Thursday, June 2, 2011

Drift Is a Star

My day started with an early morning trail ride on Pie - we were out for about an hour and a half, and added some bigger hills to our ride to help build up his hindquarters again.  He did very well, walking out well and enjoying himself.  As we came back to the barn, he had to cope with some workmen removing siding from a house right next to the trail - very loud creaks, crashes and bangs - he was worried but we were able to ride by OK.

After all our wet and muddy weather, Pie has developed scratches (again - he had it when I got him last fall) on his white leg.  I noticed some cracked, slightly bloody places on the back of his pastern just above the heel a few days ago.  I'm treating it conservatively - no rough scrubbing or irritating substances like Betadine - I just gently wash it off with wet paper towels, using gentle dish soap, rinse and dry it, and put on some Desenex powder - the first day I used some Nolvasan antibiotic ointment.  If he's going out where conditions are wet, I cover the area with Vaseline as a water barrier.  It's not looking too bad and if things don't get wet again soon we may be OK.  I currently have 12 horse feet/legs to take care of, and this is the only white one (thank heavens!).

The farrier came today, and in preparation I've been working with Drift's feet every chance I get (those of you who've been reading may remember that he was terrible for the farrier last time) - I usually end up picking his feet and doing hoof handling about four times a day.  After every foot, before I set it down, I click and then put the foot down and feed him a treat.  He's gotten pretty reliably good about his feet, even the backs, which is a huge improvement from when I got him - he was terrible - he would slam down his fronts and cow kick (or attempt to real kick) with the backs.

Also in preparation for the farrier, I gave Drift a good workout this morning, figuring he'd likely be a bit more cooperative and relaxed if he were somewhat tired.  I think it was our best ride so far.  He was cooperative on cross ties and for mounting, despite the wind and chill, and his walk work was excellent from the start.  We did some shortening and lengthening of stride at the walk, and some walk/halt/walk transitions and some backing - it was all good.  So off we went in trot - my main objective with him is for him to spend a lot of time trotting, and also cantering, until he begins to find his own rhythm and proper forward at the trot, and his balance and rhythm at the canter.  He's still very green and this is the most important thing for him at this point.  He was able to trot (mostly) without trying to spring into the canter, and the longer we worked the more the quality of his trot improved.  We took a break, and then we did some cantering, in both directions.  He easily took his leads, and every time we work his canter is a bit better - more regular (less leaping and bounding or using his head to rebalance) and his breathing is also much more rhythmical and deep, particularly to the left - the right lead is still somewhat rougher.  We work on a big circle, and my job is just to stay quiet and keep him moving at the canter with a light contact - softening work will come later once he's better able to carry himself.  At the end of our canter work, we did some canter/trot transitions - his default downwards transition from the canter is to collapse into a halt - he was able to do the canter/trot transitions nicely once he understood what I wanted.  And then we did a bit more trot work, including some pretty nice trot/walk/trot transitions.  I was delighted - he's come a long way already.

Then after Pie had his trim - his feet look very good after his minor laminitis attack - he does have a very small event line, particularly on the right hind, and Dawn was reshod in front and had her hinds trimmed, it was Drift's turn.  I asked my farrier to try to anticipate if he was likely to try to put a foot down, and put the foot down himself before Drift tried to take it away.  Drift seemed pretty calm - it helped that Dawn was eating hay in her stall right next to him (she's not in heat which would have been distracting).  I stood at his head - he was on cross ties and didn't fidget or move, which was a huge improvement from last time.  As the farrier worked on each foot, I fed Drift treats and praised him whenever his foot was up.  When the farrier put his foot down to take breaks - he only had to take a couple - the treats stopped.  My objective was for him to think a visit by the farrier was a very good thing, and to associate the treats and praise with his feet being held and worked on.  It all went very smoothly - even better than I might have hoped - Drift was a star!

Tomorrow my saddle goes in for reflocking, so all three horses will get a few days off after all their recent good work.


  1. I read this with some interest, if I could offer help with the "cracked skin" on the pasterns. We get this a lot here, called Mud fever, the recommended ointment here is Udder Cream, stuff you put on cows udders when the get sore etc. Dont know what the trade name would be. But it certainly does the trick!

  2. Cheyenne - we've got something here called Bag Balm - wonderful name - which would work really well too - that's also a very good suggestion.

  3. The Desenex diaper rash cream works really well as a water barrier too. It's my choice for scratches.

    How nice to be able to see all your hard work with Drift pay off so nicely with the farrier. Congratulations on a job well done. It goes to prove that a little kindness and patience go a long way.

    Glad Pie is still improving.

  4. I didn't know that Desenex came in a powder. That's good to know. I can tell you from first hand experience that scratches can happen on legs that aren't white. Some horses are just more sensitive than others, I guess.

  5. Whatever it takes! I feed the baby treats when he stands for the farrier. I'm all about making things pleasant for them that need to be done.

  6. I guess I could put in my two cents on scratches, if they're really bad we use Animalintex and if they're minor we use Desitin diaper cream.

    Drift was a star for the farrier, it just goes to show that if you take the time with any horse and teach them kindly what you want you'll get it. Nice work. Glad you all had a good day.

  7. Excellent report about Drift and the farrier. I had similar success with Foggy's hinds after reading your early post about clicking and treating and practicing picking up Drift's feet. I did the same thing with Foggy and when our farrier came out again we had a grand success.

  8. juliette - so glad that worked - I think these small (but very important) things really help build confidence in both horse and handler.

  9. Bonnie has three high white socks (and skin) plus her muzzle is white. I use diaper rash ointment too after cleaning well to protect.

    I find though with Bonnie she breaks out from alfalfa - no alfalfa in her paddock now, no more scratches.

  10. I'll second the recommendation for Animalintex - it's so great - and also, I've discovered Banixx, which is very easy to apply, especially after treating the scratches for a couple of days with the Animalintex. That combination worked like magic for us. Drift wants to be good, and I think that your approach to teaching him to be calm for the farrier is just right. Once he starts to trust the farrier, there won't be any more problems. For Siete, the reason that she didn't like our old farrier was because he wasn't supporting her enough to help her keep her balance. And the more she struggled, the less he liked her - so they were never happy to see each other and problems developed. From the first visit with our new farrier, all the issues disappeared and Siete is relaxed and good as gold. They can feel things about people that we can't always sense ourselves, I think.

  11. Bag balm, Animalintex, and Corona ointment all work wonders :)


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