Finally it looks as if we’re achieving what I set out to find months ago – a place for the horses to live together as a herd! We’ve very close to exchanging final missives on a 6-acre smallholding with 5 sheds (one of which has 4 stables in), a 3 bedroom bungalow and a patch of scrubby woodland into the bargain, the rest being a nice level grassy field.
It’ll take some elbow grease to get it perfect, but it’s where I’m moving the horses to next month. I’ve told Helen (stables owner) that I”m moving them on the 14th – that’s a week after I get the keys, on the 7th, to give me time to lay in straw and hay, get the power on and water flowing, and hopefully also sweep the chimneys so I can light the stove in the house and get the place warm! Initially there’ll be Abe, Poppy and Dancer moving over – when George comes back from his session with the trainers he’ll be joining them, of course (Abe will be delighted to have his bestest pal back!) and at some point Ceilidh (Poppy’s field mate and Dancer’s nanny) will be moving over as well – I’m of the opinion Ceilidh should come with Poppy and Dancer, since they’re all very tightly attached to each other, but Ceilidh’s owner may prefer to wait until there’s no alternative (we’re pretty sure the stables will be going belly-up in the next month or two!)
Once the horses have moved into Cairnorchies, I’ll be running a single blog to cover all of them plus my other livestock and pets.
Abe went happily into the trailer this morning until all four hooves were solidly on the ramp, then paused to admire the scenery and look around. I didn’t hurry him, of course, and when he reversed down the ramp I just stopped feeding him nuggets until he came back up again, which he did after a minute or so, and this time he ventured further up until one front hoof was in the trailer itself.
He’s quite relaxed and willing about it all, so I left it at that. He’s progressing in the right direction and we have three weeks or so before I need to load him to move to our new place.
Red hands because I decided to give Abe’s hooves a light spray of iodine solution this evening as a prophylactic against thrush – like Poppy he has quite concave soles and a strongly-marked cleft in his frog, which in my experience does predispose to thrush being able to lurk in damp crevices. The 10% iodine solution should knock any bacteria flat before they can get established. It’s also dyed my left thumb red where I missed his frog on one hoof!
He’s getting quite good now at stringing two steps of slightly-higher-knee lift together while moving forward, so we gravely step up and down the corridor together each morning and evening.
Abe’s made good progress with the trailer despite the wind today and is quite calm about the trailer, even if he likes to keep one hind hoof on terra firms, thank you kindly! He’s not spooky or worried about it, he steps onto the ramp quite readily and calmly – he’s just not ready to walk right up yet. That’s ok – he’ll get there in a few more days, I think.
Last time Abe was around the trailer he had the turning-in-transit issue, followed by the leap-through-and-cut-himself thing, so he’s had a long layoff to get over all that. I’ve parked the trailer in the top yard for starting to get Dancer chilled with the trailer, though, so Abe and George are getting refresher sessions too.
Abe greeted the sight of car and trailer with deep suspicion and a big snort, but after a moment standing staring at it, he walked calmly enough round it, looked at the front ramp, then lined himself up well for the rear ramp when we got that far. I didn’t push him, just let him look and gave him lots of praise and treats, and then I stepped onto the ramp and after a moment’s hesitation, he followed me as far as putting his front hooves halfway up the ramp. He stopped there but I wasn’t asking for any more, so he got lots of praise and treats and then out to his field. We’ll have another go tonight on his way in from the field and I think he’ll pick it up again reasonably fast.
Monty Python fans will instantly know what I’m talking about.
I thought I’d stretch Abe’s mind a little, so I’ve introduced another cue for his Spanish Walk movement; me lifting a knee as I stand next to him. I introduced it in the stable yesterday, and this morning I gave it a try in the corridor as he was going out.
Success! Two nice steps of getting-there Spanish Walk!
It’s still hard work for him to lift his leg higher than usual while still moving forwards, but he’s got the idea and it’s just practice from here on in – and now we can highstep down the corridor together and give everyone a good laugh in the process!
Here he is on Christmas Day, enjoying a bit of chilly sunshine.
Poor Abe. He had a hoof-trimming appointment this morning so I left him in rather than give poor Odette a horse with mud clagged up to his knees to trim – but first George got a good groom and went out, then Henry went out, and then Daniel went out, and Ceilidh went out in the other direction…. and Lulu went out, leaving just Zarla, whom he doesn’t know and who lives at the far end of the barn!
He shouted. He fairly screamed about it, in fact, while I was taking the mare and foal to the school so they’d be out of the way for Lynn to muck out their box, though he quietened down when I went back, took off his rug, gave him a brush and picked out his hooves…. but then I went off again to collect Poppy and Dancer once their stable was done, so he tried plaintive whinnying instead.
George never answered. He was busy slithering around the field with Henry and trying out all the different heaps of hay I put out for them, and watching across the road where Ceilidh was waiting for Poppy and Dancer… quite heartless!
We even had to move Abe out of his stable and trim him in George’s, just to add to the insult, because Lynn hadn’t reached Abe’s box yet but had cleaned up George’s!
Despite all that, though, Abe was very good. He did fidget a bit and was somewhat on his toes, but a few stern words settled him down each time and he behaved well under the circumstances.
Curtailed because Henry arrived (see George’s blog for details) and I put Abe away while the new baby came off the box and into his stable.
All the same, Abe had a good walk, with several good higher-than-usual steps and a good solid stop on a mat into the bargain, so well done him!