Monday, March 23, 2009

Hammar's Adventure

On Friday my Mother in Law came over to help me with a little something; she brought gloves, if that gives you a hint.

We cleaned Hammar's sheath! The poor boy has always had a sensitive, um, private area. I know it hurt him, and I strongly suspect that's why he has been scratching his hindquarters so much. We had him tied to the inner tube that is wrapped around a pole while I got started. I used another article from an old Perfect Horse to guide me; I stood at Hammar's shoulder so I was out of kicking range. And a good thing, too - Hammar did several cow kicks before he settled. We found it worked best to get some of the Excalibur sheath cleaner (I love that name!) soaking into the smegma, then let Hammar walk for a minute or two before he got tied up again. Then we pulled out a few chunks of ickinesss, reapplied more sheath cleaner, and let him walk some more. By that time he was fine with the whole affair. We ended up taking turns, then used a Pepsi bottle to rinse him (the hose water was too cold). We filled it up with warm water, then squeezed the water into the sheath. Once the water was dripping out clear we applied some baby oil to keep everything soft. That afternoon, while Hammar was eating, he finally dropped and I saw how much better he looked! He still had raw spots (it was bad) but nothing was rubbing them anymore. So now he can heal up and I feel comfortable enough to do it again and again every spring! We didn't find any "beans", the little lumps of smegma that can collect above the urethra, so I hope Hammar just didn't have one...

And guess what I'll be doing next weekend! I still have about half a bottle of Excalibur for Nine... Maybe we'll get pictures this time!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Close to Mounting

I have a collection on old Perfect Horse newsletters, and I was reading an article outlining John Lyons' method of mounting a horse for the first time. This method takes it all very slowly, so I felt confident it would work for me and Nine, because it would give ME time to feel comfortable with getting on the horse. So yesterday, I gave it a try.

I let Nine decide when he was ready to get saddled, which means he got to run when he felt like it, and it took me an hour to saddle him! However, when I did saddle Nine, he was untied and didn't resist. He gave one buck once the cinch was tightened, then we got the bridle on and I started. First I just stood next to Nine and shifted the saddle around. Then I backed off and let Nine relax. Then I stood next to him and flapped the stirrup around, then backed off again. We have done this stuff with Nine before so he was fine. It was when I tried to reach my foot to the stirrup that he got nervous. But I only got my foot to+ touch the stirrup, then I backed off again. Nine was very surprised at that! But when I tried again, he stood! So, I put my foot in the stirrup 25 more times, adding weight and hopping when Nine was doing well. Then I repeated it all on the other side. Nine wasn't as fond of that, and I wasn't either, but we did it, and I feel a lot more ambidextrous because of it.

After 25 repetitions (I told you it was slow!) came the big part - I was supposed to hop up to stand my full height in the stirrup. For whatever reason I am terrified of actually getting myself on that poor horse. Anyhow, after a few tries I worked up the nerve to try. But because I hesitated, my knee jabbed into Nine's shoulder and caused him to jump sideways. Fortunately, he didn't go far and he turned to face me immediately. But after that Nine didn't want my foot anywhere near the stirrup, so I just spent a few minutes backing up so I could again get my foot in the stirrup and hop. Then I unsaddled Nine and we called it a day. All of that took me less than four hours. I have deciding to just keep doing the same exercises until I feel more comfortable. Then I will get on when I am good an ready. Will keep y'all posted.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Poor Hammar...

Hammar has been scratching himself - on the barbed wire, no less - and it's getting worse. I am officially worried sick. He gets wormed more frequently than the other horses, and although he is chronically thinner than the other two, he isn't really underweight. I can't see any ribs, though his hips are a bit bony... He's always been that way though. I don't think worms are his problem. Hammar's tail has always been rubbed a bit, but now he is rubbing it tot he point that he has a little bald spot. And his hindquarters (and occasionally his pasterns) have been sprouting cuts from the wire. I can see tufts of black hair caught in the barbs. You think if he was itchy he would scratch on the pine poles, but no, he has to cut himself of the barbed wire. I swear, if we had enough money I would tear down that wire in a heart beat...

Anyways, I know Karen will probably read this, so if you have any ideas, please help me! When it gets warm enough I want to give Hammar a thorough bath. He's never had one before - he hates water. But it is time. I want to find a shampoo that might help him - maybe some sort of allergy shampoo, or ultra-hydrating. Maybe Hammar's skin is so itchy because it's just dry, who knows? Then, with the help of some rope and 2 or 5 people, I want to tackle the awful "s" word: sheath cleaning. I can't afford the $106 vet bill they quoted for sedation plus sheath cleaning, so I am going to try it myself. My Mother in Law had a theory that Hammar might be itching because of a kidney infection! That scares me something awful, but given how Hammar doesn't stretch out all the way to pee (he hasn't since he cut his tendon in his hind leg) and how when he starts shedding the hair collects on his "water spicket" and gets all gross... Maybe he has developed an infection. Again, this makes the sheath cleaning all that much more vital. Any tips on that would be helpful as well, given how Hammar, my trusted steed that will go anywhere and do anything I ask, kicks and throws a fit whenever my hand gets near his sheath... Do they make all-over body helmets?