Thursday, February 19, 2009

Internet Troubles

Sorry for the lack of news lately! Our internet was completely out for a month or so for technical reasons I don't completely understand. But it seems to be back in business, at least for the time being, so I will try to get a brief update:

Nine is doing fantastic! I haven't ridden him (I'm getting tired of saying that) but I have gotten pretty close twice recently. I am having SERIOUS confidence problems, and I have come to realize that I need to simply get my helmet on and tell everyone to GO AWAY because I get nervous and irate when anyone is watching. That, in turn, makes Nine nervous. But, on the ground, these past couple of weeks have shown some real progress! When the ground is fairly clear and thawed, I go and play with Nine for a few minutes while I feed. The result is that he comes all the way up to me about half the time I ask, he yields his hindquarters and keeps his head facing me without a halter or lead, from any distance in the round pen, he lets me come up to me and pet him while he is laying down, he let me file away at his front two feet - he stood better than Hammar did! - and he is generally being a good guy. After a few months of seeing me in a big jacket that makes weird sounds, he has calmed down a lot about it, and I can even blindfold him with the jacket if I am patient and let him set the pace. Usually I can get the jacket over his face in 5 minutes or so, letting him run when he feels he needs to, and letting him stand when he feels okay with that.

When I got Nine, he had a horizontal crack in his hind left hoof, on the outside. It has since grown out sot hat the outside of the hoof wall chipped off, and there is a section about an inch, maybe and inch and a half, long that I am a little worried about. It is soft and he doesn't mind me wiggling it, but I am afraid to try to nip it, in case it will hurt him. But other than that, he is sound and looking good!

Hammar and I have grown even closer, if that can be believed! I had the bright idea that working up the nerve to stand up on top of a horse would help me learn to handle my nerves when I get to ride Nine again. So, I used Hammar to learn some trick riding. I can stand up on him, and he stands still for it! I even once stood up on him bareback, though I had to take my boots off for that. I can also lean down to pick something up off the ground (though NOT bareback, and yes, I have tried) and only at a standstill - I haven't managed to lean down far enough at a walk. I can also go underneath Hammar, though I have been able to do that for a while; I just hadn't tried it crouching down - previously I have gone under on my hands and knees. But Hammar is fine with my head bopping under him now. I have also been riding him in a halter, which he seems to appreciate. Now Hammar will lope (a word previously unknown to Hammar) in a circle both directions, with perfect flying lead changes, in only a halter with the lead rope tied around into a rein. I have also ridden him outside the corral - even outside the property! - bareback and bridleless, with only a neck rope. Hammar has stopped bolting towards the corrals, even when Ashley is not next to him but rather in the corral. This suggests to me that Hammar has finally decided that he would rather be with me than with his mare, which is monumental! Unfortunately, Hammar has been doing something funny to his fence - every day, it seems, at least one wire is broken, and he has new scrapes and cuts every so often. He has never had any problem with wire fences before, and the best we can assume is that he is huddling up into the corner to be closer to Ashley, and ends up putting too much pressure on the wire, and it snaps. It can't be that he is actively trying to escape, because 1) his gate is always open and he can leave whenever he wants (though he doesn't) and 2) he has had all but the very bottom wire snapped, and the remaining wire so loose that it was touching the ground, and he did not step over it. I don't know what is going on. We are trying to get a hold of some more pine poles, perhaps from the forest service, to replace the wire fencing with wood (finally, we are entering the 20th century!).

As far as things go with Ashley, she is doing well. My friend Casie jumped on her bareback three times the other day without Ash taking off and leaving Casie in mid-air. Yes, this is a big step for the Ashster. She hates standing still for people to get on her wile she is in her corral. She stands pretty well outside, but when she is in HER home, her territory, NO ONE gets on! But, Casie did, three times! Also, Ash has developed some sort of fungal infection (I think it's fungal) on her head, where the headstall goes. The headstall she had been wearing is a Wintec EquiLeather padded headstall, which is pretty bulky and doesn't allow much circulation. She has problems with the Wintec girth I have as well; she gets galls after 10 minutes. So I switched her to an ugly neon blue nylon headstall, which clashes horribly with her leather reins, but is narrower and allows her skin to stay drier. I have also been using an antibacterial and anti-fungal spray on the bald spots. I was putting it on twice a day for 4 days or so, and now she gets it once a day. Her skin looks a lot healthier now! Before I started spraying it, the skin was dry, bald and flaky. Now the outside layer has flaked off, the new layer looks moisturized, and new hair is coming in. She still looks rather morbid, because she has a bald spot bigger than my fist on the side of her head, but it is definitely healing up. Ash seems pretty susceptible to fungal infections. Every summer her face gets itchy and she rubs it so that the hair gets rubbed off and she gets little scabs from underneath her eyes, along the sides of her face, clear down to her muzzle. What seems to help the most is to put Corona ointment (contains lanolin, which is a life saver!) to her face, but that uses a lot of ointment and makes her all sticky. So this year I will try my new spray (I don't remember what it is called - I just looked at the bottle long enough to see "anti fungal"). The point I was originally getting at, is that the first day of spraying, Ash was a nightmare - she was tossing her head, trying to run over me, and being a general butt. Fiance, whom she likes more that me (she really likes boys!), managed to get the spray on the worst area. But by the third day she was standing perfectly for me, and now I don't even need to halter for it! Which is awesome, because that was her skin can be open to the air and not have to be under a halter being rubbed.

Even my cow has been learning to lead a little bit, though she hates it! We're expecting baby goats any day now, and I will definitely try to get some pictures of that! For now, here are some recent pictures of the three horses:
There's Nine.
And Hammar.
And Ashley, guarding the cow.