Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rotten

Moisture, I've concluded, is a mixed bag. Sure, water brings life - but is it always desirable life? In Arizona, our horses can't get all their food from grass grown in their very own pastures, but they also aren't constantly battling parasites. Here in the midwest, everything is wet and rich and the environment is absolutely laced with little organisms that want to make Steen's body their home. He's had a mild case of thrush since before I got him, but this at least I had encountered before. Lately, however, he's developed a rough, sensitive area on his neck and, after keeping an eye on it for a few days, I asked Cathi about it. "Rain rot," she said, and went on to explain it is a fungishish thing that crops up on livestock in warm and humid environments. It is not serious, but can be very uncomfortable for the horse. So I smeared an iodine solution all over Steen's pretty white neck and now he looks like he'd bleeding from some terrible wound, but hopefully it won't progress from bumpiness under the skin to the next stage - large, pussy scabs..

Luckily, the affected area does not extend beneath where I need to put his saddle and pad, so he's still rideable.

Beyond the rain rot, my last few visits to the stable have actually been kind of exciting. Last week, Steen got to meet one set of his grandparents. Dutch and Cathy braved the journey to the barn to help with grooming and learn a bit of groundwork. Steen seemed to like them quite a bit and was so well behaved I couldn't help but feel proud of him. Of course, Brian's parent's are so easy to get along with, I should not have been surprised. It was a fun visit.

Yesterday, Steen and I got to ride in a busy arena. I tend to go to the barn at times of the day when other people do not, so Steen and I get a lot of solitary time. While there is nothing wrong with this, it also doesn't hurt to throw other variables into the mix sometimes. Yesterday when I arrived, Lightfoot, Shadow and a new pony were all in the arena with their riders. So, I tacked Steen up and we joined the fray. I kept him quiet and just did walk and trot so as not to take any undo risks, and things went quite well. He paid good attention to me the whole time, and only got a little uppity about his velocity and/or trajectory once or twice.

I am excited that my life seems to have evened out again for the time being, and I should be able to focus on riding again. It seems like it has been so long since Steen and I got any real work in.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Grand Visitors

Steen and I had to part ways for quite a while while I took a trip to Arizona via Chicago and Brian's sister's wedding on the way back. Luckily, Brian stepped up to the plate and went to visit our poor lonely horse twice while I was gone. Cathi also brought Steen in from the pasture when the farrier came so he could get his feet trimmed.

I finally made it out to see him again on Wednesday. Initially, I could tell our relationship was a little rusty, but on the whole he was quite well-behaved. I didn't ride him, but did quite a lot of ground-work and before long I felt things were well back on track between us. He was good, and happy to do everything I asked him, including walking down the scary hallway where the manure spreader used to be.

Then, yesterday, Brian's parents were in town for a visit, so I took them out to meet their grandhorse. Steen was totally on his best behavior - very friendly and inquisitive in endearing ways. They liked him instantly. They were very impressed with his good looks, and good behavior. They both led him around the outside arena, walking and trotting. There was much petting and carrot feeding and oohing and ahhing. I was very, very pleased with Steen's behavior. Even though he's been handled only irregularly for over two weeks, he was an absolute doll for people he's never met before, and who know next to nothing about horses.

Now I just need to get him as settled in under saddle as he is on the ground. At least, thankfully, the foundation is now there.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Manure Barrel!

Brought to you by guest blogger booksbikesbeer
While Robin is in sunny, hot, and dry Arizona for the week, I told her that I would check up on Steen. I had a wonderful 4th of July weekend that involved multiple BBQs and nice bike rides, so on Sunday I was more than happy to take an easy ride out to see Steen and maybe even ride him.
The ride out was nice, a little warmer than the past few days, but not bad. Changing into jeans and boots out of wet cycling clothes was not that much fun, though. After that I just couldn’t stop sweating, and my glasses were sliding all over my face. I thought it best to just go outside and get Steen.
He was in the biggest pasture and hanging out in the second farthest corner from me. He picked his head up immediately when I called his name. He then took a couple steps towards me. But that was it. I had to go in and get him. Despite his unwillingness to meet me halfway, he was still happy to see me and had no problem with me putting his halter on and leading him out of the pasture.
After walking out the gate, through the owners’ yard, and up to the barn entrance with no problem, Steen just decided he would go no further. I had never encountered this in a horse before; easy and congenial following, and then staunch refusal and pulling back. And there was no way I could out pull him, any shake of his head brought me stumbling back. So I made him do some backing, just gently pushed on his chest and said ‘back.’ You know, just to show him who’s boss.
And he went back fine. So apparently I was only the boss sometimes. And I could guide him in all directions but forward. At this point I was feeling silly and thinking that I would have to return him to the pasture without any grooming or ground exercises. And right when I was feeling silliest a cute, young horse person comes out and smiles at me. Great.
I explained that I was the novice horse boyfriend trying to work with the experience horse girlfriend’s Paint. She took pity on me and asked if I needed help. I handed her the lead rope. Steen continued to give her a hard time and I didn’t feel so bad. But slowly and patiently she led him up to the door and let him sniff the piece of farm equipment that was sitting near the entrance. A small, insignificant little barrel (compared to a horse) that apparently isn’t always there. That is what freaked Steen out and I didn’t notice it at all.
After that Steen was great. He was still on edge, but he conceded to my slow and clumsy grooming and even picked his feet up before I asked him to. That was rather amazing. I saddled him up and we went into the arena to do some groundwork. After the manure barrel fiasco, I had decided that it would be best not to ride him that afternoon, so we did a lot of walking and trotting exercises. Occasionally Steen would get a little worked up at various noises, but for the most part he was really calm. And when I unsaddled him and took off his lead rope to let him role in the dirt (which he loves), he would only follow me around.
Even though I didn’t get to ride him, and felt silly much of the time having a horse drag me around, it was still really good for our relationship. Despite being nervous(Steen, that is. Well, mostly Steen), he did everything I asked him to and was really happy about it. And when I turned him back out into the pasture, he was semi-reluctant to leave me. What a softy. I only hope on Wednesday the manure barrel is gone so that neither one of us is nervous and we can ride.

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