Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hock Injury

I had to travel to Tucson on Saturday, so I left the "bat-phone" with Debbie in case someone called about an injured horse. When I returned from Tucson, she was gone, so I knew something was up. It turned out to be that one of our horses, Journey, had gotten tangled up in an electric fence wire and injured his hock pretty badly. I'm not sure how he managed to get into the wire as it was on top of the fence. The wire was actually one of those poly-cords that is thick enough to see, but doesn't catch the wind like tape does. Surprisingly, the cord did not break, although in this case, I wish it had. 

Journey resting in the shade.
Journey had to be heavily sedated by the mil vet so that the wound could be cleaned and sutured. Everything went wrong. None of the lanterns or flashlights worked, so Debbie had to use her car lights to illuminate the operating area. The clippers were not fully charged, so they kept dying while they were trying to shave his leg. They had trouble keeping him upright due to the sedation, and at one point, he fell and rubbed dirt into the wound that they had just spent an hour cleaning. After several hours of working in the dark, they finally managed to get him bandaged and put away for the night. Not a great way to spend a Saturday night.  

Today when I arrived at work, Journey was laying on the ground. He would occasionally try to sit up, but would just lay down again. I could tell that he had been laying down for quite a while based on the marks in the dirt and because he had manure under his tail. I put a halter on him and compelled him to get up, but it was extremely painful for him. He couldn't put any weight on his injured leg and just stood there trembling. I gave him his medicine and breakfast and left him alone.  He manged to eat some and drink, but just decided to stand in the shade and rest. I could tell he was in pain because his respiration rate was high.   

The unwrapped wound site.

This afternoon the vet and Debbie returned to change the bandage. Debbie managed to get most of the bandage off before the vet arrived, but the final wrap required a little sedation. Journey took it pretty well and the wound is looking okay. He will be down for a while, but hopefully will make a full recover.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Khyber Rides Again

With Boone out of action temporarily due to his leg injury, I continued my work with Khyber today.  He is getting much better about picking up his feet and tacks up without a problem.  I took him to the round pen so that he could still see his cousin, Boone.  The two are so close, it is like they are twins.  Sometimes I think they are communicating telepathically.  
Khyber after his training session.
I continue my work in teaching Khyber his cues.  He has been taught direct rein cues, but apparently not much in the leg cue department.  When I tried to push him to the rail with my leg, it was like pushing on granite.  However, with a combination of direct rein cue and ample use of leg, he soon figured it out.  Before long, I could adjust his distance from the rail with the use of my legs.  He is also getting better with rein cues and it is easier to change his nose direction.  

Khyber got a little snarky a few times--wanted to turn without being told and would occasionally stop.  I'd give him a second and then would gently urge him forward and he would soon comply.  I'm amazed at how easy he is to work with.  Comparing him to Apache is a world of difference.  Apache would stand on his hind legs at the slightest offense.  I endured that for several years until he calmed down.  Working with Boone and Khyber is scary for me because it is so easy.  I only wish that my schedule allowed me to work with them every day instead of just once or twice a week.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wonder Nap

Walking through the stables this morning, I heard a strange noise coming from Apache's pen.  He was sacked out in the warm sun, snoring like a drunken sailor.  Being the Wonder Horse must be exhausting.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Poor Man's Arena

Last year one of my neighbors put their house up for sale.  In addition to selling their house they decided to sell their riding arena panels.  Seeing an opportunity to build a small practice arena for B Troop, I  acquired them.    

Storing the panels out of the way for a while, I commenced to groom a decent piece of ground on which to place the arena.  An area of our stables that had previously had horse pens on it was cleared and was available.  I dragged the ground for weeks to try and smooth it out.  It was uneven and was full of rocks and metal spikes that people had driven in to it to hold retaining boards in place.  The boards had rotted away long ago and the spikes were buried just below the surface of the ground.  I punctured two tractor tires before I realized what was going on.  Then, I used a metal detector one day after a heavy rain and dug those suckers out of the ground.  
Poor man's lighted arena.  Note the yellow work lights.  

With the help of the troopers and my own family members, we erected the corral panels and created a 160 x 60 foot arena.  The ground was still uneven, but over time, the weather and people riding horses on it gradually flattened it out.  

We held our first riding school class in it last summer and it worked very well.  Fortunately, the sun sets so late in the summer time that we didn't need any lights in it at night.  We could ride until 7:30 pm without a problem.  However, with our new riding school class beginning now, when the sun sets at about 6 pm, I needed to come up with some lights.  

Using end-of-year money, I picked up four halogen work lights with telescoping poles that could lift the lights up to six feet in height.  However, we determined that it would be better if we could get them higher to prevent blinding the riders.  The troopers tried lashing them to the panels which kind of worked, but it occurred to me that by taking the legs off the work lights I could slip them into the pipes that I was using to rebuild horse shelters.  So, I bolted the eight foot long poles to the arena panels and slipped the lights into them.  With electric outlets located within 100 feet of the arena, a few extension cords provided the power.  Viola! Poor man's arena lights.  They don't give great light but enough to illuminate the arena well enough to work in.  

So, with a little luck and some ingenuity we now have a year-round practice arena.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Boone Meets His Match

On the continuing task of integrating Boone and Khyber into the herd, I added Journey and Ruger to the mix. Ruger is a low-ranking horse, but Journey is near the top.  I was interested to see how Boone would get along with a horse with a much more dominating personality than what he has encountered so far.  

When I arrived at the stables Saturday morning to feed the horses, Journey began to chase Khyber. Every time Khyber moved anywhere near the feeders, Journey would viciously attack him. It was so bad, that I had to take a flake of hay out to Khyber so that he was well-separated from the rest of the herd while he ate. Then, to my surprise, I noticed Journey standing next to Boone at the feeder. As I have noted previously, it is not normal for horses in our herd to stand side-by-side at the feeder. Usually, they position themselves so that they are on opposite sides.  Boone and Khyber are unique in that they do this routinely. Seeing Journey standing next to Boone was an absolutely extraordinary development. The two had become fast friends.

However, as I checked the horses for injuries, I realized that this new-found friendship had come at a high price.  Boone's front, left leg was covered in blood. He had a nasty wound on his knee, which I suspected might be a puncture wound. Journey also had a wound on his chest in a spot that Boone likes to go after during a fight, but it was only a minor injury.  
Boone's first serious battle injury.

I decided I would have to remove Boone from the pasture, but that I would take Khyber out first so that Boone would have a battle buddy. After I safely removed Khyber, I haltered Boone and began to move him out. At this point I realized something that I hadn't figured out before. Journey is as hooked on Boone as Khyber. Journey hadn't been driving Khyber away from the food, he was driving him away from Boone. It was a total jealousy thing. Journey came running after us as I tried to move Boone through the gate. I had to wave Journey off with my hat.  

Debbie came and treated Boone as I had a riding school class to teach. She determined that Boone did have, in fact, a puncture wound (can't imagine how that happened, unless Journey pulled a shiv). Fortunately, it was upward-tracking and it was easy to flush and drain and the wound did not enter the joint. I made my riding school students watch as Debbie probed and cleaned the wound, which they were thoroughly disgusted by, even though they are soldiers. Boone got his first bandage which was a new and confusing experience for him, but he was overall a very good patient.  

He is healing well, being a young horse, and we may put him back out to pasture tomorrow if all goes well. Welcome to the Army, Boone.