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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Scratch Goes to the Vet

Okay, first things first.  I really thought I would have more time to document our progress.  As it turns out, training a horse and maintaining your normal household duties is a real chore!

Our first ride was the 20th of July.  We've been riding every day since then.  I started in a snaffle and quickly moved to the hackamore.  I wasn't sure what kind of shape Scratch's teeth were in and I didn't want to hurt his mouth.  It turns out that was a good decision.

One of our sponsors for the VHTC is Bakersfield Large Animal Vet Hospital.  Dr. Tolley has been very supportive and agreed to do a medical exam and insure Scratch is up-to-date on his vaccinations.  I knew Scratch would have to go into a stock for the dental.  I really wanted to make sure he was safe.  I've had Scratch going through very tight openings for the last three weeks.

Listen, before I give you the story, Here are the "takeaways' from today's visit followed by a short video of the procedure.

  • Scratch is estimated to be 9 years old.  That means he was born around 2006 and was a stallion until 2013.
  • He got his teeth mechanically floated.
  • He received his EWE/WNV/TET and Flu/Rhino vaccines.
  • He Fecal Egg count was negative 
  • He has a body condition score of 5
Now here's the video.

Our appointment was for 1 pm and the vet is about 15 minutes away.  I haven't trailered Scratch anywhere since I brought him home.  I've gotten him in the trailer and drove him around and let him back out at the house, but we've never been someplace else and got out and back in the trailer.  The vet is near the freeway and car lots.  Much noise and balloons.

Scratch hopped in the trailer no problem.  We were about 10 minutes early so we just waited in the trailer.  It was about 96 in Bakersfield today, but overcast.  When everyone go back from lunch I put Scratch in a pen.  Dr. Tolley was on an emergency call and would be a few minutes late.

There was a stock outside similar to the one Scratch would be asked to walk into.  When it came time to take him in, I asked the handler to walk him through the one outside first.  There was a touch of resistance, but he complied.  And, when it came time to go into the inside stock, Scratch walked right in.

The exam went smoothly.  Dr. Tolley performed about $400 worth of vet work and was very helpful in determining age and body condition.

When it was over, Scratch hopped back in the trailer and we headed home.  Now it's time to go to work!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

It's a Whole New World Out There

Scratch got his first taste of the saddle.  It's been a couple of good weeks with Scratch. It was quite an adventure.  I was having problems getting the front cinch done up.  Scratch had blown up so much I could not get to the first hole.  Who knew a horse could suck in that much air?  It must be a natural protective measure.  Anyway, Scratch is very good at it.

I've repeated the exercise a couple of times since and he has accepted it well.  He does move around a lot.  The back cinch is always last to go up.  He was moving around and getting worried about the way it was banging him on the legs.  I gave him the option of standing still and not getting bumped.  When he declined I worked him around the pen quickly and it banged on him a lot.  My goal is he will stand perfectly still while I get him tacked up.

He has been wearing the snaffle too.  It is getting much easier to get in his mouth.  Scratch is the poster boy for "fish butt lips"  -  you know his lips are closed so tight they are water proof like a fish's butt.

We are going to have to pick up the pace on some stuff.  His feet are getting long.  He tolerates me picking them up.  Next step is to get a rasp on them.  And, I should clarify, I've been working on the front feet.  Sooner or later, I need to get to the back.

We left the yard today.  Leading Scratch has improved and we walk around the yard.  He's great at walking between fences, under the trees and around the trailer.  I wondered what his reaction would be to the world outside the fence.  I opened the gate and he stopped dead in his tracks.

There were several surfaces he would need to cross.  First, there was rocky dirt.  Next, a railroad tie and a cement footing.  Finally, Scratch needed to walk down the concrete driveway and onto the asphalt street.  I doubt he has ever walked on concrete or asphalt.

Scratch really fought me on the very first step.  He reared and pulled back.  He was more reactive than I had ever seen him.  I wasn't sure what was causing him so much angst.  Finally, I committed to doing the sending exercise in front of the gate.  This was a big deal at first.  About the 10th time he started to calm.  I moved a small step closer, then a few more inches.

Scratch After his Bath
Opps!  He accidentally stepped on the railroad tie.  He stopped.  Nothing happened.  He continued.  That was a turning point.  Once he knew nothing would happen when he stepped on the railroad tie it was easy going to the asphalt.

We walked up and down the street.  Scratch saw cars go by, the neighbor's dogs, the other neighbor's goats and cows.  He showed some nervous energy at times, but each time he calmed down quickly.  We walked around for about 30 minutes.  We practiced yielding hindquarters and flexing.

Afterward it was bath time.  Scratch like the coolness of the water, but not the wetness.  He fidgeted as I got as much of the salt and sweat off as I could.  He looks so handsome when he is shiny and wet.  It did not last long, however.  As soon as I put him back in his pen he was down and rolling around in the dirt.  He was on his own time, I suppose he gets to do whatever he likes.

On another positive note:  Bakersfield Large Animal Veterinary Hospital has signed on to help sponsor Scratch in the competition.  They will be providing vaccinations and a dental exam.

I'm really excited for two reasons.  First, I love that Dr. Tolley supports the equine community.  He knows the organizers are trying to help these horses.  I'm sure he gets many requests, I am glad he honored ours.

Secondly, it is going to be very cool to find out how old Scratch is.  And, we'll get to see how his teeth fared in the wild.  Will he have a lot of hooks?  Are his teeth in better or worse shape than the average stable horse?  Will he have a reaction to the vaccinations?

Before I get him to BVH I'll need to insure that he is safe to work around.  I'll also have to get him back in the trailer.  I wonder what effect his first trailer ride has on his second?

I am preparing him to ride. He is ready.  This weekend would be great.  Ranae and I are going to work on a plan for Scratch's first ride, then we will rehearse it with my horse Jessie.  Preparation is the key to success and once I get to riding Scratch an entire new world will open up to both of us.