Friday, March 16, 2012

Healing wounds, moving targets, more trouble, and packing beginners

Of the four parts to this blog post, only one is about Panama.  That probably tells you how my week has been spent: taking care of Rondo since his injury on Sunday.

The wound looks great and hasn't swelled up at all.  I've been very relieved not to have to clean a gaping wound on his face, but his medicine has proven to be its own challenge.  His antibiotics were a powder, and I found out the first day that he doesn't like applesauce (I suspect he doesn't like anything apple, since he has turned down apples from me before, too).  He also didn't care for maple syrup, which I used to try to flavor some oatmeal (at which point he completely lost interest in it.  We eventually settled on a mixture of strawberries and cream instant oatmeal with molasses and garnished with oats as the preferred way of getting his antibiotics.

Bute, on the other hand, has been its own challenge.  Last year I'd worked with Rondo so that he'd be easy to deworm, taking care not to make it a bad experience.  I've dewormed him a few times since without any trouble, but I think those days may be over, at least for a little while, thanks to the bute.  He didn't object much on Sunday, but he was still drugged then; on Monday, he realized it tasted bad, and objected about halfway through.  We worked a little afterward on opening his mouth for me when I stick my finger or a syringe in the corner of his lips, and on not throwing his head when I ask him to do so!  Each day when it was time for the bute, he still objected and threw his head, but I just waited with one hand over his nose and the other holding the tube by his cheek until he calmed down.  Each day the time I had to wait got shorter, until yesterday, when I was able to give him his bute within a matter of minutes of "assuming the position."

Also yesterday my trainer finished trimming his bridle path for me.  No rearing.  I realized a few days ago when I was spraying his mane with conditioner to brush it that he was getting quite upset, and I realized that he must have gotten amped up from that last week — and by the time I started working on his bridle path, he was on overload.  Remember, he used to freak out and rear with fly spray, and he only got over that late last summer, so I'm guessing some of his fears came back over the winter.  Note to self: Must re-desensitize to sprays.

Today when I arrived at the barn, the owner told me that he'd pulled down a strand of barbed wire from the top of the fence and dragged it into the corral.  Great.  My guess is that he got kicked in the face last weekend when he was chewing another's horse's tail, and now is leaving tails alone, so he needed something new to play with.  *headdesk*  Once his face has healed, I am going to make a concerted effort to get out to the barn more often to work with him, because I think boredom is the underlying cause behind all this trouble he is getting into.  I'm also planning on hanging up some gallon milk jugs in his corral for him to play with...

Finally, a little news about Panama.  I had a lesson yesterday in which we worked a little on our upward transition to canter, something we've needed to work on for a while, and I was inspired to do so after the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo last weekend (more on that later).  He did great, and I'm going to continue to work on it throughout the week.

And today, I took the little girl I nanny for, V., out to the barn to work on grooming and tacking — next weekend she is to start lessons with my trainer, and we are trying to get her to the point where she can groom and tack independently, so that she doesn't have to spend lesson time on that.  She's been out to my barn quite a few times by now, though, so she is almost there (and has learned to be more assertive with the horses — I'm quite proud of her).  Today I told her if she tacked Panama fast enough and we had time, I'd put her on him for a few minutes.  Twenty minutes later, she was done!

Riding Panama was a big deal for them both.  Panama has only been ridden by my trainer and me, but he clearly adores V., and is very careful around her and her little brother, so I decided I could trust him with her.  (Just in case, though, I had him on a lunge line.)  V. has ridden a couple of different horses in her lessons, but the pony she usually rides is slow and naughty — he has learned to ignore 90 percent of what kids ask him to do, unless of course they are asking him to halt — that he's more than happy to do.  Then there was the energetic horse she sometimes used to ride, who bucked her off once after he'd had hock injections and had been on stall rest for 2 weeks...  Why the instructor didn't think to lunge him first, I don't know!

Anyway, I hopped on Panama first and trotted him a little, just to make sure he was going to behave himself.  No red flags, so I put V. on and hooked up the lunge line.  At first Panama wanted to listen to me and not her, but he quickly figured out that I was only hanging out at the end of the line, nothing more, and started listening to her.  We only had 5 or 10 minutes, so she mostly walked him; she did try trotting for 5 or 6 strides, but she has developed a habit lately of leaning way forward, and he immediately detected she was off balance.  His head went up and his ears went back — I started worrying he was going to panic, and was telling her to sit up and put her shoulders back, but instead he slowed to a walk.  He clearly was just trying to help her to regain her balance and was ready to go back up into a trot the moment she asked, but she said she didn't want to (I think his head going up worried her) so we just walked for the rest of what little time we had.

Anyway, I was quite proud of both of them, especially Panama for taking such care of V.!

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