Monday, July 23, 2007

Time to Ride!

A few weeks after Rio was born I wondered if it would be ok to start riding Tia again. I typically show Tia in halter and showmanship events so it is important that she get back to her pre-pregnancy fitness level! Well, easier said than done. For the first week or so I would ride with Rio in the ring with us as I did not want to stress out mama or baby. But Rio would always want to stop the "milk truck" so I wasn't getting a lot accomplished. She would also race around like a little speed demon and I was afraid she'd get tangled up in the reins. So after I consulted a horsey friend who has raised many foals I began riding Tia alone and would leave Rio in the stall for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. The first few days she would call to her mama but after a week she began to understand that mama would be coming back. I think Tia enjoyed the little reprieve as well. However, in addition to other minor behavioral changes Tia had become l-a-z-y! She would move at a snail's pace. Where was my ever-energetic horse? But as Kelly at the barn pointed out, Tia was a very busy mom now and she just might be tired. Ok, I get it. I try to ride every morning before work so after 3 or 4 weeks Tia's energy level increased a bit. She's still not back to where she was but we're getting there...slow but sure!

Friday, July 6, 2007

I've Created a Monster!

Just the other day Tia reminded me that she is just a horse after all even though I view her as my best friend and love her dearly. I went to the barn around 7:00 am before going to work for a grooming session for both her and Rio. I usually arrive around 6:30 am and take Tia for a 20-30 minute ride but it had rained the night before so the ring probably wouldn't have been in the best shape. As I entered the barn I greeted both her and Rio in my normal fashion and proceeded to enter the stall with Tia's halter and lead rope in hand. When I went towards her she suddenly lunged at me, teeth bared and ears flat! I was stunned. I attempted to halter her again and she lunged at me a second time! Now this was extremely uncharacteristic for my mare and I thought there's got to be something physically wrong with her. I quickly checked Rio to make sure she was OK in case Tia had been taking out her frustrations on the foal. I stood there for a moment wondering what to do next. I was alone in the barn with a fractious mare and foal who just wanted her morning grain. I haltered the baby and took her just outside the stall thinking Tia would follow and then I could slip the lead rope around her neck. She continued to pin her ears back and wouldn't budge. I called my husband and asked him to come down to the barn and give me a hand as I didn't want either of us to get hurt. When he arrived I had him take Rio completely out of the barn so Tia would wonder where she was. I closed the inner stall gate so she couldn't run past me. When she came up to the gate I talked to her gently and slipped the lead rope over her neck. I expected her to pull back but she didn't so I haltered her. By this time I was quite upset and shaking a bit. I brought her out of the stall and checked her for any obvious signs of illness or injury. Nothing. She seemed fine once I had her haltered. I racked my brain for reasons why she would behave this way out of the blue. Had the storm last night rattled her, was she tired and didn't want to ride, had I somehow startled her when I entered the stall? What could it be? Feeding time has become a bit of a hassle as Rio has a foal feeder but we had to take the rods out because she wouldn't put her face in far enough to get to the grain. So naturally Tia would come over and eat Rio's feed. Then a few weeks ago Rio began eating Tia's feed now that she could reach her feed tub. They are being fed two different feeds so we constantly need to shoo Tia from Rio's feeder by waving a hand or yelling "No!". Is Tia mentally and physically tired from motherhood? Could this be the cause of her erratic behavior? The next morning when I went to halter her she pinned her ears and retreated to the back of the stall but did not lunge at me. I left her know in no uncertain terms that this behavior was unacceptable and I eventually caught her without too much fuss. I'm still perplexed and upset by her behavior and hope that it does not continue. I sometimes forget that she is just a horse and does not have the emotional ties to me that I do to her. I am looking forward to when I can wean Rio and I pray that I get my mare back...just they way she was!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Rio's First "Pedicure"

Today Rio met the farrier for the first time. I have been picking out her hooves daily since she was just a few weeks old so I didn't expect any problems. Every once in a while she would want to put her hoof down before I was ready to release it. She would try to yank it out of my hand but as long as I held on with gentle pressure she got the idea that she can only put her hoof down when I was ready. This morning I decided to put her and her mother out in the ring before the farrier arrived so she could blow off a little steam. I then fed her before his arrival as well so we were all ready to go. He remarked that we would just trim her a bit and if she tolerated that well he would then rasp her hooves. Rio was an angel and stood very well for both. The farrier was so impressed with her behavior that he didn't charge me the full rate for trimming a foal. I was so proud of her and saw the first fruits of my labor working with her on a daily basis. Now...if I could only get her to accept clipping her muzzle hairs that well!!