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Discussion Starter · #4,263 ·
It’s been amazing to me how different the herd dynamic has been with this trio compared to the first trio. They are all just very calm and peaceful with each other. There is a lot I miss about Maggie, but the scene above would not have happened with her. She was the boss and kept some separation between her and the other two. I kind of like this softer, gentler herd :) It’s only been about a month, so there’s still time for things to change of course, but I hope this vibe continues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,264 ·
We had another lovely ride with K and Sailor this morning. The weather cooperated perfectly- 65*F, low humidity but plentiful sunshine. It was really ideal weather for riding. We set out from the house and did an 8 mile loop, mostly on the road but ducking into the woods for good long stretches.
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Mammal

I hadn't been on this ATV trail yet this year, but I was very happy with the condition. Last year it got really rutted out because of heavy rainstorms, but someone must have worked on it a bit because the worst of the ruts weren't really an issue anymore. There are still rocky sections, but the horses handled it fine. Sailor was particularly impressive given how new this is to him. We passed a lot of dogs, a couple of sweet little girls out walking with their mom (they shyly said hello when Sailor wanted to stop and sniff them), and an ATV along this trail. The horses were happy to stand in the lush grass off the side of the trail and didn't even notice the ATV going by with their noses buried in the grass.

Fizz felt a little stiff along the way, and I felt like I was really off-centered and leaning to the right- but I must have been overcompensating, because K said I was leaning more to the left when she rode behind us. Fizz also acted a little funny when we got home. Usually once I pull her tack off, she's excited to go have a good roll and a drink. Today she went over to where there was hay out loose on the ground, and laid down in the middle of the hay pile, eating while she laid on the ground. She didn't look distressed or uncomfortable, but laying down like that was sort of weird. She did the same thing later in the day when I fed them dinner. Both times she only laid down briefly, then did roll, then got up without a struggle when the other horses came over. Not sure if there's something residual from the vaccines, or if she's just sore. Vet does want to come back for a chiro adjustment when we can get that scheduled because she found Fizz to be fairly locked up in her SI (not unusual for Fizz). So maybe that's just bugging her now that we're riding more. Something to keep an eye on. We're planning to meet M and Coalie tomorrow but if Fizz feels off then obviously we won't go out. Hopefully it's nothing...

Here's a Josie glamour shot for fun.
Hair Horse Plant Liver Tree
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,267 ·
You must have a rule that you only ride with the blackest of black horses!
Isn't it funny! And they have to be goofy geldings too. Like Coalie, Sailor wants to make lovey dovey eyes at Fizz and get as close to her as he can. She seems completely oblivious to them, but she must give off some sort of irresistible, hard to get horsey signals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,268 ·
I don't know how the weekend flew by so quickly. I am feeling resentful being back in front of the computer after running wild outside for three days straight. But such is life 😉

Anyway, we did ride with M and Coalie yesterday. We had agreed to meet up halfway to the woods trails we were doing, so that was 1.5 miles solo to get to the meeting spot. Fizz started off grumpy at the bugs, with lots of head tossing. I could feel that her back was very tight to start, but it did loosen up as we went along. It was hot even early in the morning so we meandered, unless the bugs were swarming and then we hopped and tossed our way along. We did catch a breeze some of the way, so that helped some.
Plant Leg Working animal Tree People in nature

Coalie and M had done a Memorial Day pleasure ride the day before, so he was a bit tired and pokey. It was a different experience than riding with Sailor, who mostly matched our pace, even at a good forward walk. With the bugs Fizz was definitely getting annoyed with stopping and waiting, so there were moments where I just rode ahead at a more comfortable pace until we got to a nice looking patch of grass on the side of the road and parked her there to eat until Coalie caught up. It was a little concerning because she was really not moving very fast, given the tightness in her back. But when we went into the woods, we let Coalie go ahead, as that motivated him a bit more.
Plant People in nature Tree Working animal Terrestrial plant

Plant Horse Vertebrate Tree Working animal

We did a nice loop of a couple of miles before the trail popped us back out onto the road again, and we split up in our respective directions to go home. I pretty much rode on the buckle the rest of the way and let her pick her own pace- she wasn't rushing home and seemed to feel good when she could really stretch down over her back.

On the left is the pond where we saw the wading cow last time we came this way- but no cows were in sight on this ride. I expected them to be up in the pond because of the heat, but they must have been down over the hill. No complaints from me, I was glad we didn't have to deal with them!
Hair Head Plant Horse Eye

After riding, I spent the afternoon doing the not-so-fun, very dusty and dirty task of deep cleaning the chicken coop and run. We cover the run in heavy duty plastic to protect the chickens from the winter wind and snow (it's so nice that they have access to a snow-free place to scratch and dig in all winter long!). But the downside of winterizing the run is that it cuts down on airflow and allows a lot of dust to build up. Spring cleaning involves pulling all the plastic down, shopvaccing the heck out of every corner, removing all the old bedding, doing a full wash down of the roosts and inside the coop, etc. It's not fun, but it was very satisfying to have everything refreshed for them by the end of the day. I have been keeping them inside the barn a lot more than usual this spring because the bird flu situation isn't great in my area, and there have been many reports of wild ducks and eagles dying from the flu, as well as backyard flocks. But I broke down and let them out yesterday, and they fell into a sunbathing puddle for most of the afternoon.
Plant Motor vehicle Grass Groundcover Gas

Pollinator Insect Arthropod Butterfly Moths and butterflies

They're such funny little creatures, and I'm way too attached to them. It makes me happy to see them happy.
 

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Wow. That is an awful story. I’m sorry for that girl. It was a very nice intention to want to take the horse back. I hope the girl ends up okay. That sounds like a hard recovery coming.

@knightrider Queen is seeming like that. She always wants into the trailer and I have to keep a good hold of her to try and keep her out. Lol.
This is very belated, but: I used to trail ride a harness racer called Chip, for cross-training. He was such a character - never met another horse like it. Totally exuberant extrovert who loved going places. If he saw the trailer being backed out of the shed from his paddock he'd start neighing with excitement, run to his gate, prance and paw there, neigh and nicker as he saw you coming with the lead rope, and then nearly drag you to the trailer, skipping with joy and giving you "isn't this great" sideways glances and catching the rope in his mouth and pulling you on it - he was so playful. You'd unclip him on the loading ramp and he'd load himself with aplomb, and then make excited noises while the engine started - I used to laugh so much at his antics. He would settle on the trip but when he saw we were getting near the venue, he'd start trumpeting from the back with excitement and not stop.

The people at the racetrack could hear him coming from before the trailer got to the car park. He got a huge fan club at the races because of it - the way he came in neighing and skipping and catching the lead rope and tugging it while looking sideways at his handler. He was a very pretty chestnut with large white markings and a golden mane and tail, with a lot of Arabian in his appearance, including the dished face and long arched neck. A lot of little girls were in love with him. He also won a lot of races, but he thought that was a side event - he was there to socialise and sightsee and to say, "I'm here, everybody! What fun this is!"

He loved meeting and "talking to" other horses and people, and was super fascinated by the pony trot ponies, and the catcher's white TB, which he always side-eyed and tried to approach on the racetrack when warming up or at the parade after the race, which had the audience in stitches...
 

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Those people must have been thinking of horses with a lot of experience trailering. Most of the time, those kinds of horses do willingly jump on. Horses new to trailering? Quite the opposite. When I was trying to trailer my green colt from Texas to Maryland, people told me NOT to take him out of the trailer until the ride was done for the day . . . or he would NOT go back in for the next phase of the ride.

On the second day, we had a flat tire on the tow vehicle, a 1960 Chevy station wagon. And our trailer was a little wooden job with a canvas top that was not balanced well. We unhitched the trailer with me standing on the tongue so the trailer wouldn't tip up with the horse in it, changed the tire, and re-hitched. What a nightmare. Then we had to turn around to get back on the highway. My husband saw a house on a hill with a nice circular driveway so we headed up that way. Part way up the hill, the driveway was blocked off. So he had to back down the hill. Trailering was all new to us (we had bought the trailer for $200 days before the trip) and he backed into a stone wall. The Chevy station wagon couldn't pull the trailer back up the steep hill. We had to dismantle the stone wall to back the trailer out, then re-stack it.

And, to top it all off, Hurricane Agnes struck that day. We finished the 4 day drive going right along, exact same speed, as Hurricane Agnes. The heavy rain and cool weather probably kept the car from overheating, but boy, it was hairy driving through the downpour.

The angels were looking out for us and we made it to Maryland just fine. And at the end of the journey? My green colt loaded perfectly. That trailer was like home to him after the long trip.

Back to the original premise: most horses not used to trailering will not load willingly to go home. They are hot, tired, and hungry and do not relish a trailer ride. They want a roll, a rest, and some hay . . . and the trailer offers none of that.
OMG, @knightrider - that would have taken ten years off my life span. Talk about stressful! I have a good imagination and with it I saw the wooden trailer splintering into smithereens with the horse in it for half a dozen reasons in the course of your story... o_O
 

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I haven’t seen many tough loaders that I was actually a participant on. I see those fights at rodeos and pretend I don’t while I walk away because often there are already too many people with too many bosses helping.

Now, I have a funny solution though that I’ve seen work (on a horse that is very broke and knows trailers). I believe it was my mother’s best show horse when I was young, but this horse would refuse to load after a show sometimes. He just wouldn’t do it. Now, when my father wasn’t there, there were always different cowboys at the shows who would come and get the horse in the trailer by various means.

One day, this horse would not load. I can’t remember if it was my dad who was there, but I think it was. This horse had never considered not loading for him. So, he tried a couple times and the horse was having none of it. Then, he tied him to the side of the trailer, and he slowly and carefully drove it across the parking lot and to where you would leave the fairgrounds.

This horse trotted alongside the trailer, thinking he made a very bad life choice, and when he stopped at the driveway and got out, he walked up to him like nothing had ever happened and loaded him up easily. I thought it was funny as could be. He must have been thinking that he was going to drive away home and fast dragging him behind. I don’t remember if he ever questioned loading again.

Now, I only think that would work with a good horse like him who was simply throwing his weight around for whatever reason he did it. He had been trailered thousands of times and knew what it was all about.
That was very funny. Only, of course, because the person who did that wasn't a madman who didn't know when to stop!

It reminds me of a drastic solution someone had for a horse that always came flying out of a trailer backwards at a million miles an hour once the bum bar was undone, putting itself and others in danger. Some of you might have heard this one before. They tried tons of things and then in utter frustration what they did is drive the trailer to the end of a long jetty, back it up to the ocean, and let the horse unload itself in its habitual way. Big splash. Then someone jumped in and swam the horse back to shore. People commonly swim horses in Western Australia so it's probable this horse had swum before. Just not quite like that. It was reported that from then on the horse came out slowly and carefully, though I'm not sure that would cure every backwards-flying unloader...
 

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Never tried it with horses. Don't even have a working horse trailer (and current prices aren't helping). But some years back we had a dog who LOVED to be taken out into the desert for runs. But he wasn't so good about getting back into the car to come home. So one day, when he refused to jump in, I left the tail gate of the SUV open and started driving away. Dan started after me. I drove just fast enough down the dirt road that he couldn't quite catch up. After half a mile, I stopped. He jumped inside before I could finish getting out to tell him to jump in - and he never refused to jump in for the return trip again.

Bandit will self-load his front end fine but not the rear legs. I've considered hooking up the truck and moving it 3-4 inches while he is like this, just to see if he might prefer in or out to "part way":
Given trailer prices, I might have this one fixed up (it is fundamentally sound) and have a small ramp added...that might be enough to convince him to get all the way in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,274 ·
Loving all the trailering tales. We picked up our new-to-us trailer on Thursday, but I didn't make time to mess around with it much during the week. Izzy is going to the vet on Monday for her molar removal, so we will have some practice time with it tomorrow.

We had a couple of nice rides to end the week, but I had a weird physical situation with Fizz that I'm curious about, wondering if anyone has any guesses at what was happening. This was something really strange I've never seen a horse do. Yesterday I went out to tack her up, and she was very fussy with her head, but I didn't think much of it because the bugs are swarming anything with a pulse. She kept snatching the lead rope out of my hand and wanting to put her head down towards the ground. I've seen them do this to try to get away from the swarming bugs, so didn't think much about it. I tied her up on the outside of the shed to tack up, using the blocker tie ring. I was in the tack room grabbing the saddle when I heard the lead rope zipping through the tie ring and saw her flying backwards. She wanted her head loose so she could put her nose back on the ground- literally. Her nose was resting on the dirt, but she was also doing tons of deep "release" yawns and flapping her tongue all around. If she had been a person, she would have looked like someone trying to do everything they could to get their ears to pop while on a descending plane. She was really freaking me out, so I tried to walk her over the water to see if she needed to drink. @knightrider, I also couldn't help but think of the strange stick-wedged-in-mouth scenario, so I pried her mouth open and tried to look around and under her tongue to see if I could see anything. She was still yawning and flapping her tongue, so I didn't really get much of a look, but there was nothing obvious in the front part of her mouth. I really didn't know what else to do, so I just walked her around for a minute and she seemed to come out of whatever it was that she was doing. Once the yawning had stopped, I tied her back where she had been, and she went back to eating hay out of the haynet like nothing had happened. It was a really odd incident.

She's due for a chiro appointment in a couple of weeks, and I've noticed some tightness in her back the last few rides. I obviously can't do what a vet/chiro can, but I have been doing a little massage using the Masterson Method hind end release, and it's really cool to see her respond to the various release points highlighted in this video.
I tend to take things like this with a huge grain of salt, but I really can feel her relax while I'm touching her, and stretch and yawn (but not the creepy scary yawns!). I don't think there's any way I could hurt her with this basic stuff, so we'll keep doing it since she seems to like it. I'd say her back felt looser in the early parts of the ride when I did this right before tacking up, and I don't think it was just a placebo type feeling.

Yesterday I made some time in the morning to go for ~5 miles. We went out past the overlook and down the big hill. I did get off and handwalk down the big hill, not because she was being resistant but because with the tightness in her back, you can feel how she braces on steep downhills. I didn't see any reason to make her uncomfortable, and she walked straight down without any theatrics or attempts to stop. We had storms rolling in yesterday, and the skies were dramatic. We did manage to avoid getting rained on, though heavier storms did pop up at the end of the day. I just couldn't get over all the different cloud formations we rode under.
Sky Cloud Green People in nature Plant
Sky Plant Cloud Leg Tree

Sky Cloud Plant Leg People in nature

Cloud Plant Sky Tree People in nature

Horse Cloud Sky Plant Tree


Everything has turned bright, bright green in the past couple of weeks. It looks tropical. The grass has shot up too; riding around the outside of this field, I could feel the grass brushing against my feet. Of course we had some snacking along the way!
Jeans Plant Leg Vertebrate People in nature

Today we went out for 8.5 miles with Black Beauty #1, Sailor. With the rain last night, the roads were soft enough for some nice trot stretches, but we spent most of our time in the woods.
Horse Plant Working animal Tree Outdoor recreation

Jeans Plant Ecoregion Leg Vertebrate

There were a few boggy spots, and unfortunately I had a boot come off. Yesterday her boots were a little noisy and seemed a little loose from her trim on Thursday, so today I put a smaller pair on her fronts but left the regular ones on her hinds. That was a mistake. K noticed that a hind boot was missing, but we were more than halfway home so I didn't want to backtrack to look. The gaiter that goes in the boot and velcros around her ankle had stayed on though, and when we got back to the road it was making this bizarre slapping sound as it hit the ground. I hadn't realized it stayed on, so I had a moment of panic thinking she was doing some crazy toe/leg dragging, which made no sense because the sound it made didn't match how she felt moving. But when I looked down, I realized it wasn't her leg dangling loosely from her body, it was just the wet, floppy gaiter. :LOL: I hopped off to get it, and nearly tumbled off her side while remounting from the side of a hill because she started walking away before I was on. Not our finest or most graceful moment, but we survived.

Later I took Hugh with me back to the trail where we had ridden to look for the boot. There were four big muddy sections we went through. I guessed it would be in the first section, which is the wettest and deepest part. I wore my tall waterproof boots so I could dig around in the muck to try to find it, but even with my foot covered in mud halfway up my leg in the ruts we walked through, there was no sign of it. Nothing in the second or third spots either. I was really thinking I must not have looked hard enough in the first mud bog. But we kept on to the last spot, just in case. And...
Insect Terrestrial plant Terrestrial animal Scaled reptile Amphibian

Success! Thank goodness for those orange straps. And this faithful companion 💗
Plant Dog Plant community Ecoregion Vertebrate
 

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My guess would be she swallowed something too large without chewing well enough, and it was passing painfully through the esophagus. The head down and yawning is what I've seen with choke type obstructions, but I think any horse can have that sensation with a large wad of food if they got too excited about eating. I always think about how it feels if you accidentally swallowed an ice cube.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,277 ·
@knightrider, I’ve been bugging her trying to peek in there since this happened, and sniffing for weird smells. So far nothing notable.

@gottatrot, choke is an interesting guess and not sure why I didn’t think of that! I’ve (unfortunately) seen Izzy choke several times, but I’ve always been there when it happened at feeding time, so it was obvious. She’s also got a flair for the dramatic and usually adds some retching in there. But maybe that is what happened-I found Fizz like this so I don’t know what she was eating before, but could definitely be possible.
 

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Yeah, sounds like something either bugging her in her mouth, or in her oesophagus - if something stuck right at the top of the oesophagus they'd probably try to counter it by putting their head down - and by yawning, because that actually gives space to the top of the oesophagus and larynx.

I know a little about this because I have a paralysed vocal cord which hangs halfway into the aperture that normally is 100% open when you breathe, so I have a 75% airway, plus my left vocal cord has had to learn to bend and stretch across the space to meet the paralysed cord to be able to speak. I get stuff stuck on the paralysed cord when eating and because that whole fold can't move, I have to cough and vibrate stuff off sometimes. When I went to speech therapy for a bit and mentioned this, the therapist taught me a trick for relaxing the whole area when it spasms, either from the live cord having to work extra hard after a while of speaking, or from having food stuck on the paralysed bit: The "Yawn-Sigh" which is basically like a big open-mouthed horse yawn in which you open your throat as widely as possible as you breathe in and stick your tongue out and then end in a big sigh, and this is excellent for instant relief of such situations (just don't do it on public transport or at a meeting). Instead of coughing and spluttering, I can go into the "Yawn-Sigh" and that is effective while also not being stressful on my remaining live cord.

The head-down thing can also happen when they are choking so badly that all their saliva and nasal mucus is coming out of their nose, and they're trying to drain that off, but your mare wasn't at that point.
 

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@Knave, I have to admit that my patience with her was wearing thin when she almost put us both on the ground tripping over her own feet while trying to itch her face. But then karma got me later, as I was mucking out the paddock and my own face was swarmed with these awful little black flies and I was trying to sling my ponytail around enough that it would clear the bugs out of my eyes while I had both hands on the full wheelbarrow :LOL: I hate them as much as she does, but she does have to pay enough attention that we stay upright!!
We have these fine light mosquito nets that go over our hats, about $5 a pop from a camping shop. Keeps off flies, mozzies, sandflies, midges...

ETA: We have bad bushflies in spring and early summer that go for the eyes. The horses wear veils then and except on windy days I will ride will the veil left on as it bothers the horse less than flies do. I noticed last time I was in a horse store that they now have really lightweight horse veils for riding with that are more transparent and made from similar black netting as my own mozzie veil. Would be no good for pasture as easy to tear and not very UV blocking but more breathable and less vision impairing.
 
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