Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Those First Lessons

As soon as Rio was born I began to introduce her to the things she would need to become accustomed to and accept. We haltered her on the first day and ran the clippers all over her body just to get her used to the feel and sound. Rio was a happy baby, relishing in human attention but sometimes to the point where she was in the way when it was time to muck her stall or tend to her mama. She's very inquisitive and learned early on how to unhook the stall door from the inside. I have a feeling she may be a bit of a "Houdini". Rio enjoys being brushed but doesn't like it when you brush her face. I also clipped her bridal path but she fusses a bit when it's time to clip her face or ears. I don't think she's afraid of the clippers, but think the blades tickle her face. We'll definitely need to work on this as I have plans to show her so she'll need to stand still to be clipped.

After the first week or so I began picking up her feet and using the hoof pick. She handled it pretty well but sometimes tries to put her foot down before I'm finished. I also tied her using a blocker tie-ring. This allows the lead rope to slip through the ring easily if she pulls back or panics. She learned early on that when she got to the end of the rope if she stepped forward there was a release. This early lesson will come in very handy as she grows up. When she was just a few weeks old I was careful to keep our sessions to 10 or 15 minutes in length. Rio would definitely let me know when she'd had enough and wanted to visit the "milk truck". She's a little over 2 months old now and I take her from mama for longer periods of time. I usually groom her then walk her around the barnyard a bit.
She's progressing very well and is usually very well-behaved. But last evening she was quite feisty and kicked out while I was leading her and caught me on the shin bone...ouch! It was a little reminder that she is a horse that will require lots of training and patience on my behalf. I also have a bad habit of comparing her to her mama whom I've had since she was weanling. Perhaps it was that long ago that I don't remember Tia being a naughty girl but Rio definitely has a personality all her own. She is very sweet but I can see that she will be a handful at times. Hmmm...looks like I got myself a fiery red-head!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good Mama!

In the weeks and days before Rio was born many people asked me if I was going to "imprint" train the foal. I decided that I would accustom the foal to humankind on the day she was born but not so much that her mama would object. I was actually a little concerned that if there were too many people around during the foals' birth Tia may reject it and I definitely did not want to go there. When I look back at that day, there were a lot of people present for Rio's arrival into this world and thankfully Tia did not mind. My husband and I arrived at the barn shortly after Tia went down, the barn owner, her daughter, the next door neighbor and two other boarders were also present either during or right after her arrival. We were all careful to be very quiet but I think Tia really deserves all the credit. She's been a super mom and extremely tolerant of me working with Rio every day. From the moment she was born I was in the stall with her and her mother accustoming Rio to a halter, brushes, clippers, and hoof pick. During those first few days I would groom Rio and teach her to be led with a butt rope around the stall and Tia usually stood off to the side or quietly munched on her hay. I wish I had the resources to breed Tia again but I guess I'll need to wait until Rio grows up and start the third generation of a wonderful line of Quarter Horses!

Friday, June 1, 2007


Tia was due on April 5 but went almost two weeks late. She was making me very nervous. I knew from reading The Foaling Primer (available on http://www.horsebooksetc.com/) and from a call to my vet that she could go up to a month late! Several days before foaling Tia started to wax up so I brought a cot to the barn, along with a small TV and a thermos of coffee. The first night in the barn was exhausting. Between Tia and her barn mate banging around in their stalls, the two barn cats turned into fighting alley cats, and the wind I only make it to about 2 am in the morning. I live only less than a minute from the barn so I go home. Then I would lie in bed for the next hour wondering if I should go back. This same scenario continued for the next 3 or 4 nights. Then I began to think that perhaps me camped out right in front of her stall was keeping this foal at bay. So, the next night I decided to stay in the horse trailer, it has a heater which, of course when I needed it doesn’t work. My mom had given me a monitor to set up in the barn and the trailer so I could hear everything going on. It must have been over 10 years old and made this awful cracking noise. I needed to turn it down and then lie right next to it to hear anything in Tia’s stall. I heard her munching on hay and sigh a few times. I checked on Tia at 11:00 pm, 12:00 am, and 1:30 am. I must have dozed off because the next time I woke up it was 3:30 in the morning. I stumbled down the hill, bleary-eyed and looked in on her again. She was peacefully sleeping and I said I’m tired, I’m going home! Kelly from the barn phoned me about 5:45 am to tell me Tia was in labor so I hurried back to the barn. The 45 minutes it took for her to finally deliver the foal felt like an eternity to me. The two front legs would emerge up to the knee then suck back in. This went of for 10 or 15 minutes. Tia got up a few times and laid back down but seemed like she was about to run out of steam. I was calm on the outside but freaking out on the inside. Just when I thought we’d have to help her out came the foal’s head and shoulders and the rest slipped out easily. The foal was finally here! But, wait one minute, that wasn’t the color I ordered!! I bred to a black stallion and knew the chances were slim that I’d actually get a black horse but I had thought for sure the foal would be bay just like her mama. Instead, I got a red-head!

I was very happy the foal was healthy and Tia made it through OK but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit some disappointment that I didn’t get that sleek, black foal or an exact replica of Tia. It was something I’d work through the next several days. It took almost a week to give the poor thing a barn name as nothing I came up with seemed to fit. A few of my coworkers who had been hearing the story of my breeding woes even tried to help. Some of the suggestions were Cheyenne, Dakota, Lola, and Ruby. I just couldn’t decide. I figured the big guy upstairs would help me find my way. I came home from work one day and said to my husband, “How about Rio as in Rio Grande, Rio de Janeiro?” And then he said, “...as in Diamond Rio”. “Yes, that’s it! It goes perfect with the diamond on her forehead”. Pending AQHA registration, we’ll name her Ladyz Diamond Rio.