Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Squish, Squish, and a Duck Flies Up

We've been having torrential rains, night after night, and now we're supposed to be getting much colder weather - even some 30s and 20sF (ugh!). The horses are squishing around in the pasture for a few hours a day - I'm spending much time moving the two herds of horses from one place to another. With the very wet weather, and the colder nighttime temperatures, we have to be very careful with our grazing introduction - this combination can produce very high fructan levels in the grass, which can be dangerous. We're increasing our grazing time more slowly than we usually do. Today we're up to 2 1/2 hours of grazing - we started with 1/2 hour last Saturday. We may move back into dry lot full day over the weekend so the horses have access to warm water.

Today there was much craziness as I moved the mare herd back into dry lot and the gelding herd over to the pasture. The mares are in heat - they are very "clingy" to one another, so running and screaming occurred while the herd was momentarily split up as I moved them. Then there was galloping, sliding and bucking and rearing as I brought the last pair down - I had to fend off Dawn and Sugar at the gate, who then took off madly galloping and bucking. Then, when I turned out the geldings, Scout got a wild hair and tore around the pasture for several minutes before settling down to graze. Never a dull moment!

The mud in the pastures and aisleways also means that our fence contractor is unable to get in to begin our (extensive) fence repairs - I'm thinking the earliest he can start is probably next week. The main aisle is also at least ankle deep in water and slippery mud - no gravel or fill for us yet - I'm hoping we can squeeze some out of the budget - which makes leading horses pretty hazardous if we were to try to get to the far pastures.

Due to the universal squishiness - the arena is pretty much under water and the grass areas are slippery - Dawn and I did no work yesterday - although I guess you can call standing ground-tied to be groomed work on Dawn's part, which she did very well. She even offered me a "shoulder rest" for a moment as I was grooming her withers, although then moved her head so that her teeth were resting on my shoulder, which wasn't too comfortable with just a light shirt on - it was in the mid-70s at that point.

Maisie and I went on a trail ride, and did many puddle crossings, including some that were many feet wide and halfway up her lower legs. When I first got her, Maisie was a horse that abhorred water, and would go to any lengths to avoid putting a foot in even the smallest puddle, not to mention something bigger - she would balk, spin, and even rear. At that time, I once had to enter a warm-up ring at a horse show by backing her through a large puddle that covered the gate area. But we managed to solve that problem when we attended one of the week-long clinics in Colorado with Mark Rashid, using a method that I call "presenting the question" - I did this post a while ago on it. Now Maisie is a trooper about water.

Long preamble to a short story. One of the first puddles we encountered was next to some trees and a swampy area where a culvert under the trail had overflowed. As Maisie entered the puddle, I was leaning over to look at the puddle - I'm not sure why. All of a sudden, there was a loud squawking, and a duck flew up from next to the culvert directly under Maisie's nose with a great splashing and clattering of wings. I don't know who was more startled by the encounter, Maisie or the duck. Anyway, Maisie did a sit-spin. Since I was not exactly in the best position, there was a moment where there was a bit of air between my seat and the saddle. I ride in a close contact saddle which has a not particularly deep seat and only small knee rolls, but my seat rarely comes off the saddle regardless of what the horse does. I attribute this to my many, many years as a child and teenager riding bareback, which means my seat goes with the motion and I don't tend to pinch or brace with my legs. Luckily this time I didn't come off, in fact I didn't come close to coming off, although that was partly due to Maisie stopping when she completed the spin. That'll teach me not to look down - it's a good way to end up there! A face plant in a large puddle would not have been a good outcome, and Maisie's big and it's a long way down.

Maisie settled down and we continued. She did start to get agitated a bit further on - lots of screaming children in their yards with loud sports equipment and some people rolling a loud dolly with something on it down their driveway, so I got off and led her for a ways. I think she's trained me to get off and lend her some extra confidence when she gets worried! I was pleased that she was paying close attention to me as I led her and when we stopped and stood for a bit at various point - when I first got her she was a horse that never interacted and never made eye contact, which she frequently does now. I felt like we were having a real conversation, which was nice, especially since I was hoofing it (so to speak).

Here's hoping for warmer, drier, weather.


  1. well, we were also in a lot of water but we seem to be having a dry spell. Still, out in the woods, there is lots of standing water--the perfect spot for a horse to think about doing a roll!!
    All the mares in heat and squealing, oh my! That is always a sight!

  2. Hope it dries up soon for you. Good stuff with Maisie!

  3. I'll have to remember that: looking down is a good way to end up there. Quite funny. I'm going to read your post about the water crossing training.

  4. We could actually use some rain here for a change. It looks like we're going to get some rain over the next couple of days, but still with pleasant temperatures, 60's and 70's. Today was perfect, 80 degrees, no humidity and breezy.

    When you're done with your fence contractor could you send him our way? We have a lot of fence in need of being built!

  5. Hot and dry here too, but I do sympathize. Maisie's sit spin is all too familiar, but who can blame her with a duck attack???? *G*

    Hope it dries out for you so you can get a break. The turnout sounds like a complex puzzle to deal with every day.

  6. I am sorry to hear about your mud and water. I hope it dries out soon so you can get your new fencing. You are so very brave taking the herd out in pairs. My mom and I always talk about you and marvel that you can handle two at the gate when there are two others there to meet you!
    Glad you made it out ok with the duck. Poor Maisie was startled, but I am so glad I am not saying "Poor Kate" right now. Well done sitting through that!

  7. Ducks!!! I wonder why they were named that?

    I've had same thing happen with pheasant, except my mare at the time rared and I slide off her rump pulling her back on me! Good thing I was like 12 or 13 and bounced.

    How DO you handle two at a time at a gate with others inside it?

  8. Kate, we have had some really nice weather here, sorry you have had so much rain!
    Oh, my the duck, reminds me of the blue heron with me and Gilly. So glad you are such a good rider and didn't come off!!! You just never know what kind of critters will spook the horse when out.
    Hope things clear up soon so you can have your fences worked on. :-D

  9. You too?? Who knew horse-eating ducks had such a wide range? Glad you didn't face plant in the puddle.

  10. Well done for not coming off!!!!! Sounds like your ground work has been really paying off!


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