Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Close, but no Cigar...

After days of clouds and rain, the sun came out today...

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, according to my husband.

These past few days have drug when it comes to progress. Sunny nickers when she sees me, she follows at a safe distance and knows my whereabouts each time I walk out the door of the house.

I sat patiently all these past couple of weeks, waiting for her to relax enough for me to slip that piece of twine under her halter. I got close a couple of times. You can see the knot I tied in the twine; that was to give it a bit of stiffness while handling it. I discovered that if I had it at the proper angle, I could keep my hand out of sight just enough to not be a distraction to Sunny, yet still get that little knot to slip through the side of the halter. However, the twine was light, and each time I got close to pushing it through, she'd jump backwards and out it would come.

Then, somehow...miraculously, the knot found it's way through the actual ring! This helped steady the twine a bit and I was able to actually slip it further along before Sunny jumped. Unfortunately, there were a few drawbacks. The first time, the end of the twine was beneath the scoop of grain, so a couple of steps backwards and the twine slipped out of the halter. Second time, Tait was sitting on the end of it; third time...well, I don't recall, but it was hung up on something. The most difficult part was that these near successes didn't happen back to back, as once Sunny spooked, she'd decide she didn't want to hang around anymore. So the three attempts were spread out over three days.

Today I walked out once again hopeful that today would be the day. I carried my scoop of grain and Sunny nickered her welcome. As I was opening the gate, the sight of her lead rope laying there caught my eye. And that's when it hit me; if she was standing still enough while I was slipping the twine through her halter, wouldn't she stand still enough for the snap to close over that ring?

Talk about a V-8 moment! I snatched up the lead rope and went to my chair in the barn. Sunny followed along. I held the snap up along side the scoop in the same fashion she'd grown used to me holding the twine. She sniffed it hesitantly, as was her custom, backed away, then stepped forward for her grain. I let her munch for a moment, then tried to snap the lead on. Nope; she jumped back just at that moment.

I looked at the snap, then decided to turn it around, so that it would need to slip between her face and halter, then snap on the outside. She was used to feeling things move around there and they didn't bother her, so perhaps by the time she jumped, the snap would be through and when I let go, it would just close up.

And that's exactly what happened!

So now Sunny has her lead back on. She wasn't happy about it, but settled down quickly enough. She didn't want any more grain, so I left her. We went out to dinner and did a few errands. It was 6:00 when we got home, getting dark, but I could still see. I carried hay out to everyone, but made Sunny take it from my hand. She didn't want to; she was sulking and moving away from me. I pressed her, I wasn't going to let her go into the barn to eat unless she took it from me first. And with the extra weight of the lead, Sunny decided that running was futile. She grabbed a mouthful of hay, and I reached over to scratch her neck.

Tomorrow is another day...maybe the sun will shine again?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'll take what I can get!

Snow on the ground Friday morning makes for cold days with the horses!

I've been working with the bailing twine the past couple of days, but to no avail. A couple afternoons ago I managed to slip it up into the halter; as usual, she took a quick step away. This time the twine appeared tucked in far enough for me to have been successful. No such luck. Sunny took three of four steps back, slightly frightened that something was following her face. Her quick pace caused the twine to slip and fall out.

Yesterday I had high hopes of repeating the process but was unable to do so. To make up for the disappointment (I think her halter had shifted, making it difficult to slip the twine underneath it) I decided to hold the grain scoop backwards. Meaning, I had the open end facing me with the raised end and handle facing Sunny. This meant she had to reach over it and actually touch it with her bottom lip. That's something she really doesn't like; having things touch her under her jaw or muzzle. She wasn't happy with this arrangement and after a couple of attempts, she gave up and so did I.

Today I was busy with other things, so pretty much left her alone. She nickered each time she saw me (food?) and was very willing to follow (at a safe distance) when I carried hay in both this morning and tonight. In the past, she's stood across the paddock, or at least turned her face away, pretending I wasn't there. I took this as a compliment today, and considered it progress made. Hey...gotta take what I can get, lol!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cool Slideshows

Sunny, Tait and Romans

Personal applications are everywhere...

The bible says that God is using the Gentiles to make Israel envious. Where? In the book of Romans, which is what I've been studying this year. It's a lesson that will stick with me since I had a good picture to go along with it this weekend.

I'd hoped to get close enough to Sunny this weekend to get a rope back on her, but that just wasn't the case. Someone suggested sitting out with her until she came up to me. It's been cold and wet, but there was a break in the weather on Saturday, so out I went with my chair and parked myself in the paddock. I also had to finish my bible study lesson, so that came along with me. As always Tait parked herself at my feet.

Tait's presence sparks curiosity in Sunny.

Sunny was curious, but until Tait showed up, she didn't really have any desire to get too close. She knew something was in my hands, but it wasn't enticing enough to walk up to me. As soon as Tait showed up, however, she was right there! No grain this time, but that didn't seem to matter. What mattered was that the dog may get something while she was missing out! I began reading aloud the passages in Romans, and had to laugh at what was happening right there at my feet. The horse was my first choice, but she wouldn't come to me. The dog wanted me, and sat at my feet. This was too enticing for the horse, who then decided to pursue me!

What's this? Should I get close? Hmmm....smells a little like grain over here...

Once I'd finished my lesson, I left the chair and Sunny. She explored the area, looking for a little grain and just a bit disappointed that it hadn't been there. The next morning it was raining and I moved the chair inside the barn where I sat with a scoop of grain. It didn't take long for my sidekick, Tait, to realize a sweet treat was at hand, and naturally, Sunny followed.

Someone had mentioned trying to slip a baling twine into the halter. It was smaller than a lead rope, so perhaps I'd be able to slip it in without the horse noticing, they'd wondered? Worth a shot, I decided. I found a blue twine, held it in my right hand, and settled down with the scoop.

Sunny reached out for the grain, then jumped away. She then reached again, grabbing a lip full of grain before jumping back. After a few mouthfuls like this, her desire to munch down the grain kept her standing pretty still. The end of the twine was rubbing up against her muzzle, and she both felt and saw it. I managed a couple of times to slip it up under her nose band, but she'd jump before I could get it in far enough for it to stay and it always fell back out.

Although I ran out of grain before getting the twine successfully wrapped around the halter, I did feel it was a bit of progress as she'd felt it moving alongside her nose and was relaxing. She also let Tait sniff all around her legs, including her back legs, and under her belly without being upset. It may be taking a bit more time to win her trust than anticipated, but I know she'll come around. Once she does, she'll make one heck of a nice horse.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Steve, you're mean!

Steve is mean.
He's dangling yet another re-assignment horse in front of my nose. "Just let folks know there may be a three year old gelding available shortly," he says to me. Like I can resist the thought of another one...
Steve is a pusher. He's leading me into temptation. I think that's a sin. I'll have to look it up, but I'm pretty sure there's a commandment that says, "Thou shalt not parade re-assignment horses in front of Tracey in order to tempt her." I'm pretty sure of it. Commandment number 11, or something like that.

Shame on Steve... Bad Steve... Mean, mean Steve...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Who Am I Trying to Kid?

I may say I've got all the time in the world. I tell Sunny that each day when I go out and she steps away. But the fact is, while I'm not in a rush, I haven't got all the time in the world...at least not today. Ten minute mini lessons is what I have; several times a day, of course, but still, I've not got all day to stand outside with her. Especially in the rain.

This morning I carried hay out into the paddock and got a deep, throaty nicker from her. I put the bulk of it in the manger, then grabbed a handful and walked outside with it. Sunny's a greedy eater. She's thin, and food is a great motivator (I may try clicker training with her.) While it hadn't been on her to do list today, she allowed me to scratch the side of her neck, and in exchange I allowed her a bite of hay. This was done twice; I'd scratch, then step back, and she'd come and get a bite. After two bites, I put the hay in the manger and left her alone.

It's lunchtime now, so I went out and offered a scoop of grain. I stood inside the barn, but instead of beginning in the crouched position, I just leaned up against the wall and waited. She walked past me a couple of times, looking longingly at the grain and swinging her head a bit. After a couple of pass-by's, she walked in and carefully reached out to lip a bit of grain off the end of the scoop.

A small taste is all it takes for Sunny to become bolder, and she stepped closer to grab a bigger mouthful. Since she wasn't hesitating much, I pulled the scoop closer to my body, hooking my thumb in my beltloop and holding the scoop steady right there at my hip. She looked at the scoop, licked her lips, and reached as far as she could without moving her feet. She couldn't reach far enough, though, and she stepped as closer than ever before to me in a willing fashion.

She eagerly finsihed up the grain. With just one mouthful left, there was a commotion outside and she turned to see what it was. That's when I poured the last little bit of grain into my hand and set the scoop aside. When Sunny turned back to face me, she looked straight to the hand that had held the scoop. I'd half expected her to look around for the scoop and ignore my hand, but she smelled the grain. And she reached forward!

It took a couple of minutes, and I could feel her breath on my skin. Talk about excitement! It takes so little for me these days, lol! The breath, the sound of hungry lips, another step forward, and she was eating the last little bit of grain from the palm of my hand :>
So what's the plan? To get her eating her grain out of my hand, of course. And hopefully by the end of the weekend I'll be able to get my hands on that halter again. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that if I can get it on her once, I'll be able to get it on her again...so there may not be a point in leaving it on. Won't that be great?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Into Endurance Riding?

I just saw this on RFD TV; The Great Sante Fe Horse Race. Take a peek! There's even a category for BLM mustangs :)



Not sure how it happened, but Sunny lost her lead rope today. It's not broken; the snap is still in one piece as is the halter. Guess this will fix for some interesting days ahead!
And yes, it's raining again. Not only that, but I could see a trace of snow over on the hill...uhg.

Catch me if you can...

With that short little lead on Sunny, I was afraid I may not be able to slip up close enough to catch her. Although there's a bit of 'let's walk around the paddock' to start with, she's been relaxed enough to allow me close enough to snag the end of the rope. Hooray!

Our biggest issue (our, meaning the two of us) is getting her to relax enough for me to cross to the other side of her body. No clue how long that will take. For now, just have to be happy with the little baby steps!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Dangerous Position

Trust is the cornerstone of any good relationship, be it husband/wife or parent/child. For a partnership to work, you need trust.

And so it is with horses, also. The question is, at what point do you begin to trust a wild animal?

This may seem an odd thought process to some of you, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about God and his relationship with us while working with these horses. Who reaches out first? Who gains who's trust? For God to have a relationship with me, first he had to prove himself trustworthy. Once the trust was won and I began to feel confident in our relationship, he then began to ask things of me. Not huge things. Small stuff. It wasn't an instant transformation into Little Miss Goodie Two Shoes (and here's where you can trust me...I'm no where near that point as of yet, lol!) But there's a process that God follows; gain trust, then obedience. Like the hymn, Trust and Obey. Trust comes first, obedience...a willing obedience, not one driven out of fear...follows.

Which led me to a decision to put myself in a position that could have been quite dangerous; one where I gave Sunny the upper hand, or at least the opportunity to pound me into the ground if that had been her choice.

Sunny hasn't been totally frightened of coming up close to eat when the grain has been down at my feet, but she's not wanted to touch the grain scoop as long as it's been in my hand. Today I decided to try a new tactic. I went into the barn where I normally left the grain, and I knelt down on the ground. Being small, I was of little threat, and she could easily smash me if she felt threatened. Sunny wasn't frightened of the dog, so I didn't think she'd be frightened of me, and I was right. She was a bit hesitant, but she stepped forward and began eating the grain while I held the scoop in my hand.

Tait show Sunny how it's done!

Of course, this isn't the road I'd take with just any horse...they're all different and not all will respond the same. Older horses may take more time than younger ones to gain trust. Quiet Storm can be quite a pill when it comes to her feed, so I wouldn't (and didn't) take this approach with her. Sunny hadn't shown any aggression towards me in any capicty, so in a way, she'd earned my trust before I ever tried this.

Another major step today was switching her long, twenty foot rope out for the shorter six foot lead. I'm not sure if that was the wisest idea...but I hated to see her dragging that long one behind her any longer. Plus, Tait assures me she'll help catch Sunny when I need her!

"Okay, mom, here she is. Can I go play, now?"

It's the latest fashion craze...

That off the ear look...drives the boys wild! At least that's they're telling me...

While she did look rather cute, I decided it may be best if we got it back behind both ears. Leading may be a bit easier that way, and I sure didn't want to get up the next morning to find she'd rubbed it off the other ear as well!
Getting the halter back on took several minutes as she's decided she's not terribly fond of brushing (at least not today) and didn't want to stand still. I did find that my hand worked better than the curry, though, as I could reach over and scratch just beneath her mane on the off side, which is also the side the halter had been pushed over the ear on. Eventually she allowed me to scratch around her ears, and from there it was pretty simple to just pull the halter back into place.
She's not convinced that the rest of the girls aren't going with the off the ear look, however, so I may find myself battling this one. Two year old fillies seem to have the mentality of teen age girls :)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Quiet Storm Makes a Date

Each year the local 4-H clubs sponsor an event called Super Saturday, where there are all sorts of classes offered to the youth (and adults) here in Whatcom County. Many are craft oriented, some are focused on animal care. This year we're offering one on Mustang Adoptions, and Quiet Storm will be there to meet and greet people.

While Sunny has been getting quite a bit of attention of late, Quiet Storm has been left pretty much alone. I'm thinking we'd better get to work with her, though, as she's feeling pretty good these days!

Finally, no rain!

The paddock has been getting pretty well worked over by Sunny's long hooves this week. It's finally stopped raining, and no fog, either. The sun has come out and it's feeling rather warm out there, at least for February. It hasn't taken more than a couple of hours for the paddock to begin drying out. The back corner where she spends a lot of time standing is still relatively sloppy, but the front has pretty solid footing already. Now, if it would just last a few more days!

Sunny loves to roll. When she does this, however, her rope slings up over her back. Today she really enjoyed the sunshine and rolled completely over three times. This posed a bit of an issue when it came to unwrapping her! The rope went over her poll, wrapped around a second time halfway down her neck, and then a third time over her back and was somehow even between her front legs. She looked like a poorly wrapped Christmas package, and she wasn't in any hurry to be unwrapped! After a couple of minutes, though, I'd managed to get her to step in all the right directions and got the rope untagled.

My goal for the weekend is to get Sunny to allow me to lead her without hesitation through the barn. It should be to lead without hesitation anywhere, but I'm optimistic! We worked at it last night, and again today. Last night she would walk in from one side of the barn, but not the other. Today she would enter from either the left or right, but not as smoothly as I'd like. Still, we're getting there!

Yesterday I worked on grooming as well. She really enjoys the feel of the curry over my hand. I was able to work up to her face and along her jaw just a little, as well as around her eye. Then back down the neck and shoulder as I'd done before, but this time moving further and travelling all the way down to her knee, reaching over and brushing her elbow and making sure I managed to reach all the way back to her hip. That long has was just flying, and while it was obvious she wasn't 100% comfortable, she enjoyed it too much to resist.

Perhaps by next week I'll be able to cross over to the other side...
Almost immediately after Iwent inside, Sunny rolled and once again got her rope over the top of her poll. Please excuse the blurriness of these photos, but I'm holding the camera while Sunny is unwrapping herself (she's figured it all out!)

Friday, February 9, 2007

How I came to be a Cowgirl

At the request of Beemoosie, I shall take a slight detour from the two Storm girls outside and amuse you...confuse you?...with the tail tale of how I became a real cowgirl.

You see, I am the granddaughter of dairy farmers. On Sunday mornings my parents would get my sister and I up and haul our lazy bed heads off to church. After that, we'd come home and clean the house. And after that we'd drive to Grandma and Grandpa's house where I would desert my family and head straight for the big red barn full of farmgirl wanna-be fantasies. I'd catch wild kittens and rope day old calves with bailing twine (then wonder how in the world I was going to get it off of them!) I'd climb the ladder to the hay mow and survey the world around me; hills and trees and mountains as far as the eye could see. And dairy cows...lots and lots of dairy cows.
When 4:00 rolled around, it was time for milking. That meant Grandpa, Uncle Larry and myself would walk down the road to the summer pasture and gather up the cows. This was back in the day when a traffic jam in this county meant milking time, as all the farmer's walked their cows from pasture to barn and back again.
I, however, was blessed with a ride back to the barn. Grandpa would call up the herd, then lift me up onto the back of one of his trusted Bossies for the journey back home. And that's where I learned to ride; bareback, astride a Guernsey milk cow. So you see, even if I'd never learned to ride a horse, I would always have been my Grandpa's little cowgirl!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Spoke to the Vet...

I called my vet this morning. Dr. Plotts recommended I use Fenbendazol, a double dose, for the next five days on Sunny since we can't really get too up close and personal at this point. That would be SafeGuard, which I've got, so it will go in tonight's grain. He was concerned about getting too close to her; I think he'll be pleasantly surprised when he comes to visit (no immediate plans, perhaps sometime next week) to see how respectful she is.

Sounds funny, doesn't it? Wild, yet respectful. But she is, and I'm feeling quite comfortable around her as she just isn't showing any desire to retaliate in any form other than running away.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

And the winner is...

Ah, yes, it's time to tell who wins the Cowboy's Sweetheart soap! Can we have a drum roll, please?

Rosemary, you're the winner!

I never have enjoyed dusting...

I never dust my house, so please don't look if you ever should stop by. Dusting, however, is what I had to do this afternoon...but Sunny was the target.

After our positive little workout (despite sloppy footing), I led her towards the barn. I'd left the dusting powder sitting on a ledge inside. The good thing about having a loafing shed style barn is that it's open, allowing you to walk in and not really leave the horse; Sunny was comfortable coming in to eat, but she still felt a bit crowded with me in there. However, she was perfectly content to follow me up to the opening and stood patiently watching me as I squeezed and shook the powder onto her new red curry. This stuff is nasty! I'd highly recommend using a dust mask if you're working with this stuff. I didn't have one on, but kept my head turned and managed not to inhale (too much!) Gloves are also a must.

With the curry all powdered, I walked up to Sunny, who was eyeing it suspiciously. This was new, and although I'd worn gloves while scratching her before (when I was concerned it may be ringworm), she knew something was different and the whites of her eyes were definitely showing. A couple of small circular rubs of the curry, though, and the filly melted. Her head dropped, her lips wiggled, and she went straight to itchy horse heaven! I worked the dusting powder into her coat one small patch at a time, stopping to re-load the curry and then returning to Sunny's neck, gradually working down to her withers, then down her shoulder to her chest (which was horribly boney and lacking any flesh), near her elbow and back up. From there, I travelled down her back, at least halfway to her hip and even down onto her side a bit.

I worked on her for a good fifteen or twenty minutes, and she loved every minute of it. She was completely relaxed, and I honestly believe I could have worked down her forleg and all the way back to her tail...as long as I stayed on her near side! Because once I tried to cross over, she reverted to her fearful self, pulling backwards and turning to keep me where she was most comfortable. And with all the good that had happened this afternoon, I was happy enough to do that for her; tomorrow we can work on the other side :)

Sunny's red curry is soaking in bleach water after our grooming session.

When forwards seems like backwards

My father in law always used to say that when they'd take family vacations it felt like they'd move three feet forward, then two feet back as they travelled down the road. This was due to my husband who, as a child, would rock forward and back, slamming his little body into the seat of the car with such force that everyone could feel it. This was the feeling I had today with Sunny.

The past couple of days it seemed like we'd moved great strides; she was willing to let me come within five feet before feeling pressured and wanting to move. I'd pull her to a stop with the lead rope (which is 20 feet long) so that I could reach out to her and give her a scratch. After the initial contact, I could walk away and then return while she stood, a bit nervously, and waited for my touch. And though she'd not been brave enough to eat from the grain scoop yet, she'd definitely been willing to come up close and nibble it off the ground alongside my feet.

But this morning she ignored both me and the grain. I suspect she'd discovered that I would leave the grain for her even if she didn't come up to me, and being the intelligent girl she is, decided it wasn't worth the effort. She also was playing hard to get this morning, not allowing me to come up without having a hold of the rope. I felt a bit disappointed, but my plate was full and I couldn't spend much time this morning trying to remedy things, so I left without much more than a quick fingertip rub on her neck.

A trip to the feed store was in order as I had to pick up some dusting powder. I had no clue how I was going to get it on her, but I had to try. The thought of snubbing her wasn't appealing, not with the progress we'd made gaining trust the past few days. The lice needed to be dealt with, however, before she ended up anemic (if she isn't already.) Since she seemed to enjoy brief scratching along her neck, I picked up a little rubber curry comb with the intention of pouring the dusting powder into it, then doing a bit of grooming. After this morning's setback, I wasn't holding out much hope of success, but I'd give it a try.

The weather hasn't been that good since Sunny came home on Sunday; in fact, it's been either raining or such a heavy fog that it may as well be raining. The result has been the footing becoming just a bit sloppy in the paddock. The rope Sunny is dragging about is thick and black, and not highly desirable to pick up. At some point during the afternoon, Sunny had decided a nice mud bath was in order, and that heavy, mud encased rope was laying over the top of her poll and dragging down on her off side...the side she refused to let anyone stand on. Well, another challenge!

No pussy footing around here, I just had to grab the rope and swing it on over her head. She didn't like it and bolted, but the rope had made it all the way over and was now hanging like it should. She trotted in a semi circle, the halted and snorted at me. That's when I realized that she'd stopped with me on her off side. Picked up the rope and moved towards her haunches, and she moved forward instead of turning to face me! I kept myself towards the rear quarter, and she continued to move forward, just as though she'd grown up on a longe line. Not wanting to over do it, I stopped and turned her after a couple of circles, having her then move the other direction. Before long she was following me about the paddock again on a loose rope, still keeping a safe distance, but not pulling or resisting. I crossed again to the off side, and again she moved forward. I sighed a happy sigh, and she must have heard it because she stopped to look at me, completely relaxed at the end of her rope.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Just gag me already

Look, mom, I can stand in the barn without it eating me!

Yuck! The lice are just as thick as all get out on this poor girl. I've ruled out ringworm, deciding that it's just the rubbing that's causing the bald spots. She actually looks like someone came along and took a pair of scissors to her, cutting off the long ends here and there. Instead, that's where the hair has broken off as she's been rubbing her itchy spots.

I sat with Sunny again this morning, attempting to lure her up to me with the scoop of grain. She plays a game with me; if she's not looking at me, I can't see her. Or at least that's what it seems she's thinking. So to ease her fear I began looking away from her, wondering if eye contact was something she was avoiding. It didn't seem to matter, though. Her biggest issue is putting her little muzzle down inside that narrow blue scoop. Her lips wiggle and she can absolutely taste the grain; you can see her yearning for it. She comes right up to me, stands with her front feet just a couple feet away. If she wanted, she could reach over and sniff me, but she doesn't want to. Not yet.

Walking up to her without first picking up the rope still isn't happening, but we're getting closer. She no longer wheels around and makes to the other side of the paddock like she did 48 hours ago. She's been a bit shy about me working on her left side, but since I've been sitting out with grain she's gotten a bit more accustomed to seeing me from that side and has become more relaxed. I think it's also helped having Tait out there running around her feet. She's become accustomed to the motion on both sides of her; at least when the motion is down near the ground :)

I'm going to add a couple of links off there to the right of the page on lice for anyone interested in reading more!

Quiet Storm wanders across a foggy field.
Hopefully, she won't pick up any lice from Sunny.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Another Attempt

I went out again later. This time Sunny came up close much quicker than she had earlier. She still didn't want to touch her nose to the plastic scoop, though. I didn't have a lot of time tonight to sit and coax her. I did manage to give her a good scratch on her neck, then set the grain (still in the scoop) on the barn floor. Hopefully eating out of it tonight will let her know that it's okay to eat out of it while it's in my hand in the morning.

It seemed an Eternity...

I waited patiently for what seemed an eternity this afternoon, although in reality it was closer to fifteen minutes. I sat in a corner of the paddock with a scoop full of grain. Sunny knew what it was; she'd been getting grain from Steve. Steve, however, never sat and made her take the grain from him. Miss Sunny is spoiled in some ways...she wants her hay and her grain on the ground like she'd eat it in the wild. She refuses hay from the manger, and she didn't want grain from the scoop as long as the scoop was in my hand.

And so I waited...and waited...and waited. She'd begun to relax so much with the scratching that I was convinced she'd become bold enough to eat while I held the grain. She'd eye me warily, and take a few steps forward, then a step or two back. Both of the dogs thought the grain quite tastey, and I allowed the a nibble or two while Sunny watched from ten feet away.

After a few minutes, she lost some of her fear and made her way over to me. Clever girl that she is, she made it look as though that was never her intent. She'd turn her head and look at her side, avoiding eye contact, then take a little side step that brought her a few inches closer to me. Her little baby sidesteps brought her front feet within a yard of me, where she stood and wiggled her lips in anticipation of the sweet treat she knew was but inches from her nose.

But she just couldn't bring herself to reach into that scoop. The dogs had knocked a bit of grain onto the ground around my feet, and Sunny found that just too irresistable. She felt she'd won the battle, I suppose, as she managed to lick up a few stray oats around my toes; she even brushed up against my boots with her nose, she was that close! Perhaps next time...

Skin and Scratches

Sunny had a bit of a dry patch that I'd noticed when she first got to Steve and Janice's place. Not much, but there was some dander and obviously rubbing going on near her shoulder. Of course, getting up close and personal wasn't going to happen at that point. But as the next few weeks went by, it got progressively worse. And it's no longer just her shoulder, but her muzzle and eye as well.
It's not uncommon for the mustangs to come in with some sort of skin trouble, be it lice, ringworm, or some form of fungus. Getting close enough to determine what it is and treat it is another issue! Thankfully, Sunny had been isolated from the other horses so they won't have picked it up (I hope!) But Steve and Janice, if you're reading this, you may want to keep an eye on your herd :)
This morning I was able to get close enough to Sunny with camera in hand to take a few new pictures of her condition. Her should has been rubbed this past week to bare skin. Below shows her poll area just behind her halter. I'd originally thought we were dealing with ringworm, but since she stood so well this morning, I'm now convinced we've got a horrific case of lice going on.
Sunny stood so well for me this morning it was hard to believe this was the same snorty little horse I'd first seen a few weeks back. Seriously, we've had to hang on and get a good grip on her lead so she wouldn't jump or back away from us in order to reach out and touch her before. Once scratched along the top of her neck, she'd relax, but getting there was work. This morning I managed to get a hand on her neck and scratch, then backed away, then stepped back to her and she didn't try to leave! That was so exciting for me, so that's when I ran and grabbed the camera to see if I could get some close ups of her skin. I actually walked up to her without needing to grab the lead rope, even with a spooky camera in my hand!
Of course, the reason she loves being scratched is because of the lice. And as I was scratching I found not only those little white eggs, but huge blood filled lice that were the same size as fleas all over in her hair. Poor girl! At least I know what I'm dealing with now, and since she's standing so danged good it ought to be easier to treat!

Okay, I just had to add this last picture in because this girl has a gorgeous butt, especially since she's a bit thin :)

A major Thank You to Steve and Janice for taking care of Sunny while she was at their place!

Monday Morning

Sunny, all wet in Sunday's rain

5 am and I was unable to sleep, wondering how Sunny was doing out in her new surroundings. My worst nightmare was that I'd go out and find she'd jumped the paddock fence, and that Quiet Storm would have taken out the field fencing (she did that once before in an effort to get to 'her' flock), and I'd need to go searching the valley for my two wild ponies.

Getting my boots and coat on, I went outside and check on everyone. Thankfully, the rain has stopped; everyone was soaked to the bone yesterday as they all felt the need to stand around and stare at each other. So although it was dark, at least I wasn't wet as I made my way to the barn.

At first I couldn't see Sunny. Quiet Storm was standing alongside the fence wondering why I was out so early. I flipped on a spotlight outside, at which point I spotted Sunny inside. As long as I was out there, I figured I'd toss everyone some hay (the sheep were baaaing at me, so giving their mouths something else to do seemed like a good idea.) As I carried a flake into the paddock, Sunny came out and looked at it longingly. Good, I thought, she's hungry, which will make it easier to get close. But she didn't want hay that badly. Inside the barn I found she'd not eaten a bit of the hay I'd put in the manger the day before. She's accustomed to eating off the ground, so perhaps she didn't realize the hay was there? Or maybe she just didn't feel like eating her first day here. I placed this morning's flake on the ground for her, though, figuring she could learn to eat from a manger later.

Quiet Storm, refusing to go inside for fear of missing out on something.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

A Ray of Sun on a Rainy Day

I woke up this morning to hear the rain. It's been so cold and clear, then warm and clear, and I'd hoped it would hold out a bit longer. No such luck. Quiet Storm is standing outside with the sheep, and everyone is soaking wet.

A couple days ago I got an envelope in the mail. The return address on the label read United States Department of the Interior, and beneath that was the familiar address of the BLM's Spokane office. Hooray! The filly's paperwork was here. There was also an email from Steve, and we made arrangements for him to bring our new girl home on Sunday...today...Superbowl Sunday!

Darling and I had sorted through dozens of names for the new red filly and finally decided on one that we think will become a theme here. Her name is Sun Storm, Sunny for short. And so today, when it's pouring outside, our Sunny has made the journey to yet another new home.

Steve had said he'd be here about noon, but of course I needed to document the loading! (I'm certain I've driven the poor man crazy with my camera down there.) The trailer was backed into the arena, and Sunny was brought out of her fenced off corner. As usual, she was snorty, but she led out rather nicely if I do say so myself! Once she realized she was walking towards the trailer, though, she opted for an about face!

Steve kept encouraging Sunny to move forward, and eventually was close enough to run the rope up and around a rung inside the trailer. Sunny actually surprised me as she moved forward on her own accord to see what it was all about. A couple of good sniffs and...

...in she went! The entire process from leaving her corner to getting into the trailer was less than five minutes. Once in the trailer, she went straight to the front and stood there politely, waiting for the door to close. And that was that.

The drive home was uneventful, although she did work up a bit of a sweat. When we opened the door of the trailer, Sunny got her first real look at her new home. Quiet Storm and the sheep were lined up waiting to see what came out of the trailer as she peered out the door.

After a moment or two of hesitation, she jumped out of the trailer and ran towards the back of the paddock...all I could catch of her was her back side :)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Another Visit with the Nameless Filly

The paperwork was in progress. I'd filled out the application along with a description of barn and paddock, and sent it off to the Spokane office. I was now waiting for approval. In the meantime, I wanted to go back and visit the filly. I was limited to the number of visits only by the distance and price of gas. Had she been closer to home, I'd likely have been down every day. However, it was an hour long trek to get to Steve's house, so once a week would have to do.

This would be my third visit to see the filly. When I pulled into the driveway Steve threw me a half smile, "Your girl's an escape artist; she got her halter off last night and slipped out into the pasture with the other girls!" Yikes, I thought. Would we be able to catch her? But Steve had already gotten her back into the runway between paddocks. I asked how we'd get the halter back on, and he said, "Same way I got it on her last time; rope her!"

Oh, boy...let me grab my camera!

Steve forms a lariat

"Nameless" watches from the corner"

He throws the rope and... Gotcha!

Once the nameless filly was roped, we got her inside and managed to slip the halter onto her face. I'd have loved to have taken pictures, but it was dark and I didn't want the flash going off in her face. So you'll just have to suffer through my word picture! Steve wrapped the lariat around a big post in the arena (it was holding up the wall, not a snubbing post, lol!) so that Nameless couldn't jump too far away while he slipped the halter over her head. She was about 15 feet from the post, so not tied up close. She was leaning back, but it didn't take long for Steve to convince her that she really wanted her ears rubbed, and that meant having a halter put on at the same time. Entire haltering process took about three minutes. Not bad at all...but I'm hoping I don't have to do it once she gets home!