Thursday, November 12, 2009

Update on Traveller

Since the last blog post I was able to get some new pictures of Traveller. These were taken on Wednesday, 12 days after his arrival. He is starting to fill out a bit and happily trots into his stall every day at feeding time.

The closeup of his withers sort of shows the sunken in area on either side of his spine, but the saddle sore is healing nicely. The sores on his side have healed over as well, and his hair is growing back in some places now.

After pictures, we went out for a quick walk to the best grass spot and filled up on yums!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Well, well, well!

Has it really been a month? I have been poking at the files for the next Friday Tip hair chart, but I haven't had a lot of time to finish them lately between the barn and the flu. And with an imminent system restore on my computer and a couple of horses I really need to finish in the studio I probably won't be able to get to the tip this Friday either. Hopefully things will be back on track next week! In the meantime, I thought I would share what has been going on with the horses lately - and it has been a lot!

Chinook's paddock, being nearly marshland and with a natural spring on the property, gets really bad during the winter unless I do something about it. Usually that something is digging out the mud and replacing it with pea gravel. That gets pretty old when a lot of the mud is actually half filled with the gravel I put in before to help solve the problem!

So this year I did something different. For weeks I dug out all the soft ground I possibly could. Then on one big weekend (in the rain no less) a little crew of us dug a big hole and some trenches. The trenches were filled with perforated pipe to help channel the water into our hole, into which was set a garbage can with a sump pump inside. Then a whole lot of gravel was put on top. It's hard to judge in these pictures, but it's at least one and a half feet deep most places. Here's a chunk of the area:

There is a little more gravel area than this, but you get the idea.

The stock tank gathers the rain water, but it always overflows when the rainy season comes. And for us, that's pretty much all of fall through spring. In this picture it was just raining a little - imagine what that looks like when it's pouring! A short trench was dug around where the water spills out of the tank which then runs into the container:

Chinook's paddock is angled down towards the pump container and with the pipe under the gravel, the rain water is quickly dispatched. As you can see, my side is free of water and mud (and hopefully will stay that way forever now) compared to the other side. I included a shunt in the container so my neighbor can dig out all her mud and put gravel in too if she wants. At least now all she has to deal with is the rainfall and not the overflow from the tank. So that was my major time consuming project of late!

Over the summer I got to start riding again a bit. It was very nice to get back in the saddle, and even nicer that my skills have come back after rusting for five or so years. Most of you probably don't know that I used to be a trainer and riding instructor; I have a lot invested in those skills, so it was a bit of a relief to know I still had them!

As a part of all this riding, I needed to borrow a nice easy horse for my novice riding partner. After one particularly frustrating day on the trail with a reluctant horse we decided to bust Chinny out of his retirement and give him a try. The old man has stepped into his weekend warrior role quite nicely, and he even seems to enjoy getting out for his short rides.

My mount, Lucy, is a fun little Appaloosa and has been just the right match to help me get my skills tuned up. She's a little firecracker and probably the most persistently resistant and stiff horse I've ever been on, but at the same time I feel like she is a solid and reliable horse who is only falling on bad habits most likely developed from tack issues. She's coming around to the novel ideas of walking, bending, and going on the bit, but I can always count on having a bit of a battle to get there every time I saddle up. Still, she is a great horse with a lot of potential and is always fun to ride. Amazingly, considering all this, she is a pretty good lesson horse and has subbed in to do a little of the higher activity work Chinny isn't cut out for anymore.

There's a new horse at the barn now, owned by fellow hobbyist and friend, Amy Widman. His caretakers across the state said Traveller was losing some weight and since he is getting on in years Amy thought it best to bring him back home where she could keep an eye on him. She was told he had been started on a senior feed and was improving. After a lot of work and dealing with a major lack of communication, Amy was finally able to get Traveller to his new home. Here is what stepped off of the trailer:

These pictures were taken two days after he arrived. The pictures do not really show just how skinny he was and the extent of his wounds. Not visible are the the girth and huge wither sores. We were told to be careful because he bites when the girth is tightened - no kidding. He won't have to worry about that for quite a while now. He has been remarkably strong for what he has apparently been through. It is impressive that he was able to have his terrible shoes pulled and hooves trimmed the day of his trailer ride.

He has now been here for a week and a half and is starting to show some improvement. His stylish new blanket is keeping all that heat energy locked in and with a float and two bad teeth pulled he's enjoying his heaping portions of mash. There will be plenty of time for establishing trust and some manners while he fills out this winter. By spring he should be nice and plump again and ready to be reintroduced to riding, and this time with a saddle that fits.