Saturday, January 19, 2008


Both my son and my filly are teenagers, and they sometimes butt heads. Since I often have to rely on my son to get the horses in their stalls on nights when I work late, it is important that my horses respect him. Gabbrielle has been showing signs of disrespect toward him, so I put both of them in the round pen together, showed my son the basics of controlling a horse's movements without a lead rope, and let him have at it.

At first Gabbrielle was just going through the motions. I stood behind my son to give him tips, but could tell that Gabbrielle was really watching me for cues. Once I stepped out of the round pen, she lifted her head high and started challenging him, refusing to do what he asked. He stood his ground, remained solid in what he asked for, and was consistent with his cues. Gabbrielle then began lowering her head, licking and chewing. I told him to stop her and turn his back to her to see if she'd approach him. She didn't. The feeling I got was that she was willing to follow his orders, but wasn't quite yet willing to accept him as her permanent leader. He sent her around one last time when disaster struck.

Gabbrielle decided to bolt, slipped on her own pile of manure at a gallop, fell on her side, and tried to get back up multiple times, but her legs were stuck through the railings of the round pen. My gelding Bombay spotted her struggling on the ground and rushed over to "help" or at least offer his moral support from the other side of the fence. She eventually righted herself, but not without coming away with a limp. She cut one of her hind legs, probably with her own hoof, and bruised the other enough to favor it. She associated the accident with my son and kept trying to get away from him after that. I had him help me groom her to settle her down. It was good that the two of them were able to interact in a more soothing activity.

I inspected her legs, and they seemed fine. There was no swelling. She eventually began putting weight on all four legs and moving in a normal manner. Any time something undesirable happens with my horses, I always analyze it to see how the problem can be avoided in the future. In this case, I would have been better off with a walled-in round pen so that if a horse does fall, there are no railings for its legs to get entangled in. The other lesson is to make sure you pick up all the manure before and during a training activity. Leaving fresh manure in a round pen is like leaving a banana peel out in front of a marching band in a parade. In our case, we were just controlling her movements at a walk and trot since the ground is still icy and muddy, but sometimes horses don't do what we ask or something spooks them.

MIDGE UPDATE: Midge is eating more, though not her usual two meals a day of dry dog food. We have to make eating fun by tossing a piece of cheese, chicken or turkey into the air and have her catch it. She turns her nose up to a lot of the foods we offer her. I tried the trick of buttering her pills, and those suckers do slip right down her throat before she knows what is happening. Thanks for that suggestion, Ann. Behaviorally, Midge is acting like her normal self, full of energy, though I don't know where she gets the energy from, as she hasn't had a normal meal in weeks. All I can say is that if I had my belly sliced open as high and wide as she had hers cut, I'd probably be in bed for weeks and not want to eat anything either.

CAUCUS: I know this is a horse blog, but I'm a Democrat, which is a donkey, so I'm using that as an excuse to tell this fun story about the Nevada caucus that I attended today. My daughter is 17 and will be old enough to vote at the general election, plus she is a member of the political science club at her high school. She attended the Democratic caucus with me, or more realistically, I attended it with her. When it was time to break up into groups for the first alignment, she and I were the only two participants in our precinct supporting Dennis Kucinich, and we needed a minimum of 14 to get him some delegates. Edwards had 6 people, a handful were Undecided, and everyone else was standing in either the Obama crowd or the Hillary crowd. For the second alignment, my daughter and I split up. I headed for the Hillary side and she headed for the Obama side. The Obama supporters were more active in their recruiting, so all the Edwards supporters and Undecideds headed over there. The final count was 42 Hillary supporters and 42 Obama supporters, and we needed 5 delegates from our precinct. In true Nevada style, we had to decide who got the extra delegate by pulling cards from an unopened deck. The Hillary representative drew a 3, and her supporters moaned in defeat, since the highest card wins. The Obama representative pulled his card, which turned out to be a 2! Life can be so ironic.


photogchic said...

Hope everything turns out "ok" with Gabrielle's legs. Maybe your son should spend some "undemanding" time in her stall so she will associate him with "good things." The only suggestion I have is to first gain some respect with the horse online then move to liberty work in the round pen. Love your Corgi---so cute. Go Dems!! I love Edwards, but I think he is out of the mix. I think he would make a great Attorney General if not VP.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear the butter helped with Midge! It's a good trick and makes medicating small animals much less stressful. I hope she continues to recover from her illness.

Scary about Gabbrielle's fall, but I'm glad there was no serious injury.