Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ooh, It's Your Attitude

 "You got to learn to be positive, it's your only chance,
You mustn't be so defensive, you gotta join in the dance
It's not your manners, that you gotta improve
Ooh, it's your attitude."
— "Attitude," (Ray Davies) The Kinks, from their 1979 album, "Low Budget"

Dr. G assessed Poco's movement, flexed joints, etc., and thinks it's most likely mild arthritis in the hock. It can't be all that uncomfortable, because he tears around here like a banshee with the other two. It is likely the episodes under saddle are just Poco being Poco. After a frank discussion, we agreed on what some might deem an unorthodox treatment plan.

Poco will go into hard, full-bore training with Heather for 30 days. Dr. G's exact words were,"I want that horse doing 30 miles of fences every day, then running cattle 'til midnight. When I walk up to him, I don't want him swinging that head up, looking at me and and dancing around. I want to see him trying his best to be invisible — 'Please don't pick me. I'm too tired.'" Poco has stamina for 3 horses, and Dr. G said to hitch him up to a big 'ole log and make him drag it around — whatever it takes. If he acts like he's in pain (besides regular soreness from all that work), of course, it will be addressed immediately. In any case, after two weeks, we start giving him Bute and assessing his movement, level of discomfort, and behavior under saddle. We'll decide from there what happens next.

The logic is that given Poco's normal attitude, if we were to give him Bute at this point, and that hock starts feeling better, his behavior under saddle will be that much worse. Remember the success I had last summer when I would wear him out in the heat for 30 minutes before the "real" ride started? Same premise.

I drove straight from Dr. G's to Heather's. My phone was plugged in at home, and I didn't want the hassle at the gate from the other two fretting ponies to fetch it, so poor Heather didn't even get a warning call. Fortunately, I know there's always room if I need it.

I have been toying with having Heather put 30 days on Poco anyway because he's been such a snot lately, so I'm good with the way this is playing out. I will take some lessons while he's up there as well.

This is also good for Jaz. He and Poco are so buddy-bound, they're embarrassing. I looked out earlier and saw Jaz masturbating (mare people, that's whacking himself on the belly with his erect wienie), while bellowing for Poco like a distressed moose. He'll learn he won't die without Poco, and interact more with the baby. He'll be the boss hoss until the Big Man returns. Poor Jaz is never the boss of anybody!

This is good for Daltrey, too, because Poco lets him get away with anything and everything. He chews Poco's tail and bites the crap out of his neck, and Poco just stands there and takes it. Jaz won't. Wouldn't you have guessed it would be the other way around? It will do Daltrey a world of good to learn that you don't tug on Superman's cape, and other valuable lessons in herd dynamics. It will give me an opportunity to ride Jaz out and get Daltrey used to being alone.

So Heather gets to have her way with Poco for the next 30 days. After we talked, she called Dr. G herself, to make sure she was clear on what he wanted and that there were no restrictions on working him.

Interesting new dynamics are afoot at Casa Fry and Iron Ridge, which should add to your blogging entertainment both here and at Heather's blog, Drafts With Dots. Do stay with us!

And say a prayer for Heather. Poco will make her earn every dime I'm paying her.
 * * * * * * * * *
Acknowledgment: I want to thank the kind folks who gave me the Stylish Blogger Award: Many Misadventures, Green n Green = Black n Blue, and Homestead Hope. I can't think of a dang thing to tell you about myself that would be at all interesting or add value, so I humbly decline. If there's something you want to know, ask and I'll tell you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lame in More Ways Than One

Got the word from Heather that the Iron Ridge arena had dried out enough to ride. We wait til about noon now, until it warms up to get started, so I used my morning to get the trailer hooked up, tires checked, etc., and groomed everybody. 

Plan A was to take Poco and Jaz, since Poco needed to be ridden. I haven't been on a horse since Thanksgiving, and wanted to ride Jaz. I knew I probably wouldn't have the energy to ride both, but I wanted to see how Daltrey would do on his own. Mr. Fry, the old softie, said I was mean and that he (Baby D) isn't ready for that. He was so sincere, I let him call it, so now (Plan B) Poco and Daltrey would stay home. 

I groomed and wormed Poco, then made him stand there while I tied the baby. The only problem was when I haltered him and couldn't get him to walk with me, but once we got over that, I couldn't have asked for better. It was the longest he's ever stood tied. I was able to brush him, worm him, clip a bridle path, trim his tail, wash his face, butt and sheath, and not only lift, but pick all four feet. 

My plan was to leave Jaz for last so I could just throw a saddle on him when I got to the farm. It was a good plan, except I found 2 big nasty patches of rain rot just below his withers on his left side. They are always so sensitive, and these were no exception. I applied our homemade Listerine/vitamin E oil mixture to soften the scabs. One was fine, but I lifted a hunk of skin about the size of a silver dollar off the other, which rendered Jaz not rideable. 

Plan C — and not what I really wanted to do: Take Poco, leave Jaz and Baby D.

I had asked Heather for a little one-on-one, since Poco's been going through one of his resistant and belligerent spells. True to form, he was uncooperative and resisted turning. As with the last couple times I've ridden him, he gets to a point where he squeals in what I can only assume is frustration. Heather got on and he was just as bad, which surprised both of us. He even lifted his back feet a few inches off the ground. Heather got off, and longed him. 

He's off ever-so-slightly on his left hind (the one with the sock). He's throwing that leg outward laterally. It's very slight, but it's there. Tacked him down and Heather thought she found an owwy place on his back, and indeed, when I massage that area, he drops the hip and leans into it. He flexes willingly in both directions, and he has even let me pick up that leg and stretch it waaay out behind him. It is not deterring him from bucking and playing with his buddies, however.

It's difficult to tell how much is actual discomfort and how much is just Poco being Poco, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being. I made an appointment with the vet. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Baby D's First Walkabout

 Concerned nannies.
Where are you taking our baby?

 One of many hesitations.
We didn't go too far,
maybe 1/8 - 1/4 mi.
before he began to get anxious.
I coaxed him forward another
dozen or so steps for the win,
then we turned around.

 Daltrey, this is the Honey Hole.
It's what awaits you at the end of a walkabout.
If you're a good boy, that is. 

And so it begins.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weather or Not

It started off as rain last week and turned to this. I had blanketed the horses the night before, which means they were wet to some degree under there. I really hate doing that. In a case of non-fortuitous timing, we realized they had finished their round bale on a Sunday. Not only did we not have time the following week to get another one, but it was too wet to move one onto the property.

Meanwhile, the temperature dropped as low as 18°F. It was gray, cold, and for once, the snow stuck around for awhile. Mr. Fry bought 4 square bales at a time and we started pumping extra groceries into everyone to help them stay warm. Poco was fine, but Jaz and Baby D were cold.

Here we are in the shed, out of the wind. You can see how wet he is. The Cafeteria Lady could not feel her fingers and toes. This is Texas, and so rare is the need, I just don't have clothing for temps like this. Heather has blankets in every possible size, and lent Daltrey this one. I already need to trade it out for a bigger one. Although adjustable, this is about the biggest it will go. It's a little short on the caboose.

A tiny brag on my boy: It took all of about 2 minutes to convince him the blanket wouldn't eat him. I didn't even have a lead rope on him.

Farrier day was the day prior to the snow storm — perfect cast.

Finally, we have more seasonal temps between the 30s-low 50s. Time for a new round bale and time to take blankets off. Jaz has a few spots of rain rot, which comes as no shock. The hard, frozen ground has given way to mud.

Blue sky — how novel.

The Boyz enjoyed a few hours of sunshine with their heads buried in the round bale. Nonetheless, they didn't lolligag when they heard the lid to the feed locker. Imagine their disappointment that we're back to normal portions of feed.

The nice weather didn't last. It's gray, foggy, and damp, with brief periods of rain so light, it's more like heavy mist. Temps are in the low 40s; no need to blanket. I will be enjoying the day inside with Mr. Fry until it's time once again to don my other persona:

 What's it like in your part of the world?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bad Behavior

SOMEbody needs to be ridden BIG time, and I prolly don't even need to say his name.

As I said in an earlier post, the routine is always the same: Jaz gets fed first, then Poco, then Baby. The big Boyz know to go stand patiently and politely by their pans as I dispense feed. They know to take a step back when I reach them, which Jaz, of course, does.

However, Poco is standing by Daltrey's pan. As I walk to Poco's pan, I snap him on the butt (through his blanket, I might add) with the crop and tell him to beat it. So what does the knucklehead do? Instead of going to his feed pan, he storms over to the porch slab and stands there with his butt to us. I said, "You know, you keep that up and I'm not beyond letting you go without. You're too chubby to be pathetic." I walk past him, pour the food in his pan, and move on to Daltrey.

I give Daltrey his food and position my chair so I can watch Poco out of the corner of my eye. He keeps turning around to see what I'm doing. Finally, I guess he figures out I'm not buying into his brattiness, so he sort of slinks over to his pan and eats. When he finishes, he sidles over to us (Baby and I are in the shed) and stands quietly outside. He doesn't even try to sneak closer.

I think that first ride (since before Thanksgiving) on my snotty pony might be a doozy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Day Late and ... You Know

I overheard a conversation last week wherein one person wished another Happy New Year, then asked if there is a set time after which it is no longer acceptable to do so. They agreed that you should say Happy New Year the first time you see people that year, but not beyond the month of January. I made it: Happy New Year, dear blogger buddies!

You may have noticed (or not) that it's been awhile since I posted. There are a number of reasons for that. My dental emergency just before Christmas seems to have compromised my entire immune system, so it's been a battle to stay well and mobile. The prolonged period of inactivity has taken its toll on my creaky body, but I believe I'm finally on the upside of all that nonsense.

Work has been busy, and after writing for eight hours a day, the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is writing some more.

I haven't ridden since about Thanksgiving, either due to other commitments, stinky weekend weather, or just not feeling up to it.

If you look back over my posts since Daylight Savings Time kicked in, most of them are either subjects I've researched, or revolve around feeding time at Casa Fry. I commute an hour each way to my job. This time of year it's dark when I leave in the morning and close to it when I get home in the early evening. Whenever I am able, I cut out of work a few minutes early so I get to see the Boyz in a few minutes of daylight.

When I get home, I change my clothes, bundle up, and spend 45 minutes to an hour in my role as Cafeteria Lady, in good weather and bad. I have to stay with them until Daltrey is done eating so he gets his full portion of food. The ironic part about only seeing the horses to feed them during the week is that I'm actually spending more time with them on a consistent basis. What has surprised me is the quality of that time.

Would you look at our BIG, butt-high baby boy? His butt is up to my shoulders, but his withers are a good 4-6 inches below that. He's holding his weight well. He's super social and curious. He is 10 months old, so his attention span is still short (or nonexistent), and he's a bit of a spaz. We're learning basic manners, such as being touched all over, not nibbling people, leading, picking up feet, and (to me) the biggest one — stay the hell out of my space, goober. Mike and I jokingly call him an "empty kettle" because he doesn't know anything, although he's not dumb, by any stretch.

It's a joy to see Jaz in such good health. This time last year, we were battling strongyles, which he likely had for a long time. We call him our "delicate grey flower" because he's always the first to react to the weather. No joke: I used to have to blanket him if it dipped much below 60°. Although temps have dipped into the 30's, he's been warm and happy. This evening they are forecasting a "wintry mix," and this is the first time I feel like I probably should blanket them.

In the evenings, when Jaz and Poco have finished their token portions of food — neither of them need it — they hang out, waiting for the OK to finish the food Daltrey has flung. Jaz and I have a game we play. I'll be sitting in my chair, and Jaz will come up behind me and put his nose on the top of my head or one of my shoulders, and wiggle his nose. That's my signal to make a pinching motion in the air with my hand, and he puts his nose between my fingers, so I can gently grab it and wiggle it. If I try to ignore him, he will gently muss my hair or nibble my hat or hood. He loves this game.

>sigh< As you can plainly see, Poco is as broad as a freakin' barge, and his attitude screams that he needs to be ridden BIG TIME. At meal time, he and I play head games. So, what else is new? He and Jaz both know the routine inside and out: they may stand and watch as I load their buckets, but as I am closing the grain locker, they make their way to their pans, where they are expected to stand at a respectable distance while I dispense the food. Jaz gets fed first, then Poco, then Baby. Lately, Poco marches his fat ass over to Daltrey's pan and waits there until I run him off. Then he goes over and runs Jaz off, grabbing as many mouthfuls of Jaz's food as he can until I can get over there to herd him over to his own pan.

Surprisingly, Poco is not as pushy at the waiting game as Jaz, who is stealthy and relentless. Poco finds a place close to me, and parks himself until I give the all-clear to grab the spoils. He likes to put his nose just next to my ear, or he'll put his head down so I can whisper in his ear, which he absolutely loves. He's not above a bit of gentle nuzzling to get my attention.

Most nights, the sun has already gone down by the time I get home, but sometimes I get lucky.

Actually, you know what? I'm lucky every darn day.
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