Rather than inundate the forums with a constant barrage of pictures and video clips I thought I'd just make a journal and keep everything in one place. It will be fun (for me anyways, I don't expect anyone else will be reading! ) to see a start-to finish log for Monty.
So, to create an accurate starting place, Monty (formerly Hercules) is a 3 year old reg. Hackney gelding. He came home July 18, 2010, at about 2 pm. I got him from some people who had a lot of heart but very little horse sense, and no finances to speak of. They traded Monty to me for some hay.
"Hercules" is formally rechristened "Monty". He is wide-eyed and terrified. He trembles and blows when I approach. He ducks his head if I move too quickly or speak to loudly. He flinches and leaps away at a touch. He has stress-induced projectile diarrhea, and stands shivering.
Monty is skinny, but not dreadfully underweight. He has dirt and mud encrusted in his coat, matted mane and tail, the skin around his eyes was abraded by his long forelock, and a layer of grit under the hair against his skin.
His hooves were terribly overgrown and cracked. I don't know HOW he wasn't lame or limping at all, but he wasn't! Tough little pony.
So I didn't want to over-due his first day, to much, so I just spent a few hours getting him to accept my presence, stroking him and speaking to him and offering many, many cookies. He wouldn't take cookies from my hand but would eat them greedily if I set them on the ground in front of him. After a little time he allowed me to brush him out, as long as I didn't touch his legs or ears, and then rub him all over with a damp towel to get the grit out of his coat. It didn't take much to bring on a nice shine so hopefully some quality feeding will bring him to glowing health fairly quickly! He let me comb out his mane and forelock, although he got nervous when I picked up his tail so I left it for now - it will need washed due to the diarrhea anyways. He even let me cut a short bridle path with scissors. By the end, although he was still very scared, he was hesitantly reaching his nose out to me in a search for more cookies, and taking them tentatively from my hand. I put him back in the stall, fed him a light meal of one cup of Nutrena Safechoice, a half ounce of Weightbuilder, and a cup of soaked beetpulp. After he finished that (I stayed to watch him eat to get an idea of the condition his teeth might be in - he didn't drop a speck of food so for the moment I am assuming they are okay, until I can get in there to take a look and have the vet check.)
Monty is already softening up in response to handling. Every spare minute throughout the day, I walk out to the barn and spend a little time standing in his stall, just petting him, speaking to him, handling his ears and face. He's eager for the cookies he knows I'll be bringing, and whinnies when I enter the barn in the morning to feed him. I take him out twice to hand walk him. He tries a couple times to pull out of my hands, an nearly succeeds at one point, so I start bridling him to hand walk him for now. He accepts the bit readily, and doesn't try to rip out of my hands at all with the bridle on, this is clearly a shortcut used before on him. Not a long term solution, but for the moment, while he is still familiarizing with me and the circumstances, it's a temporary fix.
Getting close enough to the front hooves to even think about picking them up proves to be the first big challenge, if I touch him below the elbow he flinches and leaps away. So I tie him, and start with the dressage whip and more cookies. Rub him all over his body first with the whip, since he shows a little fear of it, followed by a cookie. Then start rubbing it up and down his elbow, lower each time, followed by more cookies. In a half hour, I can rub him all over both front legs with the dressage whip. On to picking up the feet. He picks them up readily, but then rears when he can't yank them out of my hand. Shorten lead and keep holding them. Soon as he stands quiet, release the foot and cookie. Repeat for some time. Then start process over with other front foot. Pick up the hoof knife, nippers, and tap, poke, prod all over and around his hooves until he stands quietly, more cookies. Repeat with other front foot. Finally I am able to get to work! It wasn't smooth sailing from then on, but over-all he handled getting his feet done pretty well and with continued work should get to a point where he can be trimmed readily without drama. Here are the finished front feet:
Monty also got wormed, and now has a barn mate (across the aisle), my pony Misty is in heat and my colt is not yet gelded. Finn's brain surgery is scheduled for the 5th.
I gave Monty his vaccs (except for rabies, that will be done by the vet when he comes out on the 5th) and let him out in my backyard for a short while to get some running and grass and sunshine. He played for a bit, called to my other horses, and generally seemed to be feeling good. I approached, caught, treated, and released him about every 15 minutes while he was out. He ran briefly the first time, and after that stood quietly when I came to "catch" him. At one point I put the bridle back on, and hopped on him bareback briefly. Didn't let him walk, just waited until he stood quietly and hopped off again. He accepted it well after the initial spook.
After about 2 hours, I took him back into the barn, and got to work on his back feet. Basically the same process as day 2, although he took a lot longer to stop kicking out with his back feet when I tried to pick them up. Eventually got them done, pictures coming (I haven't taken any close shots yet).
He got another grooming session, and this time I was making a point to be more vigorous, exaggerate my gestures and speak loudly. Flapped a few things around a little, purposefully "dropped" the brush a few times. He spooked at first but soon was accepting it calmly and looking at me like "what's wrong with you butterfingers". Asked the neighbor come over and fuss over him for a bit too.
Monty whinnied when I came in this morning to feed him again. He actually walked to the edge of the stall and put his head over the side for a scratch - definite progress already! He seems very eager for friends, just very hesitant on what kind of reaction he is going to get. So far he has never offered to nip or kick, other than the kicking out when I was trying to pick up his back feet yesterday, and those kicks were not aimed at me, just trying to get me to stop touching his legs.
Not much to do today. I knew a big storm was blowing in, so I put him in the backyard again for a bit to get some exercise before it did, but I did encourage him to trot around for a bit and got a quick video of him. You can hear how bad the wind is blowing. But now that his feet are better he clearly has that classic hackney trot - looks to be a pretty nice mover! Got him cooled off and back in the barn JUST before the rain hit! Probably spend some more time this afternoon in the barn desensitizing and working on him getting a lot more casual about having his feet handled.
Let's see if I can get this silly video to work. If not I'll just upload it on youtube, but there SHOULD be a way to do it from photobucket, I think?
Bah I can't get it to work. Back in a few with it on youtube!