Friday, October 31, 2014


It's Halloween. I have no exciting parties to attend, no waiting for little kids to arrive at the door  and no plans in general but if I did, I would go as this:

Is this not cool or what??


Grain Inconsistencies

Otto has been on Mare and Foal since he got here. He loves it.. loves it so much that I have to hang a bucket for him to eat because he gets so excited about eating , he paws at his pan if fed on the ground and it ends up on the ground wasted.
 In the morning , he is usually waiting for for his breakfast. Tom feeds hay when he gets up and then later I go out and give him his grain. Yesterday morning, he was out in the pasture still (granted I was earlier than usual) laying down  I think. It was foggy and dark so I could only see shadows from the partial light I had on.  I waited and he did make his way over to the barn eventually . He took a couple of bites and then walked away from it.

UGH..OH..I thought..

I watched him for a bit and he wasn't at all interested in his grain. He didn't appear to be in any discomfort.  He had some dried grass in his mane but it didn't look like he had been rolling or anything. He just seemed sleepy and not hungry. But it was  definitely atypical for his norrmal voracious appetite.

I had about an hour before I had to leave for an appt so I pulled his bucket and watched him. He drank and wandered about. He definitely seemed like something was bothering him but nothing outwardly obvious. There was still plenty of hay and Cassidy was happily munching away. He had some gut noises but since I don't have a good idea of what is normal for him yet, I wasn't sure if it was quieter than it should have been. There was some pinging sounds and some distant gurgling but if it were any of my other horses, I would have said his gut sounds were a little quieter than they should have been. I decided to walk him around a bit and see. I ran in the house, changed clothes and came back out. He was standing at the fence and passes a small but of manure that looked normal. That was a good sign. I took him for a walk  and then did a little lungeing at a walk. I figured it was as good a time as any to start learning and I was tired of walking through grass and getting soaked. He aseemed fine. In fact he seemed kind of put off that I was making him work at this hour and had some attitude about the whole thing.  I did notice he was rather flatulent for a bit.. When time was up and I had to get going, I checked gut sounds again. They were definitely louder and much more distinct. I took the halter off, he went over and was interested in the hay. Gas bubble???

I knew I would be gone for only about an hour . He would have to wait. It wasn't something I could cancel and he wasn't really exhibiting any classic signs.  When I returned home, Cassidy and him were happily out grazing in the pasture and shortly after that, they were running laps and bucking and getting the other geldings all worked up. Clearly he was feeling better but I kept an eye on him all afternoon.

About 3:00 I decided to give the grain another try. He turned his nose up to it again..he took a bite and then started spitting it out ,like it tasted bad .. it was mixed with beet pulp so I thought maybe the beet pulp got sour, (although it should not have been because it had only been soaking since late the night before)
I tired giving him just some of the remaining beet pulp without any grain mixed in.. He ate that just fine..It wasn't the beet pulp.

This was a brand new bag of his Mare and Foal feed. The mornings feeding was the first  scoop out of it. I wondered if maybe it had gone bad. I didn't smell bad or look like it had gotten wet or anything but he was definitely not liking it.

I tried to give the other geldings a handful of it just to see their reaction. When it comes to grain, they won't turn down anything. They also did not care for it. They took one bite and began spitting it out.

I had purchased two bags at the same time so I opened the other bag . I gave Otto and the other horses a sample of that.. Same reaction.

How could a horse go from eating his grain perfectly fine to completely hating it overnight? The only thing that made sense was that something was wrong with hit.

I tried one last thing. I remembered that I had emptied out the rest of the old batch of grain that was in the bottom of the barrel into another bucket the night before .I am not sure why I did that but I had about a half a scoops worth of the previous bag of Mare and Foal, that he had been eating with no issue.

I went ahead and gave him a couple of handfuls of that. He dove into it and was looking for more.
It was pretty obvious I had ruled out that the two new bags , for whatever reason, were not tasting good to him or the other horses.

I called the supplier that I buy the grain from. They had not been made aware of any formula changes or had any other complaints.  They were nice about it and said to bring the bags in and maybe it was a bad lot.  They would check the lots and give me a bag from a new lot to see if it helped. When I got there, we discovered everything they had on hand was of the same lot #.

I wasn't going to bring another bag of that home only to have the same issue.

After alot of back and forth,  and comparing feed tags, I decided to keep with the same product line ( as opposed to switching to Purina or Omolene)  but go with  a slightly different formula. I chose the  Original Formula. The percentages of ingredients were almost identical (mostly less than what the M&F Formula had) . Additionally, everything in that line of grain has similar make up with the controlled starches , amino acids and pre/probiotics so this wasn't going to change at all.  Besides, Otto gets Equipride so any gaps in nutrition would be pretty much covered by that supplement.

I felt like this was the best decision considering that I was  now going to have to make a drastic grain change . I wanted to lower the risk of issues associated  drastic feed change as much as possible. If I switched products all together I would have to start at the beginning and slowly reintroduce grain.

Considering I want to minimize any period of time where I have to decrease his caloric intake, this was really my best option. I had not planned on having to switch grains.

Mare and Foal


The good news is that the new formula meets Otto's approval . I gave him a sample yesterday afternoon.  He chowed down on it like a growing colt should.  He happily ate both his dinner and breakfast this morning so we are back in business.
I have never experienced something like this  before. One of the reason I chose this product is that they are supposed to be very good about cleaning out the hoppers between formula mixes.Their smart grain technology is supposed to make the feeds more consistent bag to bag. It seems something might have gone wrong.

I will be reaching out to the company to let them know what has occurred.  It's possible it was just a formula change that the distributor wasn't informed about.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Simon Says

My not so little longed legged wonder is turning into a bit of a monster. The weather has cooled and he is feeling quite full of himself. At times, the studliness shines through and he acts like he wants to nip.

Ah well...boys will be boys...

His attempts are half hearted but enough to keep me on my toes. The key is to not let him think its a game, which can happen quickly with studs. They go to nip, you get after them. Ideally, blocking the attempt just as the thought is crossing his mind is ideal. My timing is sometimes off but so far, he seems to respond with one strong correction and then he's done. It's just a playful thing but it's one of those habits that can become a big thing quickly. Just something to be aware of and not make a huge deal out of it.

He will occasionally do a "drive- by" with Cassidy , trying to establish himself or get Cassidy engaged in a game of some kind. Cassidy still looks at him mostly in disgust  or just gets after him and then Otto goes looking for something else to entertain himself with. Attention span of a nat..

If the dogs are in the back yard, he will purposely run back and forth the length of the fence , bucking, kicking, arched neck, thinking he is really something.
Ofcourse the dogs go nuts and play right into his "hooves" and run along side , barking their heads off.. then Otto goes blasting away.... only to make a circle and do it all again.. Meanwhile, I am trying to work in the house.. (how can I be expected to work in these conditions????)

When he isn't causing a raucus about the place, he is playing Simon says with Cassidy. If Cassidy is in the corral , he is in the corral. If Cassidy is eating on the hay piles, Otto is eating on the hay piles, if Cassidy is laying down, Otto takes a nap two, just far away from Cassidy as to not bother him much.. its like Simon's kinda cute but it's also a bit inconvenient.

Occasionally Otto does let Cassidy get out of site , sort of, but not for long. We took Cassidy last weekend for a trail ride and that left Otto alone for the first time. Well , he wasn't really alone  alone, because he was across the fence from the other horses but he was without his passifier for the first time since we had put them together. Its rare that a 1.5 year old colt isn't slightly insecure about being left alone. JB was the exception to that rule. Before we pulled out with the trailer, Otto took one big victory lap around the pasture and then I prayed he wouldn't do something to kill himself while we were gone..

We had a lovely ride and glad to report that we returned to find him upright on all fours....

This week the weather has been more cold and wet. Otto looks like a drowned rat and he doesn't appear to be smart enough to figure out that even though the woolly mammoth passifier isn't in the barn, he can go in there all by himself like a big boy  and get out of the weather.  No , he would rather get soaked and cold instead just so he can be near his buddy (who frankly could care less where Otto is) I have been trying to feed him his hay in the barn at night or if the weather is bad so he figures this concept out (knowing that he is going to need to stay in the barn when the real weather hits if he doesn't get a thicker coat, and soon!)

The concept is lost on him apparently.

Colts..... dumb colts...

If Cassidy goes to the barn, he doesn't really let Otto in the barn so that doesn't work either..

If push comes to shove, I will just have to take Cassidy out and put him in another corral so Otto will hopefully go in his barn and STAY there..

On a good note, he happily eats his grain ration in the barn now because he is a bucket stomper. This must be a TB thing because every TB I have ever owned or known seems to do this annoying habit. Otto  was getting more grain on the ground than down his throat . At $20/bag, we had to change the program.

Aside from all this, he is so fun to watch . He is changing, almost everyday it seems. My favorite thing is that I love to watch him canter. It's effortless. No rushiness, no short steps, just big long easy strides...I can't wait to ride that canter someday.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Last Glimpse of the Larch

Sundays weather was rain , wind , sun , repeated by rain , wind and a little more sun. It was changing every 10 minutes which is typical here in the fall, (and the spring). It looked a bit daunting to the west but we decided on a whim to load up the ponies and take our chances over at the state land to see if we could sneak in a ride. We arrived at the parking lot  to be greeted by a nasty little rain squall so we waited in the truck for about 10 minutes until it passed. Then , the weather was perfect the rest of the ride. No rain, no wind, just sun (even though it was only about 48 degrees). I did have to bundle up and break out the insulated riding pants, gloves and a hat. I hate that part !

The larches have been turning for a couple of weeks now. Its one of my favorite times of year to ride in the state land . The forest , interspersed with Pine and plenty of Larch,  is absolutely stunning this time of year. When the sun hits the yellow larch, it makes the forest seem like it's glowing against the backdrop of green pine trees. It's magical!
Fall trails... 

The horses are already pretty woolly. It didn't take much effort before they were getting warm underneath all that hair, even though we mostly walked. I was riding Cassidy . He is always such a pleasure to ride.
I heard rustling in your pocket.. snacks??

blaze orange because it was opening weekend of rifle season

A view from the top looking down into the valley

 My guess is we caught the last  of the larch before they are gone completely for the winter. Many already had. The ground was already coated with a thick layer so it won't be long before the trees are bare skeletons,  gone to sleep for the long winter ahead.

Lovely trail footing covered in Larch needles

Brego discovered that there were peppermint snacks in my vest pocket. He was doing his best to help himself to one.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kill Pens-Why???

***Update- Both TB geldings are on Hold, which means they are paid for and holding for pick up by the new owner..

In the past I have dabbled from time to time in rescue and rehoming horses on a very , very small scale. Mostly locally. I have a limited budget and limited resources just like the next person  but I do what I can , when I can.  I used to follow a few auction sites as well  but I had to stop because it's just too hard.. I just cry, lose sleep and pretty much spend my days feeling sick over it because the reality is, there is very little I can do to help and I am torn.. because I want to be able to do more.

Somehow I have let myself fall back  into reviewing the auction  sites again like I have done it in the past and always have to force myself to stop looking because..... well.... refer back to the first paragraph...

 There are SOOOO MANY horses... good horses.... that  end up there.

The Hermiston Oregon Auction was just this past weekend. Hundreds of  horses were run through. A large percentage of those were being bid on as a price per pound because the owners that dropped them off didn't put a reserve on them .. so ultimately the kill buyers end up with them.

There is an acquaintance of mine that was in attendance. Last year she , as a private owner, started going to the Washington and Oregon auctions to do what she can to rescue horses. She has an amazing network of people behind her who help support the cause  through donations for the bidding fuel money and money towards feed. She also invests alot of her own money and her own time but she has been able to save around 10 horses this year since May, and rehome them all.  Its a drop in the bucket , but its something. She mentioned she could not help but notice the lack of presence from horse rescue organizations at the auction. I have to wonder why?? Are they all just as tapped out because there are so many unwanted horses? Why are there so many unwanted horses?

This past weekend, through networking, there were over 40 horses saved from her efforts. Its truly amazing what she has been able to do, but it's never enough. There are always more. Young, old, lame, even pregnant and nursing.

 I was involved on the sidelines for a Morgan mare that was almost lost but was able to be saved last minute only  because alot of peole made alot of small donations, giving what ever small amount people could give.. it worked. The lady I mentioned above is picking the mare up.. I think she has already found a home for her.. If not, I was considering fostering her,  even though it's the LAST thing I need to be doing and risks a divorce (not really).

Then,  there are two Thoroughbred Geldings. Nice geldings.. Both were seven years old. Both were sound. One was previously shown in hunter /jumper. One has been saved as of today.  The other has not been. He could ship anytime for Canada to his final fate.  The best I can offer is to help network so that is what I do. And Hope.. and Pray.. I will be watching to see what happens to this other gelding and I am hoping some of the people I have talked to about him might be able to help.

The ongoing issue of horse slaughter is a hot topic with alot of emotion and no easy solution.  I see both sides of it. Here locally , when the recession hit so hard several years ago, people were turning horses loose or abandoning them to fend for themselves. It seems like there has to be a better solution. Maybe focusing on  Preventive measures of some kind. I am not a fan of increasing government regulations by any stretch but I have often wondered  if maybe some how people , who own stallions should be paying an annual fee for their stallions. Maybe it would eventually reduce the number of Irresponsible breeders out there?  Do people pay a fee to the auction when they drop a horse off? I don't believe they do. Maybe there should be a fee or maybe a bigger fee if there is already one. The best deterrant is one that hits the wallet in most cases. The racetracks are also contributing to the problem. They are pumping out foals as fast as they can. Horses are are just a commodity. If they run, great, if not, they are tossed away, loaded up on the trailer and sent to auction. Some of the tracks have kill buyers that show up once a month to haul horses away.

I certainly don't have the answers. I just know so many horses end up with a terrible fate and would like to be able to see that change.

If your interested or can help, here is some info
Got to this site:

The Yakima County KP folder is where the Hermiston horses are . This is where they wait for shipment,and while they wait, they can be bought.

Thanks for reading..

Fall Friskies

We have been enjoying unseasonably warm fall weather over the last several weeks,  60's and 70's with plenty of sun. The geldings were all feeling a bit warm in the their winter coats that are getting pretty thick. Even Otto, who is getting a winter coat was sweating, but he's still playing catch up on getting a Montana worthy winter coat.  I am still not sure if his coat will get thick enough soon enough. Fingers crossed. The weather has turned more Fall like for our area in the recent days. Wet, windy and cold..low 50's for highs and 30's and 40's at night. We had a couple of hard freezes earlier in the week with lots of frost.

Yesterday the sun peeked out for a couple of hours and it was pleasant enough that I went out and spent some time with Otto in the pasture. I brought out a noisy plastic bag to introduce to him, but he grew bored with it and discovered the ball in the pasture.

He was pretty comical about it. Watching him start tentatively with rolling it around on the ground with his nose, then mouthing it, then grabbing it and pretty soon, shaking it and hitting himself in the forehead, and trying to get me to join in with the fun.

Look what I have!

Taste like Peppermint.. 

Here.. grab a hold!

I love my new toy!

Brego getting after it...

JB not happy with having to participate today

Even Rebel got into the action

Rebel coming in last.

Today we are back to cold, wet and windy.. Everyone is hunkered down , butts up against the weather. Alteast its not snowing.. yet...

Monday, October 20, 2014

1 Month!!

I was glancing through the calendar trying to figure out some other dates and realized something.

Today marks Otto's 1 month being here!!! Where does time go? He arrived on September 20th  and it's already a month later. It seems like we have had him only a couple of weeks.

Since he has been here the focus has been two part:
1)get him out to pasture so he can move ,develop, and strengthen and
2) keep pushing groceries at him so he can pick up weight.  

He's been out in the pasture now for two weeks.  He has about 3.5 acres to run and play in. Not as much as I wish we had for him, but enough and he runs plenty. He is still gawky and likely will remain so for some time as he grows,  but I see some moments when he trots and canters that show evidence of beautiful gaits.

I think we are making good progress on the feeding program I have him on.  I definitely see an improvement. So what does one feed a large 1/5 year old that is growing like a spring Dandelion?

The main thing is all the hay he wants and the added benefit  of having some green grass to munch on through out the day in the pasture. In addition, he gets 4.0 lbs of Mare and Foal /day. The recommended amounts on the feed ration is 4.95-9.9 lbs per day for his last known weight of 660lbs.( which I know has increased by now) I am a little under that amount but I am supplementing some other things and I always tend to be more conservative with grain than the recommended amounts, as long as I can see positive changes. For now, 4 lb of his grain seems to be working just fine because  he is also getting some other feed Here is snapshot of his daily feed regimen, broken into three smaller feedings. 4.0 lbs of grain all in one feeding would be way too much for his little stomach to manage.
 AM: 1.33 lbs of Mare and Foal
          1 lbs Soaked beet pulp (rough estimate)
          1/2 cup Equipride
          1/2 cup Diatomacieous Earth

Noon: 1.33 lbs of Mare and Foal
          1 lbs Soaked beet pulp (rough estimate)

PM : 1.33 lbs of Mare and Foal
          1 lbs Soaked beet pulp ( rough estimate)
          1/2 cup Equipride

For fun, here are some photos to compare Before and After of his body condition. I think we have made a big improvement. 

Here is a photo from the day he arrived:
long trip for the boy, hungry , tired and dehydrated ! Hip bones pronounced and hind quarters pretty under developed. You can't tell from the photo but his ribs were also  somewhat noticeable. 

For the first two weeks after his arrival,  his appetite was  insatiable. It has since returned to a  normal growing horse appetite which is still a healthy appetite but nothing like he was before. 

 I couldn't get him to stand there with his head completely up.. he was too busy stuffing his face , but I think he has definitely started to fill out along his topline and rib cage. His hind quarters seem to have filled out ,( or maybe rounder?)as well. 

Overall, I think he is looking much better. His ribs and hips aren't quite as pronounced as they were. I still think he needs to pick up a bit more weight,  but we are off to a good solid start.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

He's Growing on Me...

It dawned on me that I should follow up on the topic of the Name Game post. Since Otto arrived, I was trying to figure out a name for him. I must have tried on atleast 100 names, maybe more. We almost named him O'Rien, then we almost named his Fiddich (like Glenn Fiddich , the Scotch because its' smooth) then we thought we had decided on Atticus and finally I was certain I was going to call him Sterling. Around and around we went and we were beginning to refer to him as

"He who shall remain unnamed"

I couldn't have that. 

The truth is,  I kept coming back to "Otto" Nothing else seemed to work or feel right. He seems to like that name . I know that sounds weird but it's how I usually figure out an animals name. They seem to accept or not accept it in some way or another. Otto seems to be just that.. Otto. So Otto is will be. Now that  that is all settled, more about what the long legged wonder has been up to.

I have raised alot of colts over the years. Thoroughbred colts are notorious for being very playful and exuberant and always  a bit on the mischievous side.  Otto seems to have gotten that trait on some levels. He isn't mischievous, he's actually very well behaved.  But he is very playful and exuberant only,  it's kind of sad because Cassidy doesn't exactly share in that exuberance. Otto has a pasture mate and a horse to learn from ,  but Cassidy is not a "playmate", which Otto really seems to want.

He tries to get Cassidy to play but Cassidy just pins his ears and sends him away.

Baby mouthing and leaving...sad Otto

He is mostly afraid of Cassidy. All Cassidy has to do is sneer at him and Otto is fleeing the scene in order to put alot more space between himself and Cass. I wish we had a horse that would be more of a playmate for him. JB would probably be the best chance at that but my concern is that he might get a little rough.  He spent the first 6 years of his life being a stud. Otto is a very mild mannered colt and I am not certain JB would be very kind to him. For now, I will leave him and Cassidy as pasture mates and let him grow up a bit more.
When I come out to the pasture, Otto comes running up to me. Yes, literally running. He seems genuinely happy to see me each and every time ( and it's not because I greet him with treats because I don't!) for our visits.  I have taken to playing with him out in the pasture a bit . If I run , he will run or trot along with me for a few strides,  and then zoom by me at a gallop and make a big circle, run up and over the archery back stop ( a big dirt mound) in the pasture, then come back to me as if to say   "Did you see that? Wasn't that cool?"

It's pretty funny. He's bonded quickly and loves the interaction with people. 

I am trying to train him to come running to a whistle. He does it only part of the time and I am starting to use treats for that to see if I can reward the right response.
I wasn't sure what kind of personality he was going to have and for the first couple of weeks, he was still adjusting to things. In the last week, he was really come out of his shell. He loves his freedom to run and be a horse.

Training and Groundwork:

I have started getting him used to a saddle blanket in preparation for teaching him to accept a winter blanket (think Montana winter + Colt with not the thickest coat). I am hoping I won't have to blanket but just in case, I wanted to start getting him used to it. I don't want to make the first experience with a blanket in the middle of a snowstorm with howling winds.....and that time of year is just around the corner for us like it or not.

The introduction to the saddle pad was way easier than I thought it would be but hoped for.

It took about five minutes and I was  throwing the blanket on and off of him from both sides, had it up and over his head, over his rump and moving him around with it in various positions. He wasn't really phased or alarmed at it at all. He needs more work with things coming up over the top of his head but otherwise, he did great.  I threw it on the ground and had him walk over it a couple of times.. no biggie. He picked it up in his mouth and carried it around for a couple of seconds.. I didn't want to encourage that behavior so I took it from him.. which actually was a bit of a problem getting it back from him..but eventually he let go. I even wrapped the lead rope around his belly and made it a little snug to mimmick a belly strap of the blanket and took him for a walk. He was hesitant at first but then walked along like nothing was wrong.

"Ok .. what is the purpose of this??"

"This is a dumb game... I will just go back to grazing"

I think he will be just fine with a blanket. This weekend , we will try the real thing

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Freedom and Video footage

We got Otto turned out with Cassidy this week. Cassidy is the choice out of all the geldings because  he is the least likely to cause any major injury in the meet and greet process. Before hand there was some  prep work we did first.

In preparation for Ottos' release to the pasture for "out time" , I hand walked him multiple times when we were out hand grazing so he became familiar with the property and boundary lines of where he could go. Our exterior  fence is three strand electric so not super visible if a horse is not familiar with the area. I took the added effort of  flagging  all my exterior fence with marker ribbon so it was more visible and put metal T post toppers on ALL metal T posts. I withstood a great deal of eye-rolling from my husband, who thinks I take it too far sometimes with "horse proofing". I know I can't keep him safe from stupid colts stuff and things might happen, but I sleep better knowing I did everything I possibly could to make things as safe as reasonably possible, short of wrapping him in bubble wrap, ofcourse. I admit, having a half Arab , half TB on the property has made me hyper vigilant again, back to my time of owning TB's! My confidence in this colts sense of self preservation isn't quite like it is with the Morgans or Barb's.. !! TB's are accident prone and both breeds have abundant energy and exuberance.
yWe started with a  few hours a day and built on that until they were out all day together . We are still separating them at night. Eventually Cassidy will stay with him full time and I will leave the gate open so they can come and go from the corral /barn area to the pasture as they want. But for now, this is the program.

Overall,  It has gone pretty well and mostly uneventful. The first  day was only a few hours they were together. Otto was pretty bold with his approaches to Cassidy and  tried to jump up on Cassidy once and then  quickly reverted to the  "I am a baby, don't hurt me" mouthing thing when Cassiy pinned his ears at him. They both went to happily grazing shortly after that. Otto didn't let Cassidy get too far away before trotting or cantering over to him to be close again. Things seemed to be fine so I went back to work . Later that afternoon, I noticed Otto was hanging out on one end of the pasture, and Cassidy on the other end. Otto appeared to be pouting, or sulking..  I walked out there and  noticed a few teeth marks and roughed up hair on Otto's rump. A little missing hide but nothing major. Apparently , Cassidy had educated the young man about something. I am pretty sure Otto did not enjoy the day's lesson but he'll survive. He doesn't appear to have alot of horse social skills. He actually seems to prefer human interaction. He comes cantering up to greet me every time I go out there. ( I am thinking I could easily train him to come to a whistle).

Cassidy  doesn't seem to be too fond of his new duties of babysiting another young punk but is tolerating it.  Otto occasionally tries to  get Cassidy to play but Cassidy seems to be disinterested and tries to ignore Otto's juvenile stunts. Otto then goes galloping off to run a lap and buck, kick or do whatever his little heart desires. I am hoping Cassidy's smarts and calmness will rub off on the youngster.

Here are a couple of video clips.. ( I am still learning how to efficiently use video editing software )

Friday, October 3, 2014

I rudely interrupted the boys having sunshine naps...

Snapped a few photos of the boys soaking in some sunshine. I interrupted their mid day nap but they forgave me when I brought out some mid day snacks...

"JB.. pretend your dead.. maybe she will go away"

" Wait.. Did someone say snacks?" 

"This better be worth the effort of me getting back to an upright position"

"We're still playing dead, right?"

"oh the agony" (JB taking the game of being dead one level too far)

"Wait, I have an itch"
" Snacks... snacks.. wait for me!!!"

" Hang on.. I am coming but my left leg went numb during my nap"

" I am up.. " I am up.. don't eat all the SNACKS with out me!"

"Omg.. I think something crawled in my ear"

" I can't get it out!!"
"well, ??" where are those snacks?"

JB found his snacks and was happy and promptly went back to his nap once he was done eating..

Updating in Progress

I am in the throws of making some needed changes to my blog page. It felt stale. I considered a new platform other than Blogger but wasn't motivated enough at this point to mess with all that.
Please bear with me while I update, change, redo content. Hopefully it will be an improvement.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Otto has made it into his second week of being at Acer Farm. I hope he is happy here. We had to make some changes to his living arrangements this week. I had to move him to a different corral on the property.  I had planned to leave him in his "quarantine corral"  for another couple of weeks but some things warranted the change due to some safety concerns. The first incident was due to one set of neighbors. Their property is a little ways away and basically just across the pasture where his quarantine corral was. They often have parties that include a lot of yelling, drinking and  bonfires. This past weekend they decided to liven things up a bit and let off fireworks beginning at about midnight and lasting until 2 am. Surprisingly, Otto  handled it all pretty well but I didn’t get much sleep worrying he would get scared and try to go over, through or under the panels, never to be seen again or be found mangled up in the fence panels.. we mustn't forget, he is part TB!! 

The other consideration was the weather.  We went from day time high's of 80's to 50's and 60's with wind and rain. The quarantine corral doesn’t have shelter, other than a couple of trees. Let face it, he has a Missouri coat. Not exactly thick (but it is growing because I check every day...:) Since it takes a tremendous amount of calories for a horse to keep warm, especially without an adequate coat,  and considering he is on the thin side, I thought him having access to shelter would be best. At least he can stay out of the wind and rain and minimize any additional calorie burning. Atleast that was my logical thinking.

He took right to his new corral and the barn in no time.  He can also see the other horses but can’t get within reach of them.  Should he come down with some illness from his trip, I think he is still far enough away that the risk is minimal. They don't share water or feed at all.  The other geldings are also also older, have had a number of years of exposure and vaccinations and all have healthy immune systems. Under the circumstances, I kinda had to hedge my bets.  An added benefit of moving him closer is that it will help him acclimate to his new herd. He seemed so lonely all by himself and paced the fence line alot.

Now that the other geldings could get a good look at him, things were pretty interesting to watch.
The other geldings looked on ,  nickered, went around to the other side of the barn to try to get a better look,  but then lost interest within an hour and went back to their hay piles. Otto went back and forth between hiding in the barn playing a game of "you can't see me" and peeking around the corner to get a closer look himself.

Brego was the one caveat to all that.. ofcourse... He spent the first day  and a half charging the double fence line. Otto ignored him. He didn’t seem to have a clue what all of Brego’s posturing and carrying on meant.

Brego would charge the fence, ears pinned and looking like a mad dragon. Otto would just stand there staring at him.  Brego would stop at the fence, stare at him with pinned ears and bob his head up and down and paw.   If he could breathe fire, he would have . If the other horses got within 100 feet of the fenceline to see what all the fuss was about, Brego would drive them off, and then turn around and charge the fence line  at Otto again. Otto would just look at him. This went on for about 24 hours.  I had nightmares the first night that I would awake that next morning to find Otto a bloody heap in the corral should Brego be successful in busting through two fences , in his  attempt to try to kill this intruder to his herd. Brego has always been dominant but dominant in a fierce way. His mother was always dominant as well but she was subtle. Nothing subtle about Brego.

Apparently, since Brego couldn't get access to Otto, I guess he took his frustration out on JB who I thought Brego was actually getting pretty friendly with. Apparently not.  JB now has a large chunk of missing hide on his right rib cage. Poor guy. We woke the next morning to find that in their scramble, they managed to bust the fence and fling open the gate. The gate was wide open all night. I thought we would find we had 4 missing horses . That is a sinking feeling, to wake to find a gate open , in the dark of the morning. Lucky for us, they decided to stay home, thankfully.

All four gelding were in the north pasture waiting for breakfast. I am not sure what happened with JB and Brego but can probably guess. Most likely, Brego did his classic  move where he likes to corner the other horse so as to reduce any chance of the horse getting away from him and then proceed to throttle the snot out of the other horse. Such a nice boy....

On a good note,  Brego has stopped charging the fence towards Otto so apparently, he feels better about things now that he beat poor JB up. ???? JB is fine, other than  a little sore in a couple spots. There is a reason we don't put hind shoes on Brego. 

The daily routine is pretty established now with Otto, He gets his grain/beet pulp  morning , noon and evening along with as much hay as he wants. We go for daily walks, spend a few minutes hand grazing, work on ground work, walk thru and around the obstacle course, walk the fence lines, and get familiar with the property. The leading is getting better.  He still likes to shoulder into me but we are making progress.  His favorite trick is to stop and start backing up if he doesn’t like something. At this time, I am not making a huge deal out of his backing up. I just send him forward again quietly.

He doesn’t know yet he can trust me to keep him safe, so I am trying to establish that. So far, I have him walking over our  bridge obstacle, through and around various barrels, over ground poles , a tarp, etc.  In typical fashion like a lot of colts , he doesn't particularly like to go through a narrow opening between two objects. I have a large stump in the arena that I use for a mounting block and it sits about 4 feet from the fence of the arena. I worked on sending him forward through that 4 foot space in both directions. In time, this same lesson of sending him forward on his own will translate to many other things (like trailer loading) and give him the confidence he can walk through various tight spaces, like on a trail , between trees. He has pretty much already figured out the trailer loading and willingly jumps in now. 

I am starting to figure out some of his quirks and as he gets more comfortable, he is becoming more willing to challenge me but that is ok. We work through it and it will only help to establish our relationship. In case your curious, here are a few of the things we are working on :

1. Back up:
I have started teaching him to back up with a shake or wiggle of the rope while I stand in front of him, along with a cue word “back”. I also work on just backing as I stand at his shoulder and we back up together. It’s more about teaching him to follow my cues and pay attention to me. My goal is always for my horses to be “mentally”  with me. Then the physical part comes easy.  Eventually I will build on this from the ground and ask him to back over ground rails, or back in a circle , both directions. These are all great little exercise’s to work through to get him to start thinking through things while keeping things low key. It also begins to prepare him for when I do get in the saddle and ask for him to back.

2. Personal Space
Otto really likes to be in the person’s space. Some horse owners like that I guess. I don’t. It's a safety thing. Horses are big, and he is going to most likely hit 16 hands. (lets hope he stops there).  Ever try holding a horse that is in the halter, while brushing them or trying to put a saddle on and they are dancing around like a fool or blocking you with their  head or shoulder so you have to keep stepping around them??  It’s a lot nicer to have them stand quietly while I do what I need to do. They have to be comfortable standing there and letting me move from side to side , front to back. In order to begin teaching that, I have started to work on how to  ground tie. I am not actually tying him to anything. Imagine that he has an invisible box around him that he has to stay within while I move around, in or out of that box .  I start first by making sure he understand what a flag is, and teach him it is not something to fear. In Otto's case, that happened pretty quickly. My flag is a low budget  homemade version ; an old dressage whip with plastic bags taped to it that have been cut into strips. You laugh but it works! I have also used strips of tarp material instead of bags. It works equally well.  I stand about 4-5 feet away from him while he is on the lead. Initially I start with standing in front of him.  I use a rope halter with about a 12-14 foot lead rope. I let the lead rope hang straight down from his halter to the ground  and I am holding the end of the lead rope . He has to stand there (tied to the ground). I can move about  to either side, as far as my lead rope allows. The idea is that I can come in and out of his space but he can only come into my space when I ask him to with the lead rope. If he steps into me  without my asking, I use the flag (after I have already introduced it several times and he is comfortable with the idea of moving away from pressure) waving back and forth in front of him at knee level but so he can see it easily. I combine the flag cue with a wiggling the lead rope back and forth, along with me walking into him from the front in order to get him to back up to where he stepped away from. Eventually, my goal is that all I have to do is lean into his space and a light bump on the lead rope and he will step back. If he tries to leave to one side or the other, I can use the flag as an extension of my arm to block him and get him back to where I need him to be standing. It's a process but they all seem to catch on pretty quick. 

3. Walk with Me and Yes I can touch your shoulder:
Otto hates when we are walking along  with me at the shoulder. He really doesn't like it when I try to touch or lightly pat the shoulder as we are walking along. The only way to get through this is to just do it, walk, pat lightly, rub.. walk , pat lightly , rub....he is ok with the rubbing, just doesn't like the patting so we build on it.. rub rub. pat. Rub , rub , pat.... This seems like a small thing but when I go to ride him later on and have things touching him like saddle bags, or sponges hanging off him , or whatever, he needs to be comfortable with things bouncing and bumping along on him. Or going along on the trail, and something brushes his side as we pass through brush. I will do the same process for his his hindquarters and down along where my leg would be. All of it prepares him for when he is  saddled down the road . 

4. Gates and Electric Fences:
He has it figured out that the electric fence is nothing to mess with. This is good because our entire perimeter property fence is 3 strand electric. We have gates that go out to the pasture  that consist of  two wires that are electrified with handles on them.  Otto doesn’t like to get near anything resembling electric but since we do have gates,  he has to learn that when humans have him in halter, we have this magic ability to go through these gates without getting zapped.
He was pretty skeptical  at first . It required baby steps to get him ok with it. We started out  just getting as close to it as he was willing to and being able to stand there. His comfort zone was about 5 feet away from the gate. We would stand there and I would pet him and encourage him. When he relaxed a bit and seemed comfortable,  I would take a step closer to it and ask him to also take a step. He would take a step with me and then we would wait there. He would sniff and snort a bit  but he stayed there with me so I would pet him.  It went like that until I got close enough to touch the handle.  At first, I would just put my hand up towards the handle ever so briefly. He would take a step back, I would ask him forward , pet him, and wait. Try again,  only do  less this time. Move hand toward handle, and then take it back to my side before he could take a step back.  Eventually the step back became just a shift back . The key was timing here. I had to get my hand back away or off of the handle before he would get ready to leave. We built on that until eventually I could get a hold of the handle without him wanting to flee and I would pet him. The final piece was undoing the handle, which made noise that he wasn’t fond of,  and re attaching the handle  while he stood there with me. Same process, a little at a time, reward, ask again.  All in all it took about a half an hour and I was able to walk him up to the wire gate, undo it, walk through, turn around,  and reattach and Otto was able to stay there with me.

5. Foot Handling:
I won't go into a long description here but we are just making it a habit of picking up the feet once or twice a day. The hind feet are an issue so I require a second set of hands in order to work on it. He does not want his hind right touched at all because of the old injury so I do my best to pick up the foot without touching the sore area. He still argues about it. I will just keep at it.
** the injury seems to be staying the same , no major changes to it but he does continually catch it with the other hoof when he runs, which causes a big reaction from him. Obviously it hurts when he bangs into it. He is very gangly when he runs right now which is part of the problem.I am almost positive that is exactly how he injured it in the first place. In time, he will get stronger and hopefully grow out of this. I may have to put on bell boots or something to keep him protected once he is turned out full time . 

I think we are off to a good start and we figure out a little more about each other every day.  He is such a blank slate and sometimes I forget it's not Maggie or JB on the end of the lead rope. On one hand its nice , on the other, it's an adjustment and a shifting of how I approach things. I always have to be prepared for things to go a little south , or to help him figure something out that is new. When your handling horses that have years and years and miles and miles, its easy to become complacent.  You kind of take things for granted.  I haven’t had a youngster for a number of years. So little things that I haven't really given much thought to are now things I have think about, like walking through a gate, or walking by something scary and new. How is he going to respond? How am I going to keep him safe as well as myself? Maggie had her issues but she was never a spooky horse. I would like to attribute that to her groundwork but being a Morgan probably helped alot. I hope I can make Otto just as confident.

We have many adventures ahead I am sure. My goal is that by the time I saddle him, he will have been exposed to most everything so once I am in the saddle, he already has the confidence to deal with multiple situations. That will make the first few months of being in the saddle so much easier.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Name Game

I am thinking I would like to change his name.  I love the name Octavius, which is his registered name.  It’s a great historical reference to the Roman Empire. Here’s your history lesson for the day on the origins of the name:

“ born Gaius Octavius into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian Octavii family. Following the assassination of his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar in 44 BC, Caesar's will named Octavius as hisadopted son and heir. Together with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, he formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators.[note 3] The Triumvirate was eventually torn apart under the competing ambitions of its members: Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, and Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Augustus in 31 BC.

But “Otto”  which is what he has been called for short,  isn’t really my favorite. It seems like he needs a better everyday name. I could live with it I suppose,  if nothing else sticks . For whatever reason, I haven’t had that name epiphany where a name pops into my head that says “yes, this is his name”. Here is a list of the ones I have considered , the first 5 being my favorite and in some cases, a  comment about the name, pros and cons.

1. Gibson- Love this one the best, but I have a friend with this horses name so it isn't original
2. Oakley- kinda like this one, seems to fit
3. Sebastian- Patron saint of Athletes , but kind of a mouthful
4. Fiddich- as in the Glenn Fiddich scotch and the scottish river, both represent smoothness, a movement characteristic he will have, eventually, when he is less gawky and awkward
5. Music- from the Willy Nelson song, A horse Named Music, one of my favorites and it takes place in Western Montana. 
6. Ash
7. Atticus- Like this one as well
8. Argo- Horse of Xena , faithful, brave and intelligent, plus I own a dog named Xena
9.Boaz- Hebrew for Swiftness
10. Dorian-  He was a famous grey jumper 
11. Pilgrim- Because he traveled a long ways to get here
13. Cisco
14. Rio
15. Giles
16. High Pockets- an old nickname for someone with long legs because their pants are high off the ground
17. Eli- Hebrew for Height
18. Geoffrey- like the Giraffe, because that is what he looks like right now when he runs
19.Grey Goose- color, could call him Goose for short
20. Foggy Notion(since I don't have one right now on what to name him)

So tell me what you think.. and if you have any new suggestions, leave me a comment!

Thanks for Reading!