Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Friend Thistle

Thistle is my new best goat friend.

In the mornings, he hangs around in the goat shed until I finish opening the doors.

He puts his front hooves on my thighs and says good morning. 

I usually sit down on the porch and he climbs into my lap.  The other goats are busy eating hay or leaves, but not my buddy Thistle.  He will stay in my lap as long as I sit there.  Sometimes, Whiskey or Cowboy will drop by and say hello but for the most part it's my special time with Thistle.

Bella and Bear always head straight for the hay.  Bella prefers to eat her hay from the top down.  Here she goes:

In other news, I want to thank Val for her suggestion of using a small rasp instead of nippers on Tuffy's hooves.  This morning, I tried that and it worked much better.  He didn't last too long but I did manage to rasp all four hooves just a bit.  I figure if I work on it a little bit every day, eventually I'll get there.  Like Lori said, this is going to take staying power.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Goal for Next Summer: Horse Camping

When Brett and I were up at my parents' house for Thanksgiving we spent Friday driving around.  First we went north a bit to Paso Robles where we went shopping at our favorite farm and feed store.  We got all of our Christmas shopping done for each other.

Then we drove west, through the wine country, back to the coast.  We had lunch at our favorite place in Cayucus and checked out a new B&B there.  Maybe next year for my birthday...

Last, we drove through Montana de Oro State Park.  They have a horse camp ground and miles upon miles of trails; some on the beach and some in the hills.  We picked up a map and looked at the horse trails.
There are trails up on that coastal bluff.  No horses on this particular beach which is across from the people only camp ground.

The Montana de Oro coastline is spectacular.

We also checked out the campground.
Decent sized pipe corrals

Trails are limited to horses and hikers.  No dogs.  No bikes.   They have other trails which allow dogs.

Cable Trail goes to the beach.  I'm not sure I want to go on the other one...

The footing is perfect for Jackson.

There's a big Santa Maria style BBQ.

And a fire pit.
The shortest trail to the beach from the campground goes through the dunes to a long, flat sandy beach.  Perfect for long canters along the surf.

So, the goal is to keep the horses sound so we can go next summer.  The campground closes in the winter due to the rains washing away the trails.

It was a good Friday.  Much better than doing that Black Friday thing at the stores. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Trimming Tuffy

First,  a thank you to all of you who offered advice on poor Jackson's feet.  The magnesium supplement is a wonderful thing -- that he already gets.  He also gets selenium, biotin, etc.  And I paint his feet with Dry Foot, Venice turpentine, Thrush XX...  I sprinkle them with Holy Water... okay, okay, I haven't tried that yet but I'm getting close.  I'm always open to advice so if you come up with something else, don't hesitate to throw it out there.

Today's post is about Tuff Stuff.  Tuffy needs to have his hooves trimmed but Tuffy hates the farrier.  The farrier hates Tuffy.  Last time Tuffy had his hooves trimmed, Brett was dragged hither and yon by Tuffy who was bucking and hopping and spinning and carrying on in the worst way.  Neither Brett nor the farrier cared to do a repeat performance.  Or Tuffy, for that matter.

So, I bought some farrier tools.  Our farrier gave me a quicky lesson (on Finessa).  I watched some videos and read some articles.

Yesterday afternoon, I took a deep breath and put a halter on Tuffy.  Brett was there to assist by holding the lead rope and sitting in his chair -- trying to convince Tuffy that this was no big deal.

It started out okay.  Tuffy calmly rested his hoof on my thigh.

Then he started getting restless, yanking his foot away and dancing around.

Me to Tuffy:  Come on bud; I know it doesn't hurt and it will make walking so much easier.  You can do this.  I know you can.      What Tuffy heard: blah blah blah blah

I only got one hoof done. 

The front one on the left.
 I think this is going to be a long process.  And it isn't going to be easy.  He's a very suspicious donkey.  Even though he trusts me, he isn't happy holding his foot up for more than the time it takes to clean them.  My plan is to spend time everyday holding his hooves up for longer and longer periods of time.

Maybe I could slip some Love Potion #9 into his water and into the farrier's as well.  Do you think that would work?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh, My Aching Feet

This morning Brett and I took Flash and Jackson on a trail ride.  We had blue skies and warm temperatures - in the upper 60s. 

We planned to ride the Loop Trail which takes about 2 hours and is fairly level, following a stream through the canyon.  Jackson had not been on the Loop Trail since last March due to his sore feet.

He met me at the gate.  He thought a trail ride was a great idea.

Half way through the canyon, the trail becomes very rocky and steep.  He slowed waaaaaay down and began walking gingerly and carefully.  Then he just stopped and looked at the trail with a miserable expression on his face.  We turned around and headed back home.  Once we were back on soft footing, he picked up the pace. 

I gave him a bath when we got home and turned him out for lunch.
No more rocky trails, okay? 
I promised him that we would stick to soft sandy trails from now on.  He thanked me and went over to get a massage from Kalvin.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Goat Play

Goats are very playful animals.  They love to play king of the mountain, trying to push each other off of boulders or logs.  But their favorite game is "I can push you further than you can push me."

Bear and Bella demonstrate:

And, of course, there has to be some dancing on their hind legs and doing the twist thrown in for good measure.

Their play ground is pretty nice.  I'm thinkin' I would like to be one of the goats and just play all day long.

Tasty shrubs for snack time

 Leaves to eat and boulders to climb.
Add caption
What more is there?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Getting Our Groove Back

Jackson is finally sound to ride, AGAIN.  I have a feeling that this is going to be the story of our relationship.  Great rides, lost shoe, sore foot, lost fitness, great rides, abscess, etc.

Our farrier recommended that I get him Italian rubber bell boots to hopefully prevent him from stepping on his shoes and pulling them off.  I bought large - even though he usually takes a medium in the front - and even so, I had a heck of a time getting the suckers on.  There is no velcro.  You have to pull them over the shoes.  I yanked and stretched and cursed and pleaded while Jackson stood quietly with his hoof between my knees.  I finally got them on but I was sore for days afterwards.  I will never buy these again.  Never.

Tuesday morning, I was up early and raced through the morning chores so I could hop on Jackson for a few minutes before work.  It was cold and frosty and I was anticipating a frisky horse.  Jackson was happy to be ridden but he had lost quite a bit of fitness over the past two weeks of no shoe/abscess.  He tried hard, but he tired quickly.  I didn't push things, focusing on being correct and feeling where he was at.  I put him back in the pasture and dashed off to work.

Wednesday, Brett and I rode together.  Kalvin had been moved into the barn because he lost a shoe.  Have I mentioned that we don't have dirt here?  We have shoe sucking clay.  When it rains, it's guaranteed someone will lose a shoe.  Kalvin doesn't love being in the barn, stuck in a stall.  He'd much rather be in his paddock.  Flash and Jackson were keeping him company over the back of his turnout.

Actually, Flash was keeping Kalvin company.  He chased away Jackson and the donkeys.  Flash: the neighborhood bully.  (sorry Brett.  You know its true).

One of the many things I love about Jackson is how quickly his fitness returns after time off.  We went for a long walk on the buckle around the neighborhood to warm up.  Then we worked on intervals.  This serves a dual purpose.  It helps with fitness and it also gives us an opportunity to work on transitions.  I asked Jackson to go forward into trot with a very light aid, we trotted around the arena once, came back to walk from my seat, walked to the next letter (7-8 steps), then back into trot.  We did this a number of times in each direction.  By the end, he was prompt and very much in front of my leg.  The trot work was perfect.  We did a bit of canter in each direction and the transitions were also very nice. 

Yes!  I'm hoping for more of the same.  Lots more. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Spirit

Jackson decided to get into the holiday spirit.  He was thinking about the first American Thanksgiving meal shared between the pilgrims and Native Americans. He wanted to be a wild mustang, belonging to the Nez Pierce maybe -- or perhaps the Cherokees since he isn't an appaloosa (the Nez Pierce breed).  He'd be a warrior mustang and paint his face with warpaint.  Trouble was, he didn't have paint.

Thanks, Jackson.
What?  You don't think it's attractive, creative and festive?

 I'm not talking to you anymore.  You have no holiday spirit. You're a party pooper.

 Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

Tomorrow morning we leave for my parents' house on the Central Coast of California.  We will be spending Thanksgiving with my family there.  So, today is full of busy projects in preparation.  In addition to the expected activities like pie baking, we were busy getting the property spick and span.  Do you do that?  I'm not sure why everything has to be perfect before we can leave but it does.  I cleaned the rabbit area, did some horse laundry (saddle pads and rags), and Brett filled the chicken scratch bucket.

But the main project was cleaning out the goat shed straw and replacing it with new.  Brett brought a bale of straw up to the goat area with the tractor and got busy raking out the old, wet, stinky hay.

Bella couldn't be bothered with the activity.  She was in her usual Queen Bee spot atop the feeder.

Then, Brett locked me in the shed with the goats.  He brought the tractor in and started carrying loads of dirty straw to the dumpster.  We didn't want the goats underfoot during the process.  I had a nice view out of the window and five goats for company.

Cowboy didn't want to party.  He stood in the corner -- self imposed time out.
Finally, Brett finished and released us from goat shed prison.  The goats inspected the straw and wood pellets before we spread it all in the shed.

Bear and Bella wouldn't get out of the way so they got sprinkled with straw.

Nice, clean, comfy, deep straw for the cold winter nights.
Here's a short video of clip of Cowboy and Whiskey in the straw.