Monday, November 30, 2009

Rehabulitating Oldies-Advise?

This afternoon I am going to go get the old horse from my previous posts to bring him to the barn I board at. His vet has given the OK for the move though I am nervous what the stress will do to his already fragile state. The new barn is really close (20 mins away) though I am mostly afraid of how he will take to the change in environment. I will keep everyone updated on his progress but I would love for everyone to pipe in and give me your advise, experiences, and successes on fattening up old horses.
This horse is ancient (30 years or older) though his teeth are in good condition(the ones he still has) and his blood work was fantastic. I am planning on feeding Triple Crown Senior(soaked) and alfalfa pellets(vets orders). What are your experiences with feeding older, or under weight horses?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mugwump Chronicles

I submitted a horse story to the Mugwump Chronicles which was posted yesterday. If you guys are interested you can find it here.
I would highly recommend the blog to read in general though. She is a great horsewoman with some amazing and unique prospectives on training and horse life in general. Also an amazing writer.She also shares letter from her readers on Mondays. A must read blog to be sure-

Have a great Holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A ride in photos

Ok so the pictures are all out of order but this our ride on Saturday. Bodhi jumped his first verticals with me. I obviously need to take a jumping lesson now. I haven't taken one in about 10 years so please mind my position! He got his flying lead change consistantly and I even got him to change to the left going to the right. So counter canter here we come! He is becoming very brave over fences. What do you guys think? How do you like his hair cut?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A great blog-a great post

I wanted to share with everyone a blog that I really enjoy-Ethical Horsemanship. The most recent post is about Klaus Hempfling's take on Rolker. I found it very thought provoking and I think many of you will too! Hope you check it out.

Man two posts in one day. Look out!

Haircuts and scatter brains

I have not been writing lately because I am feeling a little scattered. I am having a hard time finishing a thought let alone a sentence. So I will just keep it simple today and give an update on Bodhi.

Bodhi has been doing awesome. We had a lesson on Saturday and my instructor was impressed in how much Bodhi had improved since she last saw him ( about a month and a half). She said he was really starting to develop suspension at the trot-very floaty. We also showed her how we can jump now and she was just as surprised and impressed as I was. I can not really explain how excited I am to have a jumping Haflinger. I love my pony and but I had already accepted that we would be flightless. Now the idea of going fox hunting and going to hunter paces is back and I am excited about the possibulities.

She gave a me my list of things to work on filled with the usual suspects of working on changing of bends, keep my elbows back and bent and stop throwing him away at the canter depart. She also gave me a few exercises to work on the flying lead changes. Before the lesson I felt a little wild when I asked for the change like I was looking for the combination of aides that would illicit it but there was really no rhyme or reason to my actions. She wants me to focus on just changing the bend and that should be enough. I think this weekend I am going to work on some more canter transition work, and possibly challenge Bodhi with some jump variety and maybe even raise the height a little. He can do it I am sure but I am a big baby!
Bodhi also got a hair cut. The B.M. gave him a trace clip as he was getting so sweaty during rides. She did a great job! I am debating right now whether to pull or roach Bodhi's mane. It is a mess and he keeps ripping it out! Poor itchy man. I feel so bad for him as he itches and scratches away big patches of hair and skin with his bug allergies but have found no real solution for the problem. If it would just stay cold then he would have some relief but alas we live in Florida!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I ended up calling the mom/land owner. She reacted well, and came down today to meet with the vet and farrier. Now everyone is up to date on feet, wormer and shots! Relief! She said one of the horses feet had giant splits and were curling up! As for the old guy- his vitals look good, and his activity level is good. They drew blood but the vet thinks that he looks good for an old guy and just really needs more food.
This is great news, though a little bitter sweet. It would have made me less angry if there was something wrong with his teeth or internal workings to make him lose all that weight. It really is that he is just not currently recieveing the correct amount of feed and care. I talked with the mom about some posibulities about getting the horses out of there in to new homes. She is on board but will not do it without her daughter's consent. Her daughter and her are on rocky terms and she is afraid it will make things worse (understandable) I am going to try and talk to the daughter about it. I really hope that she is receptive as this will be hanging over my head as Canada looms ahead of me. I would really like to have this all settled.
If she is not receptive the mom talked about hiring people to come and feed the horses. She has already set up the vet to just automaticly come out and do the horses. This is great too, though it seems like a lot of work. At the end of the day it is their decision as a family, I just hope that the horses best interests are condsidered and not just family drama.

This is another great example of moral delama's and end of life horse care. It can really get tricky!

Shew this has been one stressful week! I am looking forward though to my riding lesson on Saturday and the tack sale we are having at the barn.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roller Coaster

Sorry for the picture quality but I wanted to include photographic evidence of Bodhi's breakthrough!

Well this weekend was a roller coaster ride of emotions! First the good news:
Two of the other boarders rode Bodhi this weekend. It is always nice to see your horse being ridden by other people. He had a bit of a ponytude at first and was doing a lot of bulging and refusing to turn. What a buggar! They reached an understanding soon enough though and got some nice work done. One of the things I wanted them to try was to get that left lead. They were amazed at how balanced he is on his right lead going to the left. He really has an amazing counter canter! They could not get him to pick up the left lead either. Bummer. They however thought to ask him for a flying (why didn't I think of that!) and he gave it to them-consistantly! My four year old can do a flying! I was very impressed. So I guess our new game plan is to practice our flying changes to build up strength on his left side. Hopefully this means the left lead canter will be comming soon. We set up a little cross rail course for him as well, as I wanted their opinions on how Bodhi is progressing over fences (they are jumper people). He did great for them, and is even starting to develop some grace over fences. He took one 2 ft verticle at the end of their ride with no problem. What an improvement to my nervous little clutz. I guess he has a future as a hunter pony after all- and who knows maybe cross country? I am so stoked!

On to the bad news-
I went out to grab a few of my things left at my old barn. I talked a little bit about what happened in this post here. Besides the things I found at her farm I have been taking the end of our friendship pretty hard. It really hurts to be ignored and forgotten and I have been having a pretty hard time of it. I have been trying to avoid seeing or talking to her to save myself the heart ache.

I had not seen her horses since I left in June. It looks like they had not had their feet done since I left. I am also aware they have not seen the vet as the vet has called me conserned. The older fellow who was in bad shape when I left is now worse- I would say a 1 on the weight scale though I am not a vet. He was gaining weight slowly back from his founder episode with a lot of beat pulp, senior and alfafa. I wanted him to be fed three times daily though she was not up for that. There was only senior at the farm now, no beet pulp, no alfafa or even hay. They do have some grass left but not enough for an oldman like this guy. His feet were horrific. His toes are insanely long, and one of his front feet was warm. There were flies everywhere, and the stalls were dirty. I was devastated. What am I going to do now? I think I will call her parents (she lives on their property) or my vet. I have not decided yet. At this point the old man is bad enough to be charged for it. I do not want to be a "tattle", or get her in trouble but this has to stop. I have a broken heart over this, I have not slept since I saw it. Everytime I close my eyes I see the poor old man. I have to figure out what to do and fast. I am so torn.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reinforcement: an Introduction

First what does it mean to reinforce? Reinforcement is a reward for a "right answer" Reinforcement is anything that increases the likelihood of a behavior recurring. What ever behavior is reinforced will then likely repeat. I like to keep this in mind when new behaviors pop up in horse training. "What behavior am I reinforcing and HOW am I reinforcing it"

The How
There are two basic types of reinforcement. Negative and positive reinforcement.
Positive- Is anything added that is rewarding when the appropriate behavior is expressed. Giving a dog a cookie for the command "sit", smiling at your partner and saying "thanks" for doing the dishes, giving a child a gold star on a completed homework assignment- these are all examples of positive reinforcement. Exotic animal trainers(dolphin elephant etc) use positive reinforcement. "Clicker" training is a gaining popularity, and also uses positive reinforcement- a topic for another post!

Negative-(not to be confused with punishment) is taking away an irritating, non rewarding, or uncomfortable stimulus. How we normally train dogs to walk on a leash is using negative reinforcement. A new puppy quickly learns that he can remove the uncomfortable feeling of tightness from the rope by walking forward, the same a horse is conditioned to move "off" a leg. The reward is in the removal of the stimulus or "aide" as we riders like to say.
Most traditional and "natural" horse training is primarily negative reinforcement. Leg and rein aides are of course negative reinforcement. You want your horse to move away from your leg, you want your horse to give to reins. This is all taught by negative reinforcement. Also Parelli's Seven Games uses negative reinforcement, along with Monty Robert's join up games. So you see in the eyes of a behaviorist the new "natural" movement is not so new or different after all!

Both forms of reinforcement have their own unique weaknesses and strengths, and just like disciplines have very passionate followers. I plan on delving into the drawbacks of each in following posts...

Bodhi News
The cold is finally here, in North Central Florida and Bodhi looks like a woolly mammoth. He just loves this weather! I am debating what I am going to do about blanketing this year. He is a Haflinger and I do live in Florida. Does he really need a blanket? Is this just to make me feel better? I am thinking about loaning Bodhi's Blankets to two ederly boarders who do not have any blankets. They are two short coated arabs that need all the help they can get keeping the pounds on this winter.

At what temp do you blanket your horses? What role does their individual winter coats weigh in your decision making process?