I'm a little worried about Noble - he just doesn't seem quite right to me. The things I'm noticing are extremely subtle, and someone who didn't know Noble as well as I do probably would think he is fine - and he may be. Yesterday at feeding time he was slow to come to his hay and not as vocal as usual, and spent some time standing with his butt to the door. He's usually a very "bright" horse - alert, interactive and demanding of attention. He's eating fairly normally - a little less hay than normal. I also noticed when I turned him out yesterday that he stood at the gate for a while, not eating - he usually heads off pretty quickly to graze - and he was head-bobbing, which for him is a sign of either aggravation or pain. No pawing, good gut sounds and there was poop in the stall yesterday. Today the poop was less - not as many piles as normal, and it was somewhat hard. Tonight I'm going to take his temperature and check for dehydration - he rarely drinks in the stall so it's hard to monitor his water intake - he has been using his salt block a lot, which is good. He's 29, and has been exceptionally healthy, except for one brief case of gas colic last year, but at his age I do worry, and something isn't quite right. I'm hoping for a minor tummy upset, but will keep a close eye on him and perhaps have the vet take a look at him if she comes for Scout.
Tonight when I brought him in he was slightly dehydrated (according to the skin-pinch test), although he was moving well and ate his dinner eagerly. Tomorrow if he's not quite right I'll take his temperature.
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It was a beautiful day for most of the day - 70s, but very windy, which helped to keep the bugs at bay. A number of us went for a trail ride - here we are setting out - that's Maisie and I on the left, Jill and Joe (of Buckskin and Bay) next, then Charisma and her share boarder and Sugar and her owner:
Maisie was in a little bit of a state - I asked her to walk behind Joe and Charisma and in front of Sugar - this made her a bit worried and the wind didn't help. After a bit, I decided to dismount and walk her in hand to help her calm down. She gradually settled a bit - we did the "hesitation game" and I also fed her a few treats to encourage her to keep her attention on me and relax. I got quite the walk out of it - over a mile, I'd guess - and I'd just been complaining that morning that I wasn't getting enough walking now that the horses are in dry lot for a couple of weeks! I got back on after a while and went back to the barn, as I had to feed and work with Dawn - the others went off on another loop. Maisie and I went briefly in the arena to do some patterns and walk/halt/back transition work off my seat - the footing was much too deep and wet to do any trot work.
After feeding time, I groomed and worked with Dawn. We were going to do some work with ropes in the parking lot, followed by some clicker work, but then it started to rain pretty hard so we moved into the barn aisle. She's out of heat now, so working in the aisle isn't a problem. We did some checking to see how she feels about ropes in preparation for ground driving - if you haven't done ground driving and want to try it, I'd strongly recommend Mark Rashid's DVD Ground Driving 101. It's very clear, and focussed on safety of horse and rider. So far, Dawn and I are working on stroking her with the coiled up rope an letting it rub her neck, sides, belly and legs. We've done one side and she's pretty good with it so far. We'll do the other side, and then work on her being able to remain calm with ropes around her legs and then to "leading" by each leg to improve her giving to pressure, and thus safety in the event of line tangles. Then we'll move on to the rope around her hindquarters and the turn away, and so on, taking as much time with each step as it takes for her to be comfortable.
Then, for fun, and to continue our progress towards being able to deal with scary objects, we did some more clicker work. We'd already used a traffic cone as a target, and this time I just grabbed the nearest object - a bottle of Show Sheen. We targeted the top, then we targeted the bottom (a completely different deal, according to Dawn). Good fun was had by all and treats by Dawn. I can see a regular program of clicker in the barn aisle in the winter months, particularly when the weather's too bad to go outside.