Thursday, January 11, 2018

Firsts

I rode Jetta for the first time in about 8 months!! It wasn't too bad. Definitely had to remind her how to stand at the mounting block, not pull on me and get off my leg. Kinda like starting all over again, but hopefully in a month it'll be like we never took a break!

It was so nice to sit on my own horse again. She is a difficult horse to ride, but I still love her. We mostly walked and trotted, worked on shoulder-in and getting her off her front end. I wasn't going to canter but towards the end of the ride I decided to ask for it and she cantered off down the long side of the arena like it was the most fun thing she'd done all week. I missed her!



Baby had some firsts too! She got tied for the first time and didn't care one bit. While leading has been a lot better now that she's weaned and doesn't have mom distracting her, I wasn't really sure she really understood pressure 100%. She definitely has learned more than I gave her credit for! It's so fun to see the gears turning in her head. I "tied" her (I was holding the end of the lead rope and it was just through the tie ring) and she pulled a little backwards, realized she couldn't so she stopped. Pulled a little to the left and realized she couldn't so she stopped. Pulled to the right and realized she couldn't. So she stood there super quietly and explored the lead rope and tie ring with her mouth. Then I snapped the tie ring closed (it's a Blocker tie ring) and went and swept the barn with no peeps out of Miss Maisie. That was easy!

She also learned a little about ground tying. I need to add that to my goals this year for her. She was quite offended about being told not to move when I was not near her head and we were not in her stall, but she eventually figured it out and stood perfectly.

"What iz this??"



Babies are fun! Minus the stress that you're going to ruin them completely ;)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The C Word

A bad equestrian word - cribbing.

Maisie has been cribbing for a couple weeks now. I catch her at it in the morning when I go down to feed. This started before she was weaned. I have no idea why she started - she's had no stress in her life, she lives in a big paddock with a good sized pasture. Gets fed lots of quality food and rarely has an empty stomach. She's never been around horses that crib.



I couldn't find much about foals cribbing on the internet, but there's some discussions on the COTH forum about foals cribbing due to ulcers or just being genetically predisposed. We are currently a little over halfway through a course of omeprazole (byeeee money!) but so far nothing has changed. I went ahead and just treated for ulcers because if she has them, foal ulcers like to perforate which is terrifying. Foals also tend to get ulcers very easily for no particular reason.

She's not interested in toys. She has a goat and sheep as companions and horses in the paddocks next to her. She was doing this even when she was with her mom. In the morning, I'll see her outside grazing and by the time I head down to feed her I often find her cribbing on the fence inside her paddock.



It's not the end of the world. I've had a horse that cribs before. My first horse Grady was a relentless cribber. He was never stalled because he got very upset, so he lived in a three acre pasture. He'd stop grazing just to go crib on the fence. We never found a cribbing collar that worked on him and it didn't really bother me so we just let him go for it. It didn't seem to negatively affect him - his teeth were fine, he never colicked, the only thing we attributed to his cribbing was his inability to hold weight in the winter.

I was pretty upset the first time I found her cribbing. While I do plan on keeping her, if my plans ever change, people don't want to buy a cribber and some barns are reluctant to board cribbers. It's just a huge bummer. I'm hoping the omeprazole will make her feel better - the idea being that her tummy doesn't feel good so she's trying to relieve the discomfort through cribbing.

Trying to eat my face
She's just too cute

Anyone have any advice or insight?

In other news, she's almost grown out of her foal blanket! The largest size is a 60" so I need to decide what size to buy her to last her through the rest of winter hopefully! She's also gotten a lot more friendly as she's gotten older. She comes over to greet people and wants to be scratched. She also likes to give kisses! Pretty adorable. I installed a tie ring in her stall so that's the next fun thing that she gets to learn. Baby is growing up!

Let the baby training begin!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Goals

This years goals were pretty simple:

  • My main goal is to have a healthy, happy little foal. I am trying so hard to keep my hopes down since I have seen anything and everything go wrong with foaling. I am so nervous!
    • Success! Maisie was born textbook perfectly with no complications! Now to continue to keep her happy and healthy.

  • I am hoping to find a horse to ride in some capacity during the spring and early summer. This is my last free summer so I want to make the most of it. The goal is to find a green horse that needs miles or someone who just doesn't have the time for their horse. And maybe even get to show said horse. Free is the name of the game.
    • Also a success. I got to lease Trask for 6 months. He ended up being my most challenging project thus far, but he was also really fun and taught me a lot of patience! We went to a handful of shows, both dressage and eventing.

  • Once my (hopefully) bouncing baby buckskin is born, I aim to take it to get approved with RPSI since there will be another inspection at the same barn as last year. Also, get the baby its lifetime registration with USEF.
    • Also a success! RPSI is now Westfalen so baby got branded and registered. Lifetime registration with USEF was included with registration

I'm not really sure where to set goals for this coming year. It's going to be very busy with school, so I might get very little horse time in.

  • My far off goal is for Jetta and I to get our First level scores for our Bronze medal. I've wanted to work towards this for a while and I think it's definitely doable, I just need to hurry up and get started! This is far off since I start clinics in June and I'm really poor so hopefully I can save and have enough for a recognized show!
  • Take Jetta for trail rides! I'd really like to go to the beach since it has been years! 

  • Baby needs to learn lots of things
    • Tying
    • The beginnings of lunging
    • Ponying
    • Trailering by herself
    • Teach her to self load in the trailer
    • Take her on a handful of field trips
    • Bathing
    • Maybe wear a surcingle and bit


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Normal


All Maisie probably wanted for Christmas is her mom back. Poor girl got weaned for Christmas/her 5 month birthday.


It's gone pretty painlessly, it was probably sadder for me than for them. I separated them out for two days. The great thing about this property is that there's gates EVERYWHERE so I could divide the stall/run and the paddock from each other so the girls could still see each other and eat next to each other but not nurse. That didn't seem to affect either of them, Maisie was definitely a little sad - she dejectedly ate her hay. But there was no panicking or anything though.



Then I loaded Jetta up on the trailer and took her to the new barn! Thank goodness for having such a great horse. My trailer doesn't have any inside lights and because it is winter and dark ALL THE TIME she had to load up into a pitch black trailer, which she did without hesitation. Jetta whinnied maybe 5 times between loading up and unloading at the new barn. Then she had her hay in front of her and she didn't care anymore.

So sad

Maisie wasn't quite as unbothered. She whinnied a bunch, but was quiet unless I was around. She's been a little sad and not sure what to do, but luckily she has a goat and a sheep for company (yeah, they randomly live on the property - Marge and Sparkles) plus the roommate's horses. She's buddy-buddy with the 3 year old Appy, Kestrel.

Eating like a big girl by herself

Super helpful animals...


Jetta looks plain AWFUL right now. It's embarrassing. She was obsese for a while so we cut her grain back a bit and she's back to a better weight, but she's ribby right now with no muscle. Ugh. The plan right now is a couple weeks of lunging, gradually building up time and adding side reins and trot poles.

Today was the first day both of them seemed perky and 100% back to normal. Maisie hasn't been eating very well which stresses me out, but today she actually greeted me with an "I'm hungry" whinny instead of a "where's my mom, I don't want your stupid hay" whinny. Jetta was kind of naughty on the lunge line which means she's feeling like her usual self too!

At least she's shiny?

Missed working with this girl





Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fixed It

I think I mentioned that one of the things I wanted to fix with Trask is his trailer loading. He is normally fairly good about following you into the trailer, but oftentimes (especially at shows) he likes to put his front feet in and then refuse to budge. Super fun when you just want to go home.

I think self-loading is a really important skill for all horses so I wanted Trask to learn too. It's a lot safer and just a generally good life skill. I've been putting off teaching him this for no reason, though it's more difficult now that the days are so short and I can't exactly practice it in the dark.

Since he goes home soon, I sucked it up and finally put in the work on getting him to self load. I'm really proud of him for figuring it out, especially since half way through working with him I thought it was going to be a bust and I had failed.

Trask is a funny horse. He's very smart and not generally a spooky or reactive horse. But, when he doesn't understand or doesn't like something, he tends to freak out and his brain just stops working and he panics for no reason. He understands pressure, both from the halter and from tapping with a whip. He just can't process it when he's freaking out.

After trying to send him into the trailer multiple times, we kept getting hung up on putting the front feet in the trailer, but he wouldn't put his back feet in. Tapping his butt resulted in him kicking out at the whip, then rearing and rocketing out of the trailer backwards. Obviously not the smartest thing to do, and it resulted in him scraping a good amount of hair off his face when he reared and backed out at the same time (he's very talented).

I was sure we were done at that point. His poor head hurt (luckily didn't need stitches), he wasn't listening to me, just trying to run me over and rear. I was pretty sure I wasn't making any positive progress, so we changed tactics.

Trask is very food motivated. I use this to my advantage since he's a panicky horse, the treats help him refocus and have a positive association. I don't use treats with all horses and I don't use them all the time with Trask.

Now, I led him into the trailer. He stopped again with his front feet in and I tapped him on the shoulder with the whip. Eventually he stepped in the trailer and I gave him a handful of treats, lots of praise, and we just hung out for a while and got lots of pets.

Then I led him in again and repeated the treats and praise. One more time and he seemed to start to understand. The next time I went to lead him in and as he got his front feet in, I stopped and let himself get all the way in. Treats and repeat.

This was the end result:


We did it a few more times, sometimes with treats, sometimes without. He also learned to wait until I asked him to turn around. We will do this again to make sure it's cemented in his little pea brain, but he's a self loading horse now!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my little gang! And an update on baby:


Normally she hates selfies!







Age: 5 months
Height: 13 hands in front, 13.2 hands at the hip
Blanket: just moved up to the 60" setting on her baby blanket
Likes: giving kisses, bucking and leaping around, apples, chewing on things she shouldn't be
Dislikes: being told what to do (still), her scary new jollyball, selfies (though she's getting better, she usually pins her ears when I pull out my phone!)
Progress: much better about being blanketed - no longer thinks velcro is awful and is improving about letting me throw the blanket across her back
Next step: getting weaned!


Also, my poor horses. They are so tolerant!


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Expensive Babies

I'm not sure if anyone is interested in this, but I know I would have been before breeding. So here is a breakdown on the cost of breeding your own foal (obviously can vary HUGELY)



Before baby is born:
  • RPSI (now Westfalen) inspection and breeding approval for the mare = $290
  • Stud fee = $1400
  • Collection and booking fee = $350
  • Equitainer deposit = $400
    • Kinda irritated I haven't received this back from the stallion owner yet...
  • First mare reproductive exam = $59
    • Jetta had a hemorrhagic follicle so we had to make it ovulate and then short cycle her
  • Breeding package from vet = $465
    • Includes the breeding, ultrasound check before to check follicle size, and post breeding to make sure the follicle ovulated and heartbeat check
  • Mare boarding at the vet = $240
    • I was out of the country at the time of breeding and was relying on a friend to pick up Jetta and she was kinda busy so Jetta stayed longer than I would have liked. Ideally I would've only paid the $20/day for less than a week.
  • Endophyte testing = free (normally charge $75 per sample)
    • Not necessary if you're not going to have them on tall fescue hay or pasture
  • Mare color genetics test - $40
    • Just for fun, tested red/black and agouti genes
  • Foal halter - $2 
    • I received a nice halter as a gift but it was kinda big so I bought a used tiny one at a tack sale
  • Pneumabort injections for EHV-1 at 5, 7 and 9 months of gestation - my vet friend gave them to me for free, but you should expect them to cost ~$20/vaccine
  • 6-way vaccination ~30 days prior to foaling = $27.95
  • Not counting the very nice Orchard grass hay I switched Jetta to for her pregnancy, much more expensive than the normal local grass hay!

After baby is born:
  • Snap test for IgG and placenta inspection, bute = $101
    •  My vet recommends giving banamine after birth to the mare but I didn't have any on hand, and the local vet gave me bute instead
    • I opted to do the snap test by myself to save money on a vet visit when I am capable of drawing blood myself, but usually this is included with the vet visit you have after the foal is born
    • I also wanted a second opinion on the placenta since it was torn and I couldn't be sure there wasn't some pieces missing (fun fact - the most common location for a retained placenta is the tip of the non-gravid horn = retained placenta -> endotoxemia -> laminitis)
  • Westfalen inspection/registration (includes lifetime USEF number, microchip, membership) = $477
  • Ivermectin dewormer a week prior to mare foaling - mainly for Strongyloides westeri (threadworms) which can be transmitted in the milk = $4
  • I did not count deworming for mare and foal (important for ascarids! Please deworm foals so you don't have an ascarid impaction colic which will most likely result in a colic surgery) and also vaccinations for the foal

The grand total? $3856!!

PRICELESS

For reference, the breeder sells foals (you can purchase in-utero or once they're born) for $9000. Granted, a lot of her mares are much nicer than Jetta!

I could have saved quite a bit of money if I had taken Jetta to the local community college that does breeding, they are quite cheap, but I bred outside the normal breeding season. Plus it would have been less expensive if she hadn't had to stay at the vet's for so long. If I ever get my $400 deposit back, that'd be nice. I saved a lot of money since I was able to do things myself (IgG snap test, sucromate injection for short cycling). I also had a few different stallions on my list that would have been cheaper too.

My aunt that has bred quite a few horses always told me to budget $3000 for the breeding, not including the stud fee, so surprisingly I stayed below that! Of course, this is if everything goes well. My costs could have quickly skyrocketed if things hadn't gone so well. For instance I was worried Maisie wouldn't get enough colostrum with Jetta spraying her milk everywhere (for four whole days...), so if she had failure of passive transfer (of antibodies), she would have required plasma which can cost over $1000!


Would I do this again and breed Jetta a second time? I've already had offers to buy Jetta's next foal, and of course looked at different stallions that I think would suit her, but I'm really not sure I could go through all of that stress again! I was an absolute basket case, especially the week of foal watch I did. No sleep + driving an hour to work and back again + stressing about baby = not a good equation. I wouldn't change a thing because now I have Maisie, but as much fun as it was picking out a stallion and getting a baby out of the deal, I would not have been able to handle a bad outcome very well and I almost think it's worth just buying a baby on the ground so you don't have to go through all the stress, you know exactly what you're getting in terms of gender, color/markings, conformation and temperament.