"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Let the Games Begin!

The forecast for our area today and this week. *Gasp* OMG...It's..it's...WARM! 

Yesterday I walked out of work and got in my car, jacket in hand. It took me a second to realize that for the first time since we moved here, I had had no reaction to walking outside in simple clothes. I looked at the thermostat on the car dashboard. No wonder: it was 79 degrees! I laughed on the way to the barn.

The guys were starting to bring the horses in from turnout. Lily was already in her stall, a pacing, sweating mess, anxiously awaiting for her neighbors to be brought in. Mare, really??

My original plan had been to take Jez out for her walk first and then lunge Lily, but as I took the rope halter off the hook on her stall wall, I changed my mind. I couldn't leave Lily fretting in her stall like that. The minute I opened the door, she thought for a split second about charging out past me. "NO." I said firmly, raising a hand in the air to stop her. She jumped backwards, slamming her butt into the stall wall. Overreact much? Yes, my friends. Let me introduce you to Lily In Flaming Raging Heat.

She rolled her eyes at me in terror as I removed her halter and replaced it with the rope halter. I sighed. She's gone into heat a few times over the winter, pretty much every time it's tried to warm up, but each one would be short-lived. I'm not sure if mares really do function like this hormonally in regards to real winters, and I don't really feel like looking it up now, but I swear each time it would cool down again (usually within 24-48 hours), her heat cycle would stop again, and my normally sane, responsive mare would be back. This looks like a Big One-this is what I dealt with last spring, when I almost sold her. Overreactive, hyperactive, herd-bound and unreasonable Mare.

I took her into the indoor to lunge her. As we walked past the wash stalls, BQ was working on Clarence, and after our initial greetings, she mentioned that Lily had been an absolute NUT in the paddock that afternoon, running around and screaming for some chestnut who was standing in the chute in the big field. Jesus. I told BQ I was pretty sure she is in heat and was attributing her behavior to that. I had no idea who that chestnut was-maybe her stall neighbor? It would explain why she was pacing in the stall, since he hadn't been brought in yet.

I warmed her up at a walk, then had her trot. She kept staring out the arena door, looking towards the big field outside. Every time she did this, I asked her to canter. Soon I had all of her attention, and we moved to the outdoor arena.

We did trot-canter sets: 2 minutes trotting, 1 minute cantering, x 3 in each direction. I then moved her over to the ground poles, and had her trot over them until she was actually trotting over them-she started out galloping towards them and leaping over 3 of them at a time! She was much better to the left than the right, but she eventually got it to the right. We then moved to the jump circle that Heather, Sally and I set up a couple of weeks ago, and had her jump over the black tube (it's like the kind of plastic black tube you'd use to aid in draining water from a planted field-it's about 2' wide and tall). She used to be afraid of that thing, but she jumped over it on the lunge without so much as glancing at it. Nice. We did this to the left, but to the right it was a little more challenging because she was jumping into the jump circle, and I had to lift my arm up high to keep the lunge line from getting tangled in the standards. Every time I did this, she would come to a screeching halt. *sigh* MARE!

The black tube jump

So I stood outside of the circle, and had her jump into the circle through the red and yellow crossrail (on the right in the photo above), then back out over the gate as she completed the arc of the circle. This worked well, and she did it without hesitation.

After this, I walked her out. She was huffing and puffing and sweating, so it took awhile for her to cool down. We did some lateral groundwork at a walk, and did an exercise where she had to walk forward  next to me, then back up snappily when I asked her to, then pop forward into a walk again when asked. Since she was so overreactive, I only had to use very minimal signals to ask her to do what I wanted, and she responded beautifully. Within 2 reps, she was keeping her weight over her hindquarters, making the switch from forwards to backwards seamless. After this, I took her into the barn, where she received a good bath! I may have to give her a full body clip if the new heat keeps up.

Afterwards I walked Jez around the barn for 15 minutes in the fading light. She was a good girl despite it being dusk (dawn and dusk are when horses' sight is poorest and they are most likely to spook), and though she was a little looky, I let her look at the things she was iffy about (the tractor, a grate by the fence next to the trail head, etc). She was quite willing to go over and investigate the things she wasn't sure about. I love that kind of attitude in a horse. I noticed some more trees are blooming rapidly in the area around the trail head, and the fields are decidedly green now.

I stopped to talk to Jackie, BQ's assistant who lives in the other apartment above the barn. She had walked Jez that morning too, and while talking, I noticed Jezebel resting her right hind-the injured leg. Jackie said she'd noticed the same thing during her walk. I think the walks on concrete are making her sore.

I groomed Jez in the wash stall. She was a little impatient at first, pawing the floor as soon as I put her on the cross ties, but instead of scolding her, I walked away to get Sally's grooming stuff from her locker. Walking back quickly (I'm still wary of her having a fit in the wash stall like she did last year with Sally), I saw Jezebel had stepped forward in the cross ties so she could see where I'd gone over the divider, and was standing quietly and attentively. She didn't paw again and seemed to enjoy the attention. Jez reminds me a lot of Rose, Judy's Andalusian/QH cross mare, who loved attention so much that even negative attention was considered a reward! I taught Rose to stand quietly in the cross ties by ignoring her antics.

I picked her feet and applied some of Sally's Keratex to all 4 feet, as she seems to be more sore overall on gravel, probably from just standing in her stall 24 hours a day.

I moved her to the cross ties in front of her stall so I could watch her while I picked her stall. She stood patiently, craning her head around to see where I was going when I moved from her line of sight. She's a cool mare. I think she misses her mom. She's been very good for me, probably because I expect her to be, but there is a certain sass and twinkle in her eye that she reserves strictly for Sally.

Jez got tucked in for the night, and I called Sally on the way home to let her know about Jez resting her right hind during (if given the chance) and after walks on the concrete. She said she will call the vet today to see what she says, if we can mix up the surfaces where Jezebel is allowed to walk on. I think 15 minutes on concrete multiple times a day may be too much right now.

Last night at home, I opened all the windows to allow air in, and even then it was too hot. I turned the AC on for the first time EVER since moving from FL! I am wearing a sleeveless shirt to the barn today!


  1. It suddenly got warm here too--time to shed out horses and hook up the hoses again! Hope Lily gets back to behaving herself soon!

    1. Yesss! Everyone was getting bathed today at the barn! And thanks! :)

  2. Spring heats at not fun. I hope she snaps out of it soon.