Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gabbrielle and Bombay Update

On Friday I went to the equestrian center to watch the trainer ride Gabbrielle and to receive any instructions she had regarding the continuance of my horse's training.  To me it felt like all the news was bad, despite the trainer trying to be positive.  She kept saying that I have a really nice horse who will make a great partner for me someday, yada, yada, yada.

However, there were so many problems that need my attention that I felt overwhelmed.  First off, the trainer wanted me to keep metal shoes on her front feet.  I do not care for metal shoes, because they lose their nails, fall off and cause all kinds of problems.  I've never had a rubber shoe fall off.  I don't like solutions that cause more problems, and for me, metal shoes fall into that category.  However, she talked me into it, because she felt that shoes would help control the direction of growth of her one club foot that flares out.  That made sense to me, so I had the farrier put on shoes.

Not even two weeks later, one of the nail ends on the inside of her hoof popped up and started scratching the inside of her other leg, so the trainer wanted me to get the farrier out to repair it and clamp it down again.  I called him, and he was leaving on vacation.  He told me to place her hoof on a block of wood and hammer the sharp end back down.  The wood or flat surface is to prevent the nail from being hammered out in the process of bending the end.

That didn't work because there wasn't enough sticking out to bend down, so my husband filed it to make it less sharp.  I'd just like to say that once we got Gabbrielle home, she stood like a good little soldier for her amateur farrier work.  There was none of these evasion techniques we got from her when the farrier shoed her at the training center.

The trainer talked about Gabbrielle's inconsistent lameness some more.  She noticed that G moves just fine when she's relaxed, but if something spooks her, she tenses up and starts limping.  She said that it's definitely a tightness in her right shoulder, but she thinks it's more psychological than physical.  She recommended getting an equine chiropractor to work with her.  Perhaps she had a torn muscle in her shoulder at one point and now she limps out of habit when she gets tense.  Getting an equine chiropractor out was my original plan last year, and then all hell broke loose in my life and my attention was taken elsewhere.

We brought Gabbrielle home on Saturday morning.  Bombay was being a jerk, biting her over the fence, so I have to keep them separated for a short while until they get their pecking back in order.

Gabbrielle didn't fair so well with the herd she was housed with at the equestrian center. This looks like a hoof mark...

Each time I asked the trainer about Gabbrielle's various injuries, she acted completely unconcerned. However, I could tell that they were constantly bathing her and medicating her wounds. She said they were bathing her to desensitize her to water, but she's never given me any trouble when I bathe her.  I think they were trying to prevent infection, because she was getting cut up by the other horses so often.

Each time I visited, Gabbrielle was at one end of the pasture while the other horses were at the opposite end, so they obviously didn't get along well. I had to chase off the other horses when I was haltering Gabbrielle, because they were trying to attack her while I was working with her. She's such a good girl that she stood still for me despite being surrounded by horses that were pinning their ears back at her and taking nips at her rump.  I'm glad to get her out of that place. I thought things would settle down for her over time, but the bullying just got worse.

I've come up with a couple of new theories that might explain Bombay's trailer freak-outs over the past couple of years.  At some point I got mixed up regarding what number to set the trailer's brakes to.  It's supposed to be 2.0 with an empty trailer, 2.5 with one horse and 3.0 with two horses.  I've been driving at 3.0 with one horse, which would cause braking to be more abrupt.  The trailer was doing the majority of the braking when my truck should have been handling the load.  That could explain Bombay's panic attacks.

My other theory is that Bombay is going deaf, and can no longer hear indicators that I am braking, so he just loses his balance and panics.  I recently opened the sliding glass door, which made a loud noise, right at lunch time, and Bombay didn't look up.  I was about 20-feet away from him and I called his name, and he still didn't look up.  When I was about 10-feet away from him, he suddenly saw my movement coming toward him and he spooked.  I've noticed other occasions in which he wasn't responsive to noises, but I previously thought it was just a matter of inattention.  Considering that this time it was feeding time and he normally would be waiting for me, I thought the problem might be more serious.

So, now it appears that I have one lame horse, one deaf horse, and one very old horse.

The trainer said that one of the biggest challenges I will have with Gabbrielle is keeping her attention on me. It's like she's got ADD. Sure enough, I was trying to get her to look at me during her welcome home photo shoot and she was more interested in watching my nosy neighbor lurking nearby. That lady has been on a roll today, running out of her house to see what I'm doing every time I walk outside.

This morning I was hooking up the trailer to go pick up Gabbrielle, and my neighbor immediately came out of her house pretending to walk her dog back and forth in front of my house to see what I was doing. I finished and she headed for her front door, got as far as her porch, saw me get in my truck and start my engine, and she whipped around and began fast walking almost at a run out her gate and down my road. By the time I reached the end of my driveway, she reached the end of it too. It was bizarre. It was like she was intentionally trying to block me from getting out of my own driveway.  Usually, if a pedestrian sees a vehicle pulling out of a driveway, they slow or stop so that they don't collide with the vehicle, but this lady sped up as if she wanted me to run her over. 

I stopped the truck and got out, and my husband came out of the house. She saw him and turned on her heel and headed back to her house quickly. I don't know what the heck she wanted, but she seemed intimidated by my husband. Then when we came back with Gabbrielle, she was out hovering around and watching. She was out again when I was feeding the horses, out again when I returned home from Jiffy Lube, and out one more time to disrupt my photo shoot.

I got mad at my friend for asking this nosy neighbor where I took my horse after I hauled Gabbrielle off for training two months ago.  I said, "Don't encourage her.  The woman is already nosy enough and if she thinks she can get intel on me for you, she'll just get even more intrusive.  If you want to know what's going on at my place, ask me -- not her."

For me, the dead giveaway that she is being nosy is her pace.  If she's fast-walking toward me, and then suddenly slows way down and starts dawdling once she gets within hearing distance, I know she is eavesdropping.  If she races her car down the road toward my house, and then slams on the brakes and moves past me going one-mile per hour, I know she is spying on me.

Twice now I've caught her loitering in the trees in front of my house while I was talking to someone with the window open.  When she saw me looking at her out the window, she sped up and pretended to be walking her dog, except she just kept going back and forth between the two ends of my horseshoe-shaped driveway, even though the road is a lot longer in each direction.  Also, if nothing interesting is going on at my house, I've seen her walk her dog along the shoulder of the paved road off into the distance.  I've also seen her drive her dog to a park to walk it.  So, when she just walks her dog back and forth in front of my house, I know she's doing surveillance on me and not really walking her dog. 

I used to take my horses for walks along the road, but that annoying woman would always come racing out of her house with her dog and then her dog would lunge and bark at my horse as we'd pass.  She'd never apologize or learn her lesson and stay in her house to give my horses their space, so I only walk the horses on Sundays while she's in church.  What I probably should do is turn my horse's butt at her and start backing it up.  Unfortunately, my horses aren't kickers.  They might poop on her, though.  ; )


Cheryl Ann said...

I'm so glad that Gabbrielle is HOME!

Linda said...

Sounds like my house...old, lame, etc. I have a geriatric unit out there. Sometimes things go great...other times, it seems to fall apart. I hope G. stays sound for you.

lytha said...

gabbrielle looks so beautiful in your photos.

i am happy she's home.

i have never heard of a psychological lameness and would be interested to hear more about it if anyone has experience with this.

i think lostine is still sound though, right? you can still ride!!!

i am waiting....


Cut-N-Jump said...

Get a slingshot and learn how to use it. Every time she starts spying, pick up a rock and aim it her direction. Once or twice ought to do the trick.

fernvalley01 said...

Did the trainer have you ride Gabrielle at her facility befor she came home?

Crystal said...

You need to move, thats all ther is too it, away from the crazy nosy neighbor!

Glad Gabrielle is home, and hope you find out what is causing her lameness.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lytha - When I described G's intermittent lameness to a breeder, she too said that the horse was pulling a fast one and limping in order to get out of work. Apparently, she's seen that behavior with other horses.

Cut-N-Jump - My son and I used to throw manure at her when we'd catch her eavesdropping on our conversations behind the barn.

fernvalley01 - She did not have me ride Gabbrielle, but I didn't insist either, because I have had a health problem that has prevented me from riding.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Nuzz- a rock will hurt a lot more than manure ever will.

Rocks are bountiful in a lot of areas. Use gloves or the leather from the slingshot to pick up the rocks though. *wink*

Fantastyk Voyager said...

wow, tough times!
At least Bombay doesn't seem to be a problem for riding, right? How is he if he's trailered with another horse, btw?

I've got the old lady and one that's still too young to ride, lol. I hope Gabbrielle sounds up. Maybe you should just try the chiro and riding her to maybe "work" her lameness out? I'll bet you're glad she's home now. Bombay is probably just chastising her for being away.

achieve1dream said...

That last picture of Gabrielle is great! Gorgeous!

Sorry things didn't work out as well as you'd hoped with the trainer. Do you feel like she got anything out of her time there? Did she give you a discount? Surely that isn't the shape all of the horses she trains goes home in right?

I hope everything settles down and everyone heals up. That's interesting about the deafness. I've never done any research on it so I have no idea what would cause deafness in a horse. He isn't very old is he? In his teens I thought. :( I hope it's not serious. Please keep us updated.

Katharine Swan said...

I'm finally catching up on blogs! My dashboard wasn't working for a while so I got a little behind on the blogs I follow.

I think it's a good bet that Gabbrielle might be limping to get out of work, yes. I wouldn't describe it quite that deviously, though -- more like she's learned that when she limps, she gets "rewarded" by being done with her work. It would really make sense, then, why she does it if she gets anxious or scared -- it's her quick way out of dealing with something she doesn't like.

It's a tricky issue, because obviously you shouldn't work a horse who is genuinely lame, but because they ARE smart little buggers, you get this kind of thing happening from time to time. Kind of like Lostine heading for the mounting block when she wants you off her back, just a different way of telling you so!