Wednesday, September 29, 2010

what a mystery?

OK, so thought we were going to have a foal yesterday. But Grey was just teasing us. Good thing to since i wasn't going to be here. My lovely boyfriend, has been overseas competing at sailing regattas for the last 3 months, and finally made it home yesterday. So i zoomed down to the big city, to see him for the night. Also finally we had the farrier out to do the wild horses feet. yahh!! but while here he looked in the wild stallions mouth and low and behold, the horse has aged 2 years in just four months...

so yesterday morning,i was checking grey over before i turned her loose in the paddock. i do this with her every morning to see if their is any signs of impending birth. For once there was some milk in her udder. Huge excitement, maybe she will be foaling soonish?Although no wax their yet, meaning probably not going to give birth in the next 24hours. So i decided to risk it, and go to the city, to see the boyfriend.

Got back this afternoon and rushed out to check grey. No milk, it had all vanished again. So back to waiting....

Also while i was down in the city, the farrier came by. Lucky for me, i had bribed my mother to be here, so the horses could have their feet done. Grey was apparently an angel, behaving like she'd been having her feet done her whole life. Now she has normal looking feet, and is moving around a whole lot easier. No slipping, and sliding down hills, like she's on snow ski's anymore.

Stallion was apparently a little apprehensive. suspicious of a strange man coming towards him holding all his tools, then trying to pick up his feet. but after a few spooks, gave in and allowed his feet to be trimmed.

Now for the big surprise of the day. The farrier and mum got to talking. Wondering just how old, the wild stallion is. So the farrier offered to look at his teeth to get a real idea. Low and behold, hes got the teeth of a four/five year old horse. But wait here's the real clincher. When me and a friend cheeked his teeth, about a month after he arrived. His mouth only showed him to be 2 or 3 years old.....but sure enough,when i got home and checked, there he was with a completely different set of teeth, from the last time i looked in his mouth. so how old is he that is the mystery??

Friday, September 24, 2010

quick update

The number of babies on the farm has doubled. but still no horse babies. Unfortunately while out jump schooling with one of my big horses, we didn't look before we leaped, and landed on a wild mother duck who was sitting on her ducklings, hiding on the other side.. Feeling full of remorse i spent the next 3 hours trying to find the ducklings, that scattered and had hidden through the long grass. i found two, and brought them home to live with me. They couldn't be more than a day or two old as they still had the points on their beak from breaking out of the shell.

To top things off, one of the young and stupid geese was so busy sitting on the 1 egg left in her nest, that she forgot to feed her already hatched goslings and just let them wander off. then she let a couple of young and very confused males, peck at them and chase them even furthur away. Geese are actually excellent fathers usually, so this was an exception. So two goslings joined the two ducklings inside. Now we have a cage in front of the fire with four gorgeous, fluffy, yellow and brown bundles all cosyed up together inside. the ducklings although about the same age are only about a quarter the size of the baby geese, and definitely think they are the new parents.

So by the time i had horses put away, bobby calves fed and in bed, ducklings and goslings snuggled in for the night. It was dark and grey was waiting patiently at the gate. Giving out the occasional whinny to make sure i hadn't just forgot about her. God forbid she missed going to her warm stable, and had to go without dinner. Finally i got to her, but forgot the halter, not wanting to walk all the way back to the barn to fetch it, i just opened the gate and called. Shes an angel she just came trotting up, and happily followed right behind me all the way in the dark to the barn. Most of the other horses, would take this opportunity to run off to the good grass, and behave like an idiot. Not grey she came right along behind me, all the way straight into her stable. Bless her sweet soul! if only they were all as easy as her...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The wild horse goes to town!

Just to clear things up, i love both my wild horse equally. I just seem to have a lot more to say about the grey at the moment. Which is why there seems to be more posts about her. The stallion hasn't had any injuries or vet visits yet (touch wood), so there hasn't been to many new topics to talk about him, hes going fantastic though and i do love him to bits.

But today the Grey (who I'm thinking of naming either Aroha of Silver fern) had her first very big adventure. She went to town!!! Okay not as exciting as it may sound, it was time for her 1 month tetanus booster so i took her to the vet to get it. I did debate just getting the vet to do a farm visit, since shes so pregnant. But its only a ten minute drive to town, and a hell of lot cheaper to take the horse to the vet. My budget is already stretched paper thin.Ive done this many times, with the horse just standing in the float in the parking lot, while the vets do their thing. The greys already been on and off the float a couple times, so i figured she wouldn't be worried about getting on the float and a short trip wouldn't hurt her.

sure enough she was a gem. Horses have problem because of people. most things, they will cope with, unless people go around making a big deal and trying to rush everything. It took about 5 minutes to load her. Grey is not flighty or spooky, but she can not be rushed. She went 1 step at a time into the float, pausing in between to look at the sides of the float etc. But once in, she was happy to stand there. Eating her haynet (as long as there is food nothings a problem for these wild ponies) she didn't even blink as i did the ramp and the door at the back. I gave her a minute or two to assess the situation, tied her up and away we went down the road. I did check her at the farm gate. although she was looking around, didn't appear overly worried.

got to town, no problem. opened the door to say hi, and there was the wild horse, a little worried and looking around, but not worked up or stressed. Within a minute it was back to the hay net again and eating away. I took a few quick pics and dashed off to get the vet.

Vet visit was over in ten minutes. Needles and injections not bothering my stoic little wild horse. She just stood there quietly. no jumping around or silliness, was an angel for the vet like she'd been doing it her whole life.
within an hour of leaving the farm she was home sweet home again. No dramas no stressed horse. As a special treat she got 15minutes of grazing the long grass on the driveway before returning to the paddock. This evening there she was at the gate, waiting to come in, obviously no ill feelings after her trailer ride.
now if she'd only have her baby....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mums the word

Geezus!! getting two minutes to write anything at the moment is a huge mission. Over the weekend i picked up 8 calves to raise, and 8 goslings hatched. The farm is filled with baby animals..Except for baby horses no luck yet with the grey girl giving birth. hopefully soon though. I'm flat out, it feels like i never stop working. its feeding calves, or rounding up geese, feeding out horses, riding horses, giving riding lessons it never stops. But what i wanted to talk about today is mothers.

Some mothers will mother anything, and that mothering instinct seems to cross all species and racial boundaries. We hear and see those feel good stories on the news, about a cat adopting a stray rabbit kit or the like. Every so often on the farm you will also get those moments that make u got 'owwww', and you get that warm feeling and think the world is actually a pretty kind was one of those days.

My poor little bobby calves had a 6 hour journey to get here, while most seemed to arrive in good shape there was one or two that are a little worse for wear, and have a case of scours (smelly, squirty runny poos). To the horses horror, all the calves are staying indoors in the stable until they're a bit stronger. the wild stallion and Milo have had to give up there stables at night and are not impressed at all. The grey still has her stable. Horses are generally not to fond of calves on first meeting. Most of my lovely warm bloods and domestic horses had a tantrum and either tried to avoid going in the barn or whirled and spun around in their stables and behaved like their was a lion in the next stall. All except the broodmares including the grey. to them, it seemed to be yet another smelly, loud and bothersome baby animal, not much different than a baby horse. They unlike the other horses seemed to realise it was just a harmless group of crying babies.

I have seen my bad tempered and huge broodmare stand quietly while a (human) baby was allowed to pull and poke at her nose and wave its hands in her face. Any adult she would have stormed off. Another mare has tolerated puppies and kittens constantly running between her legs, yet killed an adult dog with a single kick. There is something about babies of any sort that bring out a calm and nurturing side in all mothers it would seem. My own mother sat on the stable floor,cuddling and rubbing, stinky, shitty calves to perk them up while they were down with scours. This nurturing nature that all mother animals seem to have never ceases to amaze me.

as i was moving some calves around today, one of the sickly ones managed to to totter, swaying and staggering out of its stable. to where a couple of the horse were tied up. weaving, weakly from side to side it made about 2 metres before it lost balance, fell sideways, leaned against the horses leg for a second, and then promptly ended up on the ground underneath it's belly. i was in the piranha pit of healthy calves and couldn't move in time to go to its rescue, thinking it was about to be trampled under the horse. But no, instead of doing anything stupid for once the broodmare just looked around, heaved a big sigh as if to say 'what are you doing down there silly baby?' and then set about licking the calf clean, as if it were her own baby.

The grey mare from the wild, also gave a good display of inter species mothering. even though I'm fairly sure she's never seen calves before in her life. After pausing for a little sniff of the barn when she first walked in, she then happily marched into her stable right next to the calves. No bother and no silliness like the domestic horses. Then there she was, as soon as she finished her dinner, head hanging over the wall sniffing noses with all the bobby calves. who obviously though she looked quite a lot like mother cow. Now every morning when i get to the barn with my buckets of milk, theirs Grey standing, with her head over the calf pen, and 8 little calves curled up asleep in the sawdust against the stable wall and under her nose, as close as they can get to her.

While it might not be as amazing as some of the stories you see on TV, every morning it puts a smile on my face to see the horse from the wild babysitting the 8 motherless calves from the dairy farm.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the stallion

Been meaning to put this up for ages. First pic is the stallion a month ago and the second picture is of him a few days after he arrived from the wild. These days he looks even better. Actually looking like a horse rather than a clothes rack.

Today he even did a little jumping. Just being lunged over a few knee high jumps. it was his first time doing more than trot poles, and he didn't bat an eyelid. just popping sweetly over them. it continues to surprise me just how easy these horses are. i think for me, it is quicker to take a horse from the wild and train it, than it is to take a normal horse and retrain into a good riding horse.

Monday, September 13, 2010

i need a name

Its getting bad...i still do not have names for my 2 wild horses....still they are called either 'grey' or 'bay', or 'the stallion' and the 'girl'. the problem is i have called them by this for so long i cant think of anything else, When i asked the kids that come for lessons, they came up with names like 'stardust' and 'wild heart' which although good for movie horses, i want something a little less Disney for my two wild horses. Ideas???

O another note, thought id share the daily dealings of the 'the stallion' with everyone because i think it is one of the funniest things Ive ever seen.

So every morning i make my way to the barn. The stallion doesn't call out like the girl, but he is always watching for you. From the stable him and his buddy Milo, the new forest pony go out to the paddock for the day. Then its off to get coco, the Shetland pony from his diet pen and let him out with the two other boys. This is where all the fun begins.

To give you some idea coco stands less than a metre at the shoulder(about 9hh), is short fat and covered in long black/brown hair that is usually matted in mud thanks to his habit of rolling in puddles. He is a four legged tiny terror that from a distance looks kind of like a hairy dog/sheep/ horse cross. The stallion and Milo are like twins, both standing about 14hh. Milo is a bright bay, stocky, slightly hairy and is well rounded but fit instead of fat, hes is the no nonsense leader of the 3 boys. Bay is the playful sweet and naive one of the three.

as OK back to the story. Every morning i take coco to the paddock with Milo and the stallion. the moment the halter is off and hes free, he's off at a gallop. Sprinting as fast as his little legs will go, like a chubby brown bullet,across the paddock towards the two bigger boys. Every morning he goes right for the stallion either running straight into him or nipping him at the run and galloping off again.This morning the stallion didn't lift his head fast enough and coco ran into it, knocking the poor wild stallion sideways, and then he kept on running. Its a well oiled routine, the stallion, after allowing himselt to be hit by the tiny terror, turns and chases him.

This will goes on for a good 10minutes. Ruining and playing in the morning sun.the stallion chasing coco, and then coco running around nipping him when ever he can. Its all good natured, coco somehow manages to rear right up and get his front legs over the stallions back to which the stallion just gently goes down on his knees and nips him back. All the time the tiny coco seems to dominate the formerly wild horse. When coco has had enough he just ignores the stallion and starts eating. Usually within an hour you will look over to find coco and the stallion fast asleep stretched out flat on the ground together. So cute. haha so much for fierce wild stallions.....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

lets talk about stallions...and the geese

So stallions have this reputation of being some kind of unpredictable monster, that you handle at your own risk.constantly I'm asked "arn't you worried the stallion will attack you" or "hes from the wild he must be dangerous". But truth be told stallions are actually just horses, horses that have all their hormones and are going to test you to see who's in charge. They don't just randomly turn into uncontrollable testosterone fuelled menaces, but they will exploit all their handlers bad habits and lapses in training. If handled correctly from the beginning you will never have problems, allow them to walk all over you and you only have your self to blame when they trample, you and cant be handled later on. But i think this goes for most male animals that still have their balls attached, dogs, horses, and apparently geese.

The cute, lovable and affectionate geese are no more. I mentioned before about them harassing the dogs and horses. Today they turned on me, i have only myself to blame. Always i have encouraged the geese to eat out of my hand, i thought it was cute when they pecked at your shoe laces or nibbled your ponytail and priceless when they came and sat in your lap. They basically had the run of the place. So with no boundaries it was bound to happen that one day they would take there temper out on me too.

This evening As i was walking to get there dinner, i was attacked from behind, by my mothers formerly sweet male goose named Hero. What i did to send him into a rage, I'm not sure. Maybe i wasn't walking fast enough to fetch his dinner? all i know is one minute i was walking, next i was struck in the back of the leg by a beaked demon. it was such a heavy hit i almost fell down. these birds are heavy and he had definitely taken a ruining leap at my leg. Not only that he was determined not to let go his death grip he now had on my pants. After much swinging of my leg, kicking and swearing, i finally managed to dislodge the irate gander. who then ran at me hissing! luckily i was carrying a bucket witch i threw, knocking him in the head and then ran after him flapping my arms, and swearing about goose dinners until he retreated to a safe distant.

What did this teach me?? all animals need boundaries. I would never have this problem with my horses especially my wild stallion. But that's because from day one they have good manners drilled into them. Never is the bay stallion allowed to nibble, rub or push me around. He has to pay attention to me whenever I'm handling him, no looking off at girls or neighing or any behaviour, other than what I'm asking. he is required to walk or stand beside me quietly at all times. So he has always known that I'm boss and in no situation can he push me around. therefore no matter what his mood he still respects me and behaves himself. He will never turn on me like the pysco attack goose did, because he knows to the core that I'm boss and not to be pushed around. And you know what hes happy, hes not scared of me he loves to work and does whatever i ask.

Happy horses are horses that know their place and know who's in charge. After all that is how a herd is structured. No horse pushes around the boss mare, she wouldn't tolerate it. Even in a bachelor herd one male will be in charge. No young colt in the wild would be allowed to go rub his head, itch himself or push around another horse . he would be kicked and sorted out pretty quick. Horses know about personal space and understand who's boss.They are happy when they know their place in the herd and can just follow the herd leader. its only people who don't understand, who allow the horse to come into their space uninvited and then wonder why their horse tramples all over them later.

People who say that their horse just suddenly turned on them just missed all the warning signs that probably been going on for a long long time. I just wish all the idiots would learn something and teach their horse some manners before making stupid comments about 'crazy stallions' any horse can be crazy stallion are just more like to find the loop hole in bad handling than a more placid gelding.

now i just have to put this theory into practice with the geese.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

first day of spring

This is what grey looks like these days. Its hard to show in a 2D photo but the changes are huge. Temperament and physically too.Just look at that big belly! spring is definitely here (literally September 1st is the first day of spring) the geese have gone full swing into breeding mode, the females hiding their nests all over the farm and the males suddenly going from nice pet geese to swaggering hissing monsters that threaten to attack anything near them. Except for Grey who continues eating no matter how close they come or how loud they hiss. being completely ignored by grey the geese have learned to leave her alone and gone on to terrorize the dogs,cat, and other horses that actually react to there threats.
Grey even got a spring clean! I shampooed her tail and socks, when i was washing her leg this morning...Although i soon came to the realisation that it was going to take many, many sessions before i could remove the years of wild horse dirt and stains from her tail and coat. but hey, they look a bit better at least.
Every evening now she walks in from the paddock to the barn at liberty, doesn't even need to be haltered just follows along behind you up the driveway. Even standing politely for her leg to be doctored before she goes to her stable for her much loved dinner. I wish it was possible to show the changes in her attitude. It is the one thing that continues to amaze me everyday.