Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Still Here

Well, the Big Storm seems to have leap-frogged right over the top of us and we are unscathed.  The power did not even go out which I am surprised by, but grateful for.  The winds moved up about a thousand feet off the ground and sailed by overhead.  It was a little eerie actually, about 11:30 last light the wind and rain just stopped and everything felt very still and quiet.  However, looking up, the clouds were swirling and flying and listening carefully, I could hear the far off roar of the wind.  I hate to think what it would have been like if it had come back down to earth. 

The wind and rain did come back, but nothing to complain about.  It is soggy cold and dreary, but that is not unusual.  I think most people around here feel as I do, extremely grateful to have been spared from this horrible storm and saddened by the havoc and devastation in the areas that weren't. 

As for Ramsey....the meds are doing their job.  His temperature was back down to 102 this morning, which is the high end of normal for a donkey his age.  His foot is still terribly sore, but he is remarkably cheerful about it all.  He is in pain, but he just hobbles about on three legs and goes about his business.  Granted, he wants to just stay on the barn, but with the weather, who can blame him?

I soaked his foot in a solution of CleanTrax, which is a relatively new product.  It supposedly treats abscesses, but I have never used it this way before so the verdict is still out as far as I am concerned.  It can be kind of a lengthy procedure as the foot is supposed to soak in the solution for 45 minutes and then spend an additional 45 minutes wrapped in plastic so that the gas it produces can continue to work. 

I finally devised a very easy and effective soaking boot which was quite simple.  I used a bread-bag (folded in half lengthwise because his feet are so tiny) and reinforced it with duct tape.  I put the bag over his foot and taped it on at the fetlock then poured the CleanTrax solution in.  (Here is where donkeys are much easier to deal with than horses, I would have spent considerable time making sure that the horse didn't freak out about the bag on his foot.  With Ramsey, I put the bag on, he gave it the hairy eyeball, I scratched his neck and told him all was well, he believed me and stopped worrying about it.)

Once the bag was in place, I filled it with the CleanTrax and went about cleaning the barn.  The stuff stays active for 90 minutes and I didn't have any other feet to soak so I just left it.  When the time came, I just poked a little hole in the bag to drain it and left the contraption on for another hour. 

I can see where the abscess is draining some out of the bottom of the foot, but there is a spot on the coronet band where it is clearly about to break open.  Once that finally happens, everything will start to heal.  As long as I can keep junk out of that darned hole anyways.

Last Friday, before Ramsey came up lame, I had spoken with the vet and made an appointment for Nov. 9th to have Ramsey gelded.  I hope this whole foot thing does not delay that.  He is just old enough to geld and we want to do it before the cold weather sets in.  It is too dangerous to do the procedure in real cold and waiting for Spring is not an option.  By then, he will be old enough to be making babies of his own and THAT is not gonna happen.  Recently, he has been showing signs of imminent testosterone poisoning as well.  The sooner we get this little procedure done, the happier everybody (including Ramsey) will be.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It Never Rains But it Pours

Actually, we haven't had much rain yet.  It has been windy, dreary, rainy, but nothing severe so far.  Basically, just typical miserable NY weather.  The wind is picking up dramatically though and the worst is expected through the night.  I didn't go into work tonight which is just as well as the county has issued a state of emergency and non essential parts of the lab are closed.  I am where I should be.

I feel for the folks on the coast right now, things look bad down there.


There was one thing I forgot to mention yesterday about hoof abscesses.  When I said that the best way to treat them is to not treat them...well, there is one major exception to that rule.   It is the rare instance when the infection becomes systemic and moves into the whole body, which is exactly what happened to Ramsey this morning.  I was expecting to get up this morning and see him almost completely better.  Instead, he was even more lame and sporting a 105 degree fever.  

I have to pause here for a brief PSA:  if any of you own a donkey or plan to, make sure you have a good thermometer and take your donkey's temp on a regular basis.  Donkeys DO NOT SHOW SIGNS OF FEVER THE WAY OTHER ANIMALS DO.  Aside from being very lame, Ramsey did not show any signs of illness this morning.  He was bright-eyed, perky and looking for hugs and breakfast.  I took his temp mainly because I am rather obsessive about my animal's healthcare and I was rather shocked at the results.  By the time a donkey actually looks and acts sick, it may be too late to save him.   

Donkey's core temperatures fluctuate more than most animals and regular checks will help you know what is normal.  It is also helpful, if you live in a cold climate, in determining whether your donkey needs a blanket or not.  For example, Emma's normal temperature usually varies (depending on the weather) between 99.5 and 101.8.  last year when it dropped to 96.8, I knew she was too cold.  Once Ramsey was born, her temperature stabilized a lot and generally stays between 100 and 101 now and she handles drastic changes in temperature better now.

Anyway, Ramsey is now on antibiotics as well as a slightly higher dose of Banamine.  The vet called in a script for him to the local pharmacy and I picked it up this afternoon.  I just knew there would be trouble as soon as I saw that darned hole in the bottom of his foot.  If you ever have to deal with an abscess, don't ever let a vet or farrier cut a drainage hole in the foot, it's nothing but trouble. 

Hopefully, Ramsey will respond to the medication and I won't have to have the vet come out.  Especillay since he is doing such a wonderful job of honoring the timeless tradition of needing vet care at the worst possible time.

Speaking of vet care, there is a veterinary Disaster Response Team for bloggers being put together over at Pawcurious.  If you are a blogger and would like to participate, click here.  It is super easy, free and you can participate or not as you choose.  It seems like a good idea to me.

Hopefully, I will be back with another update tomorrow, it sure is getting windy.  Be safe.

Abscesses, Hurricanes & Other Assorted Maladies

Ramsey's abscess broke open this afternoon to everybody's relief.  I wish it had broken out of the top of his foot rather than the bottom as there is now a hole in the bottom of his foot.  Keeping debris and bacteria out of those holes is impossible and often leads to reinfection, but it is what it is.  At least he is in less pain and for that I am very grateful.   I gave him a little bit of Banamine yesterday and today to help ease the pain and I soaked his foot (or tried to rather, I am not sure which one of us wound up with wetter feet).  I wrapped the foot afterward hoping to keep junk out of it.  I usually use duct tape for such jobs, but Ramsey's feet are so tiny, I had to use electrical tape instead... 
Abscesses are a unending problem around here.  Our soil is 80% clay mixed with 20% sharp rock.  Every Spring and Fall during mud season, someone ends up with an abscess.  Ironically, it is usually the horses who have the hardest, toughest feet.  I think it is because when a soft foot is bruised by a hard landing on a sharp stone, the foot can expand a little and provide relief for the resulting inflammation.  When the same thing happens to a hard foot, there is nowhere for the swelling to go.  As a result, the inner structures of the foot are damaged and lead to an abscess.

I have learned the hard way over the years, that the best treatment for an abscess is to not treat it.  Generally, an abscess ruptures on its own in 2-3 days.  Cutting the foot to drain the abscess can provide some immediate relief, but, having dealt with dozens of abscess, I have never yet seen it NOT cause problems later on.  Instead of healing within a week, cutting the foot can lead to years of severe trouble.  Ask me how I know...

Soaking the foot in warm water and spreading Ichthammol on the coronet band may help by softening the tissue and making it easier for the abscess to erupt.  However, with every new abscess I see, the more I believe that these things do more for me than the abscess.  On the other hand, it can't hurt, it might help and for someone like Ramsey, it makes him feel better to be fussed over and attended to.  That alone makes it worth doing.

For those of you who have wanted to hear what Ramsey's bray sounds like, I shot this by accident yesterday.  Go figure, I have been trying to get his bray on video for weeks with no luck, then I drop the camera and turn it on to see if it still works and here he is.  Unfortunately, this is the bray of a very unhappy, lame donkey baby.

Here in NY, we are all bracing for Sandy and wondering what it is going to bring.  This area suffered severe flooding in 2006 and catastrophic flooding last year from Irene and Lee.   Folks are more than a little frightened of Sandy and with good reason.  Some of these communities have never recovered, another bad flood will be the end of them.  So far, the weather forecast is saying we are going to be getting more wind than rain this time, but that is what they said about Irene as well.  There is no knowing.

I at least, am safe from flooding.  If I ever have to worry about that, we are all lost.  The wind is another matter.  Still, I am as prepared as I can be (I hope).  My main concern at the moment is if we have a prolonged power outage.  In that case, I have no running water and the contents of the freezer are at risk.  I do have a small generator and I think I can keep the freezer going a couple hours a day anyway.  I have a gas stove and wood heat.

As for water....
I've filled all of the water vessels that I have.  The equines are consuming about twenty gallons a day right now and there is about 100 gallons here.   There is a public spring with good water about a mile from here where I can get more if I need it.  I really hope I won't need any of this, but......

If you don't hear from me for a while you'll know why.  Stay safe out there folks.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Stills - Halloween

I almost skipped this week's challenge, the challenge is Halloween or what it means to me.  Honestly, it doesn't mean much.  When I think about it, I don't believe I have ever handed out a single piece of Halloween candy.  After all, these are the only kind of Trick or Treaters I ever get...

Granted, sometimes it's a treat...

and sometimes, it's a trick (oh how I wish my darned camera would wake up faster, I'd have loved to get the picture 3 seconds before this one where Emma had her nose smushed flat and sideways on the glass.  Lord, but these guys crack me up.)....

I did think of several really good costumes for Ramsey (he would just LOVE that), but the poor guy has developed an abscess in his foot and he is not a happy boy at the moment.  I have done all there is to do for him and now we just have to wait.

So, the best I could come up with for Halloween is...


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Donkey Training 101

I've been meaning to write something about my experiences in training Ramsey and Emma.  He is growing and learning so fast that it is hard to keep up though.  This is sort of a catch up post since I feel like I am starting late (with the writing anyway, I have been working with Ramsey right from the start).  I am learning as much or more from Emma and Ramsey as they are from me and I would like to try and keep track of some of it.  Perhaps it can be useful to some other donkey owners so I will try to post updates as we go. 

So, some thoughts on donkey training...

Ramsey's "training" started the moment I first laid hands on him.  Animals learn something from us every time we interact with them in any way, whether we mean them to or not.  I try to always keep this in mind when I am with them.  Ramsey has been handled extensively from birth and he has already learned a great deal.  He leads fairly well, picks up all of his feet, is learning to stand tied and is very easy to handle. 

He craves attention and considers me to be a natural part of his herd. This is a good thing, but also means that he has to learn how to be a good "human" as well as being a good donkey.  Too often, I meet animals who have been handled from birth and they are dangerously spoiled and obnoxious because they haven't been taught this.

Working with Emma is a bit different since she was not handled at all until she was about a year old.  She is naturally cautious and wary of new things.  She is also calmer, steadier and has the patience of a saint.  Ramsey is almost frighteningly fearless.  In a few years, he will likely be calm and steady as well, but he is too young for that now.  Emma often needs reassurance and convincing while Ramsey can be pushy and demanding.  They are both intelligent, lively, affectionate and are constantly pushing me to come up with new "games".  They don't like repeating the same things over and over and they get bored easily if not challenged.

I don't have any big expectations of Ramsey at this age other then learning basic skills and exposing him to as much as I can.  Mostly, he is learning about boundaries and what is and is not acceptable behavior.  When dealing with behaviors that I don't want (especially things that will be dangerous for him or me), I try to teach Ramsey the way Emma teaches him.  When he does something she does not like, she turns away from him and ignores him the first time.  If he repeats the same behavior, she gives him a glare and a small shove with her nose.  If he repeats again, she may grab the top of his leg or hock with her teeth, shove him with her shoulder or hip, glare and threaten to bite, etc.  He seldom repeats after this point.

When Ramsey does things to me that I don't want him to, I try to copy these methods in my clumsy, human way.  For example, a month or so ago, Ramsey tried to jump up on me the way he does to Emma.  I stepped away with a stern NO and walked away from him.  The second time he tried it, he got a stern NO with a solid swat and a push away from me.  He thought about it a third time, but a glare and a NO changed his mind.  He has not repeated it since.  This all happened in three swift, random encounters during the course of a single day.  This is totally normal baby behavior and I was expecting it to happen at some point.  I was, in fact, glad he tried it as early as he did as it was very easy to correct then. 

There is no one method or training system I use.  I have a lot of experience with horses, but donkeys are so different that I often feel it gets in the way rather then helps.  Mostly, I try to watch how Emma trains Ramsey and copy her methods.  Some of the training guidelines I have come up with and try to follow go something like this:  
  • Ask for very small things.
  • Set him up for success, don't ask for something unless I am fairly sure he can do it.
  • Reward every effort, ignore mistakes.
  • Praise the behaviors I want, even if I didn't ask for or expect it. 
  • If he is wound up in play mode, save training for later.  Forcing the issue at this stage causes more trouble then it's worth.
  • Be flexible and adaptable.  Plans are good, but they never survive long.  Don't get hung up on them.
  • Don't get in a fight.  If something isn't working, go back to what does work and start over. 
  • There is time, don't rush.  If he doesn't get something today, he will tomorrow or the next day. 
  • There is no such thing as "training time" and "non-training time".  He is learning from me every time we are in contact. 
  • Keep in mind that he is also learning when I am not around, pay attention and observe the changes. 
  • Keep it short.
  • Make it fun
I love working with Ramsey and Emma, they have so much personality and lively intelligence.  They are such a joy, "work" isn't really the right word.

Home Sweet Home

I am not sure who is happier, Tessa because she is home or Gabe, because she is home.  Regardless, now they just have one thing to worry about each day...
"We aren't late for breakfast are we?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bad Omen

If the stripes on a Woolly Bear Caterpillar predict how bad the coming winter will be, what do you suppose this guy is trying to tell us?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ramsey Meets Another Monster...

After some investigation...

and discussion with mom....

he decides that it has a nice texture....

and is pleasantly chewy......

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Scientists Find New Hummingbird Species

  Rare photo of the New England Long Eared White Throated Hummingbird



This week's challenge is "what inspires you".  I am inspired by many things and for the most, I think I will just let the photos speak for themselves.  However, I believe that a nearly universal inspiration for taking photos is an attempt to capture a special moment so that it can be shared with those who are not able to see it in person.

To that end, this weeks challenge is going out especially for my friend Linda who just had hip replacement surgery and can not yet get out to enjoy these things for herself.   

Get well and you'll be out-jumping these guys before you know it...


A few more weeks and it may be time to finally start riding??? :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Prodigal's Return

Tessa came home from the trainers this morning looking fit and sleek.

Gabe was thrilled to have his girlfriend back.  He has been sulking and moping for the last two weeks thinking he had been abandoned forever.  He wanted to be with the donkeys, but he can't be trusted not to hurt them so I have kept them separated.  Now, he is no longer the loneliest, saddest, most put-upon painted pony ever born.  His world brightened up considerably with Tessa's return.

Emma was initially quite happy to see her friend return as well.  However, at the moment Tessa has eyes only for her beloved Gabe (because she is in heat and spent the last month just one pasture away from a handsome paint stud).  I told Emma not to worry, the romance will wear off in a few days as usual and Tess will remember her friends.  In the meantime, how about a new toy....   

Tomorrow, we are going riding.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some History

Several people have asked me about how Tessa got hurt.  I did write about this a little, but it was quite some time ago, in fact, it was my very first blog post (click here for that post).   The short answer to the question is that Tessa got kicked by another horse, a mare named Sprinkle.  Sprinkle got Tessa trapped in a corner of the barn and kicked her in the middle of her canon bone, her hock, stifle, hip and various other portions of her hind end.  Tessa suffered several fractured vertebrae, a damaged stifle, bone bruises in her hock and canon bone and a great deal of soft tissue bruising and tearing in her hindquarters.      

The longer version requires a bit of history....Sprinkle came to me from an older gentleman who used to have a farm a few miles from me, I used to buy hay from him.  He raised dairy heifers and at some point in the distant past, someone had asked him to care for Sprinkle and those people simply never returned.  By my reckoning, Sprinkle spent at least seven years living there and was basically untouched in those years.  He certainly did feed her though, by the time I met her, she was profoundly obese.  This is Sprinkle, at least 100 pounds lighter(!!) then she had been... 
As so often happens, the farmer decided to sell out and move to Florida.  He came to me asking if I would please take Sprinkle.  I was very dubious about this, as any long time horse owner can tell you, there is no such thing as a free horse.  The two deciding factors were that her only other option was a trip to the auction, most likely ending in a slaughter house and that she had a large brand on her hip.  Generally, the only horses around here who have brands were trucked in from out west.  They are usually fairly well trained come from decent stock.  So, sucker that I am, I said yes. 

We had a rather rough start because Sprinkle and my old mare, Suki, did not get along at all.  This is a photo of Suki from a few years ago, she was in her early twenties here.  The rump you can see to the right was one of the draft ponies I rescued....

Horses always take time to work out a pecking order.  Suki is an extremely dominant alpha mare, not a bully but a true alpha, a leader.  It usually takes her about 4 seconds to establish that she is the boss and that is the end of it.  However, she and Sprinkle took much longer and were much rougher than usual.  They did eventually work things out and became good friends.  I put it down to Sprinkle having lived with nothing but cows for so long and dismissed it.  After our initial difficulties, I was proved right about Sprinkle being a good riding horse and she became quite a nice trail horse....after a major diet and exercise program that is.  A friend fell in love with her and we worked out a deal.  He would own her, but she would stay with me. 

When I added Tessa to my herd there was again, some initial trouble, but they eventually got along well.  They lived together peacefully for at least a year.  Last June, we took Sprinkle and Tessa on an overnight camping trip.  Sprinkle came into heat that day and spent the night surrounded by several very randy geldings.   Everybody made it through the night just fine though and returned home.  Everything was completely normal for several days until Tessa came into heat and Sprinkle attacked her.  It was a shock to all of us.  In all the years that I have had horses, I have never seen anything quite like it and I hope I never do again.  Whatever it was that triggered this aggression, I was never able to put Sprinkle and Tessa out together again without Sprinkle going after her.  I tried every treatment I and the vet could dream up, but it never worked and I finally told my friend that she had to go.  I'd had enough. 

Sprinkle and Suki both live up in the Adirondacks now as Suki went with her to be a companion horse.  She had been my riding horse for many years and when I started riding other horses and leaving her behind, she got very unhappy.  Her knees were too bad to handle riding, but she hated being left out.  It was a hard decision to make, but I think she is happier where she is then if she had stayed here and been usurped by a younger horse.  It seems to have worked out, especially now that I have real hope for Tessa.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Good News

Do you recognize these ears?

This is a very special view of these particular ears because it is a view I didn't think anyone would ever see again.  These are Tessa's ears.  I haven't said much about her lately because I have been feeling very superstitious about her.  Things have been going well and I didn't want to jinx it.  Or perhaps, it has just been such an emotional roller coaster with this mare that I couldn't allow myself to get my hopes up again.

This time last year, I was having very serious thoughts and discussions about putting Tessa down.  I have agonized over whether I should try to breed her with no guarantee that she could carry a foal to term.  I know there are thousands of unwanted horses flooding the market, but I also know just how hard it is to find a good  horse.  And Tessa is an exceptionally good horse.   I was tempted to try breeding her if she couldn't be ridden, but it wasn't what I really wanted.

About a month ago, I decided to send her back to the trainer to see if we could get her going under saddle once again.  Every day, I was expecting to get a call from him telling me she was lame and to come get her.  After a few days, I did get a call and I started thinking again about euthanasia.  However, when I went to visit her we found a twig embedded in the white line of her foot and once it was removed, she moved off sound again.  She has been working well under saddle ever since, wearing a pair of hoof boots to protect her feet.

This afternoon, I rode Tessa myself.  We were out for nearly two hours; up and down hills, through the mud, brush and trees.  She did not put a foot wrong.   

It is hard to say just what this ride meant for me.  There was a time, six or seven years ago, that I actually thought about giving up horses.  If you knew me well, you would know what a profound statement this is, but I had lost the fun of it for a time.  The mare I had been riding for many years was growing too old and arthritic to continue; I had lost my own confidence in a very bad riding wreck.  I was tired of the cruelty and deceit that is so rampant in the horse industry.  It is the ubiquitous parallel to the kindness, love and generosity that are also rampant in the horse world. 

When I stumbled on Tessa, I tried hard to talk myself out of buying her.  She was everything I thought I didn't really want in a horse - a young, untrained, gaited, flashy paint - but there was something about her that just kept nagging at me.  I can recognize quality when I see it, even if it is not what I think I want.

I think though, that I needed to work with a young horse again.  I needed to find out if I still could or if I really should just hang up my boots and take up crochet.  It's a good thing that Tessa turned out to be not just a good horse, but a truly exceptional and fun horse as well because I can't crochet to save my life and I don't really want to. 

Tessa is a good example of why I don't try to make plans any more.  I couldn't plan for her because I never envisioned her.  Once I had her, I couldn't know that she would be so badly damaged in an instant of equine temper.  My efforts to help her heal from her wounds brought Emma into my life and with her, of course, came Ramsey.   I can't help but be grateful for that.  These aren't the kinds of things that one can anticipate or plan for, they just have to be accepted, good or bad.      

Until today, I didn't know if Tessa and I would ever ride together again.  I am glad I didn't give up on her.  I am glad that I didn't listen to some of the experts and put her down.  I am glad I bought a young donkey to keep her company.  I am glad I couldn't have planned any of this.    I couldn't have done it and I would have missed out on a lot.

I don't know exactly where we go from here or what comes next.  I don't know if Tessa will stay sound.  What I do know, is that we had a really nice ride this afternoon and I am looking forward to bringing her home this weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Tried

I've taken Gabe out trail riding several times in the last week and I've had my camera all set and ready to record another Ramsey bray when we returned, but no bray.  I think it demonstrates just how fast donkeys learn.  That first time, Ramsey was separated from Emma quite a bit and he was between us and mom.  He cried out an alarm and hustled back to Emma.  Ever since, Emma has been between us and Ramsey on our return and no alarm was needed.

I know everyone would like to hear a mighty Ramsey bray, but I take it as a good sign that he and Emma are so quiet.  Donkeys bray to raise an alarm or because they want or need something.  Since my donkeys rarely make a peep, I guess it means they feel safe and have all that they want.  How can I argue with that?  Still, I will keep my camera handy just in case.

On another note, I am very much hoping to have some good news to share tomorrow.  Wish us luck. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Then and Now

This week's challenge was "then and now", try to get a photo from the past and recreate the scene now.  I had fun with this one, it is good to go back and look through all these photos now and then.  I have accumulated rather a lot of them ever since someone gave me a digital camera and freed me of the guilt and hassle of film.

I tend to expect rather a lot out of myself on any given day, usually too much.  I often end up feeling like I never get anything done because I am not living up to my own ridiculous expectations.  It was good to stop and look and realize that in the last four years, I have gotten rather a lot done.  In truth, this post could have turned into a real monster since I have taken thousands of photos in recent years.  I extensively documented my mother-of-all-DIY projects and I could have posted a hundred "then and now" photos.  Instead, I limited things to a few representative shots. 

6/19/2008 Not quite yet the official owner of 20 acres of abandoned and neglected farm land.  An ocean of weeds with nothing else on it...

Today.  I didn't get the angel quite right, but you get the idea...

12/18/2008 I swore I wouldn't build in the winter only to be forced into it by idiot excavators and circumstance...

Today.  I tried to get the donkeys to pose for me in front of the barn, but had to settle for them nudging me on from behind....

7/29/09  My knees still hurt just thinking about this job...

8-12-09 I was really surprised when I saw the date on this photo.  This was a difficult, backbreaking, almost overwhelming job that still looms large in my memory (and sore joints) yet the dates say it was done in two weeks.  I am glad I did it, but I don't ever, EVER want to lay another hardwood floor.


Today.  For all it was over my head and up in the air, this white pine was soooo much easier than the floor.  I also had a very good friend show up (with scaffolding!) to help.  This ceiling went up in a day and a half.

Through all of this, there have been lots of other changes as well.  The horses I had got old while I wasn't looking.  One of them died suddenly and tragically of severe, acute colic that could not be treated.  The other is now retired and lives with a friend.   I went horse shopping and remembered exactly why I hate trying to find a new horse.  I rescued, and found a good home for, a pair of badly abused draft ponies.  I bought two horses and resold one of them because we weren't a good match.  I found the horse I had been searching for for many years only to have her critically injured by another rescued horse.  I met a man I thought I might spend my life with, but that was not to be.  I bought a donkey and remembered why I do all this.

My saving grace through all has been that some things do stay the same, at least for a while...  

and some changes bring pure joy into the world....

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I've got a new job in mind for Gabe...

I've had this harness for  a few years, but I had loaned it to a friend who does all his farm work with draft horses.  He didn't need this old harness any more so he returned it to me a few days ago. It is not a great fit for Gabe, but it is good enough to instill some of the basics.  If we make some real progress and it looks like we could do some actual work, I will look around for something that fits better.  There are a number of Amish families who have moved in nearby and I can get good harness at a decent price if I start saving my pennies. 

Emma and Ramsey are intrigued of course.

Ramsey thought for a moment that he might want to get in on the action...

but he changed his mind pretty quick when he decided that it looked more like work than play.  He made his opinion of that idea plain.

I finally let him and Emma out into the "horse" pasture.  Ramsey was so excited to explore previously forbidden territory that he gladly abandoned Gabe to his fate.

For his part, Gabe thought Ramsey had the right idea.

But he was a fairly good sport about it once I told him that participation is mandatory.