Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Definition of Insanity

Last year, I decided to do a bit of experimentation with O's bits. And you will want to read that one before you continue on to this one, because they are related!

O goes in her Happy Mouth mullen mouth eggbutt. Exclusively. That's it. Solamente uno. It's her soulmate. Her best pal. Her favorite piece of tack. Every other bit on the planet = her worst enemy. I know this about her and up until now I haven't questioned it once. I questioned it A LOT way back when I was trying to figure out just exactly what makes this weird little mare tick, but now... now I know better.

Except when I DON'T know better. Last week, O had a drive when she was just a hot iron-mouthed mess. Over the winter I've noticed that she has been spending a bit more time falling onto her forehand and bearing down in the bridle. At first I took this as something that wasn't a bad thing, because it meant she was taking a contact - but since most of what we did this winter was just trotting up and down the road, she gradually started to get a little more lazy and sloppy and I didn't really have much ability to correct it. It was just SO wet and rainy for the first part of the winter and there wasn't anything I could do to change that. Now that we are in a holding dry pattern, and I can drive in the pasture again, I decided I needed to get her back moving forward and working off her hind end a little better. We had a four mile drive in the snaffle that basically was just O hanging on my hands the entire time. I decided it was time to try the Liverpool again.

I know she hated the liverpool in the past. She hates literally every bit except her regular snaffle. But I figured maybe she had matured a bit, and that it would go much better..... right?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. I don't know why exactly I was expecting different results when I knew exactly what she was going to be like in the Liverpool, but apparently I'm just that nuts. Just like last year - literally over a year ago was the last time I worked her in the Liverpool - she would go along fine, then throw her head in the air and hit the brakes as hard as she could, and roll her tongue out of the side of her mouth. This is the only bit she does the tongue thing with.

Well, there you are. Back to the snaffle we went!

I think the reason she has been a bit hangy and lazy is just because she has been in lighter work and she is less strong than she was. She's not unfit by any means, she just hasn't done a lot of lunging or dressage work lately, and she is definitely needing more. She's been lunging in the Fauxssoa again with good success, and on Sunday B2 came over with her husband to a) help catch Zuul, who is still being a bit feral post-castration, and b) drive O in the field for the first time. I wanted to make sure I had someone hanging off the backstep with me - and I'll need to weight the backstep when I don't have someone to ride along with me. Things get way more complicated when you go from a 2-wheel vehicle to a 4-wheel one. It's that much harder to hitch up alone, and to drive alone too.

She did very well - even cantered a bit. By the end, she was starting to be quite malleable in both directions, and was moving forward well without being lazy or bearing down on my hands. This video was taken early on in the drive - it looks fairly good there, but it got better as we went on.

That's my girl.


In other news, I got a cheap training harness for Ledri off of one of the other driving ladies. She has worn it twice now, and lunged in it once - with breeching, crupper and all! She did has a little bucking fit the second time the girth went on, but that's not terribly surprising. She'll get better and better as we go on. She is lunging quite well, getting better every time!

Ol' Lardguts
I still can't get over the mini polos. They're just so cute it hurts.

Speaking of so cute it hurts:

The babies love Future Hubs. He gives them carrots, and they think he's the best because that's all he does! He says I can't ever sell Pax because she is *his* horse... I guess that's that then!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Instagram Photo Dump

I realized today while looking at my Instagram photos in a quiet moment between appointments that a large number of them haven't been shared on the blog. Well, that needs to change! If you love photos then this is the post for you!

Dylan at WD after a ride

Saba the Senegal giving kisses, not biting!

The Queen looking majestic AF 

The Child trying to also look majestic

Pax got that strut

Pax looking significantly less like she has her life together than in the previous photo. Yes that is the hose on her head, which she put there herself on accident

Lendri with frost in her muley mane

Every. Day. 

And they say dressage isn't natural 

Worst picture of me ever but Zuul looks adorable 


Run O incoming!!

Life is exhausting 

Life is REALLY exhausting 

I got a Be Nice halter for Zuul to see if it would help the bolting.... aaaaand it's too small 

The Rock, on a rock 

The mares watching Darby's body being hauled away... they stood and stared and called to her, and it made me very sad 

32" of terror

Best friends playing bitey face. And Uma, being tiny 

Dylan on patrol 

Seriously, these mules

They are nonstop hilarious. I should do Mule Mondays with just pictures of them playing 

Feeling hot hot hot 

Pax inherited the Be Nice halter, which is useful for doing things like spooking walking down the road 

Future Hubs and Pax. She's huge!

She is not amused 

Zuul four days post castration and I STILL can't get anywhere near him. He is still SO MAD at me. 

Future Hubs holding while I hooked up... tried the Liverpool on her again and I have a post about it coming up! 

Phew that was a lot! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Second Goodbye - To Zuul's Nuts!

On the same day that we put down old Darby, we also said goodbye.... to Zuul's nuts.

When I picked Zuul up, I was told he was a 3 or 4 year old gelding. That was definitely NOT true on either account - at some point I was eyeballing his huge cheeks and noticing his stud piles, and I got under there to take a really good look. They were small and hard to see, but there was definitely something up in there. Welp, no reason to keep those puppies around - hybrids are sterile but all the behaviors and hormones are still there!

Dr. H has been my vet for years and he is wonderful. I made sure Zuul was tame enough before asking him to come out to geld him - definitely didn't want anyone to get hurt. I wasn't sure how Zuul would be for a stranger, let alone a stranger approaching him with a needle, but I caught and tied him and stood petting him while Dr. H easily slipped the needle in. He had to give him a second dose in order to get him fully knocked out. To quote him, "I just gave him more than I'd give that big white horse." 

And he STILL didn't want to go down! Check out the crossed him legs. Finally he went over and the assistants sat on him while Dr. H roped his legs to hold them out of the way. 


We also got a close look in his mouth. Yeahhhh he's definitely NOT 3-4 years old. More like, 7-8 years old. Not sure my dentist will want to deal with him though...! 


Tying up legs

Goodbye gonads!

I asked Dr. H about halfway through, "So have you ever castrated one of these things before?" He said, "No and I wouldn't do it for anyone else besides you!" He repeated that a few times later on - that he wouldn't have said yes if it was for someone other than myself. And he's not planning on doing any others after this one!

Zuul seems to be doing well after his surgery, though he has decided that I am Enemy #1 and must be avoided at all costs. He really gave me the runaround trying to get him back into his pen, which is super great for post-surgery healing. Hopefully he'll decide I'm ok again in the near future!


In other longear news, Lendri is turning out to be quite the little champ. She was super feral when I first got her, terrified of people - but she has really come around, especially with carrots as a bribe. She is all mule in that she was highly suspicious of me at first, but then decided that I am ok enough and that there is food involved if she hangs around. I still keep a halter on her (and on Uma) just to be safe, but she comes to me now especially if she sees a carrot, and she is very easy to lead. It's hard to tell what she does know and what she doesn't. For example, the first time I tried to pick up her feet, I got near her front legs and she shot off in the other direction like she had never had her feet done in her life. A bit more handling later, and she picks up all four feet like she's been doing it forever - did she know how to do this before, or has she just learned since she has been here? Hard to say which. I've been lunging her a bit, or attempting to - she seems to know exactly what whoa means, and she is happy to stop and park her little butt wherever without moving (which is GREAT), but more than a circle or two and she just doesn't see the point. I don't know any mules who lunge well in the way that O lunges well - i.e. trotting forever and ever without any question of why we're doing that - most of them I know will go a circle or two and then stop like, "ok I can do a circle, now what?" With Lendri, my main objective is to teach her commands, and that you really *do* have to keep going until I say you can stop. This might mean she only trots two circles and then she gets a whoa and a carrot. Gradually you work your way up from there. She now knows "walk on," "trot," and "whoa," which are the Big Three in terms of kindergarden lunging. 

Lendri also wore a bit today for the first time, and polos! I tried the polos on Pax too and she had a few tense moments of being-glued-to-the-ground and then serious-boot-dancing, but not Lendri. They didn't bother her at all. I don't know if she has ever worn a bridle before - she opened up her mouth easily but then mouthed the bit like any baby would, so it's hard to say. The bit fits (tiny little mini spoon bit), but the bridle I bought for her (mini size) is way too small. Luckily, the headstall I use for O's hackamore is super adjustable and I was able to shorten it to the last holes and have it fit. Luck! 

Smart little mule! We'll have her driving in no time, I hope!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Goodbye Darby

Darby had a good last day today.

She got to graze in the yard all morning, something that was previously forbidden due to her metabolic condition. She ate a ton of carrots, got brushed, ate more carrots, and even had a good headshake and a buck while she trotted around for a couple steps. She was definitely on lots of drugs, but she was feeling good and the sun was shining, and that was a good way to go out - on a high note.

We did everything else first, which I'll blog about later, and saved her for last. Funny sweet girl that she was, she stood with her ears pricked even when Dr. H was putting the needle into her, and then was munching a carrot when she just abruptly fell over dead, with her ears still pricked. I've seen a lot of animals die over the years and while still a bit traumatic to witness, I can still in some way be happy and pleased that she went so abruptly with a happy look on her face. We didn't use sedation and sometimes they act all crazy without it. But luckily that didn't happen today. She was old, and she was ready to go.

See you on the other side, old gal. I feel lucky to have been able to share my time with you.