Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Powers

We're getting really tired of winter around here.  Emma, especially, is sick of the weather and she has decided to take matters into her own hooves.  She is sending out her Super-Donkey, Ray-Gun powers to try to bring about some decent weather...

After exposure to this mighty ray, the world will miraculously return to the days of green grass and sunshine...
Tanner and I will be able to hike in the woods, enjoying the scenery, playing in the water and not falling on our butts on the ice...



We'll get to see new and unusual creatures...



And yeah, I know, it isn't even February yet, we have a loong, looooong way to go.  Still, Emma's Super-Donkey powers did work.  It was in the forties this afternoon and the sun was shining.  We all spent the day wallowing in this wonderful, sunny heat-wave, trying to replenish our stores of vitamin D.  And....the first tiny, little hint of Spring showed up this afternoon.  Let's hear it for Super-Donkey, Ray-Gun powers....

Monday, January 30, 2012

Synchronized Spots

Lately, every time I look out the window or walk to the barn, I see some variation of this.... 






They're starting to make me wonder if there is some sort of genetic link between spot patterns and behavior.  There certainly isn't any family relationship between them.  You'll have to take my word on this one, but I swear, sometimes they even chew in sync.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Stills - Nature's Frames

This week's challenge was to take a picture of something framed by nature.  The things that came instanly to mind were these...
I took these two on one of the last trail rides of the season sometime in November.  It is highly unusual to see plants still green at that time of year let alone growing out of a tree.  I haven't been able to figure out what kind of plant it is.  If anybody knows, I would be interested to hear.  I kinda think it looks like the Old-Man-of -the-Woods...

The lines and shadows created and framed by these mushrooms.  Again, I have no idea what they are, but they have very beautiful colors that aren't really done proper justice by these photos...

The sky framed by the trees...

And, of course, the best frame of all....

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Weekly Belly 1/27/12

Note the shark snout on the left that I was trying to shoo away, causing a bit of blur.  Working with sharks is always troublesome...


Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Injured Donkey

I got an email from Dash's mom (Remember Dash? He is Emma's baby brother), turns out he has had a rough week.  Last Thursday, he slipped on some of the ice we have covering everything here.  Somewhere in the fall or the scramble to get back up, he fractured 2 bones in his right front leg.  He has spiral fractures of the P1 and P2, which are the bones that go into the top of the foot and the pastern bone respectively.  Spiral fractures are caused by torsion, so somewhere in his fall, his foot got twisted rather badly. 

Luckily, Dash lives within driving distance of Cornell and has people who love him enough to take him in for repairs.  He had a rather lengthy surgery and a stay in the hospital and came home this afternoon.  He will go back in a few weeks for a new cast and a checkup.  I believe that his prognosis is good, he should recover. 

He was lucky enough to get excellent care from one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the country.  And, in typical donkey fashion, he charmed everyone at Cornell while he was there.  If there is anything good to come out of such a terrible thing, it may be a few more donkey converts.  If nothing else, at least a number of future vets will know how wonderful donkeys are.  I will post an update as soon as there is any news.  In the meantime, I will be sending positive thoughts to little Dash.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Driving Lessons

Emma and I have started taking our first tentative steps towards driving.  Actually, This is an exercise that I do with all of my horses whether I go on to teach them to drive or not.  All that is needed is a halter, lead rope, a cheap plastic sled on a rope and an equine who knows how lead. 

Step 1.  Introduce said equine to the scary sled.  Make sure they can see it dragging on the ground all around them.  Once you can move it all around your horse or donkey (including under their feet) without fear, go to the next step.

Step 2.  Lead your equine with the sled trailing you.  Expect and be ready for a fear response at first.  Provide lots of positive reinforcement and go slow.  You'll want to start out with the sled rope in your outside hand, move it to the inside when your four-legged friend gives the OK.  Eventually, hold to sled rope on the animal's shoulder while you walk.  Depending on your equine partner, this can take as little as five minutes or as much as a week.  Just keep at it until your equine is completely bored with the process, then switch sides and repeat.  Then do it a few more times just to be sure.... 
Eventually, once your horse or donkey is completely bored with all aspects of dragging a sled around, attach the sled to a breast collar (either on a harness or a saddle breast collar).  At first, just tuck the rope under the collar with no knots so a gentle tug will release it.  If your animal EVER gets really frightened, just let go of the sled and stop.  Go back to the beginning and start again.  Don't ever let the sled "chase" your horse.  Once you get to the totally bored stage, you can move up to adding a single-tree, then adding weight.  From there, go on to pulling a tire around.  If you happen to actually own a harness and a cart, you can then start thinking about attaching the cart to your four-legged friend.

Even if (like me) you don't actually have a harness or a cart yet, this is an invaluable lesson to work through.  Especially for riding horses.  Just teaching your equine to cope with all the ropes, noise and the things dragging behind will make you and your horse safer.  And if you are struggling with the miseries of winter, this is an excellent way to work your way toward Spring.  At least that is what I keep trying to tell Emma.  Do you think she believes me?....

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Duties & Obligations Of A Pasture Ornament

Many people think that becoming a pasture ornament is a pretty cushy job, and here at least, that is undoubtedly true.  The position comes with full-time maid service, fun companions, good food and a generally happy life.  There are, however, some obligations attached to being a good pasture ornament which help secure the position.  To that end, Tessa has agreed to share some pasture-ornament pointers:

It is not only important to actually be ornamental....

One must also be kind to one's pasture mates and look out for their welfare...

 Provide guidance over rough terrain... 

Maintain a high degree of cleanliness and shine even when faced with difficult, muddy conditions...

Offer product testing for your sponsors...
  
Look out for each other....


Don't spend too much time gossiping and whispering...

Be willing to share one's rations...

And lest you think that this job is only for beauty queens, (Lord knows this is not the place for that!) feel free to run around bucking and farting on occasion...

The occasional bit of ridiculousness is OK....

Go ahead and relax, make yourself at home....

And don't worry about having the occasional Bad-Hair-Day....


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gabe

We had a little break in the weather this afternoon, it made it into the upper 20's, the wind stopped blowing and the sun actually came out (sort of).  That's about as good as it gets in NY in January, so I took Gabe out to the round-pen for a little work.  You have probably been thinking that I haven't been paying much attention to him since he got here, but that isn't entirely true.  It is true that I haven't been able to put the time into him that he needs, but I do have a plan and we are working toward it.   I knew form the start that I don't have the time or the desire to really work a green horse.  Luckily, there is a wonderful trainer less than 10 miles from my house who is going to take Gabe for a month starting April 1st.  Anything I can manage before then will be icing on the cake. 

Since I know Gabe is going to be getting the training he needs, I have had the luxury of taking my time getting to know him and watching my little herd adjust to his addition.  It has also left me able to focus on Emma, as I think she needs me more right now then Gabe does.  Since he got here, Tessa is spending more and more of her time with him rather than with Emma and I think Emma is feeling somewhat lonely.  I had been thinking that I would find another donkey to be with Emma because I think it is important for donkeys to have other donkeys around, but then I found out she is pregnant.  I still think Emma would be happier if she had a donkey friend, but I am not so sure now is the right time for that (even if I could find one).  There are also limits to what I can manage, both emotionally and financially, my resources only stretch so far.  
   
Fortunately, Gabe is actually very solid under saddle already, in a pack-horse sort of way.  He has a lot of miles on him, but he always just followed his herd-mates.  The teenage boys who rode him all over were inexperienced themselves so they didn't know how to teach him the finer points of riding.  Still, they did a good job of getting him started.  What this means is that Gabe will go anywhere and through anything as long as there is someone in front to direct him.  He is traffic safe, crosses bridges, water, trailers, etc.  He just doesn't know that his rider is actually supposed to be calling the shots. 

This is a picture of him in the local Halloween parade last October...
The trainer I am sending him to does an incredible job with young horses.  He worked with Tessa last year and I was thrilled with the results.  He only takes a couple of horses at a time and he rides them.  He takes them out six days a week for 2-3 hours a day and rides through the woods, into town, down the road and anywhere else he can think of.  The horse comes home fit, tired and very well trained.  And, he does all of this at a very reasonable price,  what more could I ask for.  A horse like Gabe, who already has a good foundation, along with a good brain and sweet disposition, will come home a wonderful trail horse.  Exactly what I want. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Weekly Belly 1/20/12

Emma was thoughtful enough to hold my glove for me while I tried to take some photos.  Donkeys are ever so helpful...

I finally had to tie her up though because she was certain that 2 inches away from the camera was far enough.

The extra food has helped a lot.  Emma is happier, has more energy and has gained back a few of her lost pounds.  I think her weight is just perfect now so we'll try to keep it there. 


Bundled up and back to work...