Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Random notes

Today's post is pretty mixed - mostly just stuff I may find useful or fun later on.

Anyhow first is my photographic ode to the shampoo and itch cream I've been using on Starbuck for the past month or so - it works really really well, much better than anything else I've tried so far.

Then some mixed photos and videos of Starbuck and Coco indulging in some mutual grooming, aren't they cute?  This is the only time you can tell that Coco's really the boss since they share food nicely and herd each other around pretty equally.  But Coco is the one who decides where the scratching gets done (back and butt as opposed to Starbuck's preference for neck and chest) and also the one who reminds Starbuck when she's getting lazy with a sharp nip.

Now this is pretty random but as it's horse-related I wanted to share - here's a video some might find interesting of the horsedrawn carriages that ferry tourists around downtown Palma heading into town from Sunday morning.  Some of the horses are a little skinny for my taste and you can see saddle sores on some of them where the harnesses rub them, but for the most part they seem pretty healthy and I'm heartened by the fact that I see the carriage drivers giving them water and spraying them down for flies throughout the day and that some of them wear things like brushing boots.  I know it's highly politically incorrect but I figure there are worse lives for horses than this (like spending 22 hours a day in a stall like some "performance horses" here in Spain).  At any rate I love seeing horses while walking around town as well as the contrast of new-meets-old, and I also love hearing them clip-clop down my street as they leave town in the evening.

Another note - on my vet's recommendation I've changed her feed and instead of mixing straight up crushed oats with alfalfa pellets, crushed corn and fortified sweet feed, I've replaced the crushed oats with a different kind of sweet feed (Pavo Basic Plus, which was supposed to be the same as Pavo Nature's Best but in pellet form, but actually has slightly crappier nutritional statistics so next time I'll get the Nature's Best).  I think she's not crazy about the change, but according to my vet the sweet feed will be easier for her to digest.  It doesn't seem very intuitive to me that sweet feed would be more digestible than plain grains, but hey - humans certainly need to process (grind, soak and cook) grains to be able to use them nutritionally so maybe she's onto something.  I'm interested to see how it goes.

Also, a lameness update - Starbuck was absolutely fabulous in Saturday's lesson, more (but still controlled) energy and better response to the aids than usual which may be the result of 5 days of rest and light work.  I still gave her a nice massage and only did flat work to make sure I didn't overdo it, but then on Sunday I might have screwed up.  My trail ride got cancelled so I joined a jumping lesson some of my stable buddies had scheduled with the resident "barn boy" - you know, the 18 year old kid who works his fingers to the bone in exchange for free lessons and use of the best horses for showing, and maybe something somewhat resembling pay every now and then.  At first all seemed normal - Starbuck was a little lazy at the trot and a little skittish with the kids cannonballing into the pool - pretty classic.  And she threw a few bucks at the canter, but since I was riding her with my crop on the outside to try to activate the outside hind leg, I didn't think much of them.  We started out with a low "laboratory" of three bounces, which she did pretty well and those are the videos I post here.

But then we started working on jumping from up close - there was a trotting pole only about 4 feet away from a low cross-rails jump - and she just went bonkers!  Bolting at the slightest noise, near impossible to steer, bucking on the way out of the jump... At one point I lost my stirrup and was pretty sure I was going down, but was somehow able to stay on and get myself back in position.  We finally did it right once - fairly straight and rhythmic going in, good form over the jump and at the very least no bronc show coming out - and I decided to call it a day.  I figure that she was probably a little sore still from her croup thing and this is her way of complaining.  Although it might be the new feed, and it might just be her being bratty - she's been behaving really well lately so it's about time we went through a rough spot.  Something to keep an eye on at any rate, and I probably shouldn't have asked her for even small jumps so soon after being sore.

Finally had an excellent trail ride yesterday - we walked all the way around a huge almond grove, flushing at least 6 rabbits and as many or more pheasants.  Then we headed back by a way Starbuck and I had never gone on before through a semi-rural neighborhood.  Cars, bikes, motorcycles, vans, barking dogs, sewer lids, plastic bags and empty beer cans underfoot, little old ladies with canes... we survived it all and were on a long rein by the time we got back to the barn.  So very pleased with our progress as far as trail riding goes.

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