Not a whole lot of riding has been going on. He is sound walk, trot, canter and awkward downhill gallop with boots on the front and bare behind in the pasture. Its been storming like crazy every evening and middle of the night this week and I started to worry about his feet in those plastic boots. I took them off Monday night and they were very wet, so he got to stay in his deeply bedded stall overnight to dry his feet out. By Tuesday morning both the boots and his hooves were dry, so they went back on and he went outside. Well, the rain hasn’t let up so last night I took the boots back off him and decided he could go outside completely bare. The ground is super soft right now, so why not test it. He was pretty pathetically gimpy walking out and it broke my heart. We went out to dinner and I planned to bring him in his stall for the night if he was still looking off when we got home. Well, we pulled in and I watched him walk perfectly fine halfway across the pasture. When I yelled out a hello to him upon getting out of the car? He looked at me and started gimping around.
This made me pause and go in the house where I could watch him from a window. After he knew I was gone he walked just fine over to Gem and Pete. When I went back out and called to him? Back to gimping.
Ok…I get the game. So he stayed out all night bare all around and will likely stay bare in the pasture at this point. I plan to ride this weekend when hopefully I can squeek some time between storms in and will ride him in the boots for a while.
Even with the lack of saddle time the big guy has learned a lot since coming home. Some of it was just figuring out life on the farm and how to be a horse out in a large hilly pasture.
- He now stands politely waiting for his turn to come in.
He used to pace, stomp, scream and trot all over the place but after six weeks of being the last one in he has figured out that behavior doesn’t get him what he wants.
- He also no longer rushes the gate.
- Haltering and putting the fly mask on are no longer an issue.
His ears became an issue for a while. Not sure why but he had decided he couldn’t tolerate anything going over them. That’s not really an option when you need haltered twice a day and the mask goes on every morning to come off in the evening. He settled down and now lowers his head like a good boy.
- Picking up his feet is no longer a fight
Now, I do give him a pass on this a bit because I don’t think t was him being naughty. His feet hurt and he didn’t want to give the front right as it meant putting all his weight in the front left. He does like being good so he would give it but then it would hurt as his weight shifted left and he’d yank it out of my hand. Still not what I want but I could understand. He made sure never to step on me so there was that. I make sure to always boot his front left first and then he gives me the right and let’s me hold it. He is still a bit fussy about it but it is getting better and better.
- He demands his fly spray
Tuesday night I went to take him out. He stopped at the gate and refused to move. The gate has gravel down so I paused thinking maybe his feet hurt but he had his boots on and had walked just fine out that gate for dinner. He looked at me and stomped his hind leg in disgust. I turned around and walked back to the barn and fly sprayed him. He then marched right out to the pasture no issue. The big guy has his demands.
There are still things I’d like him to learn. Most important is to stop chewing on his stall door as soon as he finishes his meal. He doesn’t actually crib or suck air it’s chewing and biting. Maybe his mouth hurts but the vet said he was ok. I think it’s a nervous habit but I’d hoped it would settle by now. He is in the stall for all of 15 minutes twice a day and he is the last in/first out so the horses are in with him the entire time.
I don’t really want to go yell at him because bad attention is still better than no attention and it just reinforces that if he does it he will get me to come over. I try to go over and praise him when he stands quietly but it isn’t really making a dent. Thankfully he isn’t in very long but I do worry what he would do if he had to be on stall rest. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with that any time soon.
I think we have made some good headway at understanding life together in the short time he has been here. I wish he’d be sound to ride but that will come with time. I’ve added a hoof supplement not that I think he really needs it with the complete feed he is on, but it can’t hurt. His hinds are already showing a band of new growth coming in at a better angle and I’m excited to watch the changes to the fronts as we move along.
Hopefully I can hop on him this weekend and assess how he is on the flat in the boots. I suspect he will be fine. Maybe I can drag him to my next lesson next Friday but if not I have a date with Misty again so no worries.