He’s longer than I thought….

… which I found out the hard way tonight!

I put up a bit of string to tie him to yesterday and tonight I walked him down to that end of the barn and tied him up, somewhat to his surprise since he hasn’t been tied up much recently, and then gave him a nice groom all the way from top to bottom and end to end, which he enjoyed – but in the process of the normal amount of moving around he does, he backed into the horse shower and knocked it askew on the wall! He also tapped one of his hind feet on the gas bottles and jumped forward a bit in surprise at the noise, but none of it worried him for more than a few seconds and he was soon digging at the floor again because I was scraping the dirt off the brush and out of his reach!

I couldn’t get the shower unit straight again: Helen said it’s bolted to the wall in two places so he may have bent the bolts – she’ll get the handyman to look at it and sort it out.

In the meantime, I’ve moved the string along to the next ring, so he definitely won’t bump into the shower again!

He’s also growing again – I noticed while I was grooming him that I now have to stretch to reach his croup and it’s as well he’s happy to let me lean on him these days! I may have to teach him to stand next to a mounting block or a crate so I can reach his back before long.

I’m away for a couple of weeks, starting next week, but when I get back, it’s high time I got George long-reining and started taking him for nice long walks – he’s showing all the signs of a bored horse at the moment, pretending he doesn’t know where his stable is and trying to take me walks down the road instead! He’s plenty old enough to break to harness now and I think the mental stimulation will do him a world of good.

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String.

There are tie up spots all over the barn – both cross-ties, with a couple of sturdy metal poles either side of a grooming bay, and rings in the walls – but there’s only one problem as far as tying George up is concerned.

They all have beautiful elastic ties. This is super – if you have a horse who stops when he feels any tension on his head collar. If you have a horse like Abe, you can leave him attached to a piece of elastic and go off to the tack room to retrieve something you forgot, and he’ll still be standing patiently waiting when you get back.

Now George ties up beautifully provided there’s no give in the rope. He doesn’t seem to even notice a piece of elastic until it goes ping and disintegrates! I dislike tying a horse directly to a steel ring, so today I made a few loops of baler twine and tied them to some of the rings, so I have some options for tying George up.

This will simplify any number of things, like grooming and feet and so forth, that are quite difficult to do with a bored young horse stomping around his stable grumping about not getting out or not getting his bucket fast enough!

Target Practice – Part George

As noted on Abe’s blog, I did some comparison videos this afternoon showing how each of the horses has their own style with targeting a ping pong bat.

George has this amazingly elephant-like swat action with his trunk-like upper lip! He’s still accurate and enjoys the game, and having watched Abe for a few weeks now he’s moderated the initial wallop somewhat and I no longer get the bat slapped out of my grip.

I’m parking this here for future reference, and for comparison with both Abe and the girls.

Horses By Night

I was asked to do night stables today and tomorrow – ‘night stables’ being the evening walk-round to check all the horses are ok, all water drinkers working, buckets topped up for those who don’t do drinkers, extra haynets put up for those who want them, feed balls popped in for a few of the horses, cats fed, dogs walked and, finally, gates closed, lights off and barn doors closed and locked for the night (the door at the far end of the barn is left a bit open for the cats, though).

It’s a delightful time to be around the horses. There’s nobody else around to spoil the intimacy, no hurry and no pressure to be out of anyone’s way, or get tools back because someone else might want them.

I did the top yard first – Geeg and Maya were out, so it was old Prince, equally old Gully and then Poppy and Dancer, so I could spend a lovely long time getting foal cuddles from Dancer! That all done, I switched off their lights and walked down to the barn, closing the gates to the top yard behind me for the night.

George is the first horse in the barn at the moment, and we had a gorgeous cuddle for a few minutes while I apologised for not being around and scratched under his mane for him – always his favourite! –  before I checked his haynets (one empty, but the other still well-filled) and popped in his feed ball. He gets about 4 kilos of fibre nuggets in the ball at night, being a growing boy – and I swear he’s grown visibly since I last saw him properly on Friday morning! – so I left him kicking it around his stable happily and moved on to Abe, who enjoyed a nice cuddle too before getting his ball (he only gets a handful of nuggets in his – just enough to be sure he doesn’t feel left out). Danny was next, getting a fresh net and his water topped up, then the same for Cree, then Ceilidh had a feed ball and finally Roo got his night net. As I walked back up the barn, there was the quiet, peaceful sound of horse teeth crunching hay – punctuated by massive bangs as George booted his ball again!

I gave the cats another tin of food (there are 5 – at this time of year with frost not far away, they’re getting 3 tins of food between them each day, plus a heaped tin of kibble twice a day), then wished all the horses good night and turned out the lights.

I might say, with the lights out, we had a magnificent starry sky overhead – which probably does mean a frost by dawn!

Wind in the Roof – Again

But what a different attitude from George!

We had a pretty wild morning here and the roof was rattling like fury – the majority of the barn roof is asbestos sheeting and solid as a rock, but there’s a transparant plastic section on the apex to let more light in and that was noisy today.

George looked about as concerned as a bag of cement.

All he was interested in was how soon someone would stop fussing and hand over his brekkie!

He wasn’t flustered about the weather when I took them out, either –  he went out quiet as a mouse, settled straight down to grazing and was happy all day, I’m told.

Lynn brought him in tonight and said he was good as gold – a little bit unguided about which way he was going, but quite cheerful about circling when he overshot turnings and went into his stable happily when he got to it, and backed on voice command alone when she asked him to take a step back so she could close the stable door.

I’m delighted – all the more as I had to be in Aberdeen this afternoon and only popped up to lend a hand turning out this morning, and I’ll be in town again all day tomorrow and Sunday, so Lynn and Emily will be turning out and bringing in all my herd for me.

You Can’t Go Backwards Forever!

Not that George is in any way deficient in his reversing skills! The other morning he came out of his stable a little abruptly and I had to reverse him twelve feet down the barn to reach Abe’s stable door to collect that young scamp so I could put them both out. In this clip I took today, George demonstrates an extremely high level of skill in going backwards – but eventually you have to stand up for yourself and stop going backwards.

As you’ll see, he did so very adequately when pushed to it by Abe, who wanted to play when George planned on eating. To be fair, they’ve both been a bit on edge today as their field has abruptly halved in size while a new fence is being put in down one edge; I ran two lines of electric cord across this morning so the fencer could work without two interested young horses ‘helping’.

 

It’s not a serious disagreement between them, merely a bit of teenage aggro, but George certainly shows off his inherently tolerant nature by how long he puts up with Abe being a little bully before he turns the tables and chases Abe off!

Water, part 3

I check George’s water drinker daily, both in case he’s done something dispicable in it and simply because unused drinkers tend to very quickly develop a biofilm or scum on the top that needs cleaning out.

I cleaned out the drinker 4 days ago after his spectacular direct hit in it. I haven’t cleaned it since….

….and there’s no film on the top!

This means he must be drinking from it, to keep it fresh!

I checked this tonight by not giving him his usual water bucket when he came in around 3.30pm, and at 7pm I offered him a bucket of water, in case he was thirsty. By the way he recoiled and looked quite offended, he certainly wasn’t thirsty! I’ll offer him another bucket of water in the morning to make sure he has the chance to drink before breakfast if he needs to, but I think he’ll probably refuse it again.

This is great news, as it saves me a whole heap of work every day cleaning out his water bucket and refilling it, and I don’t have to worry about him tipping it over and going without water all night either.

This evening he came in with just a rope round his neck, thanks to a gate error on my part – I thought I’d wedged it behind me as I went out to collect the boys, then both of them stepped past me and marched off to follow a couple of the other horses into the other yard! The gate had swung open behind me and they’d seen Prince and Gully being led up the road. I hurriedly slung a rope over George’s neck and got him into his stable, and Lynn retrieved Abe for me by a rope round his neck, but I shall make sure I bolt the gate securely behind me in future!

Poppy and Dancer arrived this morning – their blog is here.