Friday, June 19, 2009

So It Begins

With the rain and the beginning of summer, so comes the Sweet Itch. Silk is rubbing her belly in her special dirt patch, despite all my efforts. It’s not as bad as last year, thanks to the Deo Gel. Of course, it’s only June, so we’ve got a lot more itching to do before the no-see-‘ums are gone.

It’s more cloudy than sunny today, but we’re celebrating that the rain has given us a brief respite. There was more rain in this last week than we’ve had all Spring. Yesterday, the corral flooded, the basement flooded but miraculously the barn didn’t. Neither horse left her stall all day, which was a first. Siete didn’t want to move even four feet into her mother's stall since the mud had this peculiar quicksand-like consistency. She lost a shoe the day before, and it was raining too hard for the farrier to come. We’re waiting for him today. Just before dinner, my muck boot got stuck, and I ended up with a very wet, gooey sock before I was able to pull it out. Not wanting to stick my disgustingly soaked foot into the boot, I squished all the way back to the house with one boot on and one off. It was that kind of day.

We’ve settled into a slow routine around here. Silk and Siete are so consistent in their behavior that you could set your watch by what they do. Breakfast comes at 6:30, even if it’s pouring rain. I make a point of being prompt since I know it’s been a long time from last night’s dinner. They wander back and forth in the corral from stall to stall. At 9 am , I groom them, clean their feet and turn them out in the pasture. After they graze for two and a half hours, it’s so weird but they head back to the barn on their own accord. They wander right though that wonderful open gate (thank you, honey!) between the corral and the pasture.

At 12:30, when I come outside with their feed buckets, each horse is waiting for me in her own stall, sticking her nose out and staring at the back door. After lunch, they switch stalls for exactly a half an hour, and then, Silk goes back to her side of the barn to join Siete. It’s siesta time. I don’t know why but they always sleep together in Silk’s stall. When my daughter gets home from school at 2:!5, each horse gets another flake of hay to last until 5:30, at which point dinner is served. Shavings are fluffed, lights out and they’re both sound asleep by seven. They don’t object to any unexpected changes, like a little groundwork or a short ride, but they certainly aren’t looking for any excitement.

It’s a big change from last year, when Siete was six and rambunctious. I felt like she was never satisfied to be where she was, always at the gate looking for some action. Seven seems to have given her peace of mind. JME predicted it, and I’m so glad that she was right. I’m wondering if anyone else has seen a change in your horse between age six and seven?


Anonymous said...

I love watching them organize their days with their routines - our horses out in the pastures also have their regular times to come to the water trough - the mares do this all together led by the alpha - and to nap. It's nice that your young one is settling down!

Victoria Cummings said...

Kate - What's so interesting to me is that when the horses are given freedom of choice, they spend as much time as they do in their stalls. All that grass is right out there when they want it, but they pretty much always stick to their routine. I think that giving Siete this control over her location has really helped to calm her down. I see a big difference in everything we do together, a greater willingness.

Paint Girl said...

Now that I am home everyday, I really notice my horses and their routines. It is quite interesting. Naps, grazing, even drinking water all comes at the same time! Horses are so routine oriented, that I bet that is why Siete is calming down!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

The beginning of your post, with all the itchies and muddy boot stories reminded me of the book, "Alexander's Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" lol! My kids love this book and I enjoy reading it to them, especially the part about moving to Australia. hehe!

I think my mare must be deprived. She only gets fed twice a day, not four, like yours. She's kept on a dry lot paddock, so there's nothing much to munch up there either.
And she is not as scheduled as your two girls either, though she does seem to stand around a lot and look bored. She probably needs a job. Or something to stimulate her mind sigh. But at least we don't have the fly and buggy problems, or flooding and rain. Nope....just dry, dry around here. lol!
Your comment about Siete calming down when she turned 7 reminded me of the 'Horse Definition' gadget on my blog.

Today it said "Aged: a horse 7 years of age or older"

Wow! I never thought of a 7 yr old horse as being aged. What does that make my 16 yr old mare? lol!


billie said...

Cody is newly 6 and I have seen a shift in demeanor for him. He's pushing some boundaries, mostly in the herd, but a few with us. Things he was bold about he now seems to need to test - and it's more about testing us - will we still be calm and kind or will we push back. It's interesting to see. The pony went through a similar thing too.

Mine are pretty much set in their routines too, although I vary the times a little on purpose just so they don't get too locked in to "on the dot."

(They get free choice hay so they can always munch on that.)

We're looking at 99-100 for tomorrow and I'm trying to remain hopeful that the timing with the solstice means the temps are all downhill from here to fall. (a girl can hope...!)

Enjoy your girls and their new calm routines!

detroit dog said...

This is very sweet, and very interesting.

My dog Bastet loved routine, and now I notice that Quasar does, too. What I've learned -- or at least realized -- thanks to them, is that I, too, like and function better with routine. I've just spent my life mentally rebelling it, instead of accepting it, and being content. Slowly, I'm coming around -- thanks to the animals.

C-ingspots said...

If nothing else, the horse is a creature of habit. So glad to hear that your filly has blossomed into an aged mare and is enjoying some peace. My Kadie mare has sweet itch/bug sensitivity too. Not in earlier years, but in the last 3 it has developed. She suffers so, and I've yet to find something to give her some peace. I give her sponge baths every other day and apply cortisone gel to help with the itch. It helps, but the problem remains.

Bill Evertson said...

It sounds like a comfortable routine for the girls and they probably get some excitement watching us humans do silly things like losing our boots ;)

billie said...

I meant to add that I've read that spirulina and if that doesn't work, chondroitin sulfate for skin allergies, including sweet itch, can be very effective.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I love watching our herd and their routine. They are very specific about where they graze and what time they drink and when they move to different paddocks etc... I'm glad Siete is calmer now, it's so much nice for everyone all around. I hope you find something to help Silk's itchies, that must be so irritating and painful to deal with. I like the warmer weather, but I do hate the bugs.

Pony Girl said...

Yes, horses have such internal clocks and routines. It does make you understand how big changes in their routines, for certain horses, can really cause them to have anxiety or even colic issues.
I hope that itchiness doesn't drive your mares too crazy!!

John and Regina Zdravich said...

I didn't notice a change in our horses between those ages....except maybe Divna spooks a little less, but that could be more with having different experiences. I just hate all the bugs this time of year, too. And they are just going to get worse between now and August.

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Heart of a Cowgirl said...

Hi there. Just found your blog. We have a little mare who is now 10, we got her when she was just turning 6. I don't think I noticed a change in her behavior (calming down) until about 8-ish. But, she is a paint, so that might have something to do with it!