Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Feet? Hip? Behavior? What is it? Part 1

Hanky Panky, Mr. Tanky has a problem. He doesn't like to pick up his feet. It is turning from  mildly annoying into an honestly perplexing problem, as these things often do with horses. Minor limping turns in to debilitating lameness or saddle fitting problem turns out to just be a training problem. One day your horse bolts and never does it again. Another day the Steddy Eddy of the barn starts spooking at everything, only to discover a month later he is going blind. It is never simple with these big fellows. And it seems to never, ever be what you first think it is.

Tank came to me during the season of mud. Small dirt paddock and wet mud made for  mess beyond anything I had kept a horse in before, the compromises of boarding. The muck was so thick and deep, that I could barely walk. Each step was an effort making sure that my boot would not come off as I tried to break the suction of the mud. Placing my foot down, I tried to choose a place where my leg would not sink in up to my ankle or even higher. The high traffic area by the gates was the worst.

Of course, during those first few weeks Tank was not willingly coming to me. He seemed to understand that I could not catch him very well in the mud and would head there often. Note in the picture at the right how deep those horse are sinking into the mud. Notice how high up there is mud on his legs. Stop and imagine for a second what his feet look like. It was cold, icky, and I couldn't always find a place to tie him up. The last thing I wanted to tackle where his feet.

When I tried the first time he was NOT happy. Pulling back, not wanting to lift his feet. I was surprised because he had reacted to everything else so well.  Blankets, brushes, scary things, he took them all in stride.  Even standing on the cross ties went much easier than I thought it would. Everything else I tried with him, he was stellar at.

So once I got him on the cross tied,  I started to work with his feet again. Again ... not so good. Rearing up if I tried to do his front legs and if I tried to do the back he acted like we were swing dancing. His butt would swing from one side of the aisle to the next!


Yes, I see that. This is a training issue. Start working on this training issue. Poor dear was probably abused as he was having his feet worked on. So I start working on picking up his feet. A few seconds at a time. What a good boy! He is getting it. Only hold them for a second or two at a time, but making progress.

Problem solved?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Tale of a Tail

There once was a lovely little horse, who had a horribly tangled tail.

I don't mind the task of detangling a tail, but how and with what. Now I have detangled some horrible burr filled tails before. Luckily, this was just a nasty gnarl of a knot, no icky burrs.

As everyone knows, you start at the bottom and work your way up. On the first day, I only had a stiff hair brush from Dollar Tree and this brush from my Schneider's Deluxe Grooming kit. I actually really like this grooming kit, and this brush was okay. I didn't have any detangling spray.

Several people suggesting  the Oster version of this brush for detangeling.  I really didn't find it that helpful for really, really tangled, matted hair. Even when I got Mane and Tail detangling spray the next day, this brush was just horrible for detangling a mat.

So I moved to my old stand by; a good old hard plastic comb. I find these combs are wonderful for really getting in to a tangle or mat. That little end works like a pick to gently pull out a few hairs at a time. I used the Mane and Tail spray again.

 The thing I hate about the spray is working it into the mat and waiting for it to dry. Although Tank is trooper and doesn't mind being sprayed at all, I just got tired of spraying. I also really hate the idea of spraying on dirty hair. With this comb and the spray I did make it up several more inches.

You can see (I hope) in this picture that about half of his tail looks looser than in the first photo, which looks like a hair bat.  I did this part on Sunday and just didn't make it out to the barn again all week. Darn weather and work!

So in the mean time I found a recipe for a dry shampoo: equal parts ground oatmeal, baking soda, and corn starch. So armed with this and this comb I had bought at Walgreens for my hair I headed back to the barn. Now I am not sure if this comb was better than the other combs, but it was defiantly not worse.

Now the dry shampoo was easy to pour over the mat and really get it all the way through the mat. I didn't need to keep getting more of it. The oatmeal absorbs the oils, the baking soda absorbs odor, and the real magic is from the corn starch that looses everything up. Perfect!

Another suggestion I was given was a brush called, "Wet Brush." I did not get to try the "Wet" brush because, of course, it came after I left for the barn. I ordered the pack figuring it was good enough for Tank, it would be good enough for me also. I did try it on my hair. It really is easy and painless to use. Lucky for Tank I ordered two and so one will go out to the barn.

The end result:
Of course that sucker is now braided and tied up in a tail bag!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

One Happy Surprise After Another

Every moment I spend with Tank, I feel renewed. Which is a good thing because things in my professional life are less than perfect right now.

Tank keeps surprising me. I ordered a rope halter, making one will come in the future. I got very confused, even watching it on YouTube. He is, of course, much more responsive to the rope halter than the other one. Plus I can hide it in my pocket and slip it on easily. (note: goal for this month is to teach Tank to be caught easily.)

I discovered that Tank must have worn blankets in the past because he has not issue with them. Even when I didn't tie him and he wandered around with a blanket half on. No spook, just wandered around until he managed to step on it and pull it off. Otherwise, he has been blanketed with no issues what so ever.

I also discovered that his tail is one big rat's nest. In the picture it might looks like it is nice, but under those outer hairs is just a big tangle. I was unsure what to do as I have been lacking places to tie him up but.. hey ... if I loop the lead around something ... anything really. He stays. Damn he is a good horse. So most of the weekend was spent trying to untangle his tail. I am about 1/3 of the way done. Last weekend I used Mane and Tail Detangler. This weekend I think I am going to use a mixture of cornstarch, baking soda, and ground oatmeal. A dry shampoo that should help with the tangles also.

I must admit that I enjoy the challenge of detangling a tail. It is relaxing and at the end, it is like unwrapping a present as you see a beautiful tail . I think that he is going to have a very nice tail when I am done.

Over all it has been a nice few weeks. Although it has been cold. I am very much looking forward to the nicer weather coming. 40's and windy is okay, but I would like a nice few days in the 50's or 60's.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Day 3: Mirror Mirror

Okay horrible picture of Tanky..

I came out on Sunday with a totally different attitude. I decided to play with a little of the Horse Speak book. I went out without the idea that I would catch him. Although I did want to give him some feed, when I went into his paddock I didn't try and catch him, just have a conversation.

Well it was much easier to have a conversation with Tank's pasture mate. We did the greeting, mirrored each other, and I explored some of the "buttons" mainly, the move your head out of my space button. I have to admit that it worked really well with him. But as I was doing that, Tank got curious and came over.

Although it was not as easy to have a "conversation" we did have a greeting but he was not into mirroring. At least not into mirroring my behaviors but he is a perfect mirror for attitude.

With a attitude, of " Hey let's get to know one another," he was much more relax. He even licked my hand. Okay that made me laugh. It has been a long time since I was licked by a horse. After a long time of just talking and petting (and licking) he let me halter him. I took him out to eat some feed.

Our walk was calmer. With a gentle pressure, he was willing to follow. He even was okay with me digging my car. I do love the way he doesn't spook. If something bothers him he stops and looks. You can almost see the wheels turning in his head.

Everyday is just learning what Tank knows and what he doesn't. And sometimes what sets him off.

On a side note, as much as I love this purple halter, it has to go. It is just too big and probably why he isn't responding well. He came with a halter already, so it might be back to that one.

But how could I stay annoyed with this face for long!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Days 2: Who's the boss?

It's Mr. Tank to you.

Sorry that picture just makes him look so full of himself. Not to say that he isn't.

Weather gods were shining favorably this weekend, so I took full advantage of that. It was nice to have a horse to go see. I am actually figuring out how to get down to the barn and back without getting lost.

Yea! Progress!

Tank is a work in progress and I am still evaluating him. His whole known history is only 6 months. I wonder often what happened to him from the time he was captured to until he found himself with a one way ticket to Mexico.

Over the weekend I did a lot of stuff wrong, and a few things right, Saturday was mostly wrong. Saturday, catching was a problem and then I had groomed him just outside of the paddock. I have no place to tie him up except in his paddock, with two horses lose in there I didn't want to do that. He stood really well while I was on his left side, but right was difficult.

He was trying to walk through me and I was doing my best to put him in his place. Eventually he had a temper tantrum. Tank stepped away from me and started pawing. He lifted his leg way up. He pawed the air two or three times, when he realized that he was not hitting the gate. So he moved to make sure he got a few good swats in on the gate. Is he a brat or what!

Getting him to back was next to impossible, he just was not going to give to pressure for anything!

By that time I figured what did I have to lose. I wormed him. OMG ... he didn't care about that. Stood there and ate it all. Didn't even try to spit it out!

I did take him for a walk around the farm, which is part of our routine. Just trying to getting him use to the sights and sounds. He hates going in the barn, but we went in anyway. He is pretty good once we get in there but he is nervous.

As we were leaving the barn, I was working on him not rushing past me. We would back, but he was not going to. At the door he really wanted to rush past me, I tried to block him. Choice to back up to rush through the garbage can. He chose to take out the garbage can. I was a little perturbed.

I ordered a rope halter and I changed my attitude my attitude for Sunday.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A quick visit before more belch!

Man this is a wet year! Forecast for tomorrow includes rain and then through the rest of the week snow. It was a now or not until the weekend day to see Tank.

I love the place that he is at, but ... it is 30 mins away on a good day. Chicago being Chicago, it is 40 -50 min during rush hour. Today I wasn't able to get out of work soon as I wanted. It was a race against the sun to get down there in time to have a little day light.

I also got smart about my phone and just turned the dang thing off until I needed a few last minute directions. When I got to the barn I took some photos so I have a few new ones.

Surprise, surprise Tank was really curious and came up to me right away. You can see he is finding his carrot cookies. I was amazed at how he just walked up to me and was letting me rub on him.

As you can see, he had no problem getting up close and personal.

    Isn't that a cute little nose?

              Well, that lasted until I took out his halter.

                    Then it was off to the muddiest part of the paddock.

He is out with a little guy about his size. That horse was trying to be helpful. I swear he was biting Tank in the butt and telling him that his mom was here and he should go up to me. Tank wasn't having any of it.

Great thing about Tank is that once you have a rope around his neck he stops. He is fine then. My lead slipped though the halter during all my walking to catch him. He was fine as I fiddled to get in all straighten out.

Training with Tank right now is getting him used to me and being handled. What I think I am seeing is typical mustang behavior. Doesn't trust really easily at first but has to warm up to you.

In Tank's paddock is a shelter and it has a ring for tying, so I have decided to use that instead of taking him into the barn. He is nervous in the barn, and I have no place to straight tie. Seeing that he has no problem trying to run though the halter, I am not confident that he would do well on cross ties yet.

While grooming, we played the pressure/ release game. He gets nervous with being handled around his back legs. Actually anything past his the middle of his barrel is iffy. Not that he is bad or dangerous, he just starts to swing from one side to the other. So I go up and rub on him just a bit and turn my back on him. Do it again, so that he learns that if he just stands there he will get release. He picked it up really quickly and was standing quietly.

I started to do a little ground work but they were coming around with grain and I didn't want to do that him. After I released him he actually followed me around and say "good bye" before getting his grain. Awww! What a sweetie little man!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Day 1 with Tank ... AKA Booger Brain

Yesterday Tank arrived. It was totally love at first site. He is just a sweet boy. He is not a really big guy, but I knew that and am totally fine with it. I just want him and to have fun with him.

I didn't do much more than let him look around a bit at the property and took him out to his paddock where he got to meet the two other horses that he will share the paddock with. He was amazingly quiet, as in not calling out. He did a lot of looking and thinking. When approaching anything new, I could see him taking it in. He would stop and look. After turning him I tried to take a few photos, but my phone hates this barn. It just acts up as soon as I get on the property.

The people from the rescue were wonderful! I really enjoyed talking to them. They shared a little more about his story. Thankful doesn't even beginning to express what I feel for all the people that put up money, time, and energy to pull this boy out of the kill pen. It seems that everyone that comes in contact with this boy say the same thing, "there is just something special about it." And I couldn't agree more!

Today I went out to see him and spend more time with him. And today he earned the moniker: Booger Brain.

To be fair, it wasn't really his fault that he was so hard to catch. He doesn't know me, this place, and everything has been changing in his life a lot lately. The pasture he is in right now is a mud pie.

Nothing makes catching a new horse more difficult than having to do it while being suction cupped to the ground. Oh wait! There is! When another more dominate horse, who is also a huge pocket pony keeps getting in the way!

Actually I owe a lot to the 16hh pocket pony, for one I was able to grab on to his neck a few times to keep from falling in the muck. I can't wait for drier weather!

In the end I put a a few treats in his feed pan and he was suckered in. HA!

Booger Brain ... I mean Tank ... was pretty good in all but I did learn a few things about him.

  1. He definitely likes being outside rather than in. He was really nervous walking in the barn, and then in the barn as well.
  2. We need to work on leading. He tends to get "stuck". As I was leading him he would get to places where he just didn't want to move forward.
  3. We need to learn to give to pressure. While he was nervous he wanted to run though the halter. What made matters worse outside is that the footing was so bad that I really couldn't work him properly. In the indoor he I could move him around a bit better.
  4. He is forgiving. I was not at my best today and there were times that he could have taken advantage of me and he was not interested in doing that. Not always cooperative but never dangerous or mean. 
I am really going to like working with the horse. Next step, make a rope halter for this boy! 

Feet? Hip? Behavior? What is it? Part 1

Hanky Panky, Mr. Tanky has a problem. He doesn't like to pick up his feet. It is turning from  mildly annoying into an honestly perplexi...

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