Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Worming, and We Have Ground-Driving!

The horses in our barn are on a variety of worming programs - some are on daily Strongid plus spring ivermectin and fall ivermectin plus praziquantel (for tapeworms). Some are on rotational worming done by their owners. For the horses who are on daily Strongid, I do the fall and spring paste worming. The owners supply the paste, and then in the morning before I give the horses hay and breakfast, I quickly halter the horses to be wormed, set their paste outside their stalls and then work my way down the line - they're all good for it (Joe hides in the corner for a moment but it's really a matter of being calm and quiet and then he's OK) and it's no fuss, no muss. Then I write the worming down in our barn's horse record book. We do the fall worming right after first hard frost, which was Saturday night. Since the horses went back out to pasture on Sunday, I waited a few days to make sure everyone was adjusted to the pastures, so if any horse had a problem with the worming I'd know that was the cause. Lori Skoog of the Skoog Farm Journal commented on a recent post that some vets are now recommending doing fecal testing and only worming for what is a problem. Makes sense to me, although we haven't gotten there yet at our barn, and I'm thinking all the horses might need to be on the same program for it to work.

I discovered a small defect in the way I was collecting and storing the wormer paste waiting for the day to worm - it was in the same cabinet with my medical supplies and medicines, and a package of Equimax (the wormer) looks a lot like Equiphen (bute), and those are two things you don't want to mix up. The paste syringes don't look much like the bute syringes, and the consistency of the paste is very different, but I double-checked a couple of times to be sure they were all getting the right thing. Next time the wormer gets stored separately!

Then off for the twice-yearly truck and trailer safety inspection - there was a school bus finishing up in the inspection bay as I arrived and only a taxi in line in front of me, so everything was done quickly - it's better not to wait until the end of the month!

* * * * * *

Maisie and I had a little trail ride yesterday with Sugar and her owner, and then Maisie did some lungeing on the hill behind the barn - I'm working on improving her fitness and reducing her waistline. Our arena is still a sloppy mess, and we're expecting more rain so it's not going to get better. Maisie though it was a bit annoying to have to go out and lunge after a ride, when she thought she was done, but as always, she was compliant.

Dawn and I also had an excellent, although brief, session. There was a bit of excitement as I was getting her groomed and ready to go out to the arena - we were only walking so the footing didn't matter much - Miranda was loaded into the trailer and set off for her barn. But Dawn settled down to work very nicely. On the way to the ring, as an experiment, I led her across the "black snake" - the black corrugated plastic pipe that drains the sump from the barn - to see what she would do. (Remember Dawn's nervousness stepping over poles?) She walked across it calmly, without rushing or high-stepping, just like she did it every day! Really, really good!

Once we got to the ring, we did a little bit of "crazy-walking" to warm up - she seems to really enjoy this - and then I attached one line to each side of her fuzzy-nose halter, and then we refreshed our turns. I did them first in hand next to her shoulder, and then moved so one line was around her hindquarters, and asked for my outside turns, each direction in sequence, but not asking for forward motion. She did it easily in both directions - she's a real dream to work with because she's just so quick to learn, and things she's learned really stick with her. She's showing no signs of anxiety when she works - she's calm and relaxed and very willing to try. We will have some worries to deal with when we get to more challenging things - like scary object training - but this calmness, I think, is building in a real relationship of attention and trust that will really help us out later. She lifted her hind leg when I was sloppy with the lines and let the outside line fall below her hocks, but she wasn't really fussed and didn't kick out. We'll do more "leading by the legs" just to be sure she's completely OK with the lines.

Then we worked on ground-driving itself. We started with my half lunging, half leading from the inside while keeping the outside line around her hindquarters with a light contact. It took her a while to get the hang of this, but once she got the idea, off she marched. I was able to move back behind her holding the lines, and we worked some simple patterns of turns and straights around some cones I'd set out. She was flawless, turning to very light pressure and moving off and halting precisely as I'd asked. We also started to work on her backing - it took her a few tries to do a smooth, two-beat, straight, soft back, but again, once she got it she had it and could repeat it. It didn't take her long to drop the brace she started with - nose up and neck stiff - and just give to soft pressure. We're going to do a lot of softening work in the halter, and perhaps as well in the Dr. Cook's bitless bridle, to break some of the bracing patterns she has when she's in the bit. A little more of the patterns, with turns in both directions, and a little more backing, and we were done!

We have ground-driving! This means that we can progress to working with her softness, different gaits, transitions and backing, as well as starting to drive around in the area of the barn in preparation for expanding our boundaries, and some preliminary easy approaches to objects to work ourselves up to scarier things. As she does better with turns, transitions and backing, we'll do more mounted work to follow up. I'm excited and delighted with her progress!


  1. As I've noted before, I started all three young horses on the long lines and it made a huge difference. It's a great way to teach them how to respond to the rein aids in preparation for riding.

    Waiting for the frost here to do my paste worming. All three Boys are on the Stongid daily wormer.

  2. Let's say the STRONGID daily wormer. *sigh*

  3. Funny I've been meaning to write a post about worming. Great minds think alike and all that. :)

    Your progress with Dawn is amazing, it really hasn't been that long since you've been working with her.

  4. What a great session - what incredible progress!

  5. oops, I meant to ask for the definition of crazy walking - I tried searching for it, but couldn't bring up a post on anything other than crazy geldings. :)

  6. I've never been able to figure out which types of wormer to give at what times of the year, so I was thankful to buy an annual wormer pack the contained a list of which wormers to administer in which months. Yeah, you don't want to get medications mixed up. I just saw a TV show in which a woman nearly killed her husband by putting nitroglycerin on his hemorrhoids.

  7. Breathe - "crazy walking" is described in this earlier post - Dawn and I think it's lots of fun!


  8. Good work Kate, sounds like Dawn's making great progress.


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