Monday, December 21, 2009

Horse Viruses

During routine horse checks last week, Debbie discovered that one of the horses named Chili had a runny nose. Although horses often have snot running out of their nostrils, in this particular case, the mucous was yellowish-green. That's a bad sign. Debbie thought it might be caused by a bad tooth as this particular horse is known to have a cracked tooth. We also noticed that Cody, the horse in the stall next to Chili, had runny and swollen eyes. Since the veterinarian was coming down to take blood for a Coggins test that day, I had her check out the two sick horses while she was there. I bounced the bad tooth concept of the vet who recalled that the cracked tooth was on the bottom part of the jam and probably wasn't the reason for the runny nose. While we were discussing this, Chili began to cough. Although all his vitals were normal, it was obvious that Chili had a cold. The vet further surmised that Cody also had the virus and that was what was causing the puffy eyes. I isolated the two horses in the quarantine pasture and hoped that the rest of the herd hadn't caught the virus. We were lucky, both horses are fully recovered now and none of the others are showing any signs of cold symptoms.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Horse Medicine

My plans to ride today were scuttled this morning when I realized my left knee was sore and I was having trouble walking. I'm not sure if I strained it while riding the Wonder Horse yesterday or did something else stupid. Unfortunately, my knee brace was at home (I have a brace for every joint in my body now). I called Debbie and asked if she could bring it by when she came into town to pick up Daniel from school but it turned out his school was already on the holiday break so she wouldn't be coming. Debbie suggested a hock boot but when I tried it I found out that it was designed with a bend in it to accommodate the bend in the horse's hock. Unless I was willing to walk around with my leg at a 45 degree angle all the time this solution would not work. So instead, I found a red leg bandage that I began to wrap around my knee. I had to drop my pants to do this and I was terrified that someone would walk into my office while I was applying the bandage. The jokes about emergency red speedos would never end. Fortunately, no one came so my secret is safe. The bandage worked by the way.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rubbed the Wrong Way

I took out the Wonder Horse for a ride today. It has apparently been a while. He was a little excited. Duke was instantly jealous and began making noises as soon as I started tacking up Apache. I walked Apache out to the dressage area to set up the markers and remove some of the rocks that accumulate there. After that was done, I mounted up and tried to walk Apache through the pattern. He was wanting to do things a lot faster but to his credit stayed under control. When we increased speed to the trot he wanted again to go faster but still stayed under control. I figured once we went to the gallop he'd put his head down and start bucking but to my surprise he didn't resort to his usual tricks. A smooth ride, though, it was not. He was all full of energy and was more focused on expending his stored up resources than he was in moving smoothly with me. Apache was changing leads and transitioning fairly well but he and I were not in sync. It wasn't long before I began to feel the effects on my body. When you aren't moving in unison with your horse, the saddle rubs you in places you don't want to be rubbed. Since I wanted to be able to ride again tomorrow, I called it quits after about 30 minutes and walked back to the tie up area with Apache at my elbow. When we were back in the tie up area, Duke expressed his displeasure at my leaving him while Apache expressed his pleasure at being taken out by licking me like he was a dog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Commander

B Troop had a change of command ceremony last Friday on Brown Parade Field. The Garrison Commander remarked in his speech that we are the only unit that can say we've been having change of command ceremonies on post for the last 120 years. An interesting point. I always feel a slight sense of awe when we perform on Brown Parade Field as it was from there that B Troop, led by Captain Lawton, departed in 1886 to bring in Geronimo. We were planning on having the ceremony on the porch of our office at the stables because we weren't able to announce the ceremony in enough time for everyone to plan for it. However, the new Garrison Commander insisted we do it on Brown and also insisted we conduct it like any other "large unit" ceremony. Thus, it turned out to be a pretty big deal and a nice ceremony too boot. Even though we kind of threw it together at the last minute, the ceremony was attended by both Major General Custer and Mayor Bob Strain. I have to hand it to the Post Ops people. They really did a good job of making it all happen despite a busy schedule.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Teaching Cavalry History

B Troop was in Tombstone yesterday supporting an event there. We were asked to set up a static display from 1000 to 1600. A long day for sure. The promoters of the event arranged a lot of publicity but I'm not sure there were any more people there than you'd usually find there on a Saturday. We set up our mountain howitzer, a display campaign saddle, and a table of cavalry items that might be carried in a saddle bag. We had a fair amount of visitors who were curious about our weapons and accoutrements. There were lots of questions about the weapons, of course. A few visitors, the ones who knew something about history, were repeating the oft-stated claim that the 1873 Springfield trapdoor carbine had a tendency to jam. This story comes from the battle of the Little Bighorn where it was reported that troopers were having this particular trouble with the carbine. However, forensic evidence at the battle site doesn't really support the claim and there were no other battles I'm aware of where this problem was described. Thus, I never fully accepted this claim about the Springfield but enjoyed discussing the issue with knowledgeable people. One gentlemen came up and asked me if I knew anything about a film clip of General Edward Godfrey (who had been a survivor of the battle) riding across the Bighorn during an anniversary visit to the battlefield. The gentlemen claimed to have seen the clip on PBS at some point but had never been able to locate the clip again. I explained that I had only seen still photographs of the general at the battlefield. It is amazing though, the questions that people come up with. You really have to be on your toes at these events. Most people have no idea who Godfrey was and it was a very obscure question.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Training with Duke

I finally found some time to ride Duke yesterday. The weather had cleared up and the conditions were perfect for riding. I decided to start out with some conditioning work on the jogging track and test my theories about his tendency to try and run me into a tree. I was very careful to look in the direction I wanted to go on the curve and that seemed to work very well with direct reining. However, when I switched the neck reining, he would veer off toward the tree every time regardless of where I was looking. Although this is still disturbing, at least he will consistently turn in the right direction with direct reining. After a few of these tree-hugging experiences I decided to concentrate on teaching Duke to neck rein. I rode him around various obstacles and would lay one rein or the other across his neck. He at first did not respond to this so I would follow up with direct rein to turn his head. He soon learned that if he responded to the rein on his neck he wouldn't get the second rein pulling on the bit. He managed to pick up this concept at a walk but would forget the neck rein concept at a trot. Frustrating for sure but these things take time. We still goes through the cavalettis at a trot perfectly so we did that and ended the lesson on a positive note. Duke was clearly pleased with himself at the end so I think it was a good training session.