vet I talked to about her felt Thyro-L wasn’t the way to go, but I can’t remember why!

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Sky’s blood tests came back normal so we are going to really start driving for reals now! I have access to a beautiful mile and an a quarter drive with little to no traffic and lots of beautiful scenery so I will be hauling Sky down there to drive a couple times a week! I think sometimes I’ll bring Zorro along and pony him behind the cart to get him in shape too. I plan on ground driving him this summer, with the idea that he will pull the travois this fall. He is just a two year old so I won’t hitch him to the cart this year. Sky looks thrilled in this photo, but she was very happy to be out driving tonight! And even when we left the farm she didn’t get silly or anxious, but stayed curious and connected the entire time. We are having so much fun!

Just wanted to share a little of the fun on the farm!

Bath Day!

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Clean girls. Bonnie stood with the cold hose running for about an hour while I trimmed everyone else up. She could stand in or out of the water but she chose to stand in it!

We had a beautiful day today. Lots of sunshine, a little rain and temps soaring into the high 70’s low 80’s. The perfect day for bath day! I caught all 5 ponies and they practiced patience while being tied.

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These boys. They are so cute! Chantelle was tied to the left of Zorro, but inside the fence. I wasn’t sure if Zorro would be studdy so I just gave them a little space.

First I trimmed all of their feet (except Bonnie! I just trimmed her two days ago), then I gave them all a nice warm bath using the water from our washing machine hook up, then I wormed them all (except Bonnie because I’m not sure about using wormer on her until she is healthier).

I was totally blown away by how Bonnie, Zorro and Captain Planet handled the bath. Bonnie was so confident and quiet while I sprayed her. Last year I spent a lot of time helping her feel confident with the hose and it really paid off! I could hardly believe how calm she was! Then Zorro. He was awesome. He just keeps proving himself over and over. I just LOVE that horse! Captain Planet will do anything for a cookie so he was happy to stand quietly as long as I gave him a cookie now and then. After his bath I roached his mane and oh my gosh!!! He is adorable!!!

Chantelle, the new pony from my grandma, did awesome. I don’t think she has ever had a bath but she handled it very well. I truly love these Cal babies! (Chantelle is Zorro’s half sister, same sire.)

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Aren’t they so cute together! Zorro was a perfect gentleman so I think his testosterone is running low! Whoot whoot!

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Chantelle is adorable. I was taking photos by myself today but when I clip her up I’ll get some good ones! She is about 33″ tall and so refined. She has legs for days!!

Of course Sky was a good girl about her bath. She loves the warm spray and shows me all her itchy spots so I can thoroughly spray them. All the ponies were so shiny after their baths! It was hard to tell when they were dry. I wish the camera would capture that healthy shine they have!

Just a fun day of grooming and pony maintenance!

Fat or Fluffy?

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This is the time of year that people are asking, “Is my mini too fat?”

Over the years I have done my fair share of rescuing. And though I have rescued some ponies that foundered from too much grass, many of the minis I rescued were actually too thin. I understand that people are worried about founder and they should be! However one should educate ones self about how a mini founders. Because they can actually founder when they are too thin as well. Being fat doesn’t always mean they will founder and keeping them too thin doesn’t insure they will never founder.

I wanted to share this comparison because I find it very interesting!

The photo on the left was taken today. I spent some time doing a trace clip on Sky because she has been getting way too hot when we are driving. It turned out she had A LOT of hair hanging on under there! The photo on the right was take this last Sunday. It took it to show how fat she is, showing how she is fat on her tummy and her neck. However when you look at the photo on the left you can see her neck is not fat at all! And her tummy isn’t as fat as it appears in the other photo. Don’t get me wrong. She is still overweight (I had some blood drawn on her on Monday so we can see if something is going on metabolically) but I was sure happy to see how she cleaned up today!

This is an interesting comparison as well! The photo on the left was take when I first brought her home, before Crypto Aero. The next photo is Sky last summer after eating Crypto Aero for a few months. She sure did look awesome!! Then the right middle is Sky last winter before we had snow. Quite fluffy but so peachy! The far right photo was taken today. I’m happy to see that she is much darker in her winter coat than last spring and actually hasn’t gained as much weight as I first thought! With all the driving we will be doing I think she will look even better this summer than last!

I think it’s actually kind of amazing that all these photos are the same horse! It just goes to show that it’s actually quite difficult to judge a horse by it’s photo. Not all photos are equal or even ‘good’ which makes judging a horses weight very difficult. Just some food for thought!

Fun Stuff!

Just a bit of fun stuff going on around here today. I drove Sky tonight and she was wonderful! She is in heat and did pretty well considering. Last year I would never have been able to drive her during this time as she was so cranky. I’m so glad she is feeling well enough to play with me this year. She had lots of energy, due to being in heat, so we had to do lots of circles, figures of eight and trotting past the driveway then turning around and trotting past the driveway again. While doing this she started offering the most amazing trot! She would lower her butt, round her back and lower her head and power UP! Her trot didn’t get faster, but her stride nearly doubled. It was the best extended trot I’ve ever witnessed her doing! I wish I had had someone videoing us from the side. I’ll bet it was something to see!

We did a bit of cantering too. It was just a fun fun evening! I look forward to really getting her in shape. She went to the vet on Monday to have blood drawn so I can figure out why she is so overweight. Some exercise combined with the info I’ll receive from the vet should help her get in very good shape!

Next the boys and I added a south side to the little track in one side of my dry lot. Now it makes a complete circle! Sky and Chantelle move all day long. It’s so nice to see them using it as it was intended. I added some rocks and a small log on the north side so I could hide food there. This promotes foraging and gets them hunting along the track, moving! I am loving setting this up and can’t wait to build bigger and better ones in the coming years! Turn up the volume as I walk you through it.

The Beginning of Our Track!

The Beginning of Our Track! - www.theessentialhorse.com

Oh I am so excited!!! I finally could afford the solar powered charger, hot wire and insulators to put together part of my track! This side is for the girls, Sky and Chantelle. When Zorro is done being a stud then I can put all the ponies out on it together and the boys will help move the girls around. I am going to hide hay around the track to encourage movement as well! I’m so excited about all the things we can do on this little track system.

Bonnie will have to stay in the dry lot until the grass is completely dead along the track. That will happen when I can put more ponies on it, when the weather gets hot and as I dig some of it up with a shovel! I am going to be super proactive about getting rid of all of it.

For now I’ll let the girls out at night. It’s supposed to warm up next week then I’ll have to adjust their time out there until most of the grass is dead. But at least they are out there trotting around!

As I add things to it, plant herb planters and make adjustments I will update my blog to share what I’m learning. I can’t wait to build a bigger one out on our 5 acres in a few years!!

Zorro’s Surgery!

Zorro's Surgery - www.theessentialhorse.com

It was time for Zorro to have a little brain surgery… he got gelded today! I am so excited about having this boy as an awesome driving gelding. He would have made a wonderful stallion so will make a fantastic gelding!!

He hasn’t been in a horse trailer since he came here last year. He wasn’t halter broke then, getting him to the trailer was interesting back then, but he just followed his mom into the trailer. I waited until yesterday to start working with him and the trailer… procrastinator anybody!? We have been playing around with the Spanish walk because teaching him things like this is so easy. He loves to interact with me and loves cookies, so anything that gets him some one-on-one time as well as a cookie is something he is going to remember and do over and over and over. Last year we spent about an hour playing around my bridge. It took that long to just get him to put his foot on it. However once he did put is foot on it and I praised him, gave him a few cookies and took his halter off, he will now put his foot on everything and anything. He is always looking for a way to get a cookie because I am not a vending machine, my ponies have to DO something or offer something for a cookie. It makes for really fun training sessions! They come up with all kinds of fun things!

Back to the trailer. I haven’t done much pressure/release with him and the only stick and string stuff I’ve done is friendly game. So he doesn’t really understand much more than leading around. He has some opposition reflex (something to work on this summer!!) so he will try to sit back when tied. I never tie him without being right there and I don’t tie him hard and fast.

We walked up to the trailer and he immediately put his front feet in! He got some cookies and lots of praise then backed out. After doing this 3 times he decided the game was over and he wasn’t going to approach the trailer again. The thing about Zorro is once he understands something (whether it’s exactly what you want him to understand or whether he makes an assumption) he KNOWS it and will do it over and over! So when he understood that he was done with trailer loading he absolutely refused to even approach the trailer. I had to come up with an alternate plan because pulling wasn’t going to work since he doesn’t completely understand pressure/release. So I put a long rope on his halter and ran it through the front tie ring in the trailer and then put a long rope around his butt to encourage him from behind. THIS he understood. I helped him all the way into the trailer three times and he had it! Now he knew exactly what I wanted and continued to get in and out of the trailer over and over. He will stay in the trailer even when I walk away and Captain is out of sight. He unloads very calmly and will turn around and get right back in!

This morning we had to load up before 6 am to get my boys to their first Driver’s Ed class and Zorro to the vet by 8! So it was a bit dark. Both boys came running up to me when I went in their pen, they stuck their noses in the halter and walked right into the trailer! I was amazed at their willingness. If you have ever tried to load a horse early in the morning on a time line, you will understand how excited I was that they cooperated so well!

They traveled well, eating from their hay net the whole time. They were quiet and calm when we got the vet, an hour drive away. When the vet opened I went in and and did the paperwork, then went out and unloaded the boys. They both walked calmly into the horse bay, crossing from gravel to concrete and going in a big garage door. Something neither pony has done before! They were quiet in the bay, just standing and looking around. When the vet closed the garage door Zorro barely flicked an ear. He turned his head and looked and just stood relaxed. I was so proud of him.

The vet and vet tech both were very impressed with Zorro. They commented on how good both boys weight is for their build. They were impressed with how nice their feet looked. The vet tech said she hasn’t seen such a nice mini in a long time! Zorro is such a striking boy and it doesn’t stop with his looks. He is calm, sweet and responsive as well as handsome. I am super impressed with our Cal babies!! (The new pony I have here (photos coming soon!) is a Cal daughter out of my grandmother’s little 32″ mare.)

Zorro stood perfectly while getting his sleepy time shots and went down easily. The surgery went quickly and was very neat and tidy! The vet moved up to check for wolf teeth and BOY did Zorro have them! Two big, well rooted teeth. The vet commented that he hasn’t pulled such a large set of wolf teeth from a little horse before! As Zorro woke up he proved how strong he is! The vet tech had a bit of a time keeping him down. He is a big strong boy that’s for sure.

Left: Under sedation and starting surgery. Right: Waking up.

After surgery we led the boys back to the trailer and Zorro jumped straight in! No hesitation. Captain leaped in right behind him. When we got home they talked to the girls and then slowly got out! It was a very successful day. I am crossing my fingers that he heals up without a hitch! I am worn out with Bonnie’s issues. It would be nice to have a simple recovery.

Uggg… Bonnie Update

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Oh you guys. Bonnie was doing so GREAT! She was able to join us for short walks on the road and was so energetic, leaping and bucking and trotting around.

Then…

She got a hold of another pony’s hay net. I always tie them up but must not have tied it well or forgot to tie it at all and it ended up getting rolled up the dry lot to Bonnie where she was able to snag it under the fence and eat the entire thing. As acute as she is again, I’m guessing it was nearly a full net when she got it. I am so heart broken right now. She is as bad as she was 7 weeks ago. I have her back in the SoftRide boots, but she doesn’t want to move much at this time. I guess we are back to the waiting game again! I am treating her with Homeopathics to help with the pain and will start her on another detox plan soon. Zorro is getting gelded tomorrow, so I’ll have to save up a bit more money to get Bonnie the things she needs for the next detox.

Here she is trying to come to me. It’s absolutely heart breaking watching her try to walk…

So please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. I will continue to work hard to help her be better as long as she needs me to. It’s a tough road though.