Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesdays with Tex: Wrecks

Teresa discovered some history on her mare, Carmen, that helped her understand her horse's behavior.   You can follow their journey on her blog, Journey with a Dancing Horse.  There was an incident, under saddle, with a previous owner.  As a result, Carmen lost confidence and was afraid when she was ridden.  Knowing the "why" behind the behavior has been a tremendous gift to Teresa and it got me to thinking about Tex.

Tex is the opposite of Carmen.  He is rock solid under saddle; he has never spooked or flinched or trembled.  He feels and looks confident; happy even.  But Tex is nervous and reactive on the ground.  We believe he was abused, because he is so head-shy.  But I also think he was in some kind of horrible accident and I think it happened when he wasn't being ridden, but was being worked with on the ground.  Tex has a long scar that wraps from his shoulder, across his chest, and down his leg where it disappears into a quarter crack on his front hoof.  He was mostly likely tangled in wire; possibly barbed wire.
Can you see the wavy scar about 3/4 from the top of the photo?  It starts just below, and in front of, the 5 brand and then travels down his right leg.

I remember when I was lunging him over a month ago and asked him to canter -- and he panicked and ran off.  Lunging makes him nervous to start with, he has a difficult time relaxing.  And when I stepped towards him in a deliberate way to ask for canter, he lost it.  Literally.  Bye-bye brain.  He took off at a dead run with the lunge line streaming behind him and didn't stop until he was far, far away and close to Flash - who was standing in their pasture, near the fence, watching.  Tex's reaction caught me off guard and I was not able to react and stay with him.

I will never know exactly what happened to make Tex this way, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was pressured beyond his capacity to cope, with someone on the ground, and he fled -- right into a wire fence.

Maybe my story is accurate, and maybe it isn't, -- and maybe it doesn't matter exactly what happened.  But, it helps me understand, and have compassion, for Tex's fear.

Monday, June 27, 2016

And Now for the Other Foot

I continue to work with Tex and the Fly Mask of Doom.  Some mornings he is fine with it.  A few days ago, he walked up to me in the pasture and lowered his head (just a smidge, but the intent was clear).  I slipped the mask over his ears and he stood perfectly quiet the entire time.  The past few days, have been more challenging.  Until this morning, he hasn't left but there has been a lot of flinching, and twitching, and pulling his head back.

I follow the same routine every morning.  I approach (if he doesn't get to me first) and we stand quietly for a few minutes.  He eats a cookie and I assess his tension level.  I stroke his neck, noting whether he is relaxed or whether the muscles under my hand are rock hard.  They were like boulders this morning, large and unyielding.  Eventually, he relaxes and bends his neck towards me.

"Ah," I say.  "That's better."

I stand, holding the fly mask, in front of me.  When he is bending, I lift it to his muzzle and he gives it a sniff.  This is the signal that I'm going to put on the mask.  I run my hand up his neck (no sudden moves toward his face) and put his near ear through the opening.  This is the most critical moment.  With my right hand, I rub behind his ears and ask him to relax and go with it.  Usually, that is enough to reassure him but sometimes he will pull his head back and take a step or two backwards.

This morning, as I stood with my right hand rubbing his poll and the mask half-way on, he snorted and exploded sideways, away from me.  As he launched himself away, his left front hoof smacked me in the ankle.  The pain was immediate and intense.  I doubled over and gasped.

When I stood back up, Tex was standing at a distance watching me and he was very, very worried.  I know he could feel the pain I was experiencing, and he thought he was in big trouble.  I tried to walk, and instead bent forward again, with my eyes watering.

Tex went into a corner and pooped - so he was definitely stressed about the situation.

When I straightened the second time, I was not alone.  Flash had walked over to me.  Flash is an aloof horse who normally doesn't give me the time of day.  More often than not, he will pin his ears when I walk past him.  Flash doesn't want to be bothered by anybody, except Brett.  So, I was surprised to see him standing there with his ears forward.  I turned to face Flash and he put his face against my chest with his nose nudging my belly.  Without even thinking, I leaned into him and stroked behind his ears.

"There, there" he said to me.  "I know it hurts.  Hold onto me until the pain is bearable."

When the pain dissipated, I realized that I was snuggling with Flash.  In the 14 years that we've had Flash, I have never done anything with him that remotely resembled snuggling. I gave his forehead a final thank-you rub and turned my attention back to Tex, who was still watching me intently.

I had to work with Tex for 10 minutes before he let me approach.  I told him I knew it was an accident, that I was a collateral damage victim, and that I didn't blame him.  We went back through the procedure and he tensed when I put his ear through, but didn't move away.  "Brave boy," I said, as I slipped the far ear into its hole.  Once both ears are in, he's fine.  I pulled the sides under his jaw and fastened the velcro.  And then I hobbled to the house.

It isn't broken; all my toes move and I can make a big circle with my foot.  There is a bruise and a swollen spot below my ankle bone but I think its going to be okay.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Party Animals

Saturday, we hosted a BBQ for my co-workers and their families.  We had 20 some people crammed in the garden and playing games out front under the oak trees.

My boss arrived and the first thing she wanted to do was to meet Tex.  When I took him to the Mark Rashid clinic, I told her all about him and (like so many people), his story touched her heart. We went to the barn to get carrots and headed to the boys pasture.  There were four or five people trailing after us.

"The one on the right, the reddish brown horse, is Tex.  He probably won't come over to the fence since there are so many of us and he is skittish.  But Flash will come for sure."

I got that wrong.  Flash watched from a distance as everyone crowded around the fence, sticking their hands full of carrots into the pasture.  Tex walked over, slowly.  He walked close enough to stretch his neck out and get carrots.  He ate three or four, from me and from our guests.  He stayed far enough back that they couldn't touch him, but close enough to get his lips around the end of a carrot.

Flash made his way over, eventually.  By the time he arrived, we only had a couple carrots left.

The goats ate an entire box of Cheerios, brought by another guest.

Our youngest guest, age six, collected eggs from the hen house.  He announced that he wasn't going to eat them, he was going to hatch them.  He dropped one before we were able to get them safely in an egg carton.  Kersey made quick work of the egg, and anything else that fell on the ground.
Shasta Daisies and Bee Balm were blooming in the garden

Today we are going to relax.  We are pretty tired from all the work of the BBQ and it is going to be hot, hot, hot.  The horses will be under the pines, swishing their tails lazily as they doze and we will be inside swishing the ice in our glasses of ice tea.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Random Friday

1.  The heat is on.  And so are wildfires.  There is a fire in the Southern Sierra, by Lake Isabella (near Bakersfield), a good six hours south of us.  I heard this morning that it has burned 60 homes with 1500 structures threatened.  It is zero percent contained.  The drought has turned the Sierras into a big pile of kindling.  The pine trees are drought stressed and so bark beetles have been killing them off right and left.  This past year 26 million (yes MILLION), pine trees died in the Southern Sierra.  This brings the total of dead pine trees, in the past five years of drought, to 60 million.  Here in the Northern Sierras, we have dead pine trees as well.  We've lost a few on our property and they are visible everywhere you drive; stands of brown trees mixed in with the green.  Fire season is just one more reason that I dislike these hot, dry summer months so much.

2.  Brett has been busy.  He finished up the mowing and weedwacking.  We won't get any more rain until late fall so he won't have to mow again.  Nothing is growing (except in the garden) and the grass is brown stubble.  When we muck the pastures, our jeans are covered in fine dust.  The horses keep a layer of dust on their coats, which helps protect them from flies.

3.  Brett also painted the porch that wraps around the house.  He's been wanting to do it since we moved in, but other projects have always taken priority.  I'm not sure how it got bumped to the top... it couldn't have been the fact that we are hosting a BBQ for my department tomorrow, could it?  Brett has this compulsion to have everything Better Homes and Gardens perfect, whenever we have guests.  He threatened to power wash the barn aisle, as well.  Me?  I cleaned the barn bathroom and called it good.

4.  Tex and I have a new area of focus.  He's rock solid, and cool as a cucumber, with me standing next to him on the left, putting on his fly mask, and discussing life.  Last evening, I thought I would stand on his right (since he is very skittish on that side) and see how that went.  He flinched, and flinched, and flinched -- and then he backed away.  This morning, I started on his left as usual.  Since he can't seem to handle me walking in front of him and approaching his right side from the front, I went around the back.  I ran my left hand along his back as I walked to his tail, scratched his butt as I rounded the back, and gave him soft, friendly rubs as I walked back up the left side to his shoulder.  He didn't flinch, but he wasn't totally relaxed either.  I stood there, shared a few cookies, and told him he was a brave boy.  There are so many layers to this horse; it is going to take years to work through them all.

5.  Next week Camille and I are going to be in Big Sur for a few days.  We take a trip together every year; a mother-daughter vacation.  We started the tradition when she was in high school.  I took her on a trip as her graduation gift and we had such a good time, we decided to do it every year.  Of course, that first trip was a big deal trip (France and London), and the four since then have been California destinations. This time we will be "glamping" -- staying in a yurt on the rugged California coast; drinking champagne, eating sushi, hiking (slowly on short easy trails since my foot still spends most of its time in an air cast), talking and laughing.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesdays with Tex: Upping the Ante

There has been a not-so subtle change in Tex since he has become comfortable with me.  He is experimenting with trying to control my access; he is testing and exploring the lines.

I sense we are moving to level 2: Boundaries and Expectations

It started a week and a half ago when I decided to give Tex a thorough grooming.  I'd been carrying the brush for his mane, or the soft body brush, with me and brushing him at liberty in the pasture.  But, I wanted to do a thorough job and that was impossible with the goats crowding into our space.  Tex tolerates the goats but he doesn't like them much.  If they mob me, he leaves.

I took his halter and lead rope off the post, where they hang outside the pasture gate, and let myself in.  Tex looked up from the grass, saw the halter, and ignored me.  He wasn't worried, or scared, he just wasn't interested in me or the halter.  As I got closer, he calmly and casually walked away.  I think he might have flipped me off.

I calmly swung the rope towards him and sent him away; "If you are going to be difficult, I don't want you near me.  Go away."

I learned this technique from Lucy and Mark Rashid.  When Lucy and Pistol joined the geldings (while Brett was fixing their pasture fence), a negotiation ensued between Lucy and Tex.  Pistol took her place at the bottom and we moved Flash out of harm's way, leaving Tex and Lucy to duke it out for the top spot.  Lucy won.  She did this by successfully sending Tex away from her and only letting him back into her presence when he promised his allegiance to her, as alpha.  After that, they were inseparable.  Lucy even got him to stand in the run-in shed with her, and they grazed shoulder to shoulder.

Tex trotted in a big circle around me and then stopped.  I took a couple steps towards him and he turned away from me again.  Um, no.  I swung the rope.  It wasn't an aggressive swing, but it was deliberate and firm.  I didn't raise my voice or threaten him in anyway.  I just told him that I wasn't going to play games; that I will be kind and fair but that I am the alpha mare.  He doesn't get to dictate the rules of our herd.

Tex, I said with the rope, you can be in my herd if you play by my rules.  That means you come willingly when I approach you in your pasture.  Or, you can trot in circles all day.  Its your choice and I'm not in a hurry.

Oh, what is a horse to do?  He wanted to be with me; he wanted the cookies he knew were in my pocket; but he didn't want to be haltered.  He wanted to set the terms.  And it wasn't working out so well for him.

After sending him away from me four times, he stood still and waited for me to approach.  We had a lovely grooming session under a big shady tree.  And then I put him back in the pasture.

That evening, my foot was aching so Brett said he would do all the chores.  This included taking off all the fly masks.  Tex was wearing his old fly mask that Brett had been taking off for weeks.  Tex wouldn't let him near and Brett didn't waste his time trying.  He left Tex wearing his fly mask and finished up the chores.  I saw Tex, wearing his fly mask, from the dining room window and guessed that he had been difficult for Brett.  I put on my boots and went into the pasture. Tex let me get pretty close before turning and walking away.  I didn't have the lead rope with me, so I just swung my arm in an upward arc to send him away.  And that was it.  He said "uncle" immediately and the fly mask came of with no further discussion.

The following morning, he stood like a rock when I went into the pasture, slipped on the halter and took him to the barn with the others, to wait for the farrier.

He hasn't flinched in weeks and I no longer have to pause before entering his space.  We have reached another layer of the onion.  We've removed "scared," replaced it with trust, and now we are working on boundaries.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tex and the Fly Mask

Tex has been using the same fly mask since last summer.  It was easy to get on and comfortable, but it didn't offer much coverage for his nose.  Everytime I went out to see him, he had ten or fifteen or 25 flies on his nose.

So, I ordered him a new fly mask.  One that was soft with more nose coverage.  I even had his name embroidered on it -- because we often can't remember who's mask is who's, especially at the beginning of summer when we bring them out of storage.

Tex was not interested in having the new fly mask anywhere near him, much less on his face.  It was big and floppy and it smelled new.  Friday morning I worked with him 40 minutes before he decided to let me put it on.  I carried it into the pasture so he could see it.  I'm always honest with the horses.  I don't hide tubes of wormer or halters or fly masks.  Horses are always honest; it isn't possible to have the kind of relationship I want with them if I am anything less than that.

I was patient; I didn't get rattled; I talked to him in an even tone of voice.  When he turned his back to me, or walked away, I sent him off with a wave of my hand.  He let me stand with him quite a few times, stroking his neck and explaining things.  I rubbed the fly mask all over his body so it would smell like him.  He wasn't sure about that part but he tolerated it.  The part he couldn't tolerate was me putting it across his face.  I could get the first ear in, but the minute it started coming across his eyes -- he was gone.

In the end, I set the mask down and got the halter.  He's braver in a halter.  He pulled away a few times, but I was able to stay with him so he didn't leave.  I fastened and unfastened the velcro, standing next to him, until he was bored.  I put one ear in, and took it back out.  Eventually, I was able to put both ears in and fasten the velcro with him standing quietly.  

Throughout the whole time I was out in the pasture with him, he never once flinched at my touch.  He did snort at the fly mask.  But he was A-okay with me.

Saturday was cool and breezy so fly masks were not needed.

Sunday morning I stuffed the top of the fly mask in my back pocket, leaving the bottom to flop when I walked, and slung Tex's halter over my shoulder.  Tex knew what I was going to do and he wasn't interested.  He wasn't scared; but he wasn't interested.  It took 20 minutes of sending him away before he stood quietly for the fly mask.

This morning, I left the halter on the hook and went into the pasture with just his fly mask.  He stood still as I approached, said good-morning to me, and accepted the fly mask quietly.  I think it took 30 seconds, max, to get it on.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thundering Hooves

This morning, shortly before six am, while I was in the twilight between a dream and waking, my slow progression to semi-alert was rudely accelerated by the sound of thundering hooves and Pistol calling.  We jumped out of bed and peered out our bedroom window, which overlooks the girls' pasture.  Pistol was running up and down the fence line, screaming her head off.  No Lucy.

Lucy, Lucy!  Come back!

I ran to Camille's room and looked out her window which faces the barn and the other pastures.  There was Lucy, running up and down Jackson's fence line.  She was ignoring Pistol and focused on Jackson, who was running with her on his side of the pasture fence.

Lucy has been in love with Jackson since she got here.  This photo was taken the summer that Lucy arrived.  Their ardor has not diminished.

Tex and Flash calmly watched from their gate.  She pretty much ignored them.

Brett got outside first and she came to him immediately, hoping for a cookie.  He didn't have one so she went back to Jackson.

Pistol was still upset.
Lucy get your butt back in here.  How dare you leave me for that boy.

Brett found the spot where Lucy escaped.  When he replaced part of the fence a few weeks back, the new fence and the old fence didn't line up (we are moving the fence a bit further from the creek, because the sides of the ditch are eroding).  He slid a couple boards between the new and the old fence as a temporary barrier.  Both boards were down, leaving a gap that Lucy squeezed through.  We think Pistol didn't follow because last time she squeezed through a fence she got stuck in deep mud -- which scared her quite a bit.

Brett got Lucy's halter from the barn and she came right over, pushing her face into it, happy to be rescued from the chaos she was creating.  I put her in her stall while Brett got to work fixing the fence.

Jackson wanted her to come back.

He looked at her and looked at her and looked at her.

I walked her back to the girls pasture where Brett was finishing securing the fence.

Pistol was busy supervising checking Brett's pockets for cookies.

With peace restored, and the fence fixed, we got down to the normal morning routine of feeding and cleaning pastures.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Random Friday

1.  We had a wonderful few days of cool, sweatshirt weather this week.  I teased Brett that I was going to have to fire up the wood stove.  We burrowed under blankets instead and last night we sighed sadly, as the weather has started to warm up again.  Next week, we will be back in the mid-90s.

2.  Our friend and neighbor, Marv, lost his battle with cancer a few weeks ago.  His wife is planning to move in with her father, who is 90-something and still living independently.  Marv's house, which is across the road from us, will be sold.  Patty offered us the spinning windmill from her garden, which had been a gift to her from a friend, and Brett moved it over this week.  He put it by the front gate, where we can see it spinning from the house, the road and the driveway.  It is right next to the boys' pasture but they don't mind it in the least.  I feel privileged to part of this windmill's history of being passed from friend to friend.

3.  I bought Tex a new fly mask.  The one that he has been using is short and does nothing to protect his nose from the hordes of flies that congregate there.  This morning, with a warmer day on tap, I introduced him to the new mask.  I eventually got it on, but it took me 40 minutes of work.  I didn't have time for my usual cup of coffee before hitting the road, and I was a bit late to work, but overall I'm pleased with how it went.  He is now wearing his new mask and he is okay with it; pleased with himself even - because in the end, he was a brave boy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesdays With Tex

Last week I read an article about a recent discovery that horses talk to us.

Supposedly dogs and horses are the two animals that try to "talk" to us, using their language.  Dogs are pretty obvious about signaling their desires - dropping balls at our feet and rolling over onto their backs for belly rubs.  Horses have a more subtle language.  You have to listen closely and pay attention.  Some horses are very verbal.  Lucy tells me where and how she wants to be scratched, and when riding she lets me know if I'm too tense.

Jackson can relay to me the condition of his feet just by the way he looks at me in the mornings.  If he gives me a hard stare, without moving, they hurt.  Many of us have had the experience of walking out to see our horse and having them lift a foot that hurts and look at us with that "help me" look.

Which brings me to Tex.  He falls into the category of horses who have never been heard by humans, who have been bullied, and as a result have stopped trying to communicate.  When I stand with Tex in the pasture, I listen to him.  Initially, he didn't say much of anything other than "cookie, please."  Next he started watching me intently, I felt him inviting me to go to him and that invitation remained until I got a few feet away.  Then he shut down and backed away.  Lately, the invitation has remained open and I can enter his space and stand there with him.

I added another element to our conversation in the past week.  I'm asking him to tell me where he likes to be rubbed.  Is it your withers?  Or the front of your neck, maybe?  How about on your back?  He didn't say anything at first and then I noticed a slight wiggle in his lower lip when I rubbed below his wither.  We built on it the next day and he not only wiggled his lip, he turned his head and looked at me.  He looked pleased and a bit surprised that I understood.

He also let me rest my forehead against his neck for a nano second.  It's such a small thing but it meant the world to me.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Heart Horses

Why do some horses pull at our hearts and embed themselves so deeply there, while others do not?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  I am trying to identify why my heart responds to Tex so strongly but not to Lucy.  I've had great partners and I've had incompatible partners and the space they take in my heart just doesn't seem logical.

Starman was a fun little horse and he gave me confidence when I had lost it.  I loved him, and I was very sad when we lost him, but he wasn't my heart horse.  He might have been Camille's heart horse, though.

Auke was gorgeous and fun to ride but he wasn't my heart horse either.  I would happily share my root-beer with him and he was sweet but I felt more pride (look at me and my fancy horse), than love.  (He's for sale by his current owner if any of you are interested in a stunning, sweet Friesian).

Jackson was my first heart horse.  He wasn't expensive or fancy; just a grey Paint horse without any flashy markings.  But, he has these huge expressive eyes and a goofy personality.  He marches to his own drummer in many ways but always gave me everything he had -- even when it hurt.  He still does that, hobbling to the barn when his feet hurt, or eating his bute laced bucket (and he HATES bute), taking a bite, looking at me, sighing, and taking another.

Winston and I were incompatible.

Lucy should be a heart horse.  When I ride her, I am filled with joy.  Lucy likes to go and she is willing to try and figure me out, as long as I am being fair.  She follows me around her pasture, begging for affection.  I can hold her head in my arms, wrap my arms around her neck, and she would groom me back if I let her.  I think it must be the pushy, prima dona, princess part of her personality that keeps me from falling in love.  She over-reacts to just about everything; windy days, turkeys, the rain, and bugs.  She is also jealous beyond belief and demands my attention, and everyone else's, all for herself.  Buffy can't visit Pistol unless one of us holds Lucy and showers her with attention.  ...she doesn't share with her friends.  It irritates me.  I know, she's just being Lucy -- she's a sensitive alpha mare -- but someday's I just wish she would give it a rest.

I like quiet, shy animals.  My favorite goat is Whiskey, the one who silently sidles up to me and stands quietly waiting for me to notice him.  It isn't Bear, or even Thistle, who are gregarious and affectionate, and will head butt any other goat who tries to get close.

Which brings me to Tex.  He's quiet, with an undercurrent of brilliant energy and speed.  He's shy and unsure, he wants a relationship with me but he's not sure how to go about it.  Some days, he is brave and almost confident.  He nudges me for cookies and welcomes my touch.  Other days, he is worried and withdrawn.  He steps away and flinches; he drops cookies in his haste to escape to his personal space.  But he always looks at me with his soft, melted chocolate eyes, and asks me to stay.  I think it must be the quiet try in him that calls to me so strongly.

What kind of horse (or animal) personality draws you in?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Quick Update

Kersey: Our dog is back to her usual happy self and is following Brett around while he works.  She checks in with me once in awhile, but primarily focuses on Brett.  Her pain medication is keeping her comfortable and the bone spur seems to have settled into its new home.

Me: My foot isn't broken which is great news.  However, it does have a significant "crush injury" which involves bone contusions, ligament strains and nerve irritation.  When the doctor told me it would take six to twelve months to heal, I about died.  He assured me it wouldn't take that long to stop hurting.  In the meantime, I need to support and pad it so everything can heal.  It feels pretty good when I wear the walking cast so I'll keep using that for awhile.  I did clean one of the pastures this morning and that was all I could manage.  It will be a slow process but I can do whatever I want, as long as the foot is supported and it doesn't hurt.  Works for me.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Random Friday

1.  Thanks for all the well-wishes on my foot.  I had an MRI late Thursday and will hopefully know the results later today.  I'm not very good with open ended situations (friends and family are nodding their heads vigorously), I need a plan.  I can understand a plan.  I can follow a plan.  So, hopefully I will soon have a diagnosis and a plan.

2.  The weather has cooled down to a reasonable level.  Thank goodness.  I am not a fan of the heat.  I know pleasant will soon be replaced with sweltering, but I'm enjoying the reprive while it lasts.

3.  My yellow summer squash are starting to come in.  The other night I picked some of them, the size of fat fingers, and sautéed them and their attached blossoms for dinner.  Brett ate them.  And he didn't poke at them or make faces or anything.

4.  We had a bit of a scare with Kersey yesterday.  When Brett went down stairs to let her out in the morning, she couldn't walk, was shaking, whining and yelping.  As long as I stayed next to her, sitting and stroking her face and belly, she didn't shake.  But, when I stood up she started shaking again and reached her paw out, resting it on my leg.  She did eventually manage to get to the barn where she ate her breakfast (she is a lab and nothing comes between them and food).  Then she laid down in the sun (it was very cool, in the upper 40s) and started trembling again.  Brett took her to the vet where they examined her (more ear splitting yelping) left hind leg, took x-rays and drew blood.  She's been extremely arthritic in that leg for a few years and they believe a bone spur broke lose and got into the joint.  We are starting her on pain meds for the arthritis and the bone spur should re-attach itself somewhere - so she won't need surgery.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wednesdays With Tex

It's been a good week with Tex.

Last week and over the weekend, all I did with Tex was put on and take off his fly mask.  Saturday we spent most of the day at a friend's memorial service.  Sunday, I planned to take Tex out and groom him but my foot hurt like hell so I ended up spending the whole day on the couch with my coloring book.

Tex was very mellow about his fly mask and me approaching Saturday and Sunday.  I went from taking five or six cookies out to the pasture, to taking just three.  And, really, all I needed was two.  One for hello and one for "good boy" when the mask was off.  On Sunday evening, I removed Flash's fly mask first and then carried it by sticking my arm through the ear hole and letting it dangle.  Initially, I was going to slide my arm out and lay it on the ground before approaching Tex but he was so mellow that I just left it hanging there.  When I reached up to slide the fly mask over Tex's ears, Flash's mask swung close to Tex's face.  He didn't care.  I couldn't believe it -- and neither could Brett who was watching from the gate.

I think because Brett was tired of me being crabby on Sunday (pain will do that), he has been doing everything this week -- including dealing with Tex's fly mask.  He told me that Monday night he was going to leave it for me, but Tex had other ideas.  Brett went over to Flash and removed his fly mask, then hung it on the muck cart handle.  Flash left and went to the hay feeder.  When Brett turned around, Tex was standing in Flash's place waiting for his turn.  Brett removed the fly mask with no trouble, brushed Tex's face with his hand, and gave him a cookie.

When Brett moved to the girls' pasture and was busy picking up manure, I went to the barn and grabbed a couple cookies. Tex left his hay and walked over to me.  I gave him the cookies and just hung out with him for awhile, stroking his gorgeous burnished cinnamon neck and removing tangles from his mane with my fingers.  He watched me walk away to the pasture gate, and then turned and went back to the hay feeder.

I love riding Lucy, but there is something about Tex that pulls at my heart strings.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Random Friday

1.  I went back to Physical Therapy this week.  My therapist did not look overly dismayed when I told her about the pain when I rode last weekend.  Instead she was focused on how quickly my back returned to okay afterwards --  two days instead of eight weeks.  She gave me more work to do, and instructed me to ride only at the walk initially and then increase it over the next two weeks as I am able.

2.  In the meantime, I think I broke my foot.  I feel like a walking hobbling disaster.  Three weeks ago, Finessa stepped on my foot.  She was just moving in closer so I could reach the spots she wanted scratched, and I gently pushed her off.  I remember muttering to her "that wasn't very nice" and then I pretty much forgot about it.  I am forever getting stepped on by the goats or the dog, and I drop things from time to time (heavy barn things).  X-rays were inconclusive so next week I go in for an MRI.  In the meantime, I can't bear much weight and have to wear sandals to accommodate the swelling.  Finessa is the one who is sweetly looking at the camera in this picture. She looks small but she's a solid 500 lbs.

3.  Brett finished up the section of fence he was replacing in the girls' pasture and moved them back on Thursday.  Lucy is an interesting character: incredibly demonstrative and sweet, but also incredibly jealous and, at times, downright b**chy.  If she were human, she would be the wife from hell -- pushy, demanding, nagging, and vain.  ...of course, she is a fun ride so maybe she would be worth it...

4.  And here's a picture of Tuffy -- just because he's so dang cute.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wednesdays With Tex

Brett is replacing part of the fence in the girl's pasture.

On Sunday, we moved Pistol and Lucy in with the boys for the duration of the project.  All the horses know each other so we had hopes that it would go smoothly.

Lucy immediately got to work establishing her alpha role.  Tex took some convincing.  She kicked at him, landing a solid strike on his thigh.  He managed to nail her square on her butt.

They raced around for awhile and then Tex ceded the ranking.  The rest of that day he was an official outcast, and not allowed to be part of the herd.

Next Lucy went after Flash, who has always been alpha -- with every horse we've owned.  He did not give an inch.  We moved him to the round pen before things got ugly but not before Lucy kicked him as well.  Flash is very arthritic and all the running around was not good for him -- and we knew that he wasn't going to easily or willingly give up the alpha role.  He is very content in the roundpen where it is cool and shady, not many flies, and he can hang his head out the window and watch the herd without moving his aching joints.

By Monday, peace reigned.  By that afternoon, Lucy had allowed Tex back into her herd and they have been grazing peacefully side-by-side ever since.

In the middle of the sorting out, I had to remove Tex's fly mask.  We have been sweating in the 90s and flies are out in full force so they need the masks during the day.  We take them off in the evening.  Tex wouldn't let Brett near him so he held Lucy while I approached Tex.  He circled at first,

But then he came straight to me.

He was worried about Lucy, but he came and he stayed and he was calm about his fly mask.  I didn't work with him more than that.  Lucy is very jealous of attention that goes to any horse but her and I didn't want to make life difficult for Tex.  When Lucy goes back to her own pasture in a few days, I will resume working with Tex.