Lots and lots of trail rides over the recent days and Easter holidays. I summed up that I've ridden nearly 90 miles already this April! Our average trail ride is now approximately 5 to 10 miles long (shorter on workdays, long ones during weekends) and we trot and canter a fair deal, but mostly we keep at a walk as we're often accompanied by Snicks' bud who is coming back into work from his tendon injury. We've experienced many despooking moments by meeting all kinds of loud vehicles, barking dogs, wildlife, crossing railroad tracks, jumping fallen trees and logs, and Snickers has been a really good boy about all of this. I'm especially happy about getting him used to trains as he used to get very nervous around them - now he can stand and watch one passing by without prancing around and even chase it at a trot when it has already passed us.
We had a jumping session as well and I badly need a trainer. I can jump small obstacles well enough, but I need guidance if I want to jump a bit higher. Snickers was being a champ, though, and jumped everything I pointed him at, as long as I didn't unbalance him by bad two-point. Fortunately, the BO has agreed to help us out in that and I'm finally having a lesson with my favorite trainer this weekend!
One of these days a few friends visited me and we had a lovely, little picnic by the barn, with Snicks and his best bud participating as well. They had a jolly good time, trying to steal our bananas and sweetbread, and fussing with my nonhorsey guests.
I was also suddenly asked by the BO if I could do a little show and tell routine with Snicks for a kids' party that was to start in a few minutes. Just for a challenge, I agreed and Snickers was wonderful, although a bit sleepy, as he had been just rushed out of the paddock. He lied down, let himself get covered with a blanked, lead with his eyes tied shot, showed his Spanish walk and finally I rode him tackless, waving a big piece of cloth all around his head. Finally I got inspired to try and stand up on his butt, which I had never done before, but luckily it went well and the kids were amazed.
I'm visiting Snicks today as well, but no riding this time - he deserves a day off, after all. I'd love to do some groundwork, but his feet need trimming so I'll do that instead.
Snicks being a bit too friendly during the picnic. :)
Just a pretty shot:
A personal challenge fulfilled. Don't do this at home, kids!
Snicks learned to place his hoof on a smaller and higher mounting block while I'm sitting there - good boy for not crushing my leg.
And I found a ladybug on his forehead while he was sound asleep in the paddock!
As planned, I spent yesterday evening to trim Snicks' front hooves. The overall condition of his hooves seems to be improving - he is less and less tender footed when walking over rocks, no tenderness at all when walking and trotting over gravel, and his heels seem to be decontracting after all this waiting! I only wish he'd stand more quietly when I'm trimming his front hooves, but that's a slow work in progress that's connected to the suppleness of his shoulders and his moral willingness to hold a hoof patiently. There are no problems with holding his hind hooves for as long as I need, though!
There's a guy in the barn who owns a lovely filly (and with whose work methods I disagree completely!) and who is also a student to one of the leading farriers of our country. As I trim Snicks by barefoot methods, to be precise - I do the Dr.Strasser basic trim - our approaches differentiate greatly. So, this guy was watching me trim and then offered both some advice (to leave high heels for instance...) and to trim Snicks' hooves for me. I continued smiling and being polite, but declined his offer, and his face was telling me that he is sorry for what I'm doing. How funny - I feel sorry for the same thing regarding him! But it's none of my business, so I don't interfere...
After an hour, I felt that I had done what could be done (two hooves in an hour are a personal record - I started out with two hours a hoof! ) and went to hand graze Snicks in a field until it was time for the evening feed.
Saranda, I had no idea you've been doing Snickers' trims yourself! Good for you! All of my horses are barefoot, and done with a natural trim-I don't have the skill to do it myself, but do have an excellent farrier! Love all the recent photos, btw :)
Thanks, NS! :) Snickers has always been barefoot and I wouldn't do it any other way. I'm a strong believer in barefoot as the best choice for horses (if done correctly and if the horse has the according living conditions), and I'm extremely content that I decided to start trimming myself. Of course, I didn't just get a knife and a rasp, and jump straight into trimming his hooves - first I studied, read and watched lots of theory, and I'm doing everything supervised by a good trimmer. I've been doing most of the work (the trimmer goes over my trims and helps correcting any mistakes) since this March.
The biggest inspiration to start trimming Snicks' hooves was a realization that my previous trimmer, although a great person, has taken too much work on her hands and the quality of her trims was decreasing. Snicks had chronic contracted + high heels and some nasty flaring in both his front hooves. Now that I can take all the time he needs to go over minor details, the heels are finally decontracting and yesterday I noticed that the flare is gone! He has also become less ouchy on rocks and, although it's often hard work, it's really worth it. Not even speaking about all the money I've saved on trims! Also, the trimmer who's helping me doesn't want to trim Snicks on top of her busy schedule, so there's not really any other choice I can make. We're extremely deficient on good barefoot trimmers around here.
I ought to post some pictures soon... Maybe this evening or tomorrow.
So, after the last time I posted about we had one more trail ride, a short one, and then there was a nice, traditional spring festivity in honor of a Latvian deity of spring and horses. We sang around a bonfire, made traditional, festive foods and a couple of horses, including Snicks, gave pony rides to our guests from a folklore club. Snicks was being fabulous and I even let one lady to ride him by herself at the walk - she had ridden years ago as a child - and he was as sweet as can be, tolerating the imprecise ques. Later Snicks and his best buddies were set loose near the area of our celebration, as they are sure not to wander away, and Snicks often came over to get forehead scratches and to check out the table.
Next day - the equine orienteering competition! I had no stress at all. We had to enter the trails as the first pair, and Snicks did a great job! The trail was somewhere around 7km long - a short ride, this time - and we made most of it at the trot and the canter (we had warmed up beforehand, of course). Snicks was being bold and attentive all the time, I absolutely loved his attitude! I made a few mistakes regarding the course I chose, and I dropped my whip once, so I had to hop off and back on, so I knew we wouldn't be the first, but crossing the finish line at a full gallop was fantastic! In the end, we placed as the third, but Snicks is my champion all the same. :) After this, we went to swim the horses in a pond and to graze them in a field, and I trimmed Snicks back hooves in the very evening.
And we came across a herd of sheep! One little lamb wandered away from his mom and tried making friends with the horses. We had to carry him back to his mommy, as he suddenly found himself completely and utterly lost. Poor, cute baby!
Okay, I've got to get this done at last... The longer you keep from writing something done, the more stuff to tell piles up and the task seams impossible in the end! But there is lots to tell, so here it goes.
The day after the competition something tragic happened. The BO's favourite mare was found dying in the pastures, surrounded by a silent herd, during the last checkup before the night. She died within minutes after she was found, although she had seemed perfectly fine an hour or so before that. She was old and had heaves, and a stroke is suspected as the cause of her death. We were all completely brought down after that, and I spent the next day just being with Snicks, hugging him and being very grateful for being a part of his life. The mares' body had sill not been collected and was lying in the far end of the paddock, covered, and Snicks lead me in that direction and gazed stiffly at her. Not only people, but all the horses seemed to be mourning.
The next night I woke up to emergency messages from the barn... The horses had gotten out of the paddock, two had broken out of their box stalls in the barn, many had injured themselves in the neighbouring fields where a cow farmer keeps his cows within barb wired fencing, and one horse - Snicks best buddy - was missing. A search party set out and searched for him for 10 hours. The police was involved as well. At last, he was found several miles away from the barn, just standing there in a memorial, which is in the middle of a heavily wooded area, and was in a complete state of shock. He didn't even recognize his owner and just wandered around with a completely blank look in his eyes. He was also seriously injured with the barbed wire and in pain - deep cuts all over his front legs, chest, belly and hind legs.
Foul play is suspected. It was discovered that the gate was cut open and the horses seemed to have been frightened on purpose. It is also abnormal that Snicks' buddy would have wandered so far on his own, as he is very herdbound and NEVER leaves his pals. Unfortunately, there are no suspects, just a bunch of injured horses and scared people. The horses were kept inside for the next couple of nights - just to be safe - but since the beginning of May the majority of them are again outside 24/7. As their summer pasture fields were opened, they now have much more space to roam in and it feels safer now.
Miraculously, Snickers was the only one who stayed unharmed - not even the smallest scratch from the barb wires. He only seemed to be nervous, as most of them, and paid much more attention to his surroundings when grazing or when being lead away from the herd. Needless to say, I feel almost as if he had been protected from any harm and feel eternally grateful for this outcome.
As for today, all the horses that were injured are healing up nicely and most of them are okay now. Snicks' best buddy, who suffered the most, now only has a couple of small haematomas that still need to be absorbed.
That is scary to hell. Thank god that Snicks is fine! And Hope his buddy doesn't have permanent damage, and that scars on his legs were not too deep to impale his movement.. Oh my... I guess you will never know who did it or how it happened.
Fortunately, Snicks' buddy was lucky despite of his injuries and he has been completely healed now. Physically, that is. Psychologically - he has lost a LOT of trust in people since that horrible night. We believe that he was actually taken away by somebody and then released, as he is very herdbound and would never leave other horses, especially in a state of panic.
I've been a very lazy writer again... I'll try to keep it short.
Riding and training - I've been focusing on getting lessons with my favourite Dressage trainer and those are paying off nicely. My seat and balance are improving, and it has helped in my relationship with Snicks. I've been jumping a little and doing low gridwork to improve my seat over jumps, and I've also been spending lots of time to ride tackless, just with a neckrope. Our liberty work has really been improving well and I've experienced some wonderful moments of trust by Snickers. Of course, we have been going on nice trail rides as well. Unfortunately, we experienced this event - A tale to survive and tell - and Snicks has been a little more nervous in trails and around vehicles since then, but he's getting better and I'm trying hard to be an encouraging rider.
Going to the sea with Snickers takes the spotlight, though. The sea is quite far from our barn (approximately a 1h drive), so we rented a 6-horse trailer and went like that. Snicks had seen the sea at his previous owners and was reported to take it brilliantly, but that was my first time with my horse at the seaside. He was a bit stressed about the huge trailer, as he was rather clamped there (not enough space for my apparently huge horse!), but he loaded perfectly and later, at the sea, he felt at home soon after arriving. We walked and trotted around a little, and then I took off his bridle and we rode just with a neckrope. After that, I unsaddled him and we spent some time just having a walk and playing around at liberty. It was a true dream come true for me, and Snicks looked like he was having a fantastic time!
Yesterday we went on a long trail ride, discovered some new paths and I enjoyed how fit Snicks is right now - he wasn't even sweating under his saddle pad after a good, long canter, and his breathing was normal in a matter of few minutes. Later that evening, however, I received a call from the barn that Snicks looks off. I had no way of going to the barn then, but the BO managed everything well. Seems that he had a light bout of colic - only gods know, why, because nothing really has changed in his diet or regime, apart from our journey to the sea. But everything is okay now - he's back to his healthy, happy self!