Sunday, March 14, 2021

Waiting for the Snow (to Melt)

The best view <3

Things have been chugging ever forwards in my corner of the globe - the snow is slowly melting away and the days are getting longer (thank you Daylight Savings). We've had several attempts by Mother Nature to "restart" Winter, but thankfully we haven't accumulated much from those little storms. Still, the weather has left much to be desired more recently, but there are brighter (and longer!) days on the horizon and so, I am fervently looking forward to that.

I have been lucky enough that the stars (and weather) aligned several times for me to be able to hack out and hand walk the horses. Due to starting a new job this month (hooray!), my time is a little more crunched than before, as there was limited light by the time I leave the office. However, I am both thankful for a new start and that Daylight Savings is here!

Trying to get media is exceptionally difficult when the only spot 
to rest your phone is nearly waist-height.
However, here it is - playing around with no-pressure
desensitization of a feed bag. She willingly reached
over to it as I held it away and in this moment I am rewarding her
for doing so (note the position of my near hand).

I've continued to work with Maizey in short, moderate pressure training sessions and she's slowly but surely becoming familiarized with different things. As always, raising a young horse takes patience and persistence, so I am just trying to remind myself that her subpar leading skills when I take her out solo will soon become a thing of the past. We just have to keep doing short and simple with her and the insecurities of leaving her buddy behind will become a thing of the past. Since I've wanted to ramp up a bit more of my expectations (ie. stress), as well as having noted a few vice-like behaviors I figured why not start her on some ulcer medication. Back in the Summer I noted she started cribbing when being fed her daily mash and/or while she was eating - it was never  (and still isn't) "bad" in the sense she would abandon her food to crib and if she was fed away from fences or her hay box, she wouldn't seek out cribbing on her own. At the time, I figured it was due to boredom, as she is housed with a geriatric gelding who doesn't really kick up his heels all that much and I was advised not to turn her out on acres and acres of land until we could assess how her lameness did over the course of the next several months. Still, it is something I kept in the back of my brain, as she is a bit more of a nervous horse in general and more and more I have considered that the two items could certainly be linked. Still - no harm no foul to treat even if she doesn't.

Over the last few weeks we've mostly been working on desensitizing - I brought out a feed bag and we played around with it for a few days. Allowing her to sniff it on the ground, hearing it crunch under my feet, and eventually being rubbed with it. When I first brought her to AJ's place last April, hearing the crinkling of feed bags or ziploc bags completely wigged her out - she did NOT like the sound at all. I would keep a wrapper in my pocket and crinkle it as I went about doing chores and after some time, she started to come around. Of course, touching her with said crinkly object was no beuno either, but we've worked pretty hard on accepting grocery bags and the feed bag. As of now, she isn't a fan of being touched with the bag, but warms up to it as we go along. I simply reward for her efforts and calmness when it shows and otherwise ignore the leg shuffling or uncertainty. 

Listening as I step off and on the bag (out of view).
This would have sent her into orbit several months ago!

It's slow going and a bit like watching paint dry in some aspects - I recall during the Summer we had to revisit the flyspray several times over because she was NOT a fan of it misting over her legs or near her poll. I had untangled her mane and tail the other day and for good measure, sprayed over her body with detangler and she looked at me like, "What next?" Suffice to say, I was pretty pleased with that response.

Things will take time and although I would love to push fast forward and get to the "funner" and more interesting stuff, I'm reminding myself to press pause and drink up all the learning opportunities yet to come for her. She's a cautious bean by nature, and working to cultivate a thinking horse vs a reactive horse takes time. 

An unfit, undermuscled and a bit... rotund Momma Bannie who
was unimpressed to be back home after a 40 minute ride (and a 
pleased Spud that we were back and it was snack time).

In addition to playing with Maizey, I've taken Momma Bans out a handful of times and I am elated to report she feels good. Yeah, she's weak and unbalanced and uncoordinated, but she feels ready to work and able to work. Two things she did not feel for a majority of the summer months last year. 

So, I am optimistic for a good return to normal work - perhaps even a few clinics and outings, too! - and although I am a bit nervous about the impeding Spring-time (ie. dust, pollen), I am keeping my fingers crossed she remains unaffected and is healthy and rideable. At the start of the Summer we have an appointment to get her allergy tested, which I hope opens a lot more doors for us in terms of answers and will put an end to my obsessiveness when it comes to feeding new/ different supplements, grains or feeds. 

As always, Spud is doing great. I haven't had the opportunity to take him out in the cart yet, as it is being stored in my Grandma's garage (since we lack the space and storage, and there is none at the new "barn") so until the snow melts and I am able to park it under the roof/awning and toss a tarp on it, we are limited to hand-walking and ponying for the sassy mini. I do intend to ground drive him a few times, but when opportunity for hand-walking allows, I like to take both him and Annie (which would make ground driving a bit difficult to do!).

She really didn't want to go back home, haha.
One of the only horses I've met who will willingly
pass by home just to keep going!

I've slowly begun to enter dates for clinics, shows and fun days into my calendar and have put a marker on the ones I am more interested in attending. For most, the year starts in April, but for those of us without an indoor arena, the season doesn't really get underway until May. While there are a few events in April, neither myself nor Annie will be sane fit enough to attend the first clinics and events of the season (bc I almost parted ways with her just a few days ago when she gave a giant spook during a stretchy trot set and went hard left and my body.... did not, hahah. Thankfully she somehow levitated back under me and quite literally saved my ass. That'll teach me to slip the reins to a fresh horse!). So, we'll sit on our hands for now and wait until the outdoor is free of snow and I can get a few schools in. At least, that is the plan.

How are things in your neck of the woods? Has the snow melted (or are you lucky enough that you don't get snow)?

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like things are looking up for you all! So happy to hear Annie is feeling so good this year, and I think that's a great plan with the allergy tests.
    Snow is just about completely gone here, so starting to get the footing worked on in the ring and the barn ready for the horses to come back home. I'm planning for the end of April. So excited for better weather (even if it's absolutely arctic here today)!

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    Replies
    1. Slowly but surely!
      I'm glad she's feeling awesome as well - I'm excited to see what the allergy testing will uncover.

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  2. aw glad all the ponies are doing well! fingers crossed that the snow melts soon. we've been inundated with precipitation all winter, and then suddenly in the space of about a week things dried out to actual literal dust bowl levels. here's hoping your shift comes quickly too!

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    1. It tried snowing on us when I rode yesterday... ugh. At this rate, it'll never leave!
      Keep sending us "warm and dry" vibes, bc the next two weeks look absolutely miserable.

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  3. Things are sounding promising for you, I will keep you guys in my thoughts and hope that Annie's allergy panel comes back with some actionable items!

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