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Showing posts from February, 2016

In which we banish boredom by teaching silly tricks with the dogs' toys

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The question arose on Facebook:   How do you keep a horse on stall rest from going crazy with boredom?
I cannot answer how everyone can keep a confined horse entertained, but I'm happy to share the techniques that are working for Fiddle while she is on the DL.

1.  Stall and paddock, not just stall rest. The paddock attached to Fee's 12x12 stall is about 24'x24', and the footing is mostly gravel.  That gives her enough room to walk around, but not enough room to invite a good gallop.*

2.  *Quietex as needed.  When the world is just so very interesting that the Dragon feels obligated to state her opinion, such as when the public works crew fills pot holes on our road, it's time to use a little chemistry.  I definitely approve of pot hole repair, but Fiddle does not.  She got a dose of Quietex every day while the crew was working.

Apparently the Quietex gives her diarrhea (who knew?) so I tapered off the dose when the road work moved elsewhere.

3. A teeny corral set up …

In which I investigate a little bit of voodoo for myself

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Years ago, I got impatient with a Linda Tellington-Jones book that asserted that a horse's behavior could be predicted by--and essentially dictated by--the whorls of facial hair.  

I think Linda T-J's t-touch and massage techniques are extremely valuable.  But the hair whorl thing was a little too twinkle-twinkle-ding-dong for my taste. It seemed too much like voodoo, like phrenology gone very weird.

But apparently there's something to it.  If you like your science more science-y than just taking Linda Tellington-Jones' word for things, you might be interested to know that scientist Temple Grandin teamed up with a horse trainer and some behavioral researchers to investigate things.  They worked with cows (cows are cheaper than horses) and discovered that hair whorl position on cow heads can be indicative of calmness (or lack of calmness) that may be of value in selecting breeding cattle.  Here's a link to the abstract for that research, and a cool article about th…

In which there are many rainclouds, and I dance with the one what brung me

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There are many beautiful times in the Swampland. February isn't one of them.


I am usually a cheerful person.  Annoyingly cheerful at times, I admit.

But not in February.
In mid-February, the skies are not only dark-and-dreary, they have been dark-and-dreary for about five months.  And there is no light in sight:  our days won't get longer for more than a month, and we won't see lightness-and-brightness for another two or three months.  
That's a lot of dreariness, even for a cheerful person.
Usually I can banish some of the mental rainclouds by heading to the hills for a ride on my faithful Dragon.

That's not an option this winter.
My friends are always supportive, and especially now.  "Ride Ariana!" says Patty.  

So I do.

Learning new stuff is a good way to dispel the clouds.  
"Let's ride trails!" says Duana.



So we do.



Being out on the trails helps to dispel the mental clouds, even if the actual clouds dump rain on us for two hours and eigh…

In which we walk and ride and ride and ride...and that's a good thing

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Fiddle is doing fine.  Bored but fine.
She will be on stall/paddock rest for another two weeks, and then we can start hand-walking 5 minutes per day for a week.  
Obviously, this amount of activity isn't nearly enough to keep me out of trouble.  Fortunately, I have alternatives.


I've ridden Ariana three times this week.  On Thursday, I rode her in Patty's (Very. Wide.) saddle, and I couldn't get comfortable--it felt like driving a stolen truck wearing somebody else's shoes.

On Friday (for a lesson) I rode Ariana in Santa Jim's saddle, which is a very old version of mine.  That was MUCH more comfortable, and felt more like driving a stolen truck down a dirt road in bare feet with a friend and a cheese pizza.
Today I rode Ariana in Jim's saddle again, tied down the clanking D-rings and wished for the sheepskin cover on my saddle, because those old-time Specialized Saddle seats are ROCK. HARD.  So today felt like driving a stolen truck with dead shocks down a…

In which my horse is lame and I try to learn a new skill to help her

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Fiddle is lame, and I am sad.

Our best guess is that she did a "horse thing" in the pasture, aka "did something stupid and I can't tell you because it's a secret horse thing, nyahh."

At first I was worried that our extremely long endurance season had permanently injured my mare.


Then I remembered that we had taken a few lessons after ride season was over and before she started short-striding.  We have video from a lesson and she was definitely sound for that.



A few weeks later, the video taken during the warm-up to a lesson shows something entirely different.



(the people talking in the background are discussing another horse)

So what happened?

I guess you have to be a horse to know, and I'm not a horse.

Of course, I immediately called the vet...as in, I unsaddled the Dragon and stood beside the trailer in the parking lot to call the vet before we even drove home.

Dr. Fehr came out the next week to do some diagnostics on Fiddle (and on Flower, who is sh…