Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fly Spray & Other Instruments of Torture and Death

So far I've been impressed with Halo's ability to learn and adjust to all the new things I ask her to do. Of course it probably doesn't hurt that she spends most of her days running with her other yearling buddies, AND we tend to feed her while we are working with her tied up.

The one thing she can't seem to tolerate is fly spray. While she's gotten over the sound of the sprayer for the most part, she spazzes out when the mist actually hits her skin. Silly sensitive filly. We've done a lot of work with a spray bottle filled with water, and slowly but surely she is making progress. However, her first reaction is always to back up at Mach 10 with her eyes bugged out like a frog.

Fortunately not all instruments of torture have been received with the alarm and disdain she reserves for fly spray. She had her first hoof trim last Saturday for which she stood remarkably still. She doesn't yet understand having her legs pulled forward to go on the hoof stand, but she's already learning fast. The rasp doesn't bother her at all, and she was minimally fidgety. This is the same horse who didn't even know how to have her feet picked up three weeks ago. Her toes are still a bit long in front, and she's tilted back onto her heels a little bit from lack of previous hoofcare. However, Steph is very confident that it will only take a few trims to get her sorted out, especially since she seems to have nice shapely feet to begin with. Lucky her, since her pasterns are crazy!

Out of curiosity I weighed her on Tuesday to see how she is doing on that front. She's already up to 615 if the weight tape is reading correctly. Although her ribs are still slightly visible, she is getting quite a belly! I hope it means her height is going to shoot up soon, especially in the front. She's got some catching up to do with that butt. Steph has started turning the yearlings out in the big 40 acre pasture at night, shutting them away from the round bale. I'm glad she's doing so - it is a good chance for the yearlings to do more real foraging, and get some good running in while it is nice and cool outside.

Henry and Lizzie are coming to visit Halo this weekend, so I will try to get some pictures of her and her admirers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baby's Got...Booty?

Quarter horses are supposed to have big butts, right? Plus there's that whole awkward yearling stage most horses go through where they're gawky and butt-high...right? These are the things I tell myself as I look at my cute one-year-three-months old filly. Yesterday we gave the little punk her first real bath, followed by her first weighing and measuring.

Look at that butt! Dear God. Although the scariest things are those spindly little pasterns of hers. I hope she grows into herself some, even if she doesn't have the best of bone on those legs. The pasterns are just so looooooong.

So now for the weights and measures; our girl is 13 hands at the withers, and 13.3 hands at the butt. According to the weight tape, she's just shy of 600 lbs. No wonder her butt looks so much bigger! I'm sure she'll even out some with time. My last baby was enormously butt-high as a yearling as well, and he grew up to be 16.2 hands. I know she won't get anywhere near that, but hopefully she'll at least catch up with her butt! That, or in the meantime I will get used to having a quarter horse.

Another way (besides chasing goats) that she's showing her cow blood is with her quick agility. One thing she came to me with was some good in-hand training. She's quite responsive on the lead rope, and pretty darn good without it as well. Here she is showing how daintily she can cross her legs over in a turn:

Try to ignore the terrible clothes. Halo probably has her head craned around to give the fisheye to the heinous outfit I'm wearing. It wouldn't be a stretch to say the little mare has better fashion sense than I do...but I digress.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Settling In

Miss Halo is quickly learning to love her new home. I get the impression that she relishes being out in the pasture all day snacking to her heart's content. I bring her up for dinner on the nights I go out, and while she eats I brush her and work with her feet. I've already picked out her feet twice now, and from now on it will be part of our daily routine. She's a smart filly.

Seeing how quick Halo is to learn makes me wonder if that is what my old horse Callie was like when he was a baby. He was a purebred but unregistered Morgan, and I got him when he was 4, green as grass...or so I thought. Later in his life he picked up on showmanship so quickly that I wasn't surprised to find out from his breeder that he had extensive halter training as a baby. What happened in the three years between then and when I got him, who knows - but none of it was good. He was smart, but spirited, and made a point of reminding you at every opportunity that he was merely allowing you to come along for the ride and that he could abort the mission at any time. Frequently he did, and I would wind up on my butt in the dirt, on a rocky trail, or embedded in a blackberry bush. But he taught me how to ride, even if he tried my patience at every turn.

I wish I knew where he is today. He'd be 19 years old this year. With how many horses go to slaughter, I worry for him now. I imagine he's still sound and as spirited as ever, but he was always difficult to keep weight on. When I sold him I wish I'd been a more aware horse person, aware of the lack of dignity with which horses are sent to slaughter every day. I wish I'd planned better for his future, and made sure to stay in touch with his new owners. At the time, I was just happy to move on to my new two year old Thoroughbred, who was a much better personality match for me. Even so, I have more respect now for that spunky little horse than I ever did at the time. Callie taught me most of what I know, and even if it can't be said that he was sweet, he was canny, athletic, and put his whole heart into every obstacle...whether it was an enormous jump in the arena or figuring out how to get a pesky girl out of the saddle so he could run free.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Homecoming and Troublemaking

Good filly! I thought as the stock trailer pulled into the driveway. Halo stood within, whinnying to the other horses, but otherwise calm and curious about her new surroundings.

We got her out, and after some high-headed looks around the property, she immediately started cropping away at the short grass . Steph and I introduced her to Chisel, the yearling mustang filly who will be her pasture buddy, and then we walked them around the perimeter of the pasture. All was well until a car went speeding past - Halo has never been near a busy road before! She spooked and plunged in a circle around me, but luckily stopped quickly and didn't escape. Good filly.

Once we let her loose, Halo made a beeline for one of the goats! I have never owned a horse bred for working cows, and as I saw her take off after that goat I started to wonder if I might be in a little over my head. It reminded me of a post I read recently about another cowhorse finding her talent. However, I hope Halo is easier to work with than that woman's horse! After deciding the goats weren't so interesting, Halo and Chisel made for the round bale. At one point when I glanced over, Halo was up to her chest in the middle of the thing, devouring it with great enthusiasm. Sadly I didn't have my camera handy at that moment.

Here are the girls, making friends:

Trying to take good pictures proved difficult, as Halo was mostly interested in eating, and Chisel was mostly interested in masticating the camera. They are both friendly fillies, and kept coming up to me while I was trying to get a good shot.

And here is a picture of Jasper, one of the new babies. Everyone is disappointed because he came out solid chestnut when a paint was the hope, but I think he is just adorable.

Anyway, it was a great night at the barn....until 5:45 am this morning when Steph called me to tell me that Halo jumped the fence during the night. Luckily she is fine, but a bit scratched up.

Bad filly!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Almost Time!

Halo comes home tomorrow! Although Casi is out of town and will miss the big day, I will surely plan to photographically document the experience. Halo's current guardians have been incredibly generous with their time, and have put in hours of work this past week on her tying and trailer loading skills. Look at the good girl now!

I am so proud of her for learning quickly, especially knowing how skittish she can sometimes be when confronted with a new situation. Steph, one of the awesome women with whom we are going to board, has assured me that ALL horses chill out after about 30 days at her place. I think she may be right, because Halo is about to have 80 acres to roam and a new best friend in the form of Chisel, Steph & Paige's mustang filly. And of course two doting moms who plan to spend hours grooming, training, and giving her lots of attention!