Where Have I Been

Yeah, I’ve been gone a while, I know.  Sarah and Chelsey are still the only ones who really know about this blog, so I’m not sure that my absence matters all that much.

In order to save a lot of time and typing, I’ll just offer a few succinct reasons for my absence.

  1. I got crazy busy…. bought a house, sold a house, moving, work, husbands work and military schedule.
  2. Moving Roo….  there are lots of reasons behind this, but long story short, I decided a different approach to his rehab and care was necessary.

A lot has happened over the last 5 months, and this is a horse blog, so I won’t go into too much detail, but my hubby and I moved to make my commute better and be closer to civilization.

As for Roo, I left off just before my vet and I came up with a rehab schedule.  Roo had his first ultra-sound (probably EVER) of his “old set” bowed tendon.  Old, cold, and set….my ass (I’ll get to that in a later blog).  It’s never a good thing when the vet uses terms like, “swiss cheese” or “shot gun blasts” to describe your horses tendon.  It was officially a grade 4 tear.  Since the time between his last race and when I bought him is sketchy at best, the doc and I decided to treat his tendon as if it had just happened.

He was not put on stall rest since he had been living outside for about 5 months and was getting small paddock turnout already.  We decided that mentally it would be best for him to be in turnout.  He was a good boy in TO anyways, even if he was a messy pig.

That meant lots of hand-walking and patience.  I told the doc that I didn’t care how long it took and I wanted an ultra conservative approach to his care since I didn’t really know his entire story.

Our ground work lessons pretty much stopped after that.  I won’t go into it, but I’ll say, I listen to my vet and do what she advises.  Plain and simple.

Roo moved to a new farm in May.  It’s retirement/rehab place closer to my new home.  He’s recovery has been nothing short of amazing.  My new trainer and has really helped us both learn so much.  His tendon has made major improvements.  The holes “you can drive a truck through” are almost gone.  I’ll always be able to see them at some level.  His tendon will never be perfect again, but in all seriousness, it is truly light years from what is was.

Roo at HOE

He’s so handsome and cleans up quite well, doesn’t he.  No it’s not exactly a full view, but it’s the best I can do by myself.  I need to be better at taking photos of him.  I promise I’ll get better ones Chelsey & Sarah!

Why did I come back to write?  I’ll write more about that in a later blog once I figure out how to say it.  What I can say now is that I’m not afraid of what others think and I’m more than capable of deciding what’s best for my horse.

 

Adventures in blanketing

Well, it’s not really an adventure, but more of a test.  I put a sheet on Roo for the first time Wednesday night.  I hadn’t until then because he had already spent all winter outside with no sheet or blanket and the weather in my area has been up and down for a while.

Wednesday night, I caved.  Partially because the weather was tanking again and also, I really wanted to make sure he was going to fit a 78.  He does.  Thank God!  Most horses will fit a 78, but with my luck, he wouldn’t.

The next question is, does he destroy blankets?  God I hope not!

before-blanket

“Before”

What was I going to find the next day?

after-blanket

“After”

Yeah!  We got through the first day with just some mud.  Mine is fine!  Mud is great!  Yes, I know it’s only been one day, but and hopefully it stays that way.  Hopefully I won’t be spending a crap load of money at the tack store replacing them.

Coyotes

Roo doesn’t like coyotes.  Seems like an obvious statement.  It was definitely confirmed last night.

We were in the indoor last night having a nice little ground work lesson.  He’s less and less impressed with tossing the line at him, over him, under him, etc. Still sort of wigs out a bit when I make REALLY big gestures in front of him, but he doesn’t go flying back like he used to.  Overall, great progress.  He’s even getting better at personal space.

I decided to let him off the line to roll and play a bit.  At first he did was he always does, sniff every pile of poop in the ring, roll and stare out the window.  After about 5 minutes of that.  He’ll buck and run and play.  However, not long after I let him go, then the noise started.

He spent the first 9 years of his life at the track with loud noises of all kinds.  He doesn’t react when the rain and the wind make the indoor sound like a scene from Twister, but when the coyotes, started barking and howling, it was on.  He became anxious, and his playing went to worried running pretty quick.  Fair enough.  I didn’t like it either.  It was loud so they were close and it sounded like there were quite a few of them.  So when he decided to take off from me and not let me catch him, I didn’t get to mad….yet.  I didn’t yell or chase him.  I tried a few tactics like shaking a bucket or crinkling a bag.  He was intrigued, but kept getting distracted by the coyotes.  I actually left the ring and stood outside the door and watched him through the window.  As soon as I left he started walking right towards the door and when I opened it, he didn’t take off and let me grab him.

It was a getting late and I didn’t want to start a “conversation” I didn’t have time to finish.  He walked willingly, although a bit quick back to the barn and settled down once he got inside.  He got a pass last night.  I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he got a tad over-anxious last night, and not assume this is a fun new “game” he’s come up with.  This weekend, I’m going to see what happens when I turn him out again.  I will have plenty of time to start a conversation if I have to then.

Very Productive Weekend

I had a fairly busy weekend.  My husbands parents came over Saturday to bring us paczke’s.  Horrible for the diet, but OMG totally worth it!  I had a lovely salted caramel calorie bomb and I regret nothing!

We also had our new mattress delivered.  Our current mattress was guestimated to be about 20+ years old.  The sidewalk in front of our house is more comfortable than that mattress.  We got a lovely hybrid Tempur-Pedic from Beautyrest.  We tried all three of the Tempur-Pedic firmness’ and then we tried a hybrid from Beautyrest and it was so much better!  It’s like sleeping on a cloud.  Same material but with added coils under the magic tempur-pedic bits.  Same warranty, but much cheaper.  We treated ourselves and got the box springs that raise and lower your head and feet.  We spend the better part of our Saturday evening raising and lowering, raising and lowering…. basically we were big kids.

The hubby’s father is big into horse racing.  He’s a gambling man, but the money is gravy compared to a good guess.  He takes it very seriously, so when the stopped out on Saturday, we took them to meet Roo.  His mom and dad are animal lovers so they brought Roo all sorts of apples and carrots.  Roo has been working on his big boy manners.  Earning his treats after work as well as not being lippy and going for treats all the time.  Any work I put into that, kinda went out the window.  The in-laws hand fed the hell out of him.  I wasn’t going to tell them no.  Just gave me a chance to keep teaching Roo.  They crammed him full of treats and he loved it.

After they left, I took Roo and the hubby up to the ring to show him what we’ve been working on.  We did a little ground work and then I let him run around a bit.  He kicked up his heels and managed to kick the wall by mistake, but it didn’t seem to bother him too much.  I think he’s happy to get out and stretch a bit.  I took some video, but the file is huge and I’m having trouble getting it to load.  I did, however, make an attempt to take a photo of Roo walking towards me and it sort of worked.

roo-says-hi

Plugging Along

I can’t quite remember to bring my phone with when I go to work with Roo so I don’t really have any pictures to share quite yet, but my friend Alison will be there tonight with her cutie pie mare, River for a lesson, so I’ll have her take a few.

We had an excellent ground work lesson last night.  We’re working on desensitization.  Roo is no dummy, however, I think his stubborn side collides with his lazy side.  Yes, he won lots of money at the track, but this pony is figuring out farm life is nice and is learning to like the slower pace.

I’m going on a pretty simplistic method of desensitizing him.  If it’s not  big deal to me, then it’s not a big deal to him.  I don’t care that the end of the lunge line is whipping around so he shouldn’t.  It took some time, but it clicked and I started to see a change with him paying more attention to me than what was going on around him.  It was small, not constant, but it was a start.  I’ll take it.

He’s a bit head-shy and sensitive about being touched near his back end especially up by his stifle.  Track life is quick, and there isn’t much time to wait for a horse to get used to someone clipping their ears, or whatever.  It probably didn’t help that he hadn’t really been handled for a good three months before I got him.  Either way, it’s something we’re working on.  He really is not thrilled about his ears being touched, but after a few temper tantrums, he realized that ear rubs feel good.  He actually started to lean in a bit towards the end.  He’s catching on much quicker about being touched around his back end.  From watching him, I think a big part of it is that he’s very sensitive in general so some reactions are just “knee-jerk.”  It took all of about 30 seconds this time for him to stop caring about being touched.

My goal for the summer is to walk with him the way I walked with Colby and used to walk with Manny.  It’s not the most appropriate way to walk your horse, but I toss the lead over my shoulder and they follow me.  Colby is and Manny was that comfortable and relaxed with me, that they did that.  I know, I know.  Bad Amy.  Not safe.  I never said I was perfect.

Should I have a loftier goal?  Maybe?  Maybe I should reword the goal to be that Roo is as comfortable with me as Manny was and Colby is.  That does sound better than unsafe horsemanship practices.

Routine

Humans tend are creatures of habit and thankfully, so are horses.  Since Roo came into my life, things have not exactly been routine and that’s okay.  It can’t really be since things are so new.  I am really trying to work towards a routine as best I can.

Roo is getting used to the general routine of farm life, and doing very well.  He’s not a pig in his stall.  He plays nice over the fence when he’s turned out next to someone.  Overall, I have a pretty good egg.

He’s had his check-up with the vet.  He’ll be getting a chiro adjustment next month, and today was teeth.  He was checked in December, but I want to make sure and it’s free to have them check, so why not.

Right now, I’m just enjoying getting him settled and discovering things about him.  It makes me really happy, and I can’t ask for anything more than that.

We have a ground work lesson tonight.  After our wash rack lesson Tuesday, whatever happens will be a piece of cake.   Yeah, I know.  I just jinxed myself, but I’m so happy now, I don’t really care.

The Wash Rack is the Devil

It’s been freakishly warm here in the Chicago area for the last week, but it won’t last long.  We’re supposed to be back to the bitter nasty Midwest winter in a day or so.  While, we do have the warm weather, why not give my new OTTB a nice bath to get the months of gross off of him.  Was I expecting perfection?  No.  Was I expecting him to be a perfect gentlemen?  No.  Trust me, I was not disappointed.

I am lucky enough to have access to several videos of Roo as a youngster during his training with West Point Thoroughbreds.  One of those videos is him getting a bath.  He stood stone still, so I was expecting some level of civility.  That apparently did not happen.

My trainer had finished a ground work lesson with him and he did really well, so why not give him a bath.  All seemed fine until she tried to bring him to the wash rack.  For Roo, it was No. Nope. Not happening.  From what I was told, if he could have flipped her off he would have.  Instead, it started a 4o minute battle of the wills with my trainer standing in the wash rack and Roo pulling as hard as he could against her.  Rearing, striking out, and generally being a complete jack-ass.

This is one of those moments, where you just refuse to acknowledge bad behavior.  There was no fighting.  Just constant steady pressure and release from pressure when he gives.  He eventually quit pitching a massive hissy fit and took a few steps towards the wash rack.  Then a few more, and finally he was standing in there with no issues whatsoever, and he got a nice bath.

Nobody is going to get anywhere by fighting and beating on horse.  Consistent pressure and a strong will, win out.  My trainer and I firmly believe that during his time off Roo became a bit lazy and cocky and he’s merely testing us to see what he can get away with.

Roo, I love you dearly, but my last horse was an Appaloosa, you will not be a problem.

Ok fine, maybe the wash rack isn’t the devil.

Going back to school

Roo has been home for a week, and aside from breaking the cross ties, he’s been settling in really well.  Apparently, he loves to sun bathe, and with the freakishly warm weather here in Northern Illinois, he’s been doing it quite a bit while on turn out.

Yesterday, was a big day.  Chelsey and her mom Sherri came to meet Roo for the first time.  We messed with him all afternoon.  All of us were fussing over him in the cross-ties, and creating commotion in the aisle.  He did very well.  He kept the turning around to a minimum and was minimally fussy.  He’s doing very well on cross-ties now.  He’s still pretty sensitive on his back end and doesn’t like having scabs picked at, but who really does?

I took him for a walk around the property and he was very interested in things.  We went past a big pile of rocks next to the indoor that he was not thrilled with so I took the opportunity to educate Mr. Roo.  It’s perfectly okay to sort and sniff and look crossed eyed and things, but it’s NOT okay to start backing up when mom wants you to walk past.  He doesn’t completely understand giving to pressure just yet, so there was quite the discussion at first.  I just wanted him to turn and walk back and forth in front of the killer rocks.  I was only asking him to walk past them and turn around and walk past again.  He was not a fan of turning around and would start to pull back and fight turning.  Nope.  I just kept at it.  I did not want him firing backwards or rearing, so I just kept at it.  Walk and turn.  Walk and turn.  If he pulled back, I just kept going with constant pressure to move forward and turn.  Once he walked forward to turn the pressure went away.  After 4 or 5 passes, the backing up stopped and he accepted the fact that the rocks weren’t going to eat him and mom was not going to give up.  It wasn’t perfect.  He still snorted and still isn’t a fan of the rocks, but he was turning and listening.  I’ll take it.

Roo also got his first introduction to the indoor yesterday.  I went up there with Chelsey and Sherri to see what he would do.  He walked in the door very well and stood looking around quietly.  I took him for a quick lap to see and then I let him loose.  I expected him to start tearing around like a idiot, but he spent about 10 minutes sniffing, rolling, and looking at all the new stuff.  YEAH Roo!  Good boy!  After he got a good look at everything he proceeded to take off and run like a fool.  There was lots of bucking and playing and a few good sprints.  It was warm, sunny, and this is probably the first good footing he’s been on where he could really tear around.  I gave him a just a few minutes of that because it was really warm and he is still really hairy.  Overall he did really well.

Roo starts school tomorrow evening.  I’m having my first ground work lesson with him tomorrow after work.  He’s settled and needs a job.  He’s got a lot of energy and needs to start thinking and learning.  He’s not a spaz by any means, but he spent the first 9 years of his life as a racehorse with a high energy job and taking all of that away suddenly, can cause anxiety and destructive behavior if not given an outlet.  We’ll start with ground work and learning to give to pressure and go from there.  Baby steps.  He’s smart and will pick up on it quick.

I’ll admit, as excited as I am for this chance, I’m bit scared.  I hope I don’t screw this up.

Simple things

Roo is settling in well.  He’s a love-bug and adorable of course.  He’s learning about life away from the track.  He had two months of down time, which is what you do with OTTB’s, but he wasn’t handled much during that time so Roo needs to go back to etiquette class.

He’s not a completely ill-mannered punk, but two months in a pasture little to no ground work has made him a tad rough around the edges.  For example, treats.  He loves peppermints, horse cookies, etc…., but he got really pushy really quick about them.  During his training on cross-ties, he keeps trying to get into my pockets or see what’s in my hand and kept backing up until he hit the tension on the cross ties which scared him and he’s broke the cross-ties, twice.  He gets points for not running up and down the aisle like an idiot, but that situation is going to stop.  We had a nice lesson on it last night and he’s getting it.  He’s definitely no dummy.  I chalk it up to not completely understanding cross-ties and being a bit treat drunk.  Both easily remedied.

Overall, I think he’s a bit drunk on treats and attention.  He went without for a while and now he’s gobbling it up.  I will shower him with treats and attention, when he behaves like a big boy.

big-boy-pants