Kissable Noses & Muddy Ponies

Kissable Noses & Muddy Ponies - www.theessentialhorse.com

The weather around here hasn’t been very nice. Lots of wind, blowing rain/sleet/snow/hail, more wind, mud. It hasn’t made playing with horses very much fun. No one likes to do anything when the wind is blowing 45 miles per hour. The horses are so reactive and silly that it doesn’t make sense to try to do much of anything.

But

The wind is great for drying out muddy pens and melting snow banks! So today, even though I have had a horrible cold with a gut wrenching cough, I took myself outside and started my spring cleaning of the two dry lots and the horse shed. Unfortunately, for some reason, the horse shed is flooded this year so it’s a total mess in there. I’m going to have to get some sawdust to soak up some of the mud and mess and there is still quite a lot of ice in there as well so I couldn’t get all the manure and old hay out (and I BROKE my manure fork, SIGH) but I put a good dent in it! Having my hysterectomy in November and then all of our intense below zero days hasn’t made pen clean up easy or even possible. This spring is going to be a MESS!!!

Bonnie is feeling so much better now that the ground isn’t freezing solid every night. She is running and chasing Sky, leaping and bucking and being totally silly. Just what I want to see!! And apparently Sky loves a bit of chaos so I think everyone is happy that Bonnie is feeling better.

Bonnie was “protecting” me on the fence line as I cleaned the boys pen today. I spent a long time just sitting with her, her nose pressed through the fence while she kissed my whole face. She is so gentle and sweet. This is something she would NEVER have done last summer. She has come a long way over the winter, with me taking my time and doing things on her timeline. It’s amazing what we can accomplish while seeming to not do anything! Then she let Sky come over and they both gave me some loving through the fence. Lots of nuzzles and nose kisses!

I felt a light nudge on my behind and there was Captain wanting his turn. He is such a lovey. Just like his mama.

Some days are just about this. Doing nothing but kissing and snuggling and hugging dirty, muddy ponies, and picking up poo in between all the love!

 

Love is.... www.theessentialhorse.com

This one of my favorite Bible versus. I always wish I could change ‘love’ for ‘Mindy’ but I am too imperfect to live up to it. However you CAN replace ‘love’ with ‘horse’ and hit the nail on the head.

Horses are amazingly patient and kind. They put up with so much from us. We struggle to learn their language and spend a lot of time trying to force them to learn ours. We spend very little time meeting them where they are and yet they will continuously meet us where we are and do what they can to help us.

Horses are not easy to anger and they don’t hold grudges. They may learn that people are not to be trusted and yet when they are faced with a kind, understanding person they will come around and learn to trust again. After some of the things I’ve witnessed people doing to their horses I am always totally amazed at their level of forgiveness. We could learn a lot from horses about not holding a grudge.

Horses absolutely rejoice when the truth comes to light. When we are being truthful about how we feel; scared, angry, worried, stressed, our horses will do what they can to help us. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand how they are helping us if we don’t slow down and really listen to them, but they are truly trying to make us better people, better partners.

Horses have perseverance. They will keep trying and trying. We have a lot to learn from our horses and we can never know it all. When you open up to feeling a bit more when with horses it’s amazing what you can learn.

When working and playing with horses… Love never fails.

Bonnie Update

Bonnie Update - www.theessentialhorse.com

Bonnie foundered on December 27th, much to my dismay. She has been lame since then. To counteract the founder I have been putting Ortho Sport on her feet every day and she’s been wearing her Easyboot minis, which have been a life saver!! I don’t know what we would do without them. I took them off for a day to give her a break and to let her feet air out and she didn’t move much all day long. It’s difficult with the frozen ground and the snow that builds up a bit on her soles. Both things that are painful when your feet are inflamed.

On January 11th I started Bonnie on Remission. She loves it. I top feed it, with a little warm water, on her 1/2 a cup of Crypto Aero Wholefeed. She licks the pan completely clean. And fiercely protects her pan from Sky, who hoovers her feed so she can run over and try to steal Bonnie’s.

bonniecollage

Bonnie loving her feed!

Two days ago I got some Comfort pads to go inside the Easyboots. The difference in Bonnie’s mental and physical bearing was nearly instant! The pads are helping her tremendously. They are thicker than I thought they would be and a bit firmer, but they are doing their job perfectly. And I was surprised how well they fit down inside the boot and left room for Bonnie’s foot. She’s back to eating well and moving all around the dry lot. Yesterday she nearly trotted to chase after me for her feed pan. I loved seeing that! And the tracks the boots leave are so cool. They are like little hiking boots! Perfect for this snowy weather…

SONY DSC

Easyboot mini track in the snow.

She is handling all of this like a champ. I don’t have to halter her to work on her feet anymore. She stands perfect for me and even offers me her feet. I know the Ortho Sport helps her feel better right away so that has helped me win that friendly game! When I had to trace her feet so I could cut the pads to the appropriate size she stood perfectly and allowed me to trace around her feet, also without a halter! Something I would not have been able to do a few months ago. I’m so proud of how far she’s come! Pretty soon I’ll be able to trim her feet at liberty!

So far so good. I am preparing to have to spray down my dry lot this spring so ZERO grass will grow in there. I need her to be sound so we can do lots of hiking this summer! My dry lot is so big that they always have a bit of green grass growing when the weather clears up and gets warmer. This year I’m just going to nip that in the bud for good… I can’t wait to be able to set up a Paddock Paradise someday!

Miniature Horse Vehicles

Miniature Horse Vehicles - www.theessentialhorse.com

There are many options out there for miniature horse vehicles. So many that it can be overwhelming! There are two wheeled easy entry carts, two wheeled show carts, two wheeled marathon carts, two wheeled Hyperbikes. There are four wheeled buggies, marathon buggies, wagons, viceroys. So many options!

I’m going to share some of my all time favorites. A few of the carts and buggies that I would buy if money wasn’t a problem. Some of the carts and buggies that are affordable, even for those of us on a budget and a few that I’ve had in the past and wish I still had!

I’ll start with the past. I had an easy entry cart for training. It was an older used easy entry cart, nothing fancy and very light weight. I had a Graber show cart and a four wheeled buggy built by a friend of mine and a Hyperbike. I loved my Hyperbike and am looking forward to getting another!

cartscollage

Left: Inexpensive Easy Entry Cart $400   Middle: Graber Show Cart $1700   Right: Hyperbike $1550

118-a_0001-skyandbuggy

My buggy hitched to Sky a 36 1/2″ Mare.

parade-and-angus-019

My buggy hitched to a Dane, a 32″ stallion.

I loved my buggy and so did the minis. It was lightweight and very easy for them to pull. I could load up the back with kids and go for a neighborhood drive. It was an awesome vehicle for parades as well. I’m hoping to get another buggy someday!

hyperbikecollage

Hyperbike hitched to Cammy a 36″ mare.

My Hyperbike was awesome. I would hitch up my main driving mare, Cammy, and we would fly around the hay field. The cart is so wide that we could gallop around and I was never worried about tipping over. I didn’t do any mountain driving then, but do plan on doing a lot now so will be getting another Hyperbike!

Here are a few photos of my little stallion, Dane, hitched to the Graber show cart.grabershowcartcollage

We had this beautiful wooden easy entry cart that we bought from Silver Penny Farms. It was a heavy cart, but so well balanced that the minis could pull it without any problems. I loved the big wheels as it made the cart pull so much smoother.silverpennyeasyentrycollage

Here are a few photos of the metal easy entry cart as well. The mini is Ellie and she’s about 35″ tall.easyentrycartcollage.jpg

Now onto the vehicles that are on my dream list!

I love the vehicles at Patty’s Pony Place in Canada. They are so beautiful and well built.  The Cricket is on the left and the Scorpion is on the right!pattysponyplacecollage.jpg

Then there is the Graber Marathon buggy. If I had a team I would definitely want one of these!!grabermarathoncollage

I also really like the looks of the Pacific Smart cart. Lots of people that do CDE’s use these carts. They are sleek and very well built. And I’ve heard they are very comfortable!pacificsmartcartcollage

Now onto the affordable vehicles. I have the Kingston Saddlery easy entry cart. The price was so right ($475 and that INCLUDES shipping!!) that I wasn’t sure about the quality. I had mixed reviews from different people, but decided to give it a try, knowing if it wasn’t heavy duty enough for driving here, I could sell it and easily get my money back. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality! I’ve had a few easy entry carts over the years and this is the nicest one (besides the Silver Penny wooden easy entry cart) that I’ve had! The cart weighs just under 100 pounds, because I upgraded to the heavy duty motorcycle tires. The spokes are really nice as well and will not bend or warp. I will be driving through sage bushes sometimes so I needed heavy duty! I also got the curved shafts and so far am very happy with everything!kingstonsaddlerycartcollage

This is a lovely little Doctor’s Buggy. It looks like it’s not too heavy and one B sized mini could pull it easily. And the best part is – it’s affordable!doctorsbuggy

As I said, there are many miniature horse vehicle options out there! Part of the fun is reading about them all and figuring out which one would best suit your needs. There is always so much to learn!

Fear

Sometimes what you're most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.

As we go about our business this winter, the business of chopping ice in the water trough when the heater accidentally comes unplugged, tossing flakes of hay over the fence or in the shed with the horses hiding from the wind, pulling my one horse open sleigh across the dry lot with more hay bales to stuff into the slow feed nets, shoveling out the shed when the horses have been holed up for an entire week, Bonnie will sometimes become afraid. I am always watching her and aware of how she is feeling and do my best to honor those feelings by slowing down or waiting for her to settle before I proceed. My two boys have been a huge help to me this winter and they are learning how to be around Bonnie without scaring her. They too are learning when to wait and when they can proceed.

The amazing thing about this is watching Bonnie decide that she isn’t afraid anymore. I love watching her approach the boys and smell their gloves and poke around their pockets a little bit hoping for a cookie. This is something she has never done to anyone but me. She has been quite fearful around other people, always ready to leap away or possibly kick if she felt cornered. Watching how she has become so brave around the big sled, even eating out of it, has been awesome. It’s simply amazing how a horse can become braver and more confident when we slow down and give them the space. I haven’t been doing any “training” at all. I simply go about my business, aware of how Bonnie is feeling and setting her up for success. Sometimes something will have to happen that is beyond my control (we have had some amazing wind storms this winter!) but watching Bonnie go from reactive to calm and responsive has been extremely satisfying.

If she is truly afraid and is going to leave and I simply say, “Good girl” she will choose to stay. She will usually turn around and come back to me, even if it means stepping over something scary! One day I was carrying a large chair over my head. We had just finished an outside photo shoot and were walking back towards the house. Both girls, Bonnie and Sky, were running around the dry lot snorting and warning the boys of the danger… me with a chair on my head! I laughed and called out “Good girl Bonnie” and she immediately turned and trotted over to me! I reached out a hand and she touched it and was calm and quiet. Even with Sky still trotting around snorting. Bonnie followed me down the fence line calm as could be!

During this time I have been thinking about the traditional ways of doing things. When a horse is scared many people will move faster, corner the horse and “show” it that it has no reason to be scared. Which in most cases just cements in the horse’s mind they were right – both the thing and the human are scary. This will often result in a reactive and explosive horse that is now labeled dangerous. My pet peeve is when people corner a horse to catch it and when the horse turns its hind quarters, because it feels the need to protect itself, the human smacks it on the butt with the halter and lead rope. Sigh. The very thing you want the horse to be willing to come to and have put on their face and you are smacking them on the butt with it when they are afraid!? How does this even make sense? Not only that, I want to drive my minis. If they are worried about being smacked whenever someone is behind them- how are they going to be confident with a cart back there?

I am so tired of the traditional way of doing things. Please people… before you assume your horse is being a jerk and is out to harm you, consider that he may just be scared. He may just need you to slow down and allow him to think. She may need you to offer support and comfort instead of pressure and showing her you are the boss.

Let’s try being a leader to our horses, a partner that shows them how to feel calm and confident, someone that knows where the yummiest patches of grass are and can share some quiet time scratching all their itches. Let’s focus on being great partners that work together to find calm, confidence, quiet and contentment. Believe me, love will get you farther than dominance.

Winter Founder

Winter Founder  www.theessentialhorse.com

Winter founder. Two words that you usually don’t hear in the same sentence. And yet Bonnie has foundered and my neighbor has a mini that has also foundered. Both within the last two weeks.

bonnieoutinpasture

Bonnie out on the pasture. She did have a good time!

On December 30th I let the girls out in the field with the boys to get some exercise and enjoy some pasture time. Neither of the girls has been out on the pasture since June. On December 31st when I went out to do chores, Bonnie was completely lame. She could hobble, but was clearly in pain. I quickly trimmed up her feet and put boots on her front feet. She is getting around quite well in the boots. When I take them off she is dead lame. There isn’t any heat in her feet at all and her neck is soft. I would even say her neck has gone down some since summer! The only change in her diet was the time they were allowed out on the pasture. So that little bit of old dead grass pushed her over the edge. I’m so sad. I’m totally heartsick about this. I know I caught it early and she is doing well with Ortho Sport applied once a day, wearing her Easyboot Minis. We have been -20 degrees out so I haven’t done a Raindrop Treatment on her, but I will as soon as it warms up to 30 degrees. I am so sad this happened after all my care this spring, summer and fall. I have been doing so much reading about founder and when the grass is ‘safe’. For Bonnie I have decided that grass is never safe, even apparently, in the dead of winter!

Before winter even I read this wonderful article called “When is dead grass safe to graze?”

quoteYep I’ve been doing that! Well Bonnie hasn’t had any grass except for when we were on our walks. I stopped even turning her out for a few minutes in early summer. I did NOT want her to tip over into the sore-footed-foundered-arena. And yet here we are!

quote2

Hmmm. Sounds familiar! And I even read this article this fall! I’m sure this gal shared her story to help other people avoid the pain of winter founder. Apparently I am a slow learner. Sigh.

quote3

The article does talk about a long hot summer that moved into a long hot fall with lots of wind and severe temperature drops which caused the grass to basically freeze dry. We did not have this happen though we did have a long warm fall. We had precipitation and we always get lots of wind. There isn’t ANY green left in my pasture, not even at the ground. And yet the grass must have too much sugar for Bonnie. The two boys have been out on the pasture since November. They are fine. No signs of founder, no sore feet and no cresty necks. Sky was out with everyone on the 30th and she is perfectly fine as well. This makes me think that Bonnie doesn’t digest her sugars well. I’m hoping she isn’t full blown IR (Insulin Resistant) like Chloe. Thankfully, she doesn’t mind being locked up in the dry lot. She doesn’t even mind if she is the only one locked up and everyone else is out on pasture. So that is a huge relief. The other positive is that I plan on driving her and she will be hiking with me this spring and summer so she’ll get lots of exercise. I can’t ride her 😉 so she’ll get all the benefits of exercise without the added stress of carrying extra weight! Stress causes the hormone Cortisol to spike which can also bring on a founder episode.

I have purchased AniMed Remission for Bonnie. It’s more affordable than the Heiro, even though I know how well that works, I just can’t afford it right now. I have started adding Magnesium to her Crypto Aero feed as well. I feed magnesium and white salt free in their shelter, but the snow blew in and covered the magnesium over and then froze so she hasn’t had access to it. I chipped away at it, but then decided to just add some to her daily ration until the Remission gets here. She is getting my first cut grass hay that was cut in the field, then it got rained on, then they turned it, let it dry and baled it. Hay like this has most if not all of the sugars washed out of it. It’s basically a filler! She is looking really good otherwise. So I know this hay is working for her. I do worry about what I’m going to do when I run out!

SONY DSC

Bonnie eating her daily ration of Crypto Aero feed, 1/2 a cup with about a Tablespoon of Magnesium Citrate powder.

(On a side note: My neighbor’s mini foundered so badly that we had to put him on Banamine. She is feeding him grass hay and he has access to pasture, but has been out on pasture all summer and fall. She thinks he foundered when she put a heavy-on-alfalfa bale in the slow feed net and he gorged himself. They don’t really have any grass left in the pasture at this time… He is also getting Crypto Aero daily right now. She is ordering him a pair of Easyboots to help cushion his front feet.)

I will keep you updated on how the AniMed Remission works — or doesn’t work! Horse ownership can be so satisfying and full filling and just like that it can become heart breaking. But no one has ever said it’s easy!!