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Discussion Starter · #4,321 ·
Fizz had a great visit with the vet yesterday, really enjoying the bodywork. She especially loves big, deep stretches when her front leg is extended forward and she can lean all her weight back to stretch. Her pelvis was indeed twisted in a wonky way, so after that was addressed she couldn't stop deep yawns and licking and chewing. We'll go for a short, easy ride today and then can get back to regular rides as of tomorrow.

Poor Josie on the other hand had a less positive vet visit. She needed to get her second Lyme shot, but she flipped out with it. She was already nervous just with the vet saying hello, but I thought she'd be ok with a quick shot. Vet had the shot drawn up and was just starting to say "I don't think she liked this much last time..." when the needle went in and Josie shot backwards like she'd been electrocuted. I'd been standing in front of her with a hand on the halter on either side of her face, but she caught me totally by surprise. The barn aisle isn't more than a couple of horse lengths long, and as she flew back she knocked into the muck bucket and the cans of chicken feed at the end of the aisle. Fortunately instead of panicking more, hitting all that stuff stopped her long enough that vet could hit the plunger on the needle to get the vaccine in- which was hanging out of her neck throughout this episode. Poor Josie- she needs one more of these shots in three weeks to complete the Lyme series. So guess what we will be practicing for the next three weeks!!

Despite that, I do feel confident she's going to come around. She wants to be friends, she just gets overwhelmed easily. I keep reminding myself that she's been here less than two months, and it for at least two years before that that she was just running feral with almost no human contact.

Building good horsey relationships, on the other hand, has gone wonderfully. These were all taken the last couple of days...
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Horse Eye Tree Working animal Horse tack

Nose Head Elephant Glasses Eye
 

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Omg, I am so glad to hear they found the missing man. How cute Neeko is!! Awwwwwwwwwwwww. That is so heartwarming! <3

Oh, the buttercups are tough. We had some too & mowing helped but they're trying to come back. So annoying. But the horses avoid them which is good! I bet miss Fizz was happy for the lack of bugs on the trail!
The hind end release stuff is good to know. Josie probably enjoyed her little massage a ton! So sweet!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,324 ·
Tuesday we went for an easy ride to the overlook, which was miserable the whole way because of the bugs. We were swarmed by a deer fly cloud the entire way, but I think Fizz was less bothered than me because of her horse hoodie. If you look between her ears, you can see one particularly persistent deer fly that landed there. Since it didn't seem to be biting her, I didn't swat it away because I wanted to see how long it would stay there. It hitched a ride for 3/4 of a mile before flying away!
Dog Plant Leg Working animal Dog breed

Yesterday was cool, drizzly, and breezy again; I don't think it ever got above 60*F. I wasn't feeling very inspired to ride- the gloomy weather does that to me-but there were no bugs so I figured I need to make myself get out there. I'm glad we did, the lack of bugs made everything so much better.
Hair Sky Cloud Plant Horse

There were threats of rain when we left, and when we got to the overlook the sky looked questionable. But again, no bugs, so we kept going, over and down the big Cavendish hill. I stayed on to ride down the big hill, rather than handwalking. She was a little noodly going down, but there was no attempt to jump into the ditch or spin around to go home. From the bottom of the hill to our turn-around point, we trotted and cantered along. Slowly adding more canter. The roads are really hard though so I'm hesitant to do too much pounding on her legs.

A little snack before we turned back. I was surprised to find that there were COWS in a field where there are never cows (the field is behind us in this picture). There were half a dozen of them, but they were well off the road munching their way through a row of shrubbery. Weirdly, she didn't seem to notice them at all. Don't they smell? I was actually a little concerned that she had no sense of them...It was odd. But since she didn't see them, I didn't make a big deal of it and we just went about our business.
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Plant Horse Eye Ecoregion Tree
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,325 · (Edited)
Ride this morning- I intended to go on a 5 mile ride, but it was actually 7 miles instead. Oops! I didn't reallllyyyy have time to go that far, but I still managed to make it back in time for my first work meeting. I just didn't turn on video for the meeting, as I was sporting some gnarly helmet head! I always think this trail is shorter than it really is for some reason- until I'm out there and wondering why it's taking so long. And then I remember that it's not as short as I thought.

At any rate, we had a great ride. We got to a stretch of road that allows you to trot along for a good mile that's flat to mildly-uphill road, and there was no traffic of any kind so we had the road to ourselves.
Plant Horse Working animal Tree Bridle

Fizz settled in to a steady tempo, so steady that I was laughing that she felt like a vaulting horse as they go round and round their circles. Her rhythm barely changed at all. Given how smoothly she was going, I decided to try to give myself a riding lesson 😉 Lately I've been feeling like my posture is terrible and I'm hunched forward in the saddle, so I did some of the balance exercises I'd have little kids do on the lunge. Put the reins in one hand and with the other, reached out straight to the side, straight in front, straight up in the air, touched my belly button, put my hand on my hip. Then I switched diagonals and did it all over again. She just trotted along like a lesson pony so we did this for a solid mile. I was thinking about how nice she felt when all of a sudden, she put the brakes on...to our left, we saw a little bear take off running for the woods! 🐻 She stared off after it, but it wanted nothing to do with us and disappeared as quickly as it could.

Not too long after the bear, we turned off the road and up onto a woods trail. The first part of it has nice enough footing to keep trotting, but it does get rocky and slippery going downhill. We trotted where we could and walked the rest.
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Terrestrial plant

Plant Leg Tree Dog People in nature

It wasn't especially hot, but it was a very muggy morning. She didn't want to drink even when we got to the good mini waterfall.
Plant Water Tree Biome Natural landscape

The rest of the ride home was uneventful, though the flies picked up in intensity the closer we got to home. We were both glad to get back- Fizz tucked right into the corner of a shed, and I think she's been there all day since!

JOSIE UPDATE
I've been working with her in short sessions every night after they have their evening feed. She's now standing quietly tied for some basic grooming. She's doing well with her front feet. I can pick them up easily, and she holds them nicely while I clean them out and 'pretend' to rasp around the outside of them with the end of the hoofpic. I am still not picking up her hind feet, but I can touch her from the hip to her fetlock with the end of the lunge whip, and with my hands down to her hocks.

I've been playing around with the clicker and some alfalfa pellets while doing this, but she isn't food motivated at all. She's tied with a hay bag, so as often as not when I reach up to her mouth to practically put the alfalfa pellets in it, sometimes she won't take them at all. I guess in a way it's good that she's working with me just because. It still funny to me to have a horse who doesn't care at all about treats though!

We'll see if by next week I can actually pick up her hind feet. Not sure.

I also need to start working on her shot aversion and try syringing some applesauce into her mouth. Even if she's doing better with me handling her feet, she really needs to get trimmed when the farrier is here next month, and at least right now, I'm still planning on using dorm for his visit.
Cloud Sky Plant Ecoregion Horse
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,326 ·
Phew- it was a hot, steamy weekend here. We've mostly avoided the very high temps most of the rest of the country has had the past few weeks, but it was nearly 90*F yesterday and today.

Yesterday I volunteered at GMHA as a cross country fence judge for starter horse trials. I've never volunteered for cross country before, but it was a lot of fun. I'm not an eventer, but my understanding is that this was more of a schooling show situation for young horses, newer riders, etc. The beginner novice division had a fair number of junior riders, and it was just adorable as the ponies came charging up to my fence game as can be, with their little pilots counting out their strides as they approached...ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR...JUMP!!! And then were all smiles and pats and "good job pony!" as they cantered by. I do wish I had been able to really experience riding as a kid. They seemed to be having a blast.

One of my fences:
Sky Plant Cloud Tree Shade

I was there most of the day, and had fences in 4 divisions. The elementary and pre-elementary divisions were for the green horses/riders, and you could see there was a difference in the level of confidence there- for both horses and riders. But even with a few refusals sprinkled across the divisions, it all seemed very safe and supportive, and looked like most people had a good time. It wasn't specifically a Morgan show, but there was a good representation of Morgans jumping around.

Novice:
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Horse Sky Fence Plant Horse tack

Beginner Novice:
Horse Wheel Plant Tire Working animal

Elementary:
Horse Cloud Plant Sky Tree

With all four feet firmly planted on the ground, Fizz and I met M and Coalie this morning to get in our ride before it got too hot. It was warm when we left, but not oppressive yet. As we headed down the hill of despair to get to our meeting place, we were soon greeted with a large tree across the road, making it impassable. We had to do some bushwalking up a ditch, into the woods, and then back down a ditch and onto the road to get around, but Fizz was game. Mac the German Shepherd is back into the cone of shame (and thus voiceless), but we saw him coming so didn't get too spooked passing him. And M and Coalie were waiting for us right past his house.

We decided to get into the woods as quickly as we could and hope temps stayed cooler than it would be in the sun out on the road. Plus, the roads are concrete hard right now. The flies were terrible, but we kept the horses as comfortable as possible swatting them away. And the batman headgear helps a lot!
Plant Dog Tree Terrestrial plant Biome

We followed the snowmobile trail, which is in really good shape footing-wise, and on the sections that weren't too rocky we trotted and cantered while it wasn't too hot. We rode the trail "backwards" - in the sense that we hopped on the trail where we usually come off it back to the road - so there was a lot of fairly steep downhill for the horses to navigate. We had a long conversation about how two years ago, I never would have been comfortable riding those steep downhills and would have gotten off to handwalk down. Fizz just feels so much more confident and capable now. When we first started doing these trails, it's like she'd just fling herself down the hill on the forehand and hope for the best, which was very unnerving. Now I can feel her thinking through where her feet should go, and engaging through her whole body to balance well. It's really satisfying to think about how much different she is to ride now.
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Bridle

The horses passed up the opportunity to drink at the little waterfall near where we saw the bear on Friday, but Fizz was happy grazing as the tall forest grass was practically hitting her in the face in some spots. Coalie decided he did want a drink after all when we went through a mud puddle. Fizz had a huge mouthful of grass that caught his eye, and he tried to grab it out of her mouth- then stuck his tongue out at her when she wouldn't give it up! :LOL: M had to push his head away to get him to stop. Too funny.
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Horse Plant Vertebrate Working animal Helmet

The bugs were really awful when we split up to go our separate ways home. My neighbors' fields near my house aren't hayed yet, and as we walked around the perimeter Fizz seemed to like the feeling of the tall grass tickling her belly and driving the bugs away.
Horse Sky Plant Eye Cloud

Sure felt like summer today in a way it hasn't yet this year! Still, we were out early enough we ended up doing 9 miles, and while we were hot and itchy at the end, it wasn't unbearable. I'm hiding out inside now with a fan on for the rest of the day, but I'm glad we were able to go for such a good ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,327 ·
Woke up to more excitement than I was planning on this morning. As I was groggily brushing my teeth, I glanced out the window at the horses as I usually do, and something looked weird. I quickly realized there was a horse grazing around outside the fence. I thought it was Izzy, but I didn't have my glasses on so wasn't totally sure. I figured if Izzy was out, the others were too, so I got myself dressed and shoes on, grabbed a couple of halters from the hall closet, and went out.

When I got out there, there were no horses in the yard closest to the house, but I could partially see them moving around towards the back of the field. I heard hoofbeats and realized Izzy and Fizz were actually inside the fence, and Josie was out, but cantering up towards the gate where I was standing. I was a little worried about Josie being the one out; we've made a ton of progress when it comes to haltering, but given her experience as a feral horse, I wasn't sure if she'd want to maintain her newfound freedom. Turns out I had nothing at all to worry about- she came right up to me and stopped to be haltered, looking sheepish and happy to be saved. She definitely did not like being separated from the other horses. I'm still not sure if she was the only one out, or if the others had been out too and put themselves back in?

I walked the fence and there was no fence down and nothing unusual, so I guess she must have gone through or under. Admittedly, the electric has been off, mostly out of my own laziness (it's easier to fill waters when I can just duck through the lines myself, and it's nicer for the dog to be able to go in and out without getting zapped). So that got turned back on. I had to laugh, because I've been doing pasture rotation with the back half of the field they're in, and today was the literal day they were switching to a new section to rest the part they've been on. I guess the grass was irresistibly greener on the outside this morning. Hopefully with the fence on and access to the refreshed pasture, no one will think about wandering any time soon.

Back on the appropriate side of the fence:
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Natural landscape
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,331 · (Edited)
The ride for conquering all the scary things
Today is a gorgeous day, cool temps and low humidity, and I was fortunate that my morning was free of meetings so we could take advantage of the weather with a longer ride. Off we went to the Newhall Farm loop. As we were going down the hill of despair, we heard a loud vehicle coming up behind us, and pulled off the road to let a huge farm tractor pass. There's a lot of haying happening all over. Fizz didn't mind though, she grabbed mouthfuls of grass on the side of the road as we waited.

The road is so, so hard, but we were able to hug the somewhat sandier edge and trotted a mile until we could turn off onto a woods trail. I've been adding in more cantering in the woods because the footing is softer. She seems so happy to be doing more canter now- I think she's strong enough for it, just don't want to take advantage of her wanting to by pushing it on the road where it's so hard. We're finally up to 2 mile stretches of all trot and canter, no walk breaks.
Plant Leg Working animal Tree People in nature

The woods trail deadends at the farm, and in the distance, we saw behind the fence gate...
Plant Leaf Tree Road surface Horse

Can you see him?
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Horse tack

Right there, behind the gate? That's the same big guy we saw last time we came through. But today- he had friends! Sneaky friends, napping in the grass...
Sky Plant Cloud Natural environment Tree

But...drumroll please...she glanced in their direction, and...DID NOTHING. Not even a gulp, no break in her stride. I was so, so proud of her. On we went. She asked, more canter please? So we did!

Not too far from there, we crossed the paved road back to dirt road that was concrete hard, so we mostly walked.
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Road surface

Following directions 😉
Horse Plant Working animal Tree Horse tack

Usually this spot is the last place things could get a little dicey, because this farm has three young boys that like to swing each other off the hammock on their porch, and a very enthusiastic English Shepherd farm dog, Shasta, who does not appreciate people near her farm (English Shepherds clearly take their job very seriously. Poor Shasta also has a farm on both sides of the road and is equally as flummoxed by that as Hugh is.) But there was more excitement ahead!

We came up to a pasture where there haven't been cows so far this year, but today, there were cows. Lots of cows, like a dozen of them. All sleeping in the tall grass but bobbing their heads up and down to shake off flies, and right next to the road. The disembodied herd did stop Fizz in her tracks snorting. While she was definitely very worried about them, as I looked around, I realized we were in a pretty safe place where even if she needed to hop around a little bit, we weren't likely to get into anything too dangerous. I decided to see if we could ride through it this time. It didn't help that just as we were cautiously taking one step at a time past them, one of the cows got curious about us and stood up out of the grass. She scooted forward a couple of steps, but then stopped and looked back at them. I am proud to say I think this is the closest we have ever ridden past a herd of cows, and we survived! 💗🐄 💗
Plant Nature Natural environment Tree Botany

But that wasn't the end of the excitement. A half mile up the road, we could hear some sort of large machinery working. I knew the town had plans to widen the ditches on this road, and sounded like that was happening. They were knocking over some smaller trees, which were crashing down into the woods of the road. Fizz was definitely alert, but this was all much less scary than the cows 😉 We had to stop and wait for a minute for the guys to notice we were there- the backhoe (? Sorry, I don't know my heavy equipment...) was spinning in and out of the road while it was digging out the ditch and moving trees, so I didn't want to get too close. But after a minute, I heard a guy say "got a horse coming," and the machinery stopped and they waved us on. Fizz walked right through that little space between the backhoe and the dump trucks, giving a bit of a sideways glance at some old ditch pipe they had dug out and left on the side of the road. But I was so proud of her for being a good example of non-crazy horses walking through all that equipment.
Plant Vehicle Tree Leaf Road surface

Phew.
So that was our ride! Feeling very grateful for such a great partner.
 

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What impresses me is that you whipped out your phone and took pictures of all those incidents, including horse ears. I can barely manage to get a picture with horse ears when nothing is happening. I would never be brave enough to sit on my horse, phone in hand, taking a picture with my horse blowing and snorting and prancing about.
 

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It just reminds me of my first six months riding Sunsmart, when he thought cows were big space aliens and I always had to be prepared for snorting and hopping and trying to take off. It seems like you are getting to the point where it is changing significantly. I wish I could lend you some cows for a week or two, and you could pop them in the pasture with your girls. Once they work out cows run away from THEM that is the end of the matter! 😄
 

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Discussion Starter · #4,335 · (Edited)
If our ride yesterday was an A+, today was more of a C.

It wasn't bad. But it also wasn't especially good. Mostly, the bugs were nearly unbearable, and we sort of suffered through it. Every couple of strides, poor Fizz was shaking her head, kicking up at her belly, stopping suddenly to itch her nose on her leg or try to bite at something I wasn't shooing away fast enough along her sides. We never really got in a rhythm. I had been planning on an 8 mile "lollipop" route, but we ended up forgetting about the loop part and turning around early, doing something closer to 5 miles.

One thing that was kind of bad though was a renewed argument going down the big hill past the overlook. We were halfway down, riding along calmly and I was sitting in the saddle thinking "we have finally conquered this challenge!" when I felt Fizz shift her weight and I knew she was going to leap into the ditch and try to turn around. I wasn't quick enough catching her with my outside leg and the rein against her neck, and she did hop off the road into the verge. It was super frustrating, but I just stayed with her choppy trot, did a big circle in the grass, and came back to the road. I held my breath hoping there was no old fencing that I couldn't see that we were going to get tangled up in, and fortunately there wasn't. Not sure what I could have done differently to anticipate this was coming. I think maybe I was feeling too relaxed and didn't ride every stride on the way down. Lesson learned. The thing that has been most successful on this hill is visually breaking it up into smaller sections, riding from one tree to another tree in the medium distance, and then resetting my focus when we pass that mark. Basically, staying more mentally engaged.

Also...after all my bragging yesterday about how unflappable she was, today we had to confront the ultra-scary...field full of round bales...
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Automotive tire

So much snorting at the sight of bales hiding behind trees :LOL:
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Horse tack

Not this, she could care less about this armada of equipment. But the hay bales were highly suspicious.
Horse Tire Plant Wheel Vehicle

Funny enough, there were cows along the road on our left hand side. But she didn't even tip her ear at them. Horse-eating round bales deserved her full attention. Luckily we survived.

On the way home, to get off the hard road for a bit, we rode the edge of a field that's not been hayed. The grass was literally as high as her mouth, so she grabbed bites as we went.
Plant Horse Tree Sky Cloud

We're supposed to have some rain tonight, so hopefully that will make the roads a little more forgiving. Seems like rain might stick around tomorrow, so she'll have that off. Then we're planning on a longer adventure with M and Coalie Sunday morning.

Josie Update
The last couple of days with Josie have been some good progress. With her front feet, I can pick them up, clean them out, rasp lightly around the edges, and pull her foot forward into a position the farrier might use. Her hind feet are coming along (slowly); we've gotten into a rhythm where if I tap lightly on her cannon bone and cluck, she picks the foot up off the ground without any kicking. It's a very quick pick up and put back down, but still, it's a calm, nonviolent response to the request, so I'm happy with it right now. I have yet to try to grab/hold it while she's got it picked up on her own, but I'm still going slow.

I've also been working on getting a tube of stuff in her mouth in preparation for giving her the dorm gel. Clicker training has been really helpful here. I bought a cheap oral medication syringe, and started by just moving it along the side of her mouth and then putting it in her mouth without squirting anything in. She didn't seem to care about that very much, so yesterday I filled the syringe with apple juice to start squirting something in. I felt so bad, there must have been some weird vacuum effect created because I didn't fill the syringe completely, and as soon as I took the top off and started to slowly depress the plunger, a violent stream of liquid squirted right into the back of her mouth, catching both of us by surprise 🤦‍♀️ You can file that under the "how not to teach a horse to accept liquids by syringe" category. Oops. Even though she jumped back, startled, she didn't seem traumatized. There was a small bit of apple juice left in the syringe, so we tried again, with a much less aggressive stream this time, and she stood quietly for that. We'll try again today and hopefully it will go a little more smoothly this time!
Wheel Horse Tire Working animal Tree
 
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