Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 28
Cali and Penny—another eventful day
This morning, I found that Penny had barely eaten any of her alfalfa and grass and chose instead to eat some of Cali's timothy hay which I had given her. It's a good sign because I'm changing her diet from sweet feed and alfalfa and grass mix to timothy hay and Purina Horse Chow and Strategy 100. Even though she's a yearling and needs lots of food, I figure she'll do fine on this diet, especially given that the grass is so rich right now. Penny decided that she really likes hay pellets, and since she won't touch her sweet feed or the Purina grain, I was happy to hand feed her some hay pellets. She's funny about it because she tries to take a lot into her mouth, then drops some on the floor and eats it. I'm happy that she's eating a little but wish she'd eat more. She still worries me a bit, especially since she doesn't drink enough water.
Penny and Cali are still separated and will stay that way for another week or so. I want them to get used to each other before I try again to put them in the same area.
Penny was very good about letting me take off her blanket this morning and stood quietly beside me even thghgh all I was doing was petting her and talking quietly to her. She didn't try to move away, and when I left and returned to her, she nickered at me and put her head up far enough that I could pet her over the half door separating her from Cali. I really wanted to groom her, as both she and Cali are unbelievably muddy, but that will have to wait until she's a bit more relaxed around me because I don't want to have to tie her up to gffoom her. I'd prefer not to have to tie her up for any reason, so I'll work slowly with her at grooming, picking up feet, etc.
In the evening, I decided that both horses needed a walk, and I cajoled a friend into coming with me. Because Cali is obviously jealous of Penny, I took Cali and worked her while my friend took Penny. She stayed behind us so that Cali would be in the lead. The only problem was, Penny was afraid of Cali and kept pinning her ears and showing the whites of her eyes. My friend told me that Penny started walking behind her, which made me worry that Penny would no longer want to walk, that she'd be afraid now.
After some time, I let my friend take Cali and I took Penny, instructing Joann to walk quite a distance ahead of us. Penny calmed right down, and her ears went forward. Where before she had refused to go faster than a very slow walk, now she trotted beside me, ears forward and curious. I could tell she was enjoying herself and quite eager to continue. Even when we passed a woman walking her dog, Penny was only curious, not afraid at all. As long as Cali was well ahead of us, she was fine. Note to self: Cali and Penny should not walk together until they have adjusted to each other.
I took Penny back home after we had walked for about forty-five minutes, and then it was time to take Cali on an excursion. After all, I owed Cali and wanted her to know that she is and always will be my girl.
We walked for quite some time, and Cali enjoyed herself, even though I refused to let her have grass. Granted, it was past her dinner that, but she was working and knew that grass was off limits with working girls. I have to admit that when grass was at face level, Cali would snatch a bite as we were walking. I couldn't really catch her at it because she didn't even pause as she grabbed a mouthful. My friend started telling me when we were coming up on tall grass so that I could remind Cali to leave it when I knew that temptation lay just ahead. Like the good horse she is, she ignored the grass, though I suspect from the way she turned her head slightly that she was staring longingly at it. The grass is very gree right now, which undoubtedly makes it hard to resist.
When we came to curbs, Cali always stopped at them, then crossed right to the other curb as she was supposed to do. But there was an incident where she crossed and then veered into the road, confused about where to go. At first, I couldn't figure out what was going on and thought that Cali just wasn't doing her job. Why couldn't she find the curb? What was her issue?
My friend told me exactly where to go, and then we stopped to reconoiter. Neither of us could figure out what was going on for a moment, and then my friend finally figured it out. She said that Cali couldn't find a curb where one should be and was looking for it, so she veered to find it.
I turned around and made Cali cross twice more;, this time, she crossed the street and found the sidewalk without any difficulty. I wanted her to find a spot where I could figure out where I was, and she did. I have to be careful, though, because I won't always have a friend to tell me what's going on.
In many places, there were no sidewalks, so Cali and I had to walk in the street. The whole time, Cali had her ears pinned, and she started trotting, obviously looking for the next sidewalk, and finding it, she immediately took me straight there. My smart girl knows enough to understand that being in the road can be dangerous.
Once, after we crossed a street, we went across a ditch, whereupon Cali stopped to show me the decline, then the incline. My good girl. And when we came across a manhole, she took me around it rather than showing it to me as she does with most other things. Apparently, her feet are small enough that she could have gotten one stuck in it.
As we were walking past some bushes, I got hit in the face with some ovhanging branches. Immediately, I stopped, pulled one down, and asked Cali to touch it with her nose. Then I turned around and walked her past them again. This time, she took me around them, and subsequent overhead obstacles were no problem at all. I think Cali just had to be reminded that she has to look out for things that wouldn't be hazardous to her but might to me.
At one point, there were steps leading up to a road. I wanted to tffy them and see what Cali would do. She has become good at going up flights of stairs. Going down, however, is another matter entirely. As I thought would happen, Cali did not hesitate to take the steps, though she was good at not rushing as she used to do. I didn't want to take the road where the steps lead, so we turned back around and I asked Cali to try going down. The steps were spaced far enough apart that Cali was able to go down without much difficulty. Still, she was not happy about it and laid her ears back a bit. Encouragement and clicking and treating helped, and we made it down without any unfavorable incident, which proves to me that Cali can do just about anything I ask if it's safe, even if she is nervous.
The more we walked, the happier Cali became. I thought she'd get tired after an hour and a half of walking, but she didn't. By the time we finished, she was still ready to go, and I felt bad about putting her in her pen, even though it was because I needed to feed both her and Penny.
Today was a productive day for the horses and I. Penny learned that she could trot along at my side if Cali wasn't around, and Cali got lots of work and a refresher in a few things. Things keep getting better and better. How blessed I am!
May 29
This morning, I decided to try to groom Penny. I had groomed Cali and put on her new fly sheet, and it was time that Penny got beautified for her fly sheet as well. Unfortunately, the fly sheet doesn't fit her. She's a lot smaller than I thought, but the experience of grooming her and putting on the sheet taught me a little more about Penny.
Penny doesn't mind being gromed. She ate while I groomed her. Apparently, she likes Cali's timothy hay more than her alfalfa and mixed grass hay, so that's wonderful. Anyhow, her mane and forelock were no problem to groom at all. Neither were her back and sides. Even her tummy was fine—until I got to just behind her front legs. Then she turned and tried to bite me. I soothed her for a moment, scratching her neck and waiting until I felt her ears go forward. Then I gently touched her behind her front leg, still scratching with the other hand. Against my cheek, I could feel one of her ears go forward, and then I stopped touching her legs. I did this a few more times, and she relaxed more. I'm a little worried about how she'll deal with the farrier, but I guess farriers are used to this kind of thing. Hopefully, Penny will be okay, or at least not completely terrified when she gets her feet done. I know that she had her feet trimmed about two months ago, so it's not completely foreign to her. However, I'm not sure exactly how she reacted or what happened between her and the farrier. What I'm going to do is work with her and see if I can get her used to being touched on the legs and then see where we go from there. I'm sure it'll take some time, but I think that with some clicker training and a lot of love and patience, she'll be fine.
Late in the afternoon, I took Cali for a walk. As usual, she did her fantastic job quite happily and did not want to return to the yard. My friend came over to help me walk Penny, and I had her hold Cali that I could get Penny out. In order to get Penny out of the pen, I had to take her through Cali's side of the shed and then out of the gate. To avoid any problems between the two girls, I had Joann hold Cali while I went in and got Penny. I kept telling Cali to wait as I took Penny out, but she still pulled to get to Penny. Getting Penny out wasn't such a simple feat, either. There are plastic strips which Bruce tacked up to keep wind out of the shed, and they flap a great deal. Unless the horse sees that it's a way out, and unless it's not afraid of the flapping, it's a little daunting to walk out of the shed. Penny was nervous about going through, as she had been the other times I'd taken her out. Even when I parted the sheets and showed her there was a way out, she was still nervous, possibly because of the noise. I don't know, but at least she decided to walk through when she saw that I was doing it.
Here's another fascinating thing Penny has started doing. When there's an obstacle directly in our path, Penny touches it with her nose. I'm not making this up, I swear! Maybe she's just exploring it. I don't know. Whatever the cause, she touched her nose to things like a bucket, a tree, and the latch to the gate. The latch might be because Cali always shows me where the latch is when I come to get her. I can't say what's going on, but it's intriguing.
Our walk was uneventful, at least in the beginning. But there were storms in the forecast, and a tornado watch had been issued, even though we hadn't yet seen storm clouds. Joann and I decided to stay only a block away from home so that we could get back if it started raining. Well, the sky started to darken, and I suggested we head for home. Joann agreed. Apparently, we didn't do it soon enough, though. After she heard a clap of thunder, Penny got nervous and ended up biting at me. She started hurrying, and I just told her quietly that everything was okay. I know she was scared, so I wasn't really annoyed, though it had hurt. Little horse teeth do hurt, by the way.
After we got back, I fed both horses despite the fact that it was too early, simply because I wasn't sure when the storms would begin. It's a good thing I did, too, because for quite some time, we had some severe weather. The tornado watch turned into a warning, and the sirens blared for quite awhile. I was out with Cali and Penny when they started, so I hurried to give both of them some hay and then headed inside.
This evening, I went back out to check on the horses. Both were fine. I gave them both some hay pellets and petted them for a bit. Penny has started really enjoying the pellets and keeps searching for them when I have my treat bag with me. I guess she's telling me it's really time for some clicker training! Another good thing is that she's started to eat the Purina Horse Chow. I hand fed her some hay pellets and some Horse Chow, and then I put some in her dish. She went right to work.
While I was visiting both horses, I decided to stand between both of them so that they could touch noses. I wanted to see what would happen if I held both halters and had only half the door open so that neither horse could really get to the other. Well, Cali squealed once. Penny did a lot of chewing. I don't really know what that means. Then, for about thirty seconds, they just stood nose to nose, neither of them moving a muscle. It was then that Cali did something I have NEVER seen her do. She peed in the shed! Since we've moved to East Lansing, she has never peed in the shed, as she prefers to do it outside. At my parents' home in Dearborn, she was shut in the shed and used shavings for peeing and pooping, but here, she uses the shed as a run-in, so I don't have any idea why she did this. Interpretations, anyone?
Well, it looks like my life is definitely not going to be boring, and I'll be too busy to whine about much. Taking care of two horses, even two minis, is a lot of work, and stableboys are hard to find, not to mention you actually have to pay them. Starving students don't have the luxury of real money.

No comments: