Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Bit of Excitement

First, the big news: Jay mailed off his application to adopt a BLM mustang. 

The previous plan had been for him to adopt one of the "oops" mustang-cross babies, but the babies got sold (they were supposed to have been given away) and it appears the person pocketed the money.  Every time we tried to find out when the babies would be coming to our side of the mountain, we got put off.  It maybe should have been a hint.

So, instead, Jay went with his back-up plan of adopting a mustang.  Thanks to Skeeter, we have the set-up (which we just dismantled and will have to put back up!).  Now that we've been through the process once, it's less nerve-wracking than the first time.  He should hear from the BLM next week and we want to go to the August 8 auction.  This time, it's Mom's turn to go.  Bill got to go last time, so it's only fair that Mom go this time.  We also invited Jay's mom to go, as it will be her first grand-horse. :)

The mosquitoes have been brutal within the last week, and poor Skeets is getting eaten alive.  I went to one of the mustang groups I belong to and asked for advice.  Holy cow!  Everyone's got a cure for mosquitoes, ranging from simple to complex.  I choose to go with the cheapest, easiest to implement (for me): a teaspoon of granulated garlic in her feed.  Now, I don't feed anything other than grass hay.  On occasion I gave her a coffee cup full of black oil sunflower seeds just because, but it's not part of her feeding regimen.

Whole oats are cheap and good for horses, so I figured I could feed her a couple of cups of oats just to get the granulated garlic in her.  I also wanted to get an automatic bug fogger for her shed, so I put that on my list of things to buy.  Off to town we went.

The farm and ranch store didn't have the automatic bug fogger (I'll end up buying it from Amazon, probably), but we did run across this cool biological mosquito control called Mosquito Bits.  I got excited when I read the description, because they work like the Fly Predators.  Only they're not other insects that eat the larvae, the Mosquito Bits are a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis that infect the mosquito larvae.  Similar, in that the larvae are destroyed, dissimilar in that one (the predators) is an insect and the other is a bacteria.

Anyway, the science geek in me got really excited about that.  And then the horse owner in me got really excited because it means that Skeeter can have her swimming pool after all!

We finally made out way out to Skeeter after all of our in town errands were done and Jay's mom and brother met us out there to watch me "work" her.  I didn't have big plans for working her other than to brush her out really well - more to scratch all of her itchy spots than for any training - and to pick up her feet.  Bill's picked up her feet before, but I haven't yet.

Skeeter was her usual charming self, mugging for them, then following Jay and I around in turn. She unhooked from Jay when I called her and came right over to get her halter put on.  I was so proud of her for behaving well.  I tied her to the fence in front of Jay's mom and brother so I could talk to them while I was brushing her.  Tying hasn't been much of a problem, so I didn't think twice about it.  I brushed her out and then grabbed her tail to spray it.  I've sprayed her tail with detangler several times and she's never even batted an eye.

This afternoon, she took exception to it, and pulled back.  Normally, not a big deal.  I tie her to the trailer or to the panels around her hay storage, but I've never tied her to the fence.  Our "fence" is really just panels strung together, rather like a very large round pen.  It really stays standing based on the honor system.  We have some t-posts braced up against the really lean-y over sections so that if she leans on it, it won't topple over.  We didn't, however, plan on her pulling on the fence.

She pulled back and the fence gave, so she continued to back up, pulling the fence along with her.  In horror, I watched the fence fold like an accordion as she peeled it back from the side of the shelter.  She backed up quickly, more surprised than afraid that the fence was following her.  After my second or third order to "stand!", it finally sunk in her pea-brain and she stopped.  My "stand" command was probably helped by the fact that the fence had finally accordioned around her like a chute; had she continued to back up, she would have completely blocked herself in a very small space.

I'm very lucky that she's not a big panicker, because the afternoon could have very quickly turned south and involved large vet bills.  Once she stopped moving, I went over and untied her from the fence, backed her out and moved her away from the thirty foot opening in the fence.  I kept her moving, and her mind occupied until Jay and his brother got the fence put back in place.

Just to reinforce the "tie", I took her to the trailer and tied her there for a few minutes, the whole time afraid that she'd pull back.  She didn't, so I took her away from the trailer and back to the fence.  She showed no fear of it, thank goodness, and allowed me to finish brushing her.

My hope is that the lesson that solidifies in her brain is "don't pull on the fence, because it will trap you" and NOT "hey, if I pull on the fence, I can get out".  I don't think she realized that she could have gotten out to the big ole world since I kept her moving away from the gap and didn't let her watch them put the fence back where it belonged.  I think it was good that she wasn't able to get untied (in this instance): pulling back didn't get her out of the situation, it put her in a worse one.  Please, please, please let the lesson be "don't pull back".

We'll be driving a t-post in the next day or two and will chain the panels to it so it is much harder for her to peel the fence away from the shelter.  Until then, I won't be tying her to the fence again.  We'll also be rigging a more permanent hitching post.

Not exactly the kind of impression I wanted to give my in-laws of my "wild" mustang, but they definitely got their money's worth.  I'm glad they were there, actually, because if this had happened when I was alone, I'm not sure how I would have fixed the fence by myself.


Dreaming said...

Wow! You were lucky. What a good girl you have!
You cracked me up with the "honor" system comment!

Mel said...

Really glad you shared your story about the fence. I had a similar story last week when teaching ML how to trailer. Not a pullback/fence incident - but one of those incidents that once it happens, you really hope that the horse learned the "right" lesson, everything seems to be fine, but it could have gone south really quickly. I shared mine because I feel obligated to share the good with the bad even though I knew that with hindsight it would be easy to say "you shouldn't have done that"....but I'm convinced that you work with horses long enough we *all* have those experiences. So, thank you for sharing yours. Makes me feel like less of an idiot - horses will be horses and we aren't perfect future-tellers, and sometimes the worst *doestn't* happen. Made my day :)

Becky said...

It's in the air I guess! I also had a incident.... Goose, who used to pull back everytime as soon as he was tied because he learned it as a aversion. But had learned real quick I didn't care and sitting back kinda he has tied anywhere and everywhere just fine. Pulled back when we where working on trailer loading (high stress) and broke my halter. Took a nice run down the road....sigh. But then loaded really well so it wasn't a bad lesson atleast! Still don't really know how he broke that rope halter in that spot, but I have to assume it was dry rot even though it looked fine. I will be replacing my good rope halters more often now! Haha! The only problem is I am picky and want nice stiff rope....gotta buy a couple when I find them, everyone is making soft or narrow ones nowdays.

Allenspark Lodge said...

Oh my! I'm still laughing - you are on the beginning of a l-o-n-g journey. You just explained why I am so sold on Mustangs. They are much more prone to trying to 'think' their way out of a situation than to panic. I can't even count the times things like this have happened with ours over the years and EVERY time they have come through without a panic - but you need to have earned that trust. Skeeter trusted you and life will only get better with her. Good job - and thank your guardian angel tonight.
Bionic Cowgirl (otherwise known as Mom)

Achieve1dream said...

That's so exciting that Jay is applying to adopt a mustang too!! :D

Let us know if the garlic works. I don't know how well it will stick to the oats though. It might be easier to get alfalfa chaff (the bagged stuff) or hay pellets (alfalfa, timothy, whatever is in your area). The chaff could just be dampened which will make the garlic stick. The pellets would need to be soaked for a bit so that they break apart. Whichever route you choose I hope it works! I've never heard of the Mosquito Bits. I hope those work too. :)

I'm glad the situation with the fence didn't escalate into dangerous territory! I learned my lesson as a kid when I tied a horse to a gate and she proceeded to pull the whole thing out of the ground and part of the way across the pasture... oops. Luckily she didn't get hurt. I really do think not getting loose when it happened was a good thing though. Hopefully it taught her a valuable lesson. If not, at least she wasn't hurt. :D

GunDiva said...

Achieve1dream: She does not like the garlic on her oats, so this morning I gave her hay and dumped the oats/garlic on top of the hay. My thought is that the garlic flavor was just too concentrated in just a couple cups of oats, but if I dumped the whole thing over her hay she wouldn't notice it as much. I'm excited about the Mosquito Bits and hope they work as advertised, but I know it will take a few days to see any change.

Becky - I read your blog on that. How frustrating! I'm using a Julie Goodnight rope halter and am happy with it. It's not super soft and flexible, so it still has some "bite" to the knot, but not enough to hurt them.

Achieve1dream said...

Aww darn! I was wondering if she would like it. I imagine it would be very strong on plain oats. The alfalfa chaff might cover the flavor of it better. Or if you can't find the chaff you could soak cubes and use them. I wonder if the sunflower seeds would help mask the flavor. Did she eat it when it was on her hay? Good luck finding something that works. I'm curious to see how effective it is. :)