Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Rain Pours Down

This morning, it was intermittently raining, with a sharp east wind.  The horses did go our for a bit but all wanted in by lunchtime - temperatures were hovering around 40F but the wind chill was much colder.  The only one who was actually shivering was Dawn (of course!), so I toweled her neck and face off and put on a fleece cooler.  It poured down all afternoon with thunderstorms and even some small hail - welcome to spring in Northern Illinois!

Drifter managed well overnight (Pie was out in the adjacent paddock to give him some company) - he'd eaten his hay - a mix from his old place and some of ours, and there was enough manure and it also looked as though he had had some drinks from the water tank.  When I brought him inside the barn - he is separated by one empty stall from the other horses although he can see several horses across the barn aisle, he was very nervous, doing lots of calling, nervously manuring and not eating his hay.  He was about the same when I checked on him later.  He was a bit better when I was in the stall with him and could reassure him.

This evening at feeding time, I spent some time with him in the stall just rubbing on him and talking to him, and gave him a good grooming.  He calmed down a bit and started eating his hay. He really seems to like interacting with me and isn't wary or standoffish at all.  We did do a few tiny bits of work today.  I used a few treats to work with him on him backing up on cue - both with a hand gesture and with a touch on his chest - and he did this easily.  While I was grooming him, we worked on him picking and holding up his feet for hoof picking.  He was perfect with all his feet except one, the left hind.  This was the same one he had some issues with when I visited him last fall.  To work on this, I asked for very small steps - first him taking his weight off the foot, then on lifting it briefly, then on lifting it for a bit longer, then on my holding it briefly, then my holding it a bit longer, then my picking for a moment, then my fully picking it out.  Every time he did what I asked, I praised him verbally and with rubs - he got the idea right away and was very cooperative.  Based on my very brief experience with him last fall, I thought he would be a horse who responds extremely well to verbal praise and reassuring rubs, and that's proving to be true.

And last night in his paddock, we played a little game of soccer with the big blue ball - I would kick it a ways, he would nudge it with his nose to keep it going, I would kick again - it was a lot of fun!  When I'm in the paddock, he likes to follow me around.  He's a very sweet horse with a great personality - I think working with him is going to be a lot of fun.

Tomorrow we'll work on a few more things - perhaps some leading exercises and/or some in-hand work with the halter - the weather's supposed to be pretty nice - and Pie and I will certainly take a ride.  Any work with Dawn is on hold until the arena dries out.

I expect Drifter finds all the changes a bit overwhelming.  I looked up his breeder's location - the breeder (who raises and trains barrel racing and team roping horses - he may have been bred as a barrel horse looking at the speed in the bottom half of his pedigree) was the only other person to have owned him other then the woman who sold him to me - and it looks like he's never traveled more than 40 miles from where he was born before.  It's a big difference between that and a 6+ hour trailer ride and a completely new situation - no wonder the poor boy is agitated, but I think he's starting to settle in.

The vet is coming tomorrow to do Coggins and shots for some of the other horses, and is supposed to also do x-rays for Drifter.  I'm not sure he's going to be calm enough to stand still for that by tomorrow, but we'll have to see.


  1. I can only imagine how upsetting it all is for Drifter. I remember my PJ when he arrived at my barn after a 5-6 hour trailer ride. He was a nervous wreck.

    I have a feeling Drifter will settle in quickly. He has a good head on his shoulders and certainly, your reassuring presence makes a huge difference. He's clearly already relating to you.

    He'll be fine for the vet.

  2. I am going to love your blog. I have two Haflinger half-sisters that I got as weanlings and it has been quite a joyful journeyas a new hoprsewoan and rider. I'm starting to work with them to be trained under saddle..but all in good time.

    happy day from southeastern Mass!

  3. Congratulations! Drifter is a handsome boy. And it sounds like he is already looking to you for support and leadership. I bet he'll feel right at home very soon.

  4. That's a long drive and, I'm sure, a big change for him. It's nice that he likes to be comforted by touch. That should make for a very close and rewarding relationship between the two of you. Have fun, and I hope the rain goes away for you soon. It rained here today, too. :/

  5. LOTS and LOTS of rain in my part of the country, too! But luckily no hail...
    Good luck with your new boy! He sounds very sweet, and no doubt he'll settle in soon.

  6. Oh I am so excited that you have Drifter in your paddock. My gosh you will be busy now with the three to work but how fun to learn the different personalities. I hope the rain clears soon and you get some fun rides in

  7. Sounds like your new man is settling in just fine. I'm sure he will do quite well with the xrays for his new person; sounds like he's definitely going to be a keeper ;o)

  8. I like that you recognize and understand Drifter's nervousness. Without the benefit of an explanatory conversation that we would give a human we were moving, we have to somehow convey that all will be ok in this new location. I like that you are taking the time to love him up and rub on him. Great work in the stall and on his feet cleaning.

    I am glad your rain is done. We have it today so have a great ride for me! I have to figure out a way to get Foggy outside between rain storms.

  9. I'm sure Drifter will settle in to the barn routine in no time. Horses are so adaptable. He seems very sensible already so there should be no problem with the vet. Good luck with the x-rays.

  10. Sounds like a sweet horse who will give you years of joy! hope all goes well with the x rays

  11. I'm glad he seems to be settling in. I can understand him being upset. :) He sounds like he's going to be a great horse to work with.


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