Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Adoption Process

I got a question on our Facebook page about the process and I thought I'd write about it here.  It can be confusing to navigate, but it's doable (obviously, since both Jay and I have done it).  I only have experience adopting from Canon City, so I have zero information about adopting from other facilities or through internet adoption (IA).

The adoption process begins with the application that you fax into the BLM office.  The application asks about the facility, trailer, food, and water.  There's nothing on the application about horse experience, which I found a bit disconcerting.

There are three options when you adopt: unhandled ($125), halter trained ($300-400), or saddle trained ($1,025).  Jay and I decided to go with unhandled, as we wanted the experience of "doing it ourselves".  If we didn't have Mom and Bill to help, I doubt we would have gone that way.

The requirements differ based on what type of horse you choose to adopt.  Unhandled horses must be in a 20'x20' pen (minimum) with a six-foot fence, while halter and saddle trained can be in any standard pen/fence.  The unhandled horse is required to stay within the six-foot fence until they are gentled (a term I never heard in the domestic horse circles).  A gentled mustang is one who can be easily caught and haltered, and leads.  It can take days, weeks, or months to take a wild mustang to a gentle one.

The only exposure to adoptions I'd had were through watching the Extreme Mustang Makeovers, so I assumed we'd have to bid at auction for horses.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  We got to go into the pens, interact with the horses and get chosen.  There wasn't any bidding, once a horse claimed its person,  it was no longer available.

Jay and I both ended up with "cheater" mustangs - they were easy to get our hands on right off the bat, for which we are very thankful.  We had our horses out of the gentling pen in under three weeks.

If you pick up your horse the day of the adoption, there are regulations about the type of trailer you can use (stock trailer with a divider), but since we chose the delivery option, we didn't have to worry about the trailer. At the time, Canon City offered free delivery of horses within 150 miles of the facility.  However, they're undergoing some staff changes and the future of free delivery is uncertain. 

Once you have possession of the horse, you're really just "fostering" it for one year.  It remains property of the US Government until it is titled.  During the course of the year you're fostering, you're subject to in-person or phone inspections.  I was worried about the inspection, because I didn't know what to expect.  Turns out it is pretty easy.  They come out to check the facility and the horse, ask a bunch of questions about how training is coming, what you're feeding, and if there have been any issues.  Skeeter had an in-person inspection in January, while Copper had a phone inspection just a few days later.  The inspections are randomly assigned, so it is possible for one adopter to never have an inspection, while another is chosen.

At about eleven months, you receive a title application to fill out and return to the BLM.  A vet, farrier, or BLM-approved inspector must fill out part of the title application, certifying that the horse has been properly cared for. I don't believe there is a training requirement for the title inspection, but it can't hurt that she's halter-broke and just barely beginning under saddle.  If there are any training requirements, I would think it would be the bare minimum, as some people adopt these horses as pasture pets.  I think they just have to be gentled enough to get vet care if they are sick or injured.

This is the point Skeeter and I are right now.  I've got my title inspection scheduled for Thursday at 9:00 am.  After the inspector signs off of the paperwork, I will mail it in to the BLM and they will choose to either assign a title to me (Skeeter will be mine!), suggest remedial care, or repossess the animal.

I'm not as nervous about this inspection since I went through one in January.  If I hadn't had an in-person inspection, I'd be fretting a lot more, but I don't think this will be that much different. The only thing I'm concerned (slightly) about is that I haven't had Skeeter's feet done.  They're a good length and she doesn't have any lameness issues, but they've not had a pedicure to pretty them up.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Scary Trucks

Chances of the horses running across radio controlled vehicles while out on the trail are pretty darn low.  However, both of my brothers and their wives race RC trucks, so I saw an opportunity to start desensitizing the horses to them.  We live in paradise (just my opinion, but I love it here) and one of the things Jay and I want to do is host get-togethers frequently this summer.  With a few acres to play on, we can easily run the RC trucks, play with dirt bikes or three-wheelers, throw knives, or shoot the crossbow.

Jay and I have shot the crossbow outside of the horses' pen before and they don't care.  They didn't care much about the knife throwing either, but the RC trucks caused a bit of a ruckus.

At one point, a truck made its way into the pen (things happen when you allow a six year-old to drive), but as soon as the truck came to a stop both horses went up to sniff it.  Monster, my youngest, managed to snatch it from the jaws of death just before Skeeter started pawing it.  Thank God for quick reflexes and the ability to climb fence like The Flash, because I don't think I could afford to replace one if Skeeter had rolled it around trying to figure it out.  Those trucks are made to withstand a certain amount of abuse, but I don't think 900# of abuse would be good for them.

We still have to get the three-wheeler up and running, along with the dirt bike, but so far, summer desensitizing seems to be going well.

Hay net update: the horses have slowed down on their hay intake, to only a bale a day.  They're still killing the bale overnight, but not *starving* to death in the morning.  Looks like Mom's not going to get our net.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Slow Feeder, My Ass!

If you haven't been following the hay net exploits on our Facebook page, let me enlighten you here.

Mom has had great success with her hay net.  Us?  Not so much.

We started on Sunday and all looked good.  We started with a full bale, which should have lasted them 24 hours according to our regular feed schedule.  We were feeding 1/2 a bale in the morning, and 1/2 a bale in the evening.

 Since they were supposed to be eating from a "slow" feeder, I was confident that there would be a bit left over on Monday morning.


Ten hours after we put out the first bagged bale it was empty.  And I do mean empty!

It was so empty that I had to walk the pen to look for it.

I made Skeeter carry it to hay storage for me.
I filled it up for a second time that day, all the while cussing at them.  Certainly they couldn't kill TWO bales in 24 hours, right?

I was wrong.  At feeding time on Monday, we had to again walk the pen to find the empty net.  We filled it for the THIRD time and anchored it to a cinder block so we could easily find it when the pigs emptied it.  By this time, I was also cussing my mom for talking me into this cockamamie idea.

Bale #3 - we're going to go broke at this rate.
Not only was I cussing about it's lack of powers as a slow feeder, I was cussing at the increase in hay waste.  I mean, our horses are Hoovers - they clean up after themselves, there is very rarely a single snuffle of hay left ever.

After work on Monday, the hay bag wasn't empty-empty, but it was close.  Almost three bales in 36 hours.  We put out another bale and thought, surely they have to be slowing down.

Wait Dad!  Don't take it, there's still some in there!
Bale #4 went out and we were optimistic.  They had to be getting full, right?  Right?   Jay and I went into town for the late showing of Furious 7 and when we got home after midnight those fools were still standing there eating.  Jay may or may not have told them that they were going to pop like zits if they kept it up.

Tuesday morning there was still most of the bale left.  Success!

64 hours and almost four bales to get to their "full" point.  In fact, when I looked out the window on Tuesday morning Copper was sprawled out on the ground looking like me after Thanksgiving dinner.  If he had pants on, he would have unzipped them to find more room.

They grudgingly ate breakfast when we took it out to them, but their hearts weren't really in it.

Finally!  We were getting somewhere.

Tuesday night (last night), we got home and the horses were starving.  Like, pacing and pawing the fence (Skeeter!) starving.  In went bale #5 (heavy sigh).

This morning, there was about half of bale #5 left.  Instead of letting it run out, I just added another bale to it and sent up a quick prayer that they wouldn't kill it in one day.

I swore I'd give this hay bag thing a solid week, and I will, but damn it's getting expensive pretty quickly.  If I get home from work tonight and that damn bag is empty I might lose it.  (Which Mom would like, because I told her if this bag didn't work out, she could have it.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I Caved

Mom has been raving about her cinch net ever since she got it.  I mean three blog posts on it in four days?  Yeah, she's happy with the product.

I couldn't call her without her raving about the damn net, so I finally caved and bought one.  The horses have had it all of three hours and are still working on it.

We tried tying it to the fence, but decided that wasn't such a good idea.  Mom ties hers into her feeder, but we don't have a sturdy structure to tie into.  Hopefully this summer, we'll get a hitching post put up and then we'll see if we can tie into that.

After horse sitting for our neighbors last week and using their Nibble Nets, I can honestly say the cinch net is much, much easier and faster to use.  In fact, it was so easy that Jay and I are playing with the idea of picking up a second net so we can rotate.  It will come in very hand on mornings when we're both running late and have to be in early - we can just throw the pre-filled bag into the pen and pick up the old one.