Monday, October 5, 2009

Brakes, bites and another ride

Sorry, no photos this week! Local ride, local trails, and I forgot to take some pictures!

While driving back from the farrier on Thursday, my truck brakes went from starting to feel a tad mushy, to going all the way to the floor. Do YOU know how to stop your rig if your truck brakes go out? Your brake controller has a lever on it, that when you slide it over, it will engage the trailer brakes, without your stepping on the trucks brake pedal. KNOW where it is, and how to reach down to use it, without taking your eyes off the road. Because I knew right where it was, I was able to get the truck and trailer home OK. Go for a drive on a quiet road, and practice driving, stopping etc. without ever stepping your foot on the brake pedal. It was interesting how I found myself being MUCH more aware of stopping distance, down-shifting, planning the slow down well ahead for a stop sign etc. I also realized how much I use the brakes, and maybe planning ahead all the time, would be a smoother, safer ride for the horses. Just something to consider.

This weekends ride was just 12 miles from the house. About 8 of those miles are on our dirt country roads, and not much traffic. While I tried to get the truck in to get the brakes fixed Thursday afternoon, that was not to happen, so I carefully drove over to the ride, using the trailer brake controller. This really is not something I would recommend anyone doing. Thankfully we got to and from the ride safe and sound.

I have not arrived at a ride on Friday in a long time, especially in the afternoon. I had volunteered to pick up the vet at the airport, since I am in and out of DFW a bunch when the hubby flys out, and then with the brake issue, it is just how it worked out. So, I arrived, got a good, flat, level camping spot, that I did not need to unhook the truck from the trailer. Took Hank over and got him checked in, and then set up camp. It was a beautiful day, and Saturday was to be much the same. We would not ride out until 8AM, and we were doing about 26 miles, at a 5.25mph pace. I had been looking forward to this particular vet judging a ride, as he is very metabolics minded, and not into any odd, set up type obstacles that would not pertain (in my mind) to a distance horse. So, not far from camp, he did observe us passing through a gate that had a yucky, muddy area right in the middle of it, and Hank stepped through nice. Some horses refused, spun, or worse, jumped through, slamming their rider into the gate as they did so. We had a metabolic check, and Hank was great, with the exception of his capillary Refill which was decreased. This has been something that will happen once and awhile, and it does not seem to mesh with any other signs of fatigue. I have talked to a few vets, including the one this weekend about it, and no one has any idea why it will do this at a ride, when everything else is great. It could be something to do with they surgery (now 13 months ago) that is always going to come up odd once and awhile. Have looked into our electrolyte protocol, doing some different changes, and have not found that it made a difference. Weather etc. has also not seemed to have any correlation. Oh, and when in the ride does not make a difference. He has checking in with it, has gone a full ride with it perfect, and has had it change during a ride, then go back to normal. But, when it changes, he will often lose some points. And, that is just something I will have to live with, as I can't seem to figure how to "fix" it, or if it even really needs fixed for this horse.

Our check out Saturday night was very thorough, with the vet checking all four legs for any soreness, trotting for soundness, checking the back, and all metabolics. Hank checked out great. It started to sprinkle as they were finishing up, and by the time it was time to head to bed, it had started to rain. A steady, soaking rain, that lasted all night long. Often storms will miss us, but this was not the thunderstorm type activity, but pure, simple rain. The kind that makes some types of soil a muddy mess. So Sunday AM, they changed where we were going to go a bit, and used a trail section that has less issues that the one originally planned, and off we went. We had a drizzle for a lot of the day, but it was not cold, and actually kind of nice out there. Except for the sections of red clay that get sloppy. All weekend Hanks P&R's were good, and he was very relaxed, even when we had horses out in front of him. We had the horsemanship judge watch us open and close one of our trail gates, and even though they had a small log across, under the gait, that Hank was suspicious of, as it had never been there before (he never misses changes to the trails he rides all the time), he was very good, and we did the gate in a manner I thought was pretty good.

Now, anyone who says that their horses does not bite or kick, has not been around horses long enough. All, yes ALL horses bite and kick. Just because your horse is sweet as can be for you, never pins an ear, stomps a foot, or looks irritated, does not mean they will not, or can not harm a person, or another horse. I always said to people when asked "does your horse kick or bite", that " This horse never has kicked or bitten anyone, but it does not mean he won't at some point". Well, this happened on Sunday. And I am sharing, just to remind everyone, that even a horse you know really well, around people and other horses that they have never shown any aggression towards, can hurt another.

We came to a spot on the trail where we had to stop and wait for a judging point. I had been riding with Don and Khidd most of the day. Hank likes Khidd. They have gotten along really well. Then we also hooked up with Dolly and Chance. Hank and Chance have spent miles and miles together conditioning, working on trails, trailering out to Tevis together. We can't normally ride together at the rides, because they are a bit bonded to each other. We are standing there talking, and Hank is facing Chance. He makes a little bit of a horse face at Chance, kind of pinning ears for a second, which he has done with many horses. Never goes beyond a sort of unpleasant face, when all of a sudden, he snakes his head out, ears FLAT back, and leaps forward and bites Chance on the neck. Not a little grumpy nip, but this was intent to do harm. I spun him out of there, and gave him some swift reeducation that what he did was never EVER allowed, and then went back to see the quarter sized hole in Chances neck, where he took not just hair, but skim off of him. I am still feeling really bad this happened. But it is a reminder for me, that he is a 900 pound animal, who thinks for himself at times, and can be unpredictable. I have become complacent with him. Even though I have never seen him show this kind of aggression towards another horse while riding, I am now going to have to really watch him. We think it had something to do with riding with Khidd, and then Chance came into the picture on the ride, and some sort of odd horse jealousy took place. Who knows. It happened really, really fast. And thank goodness, he did not grab a hold of Dolly, while aiming for a mouthful of Chance. I always said we tolerate behavior in our own animals, children etc. that we would not tolerate in a strangers. And I have disregarded his grumpy faces as something that is not true aggression. Not anymore. He WILL be reprimanded if he even makes a slight grumpy face at another horse while in my control. What he does in the pasture, while I am not near, is his business.

The obstacle we waited to do was a dismount, pick out the horses left rear foot, re-mount. Judges on the horse standing quiet while we did so, and my ability to get on and off nice, smooth, light and balanced. Hank was a good boy. Of course, he was pretty humble after getting the wrath of "mom" for biting.

At the end of the ride, he checked out great, with the exception of his cap. refill again being a bit odd. He was sound, moving out nice, and had a MAW (movement, attitude and willingness) of a 5 all weekend. I was very pleased, but knew that the cap refill issues, and his little bloody spot in the leg was going to cost some points. I try to remind myself, we just never know until it is over, as we are not aware of how the other horses are really doing all weekend. But, in the end, Hank got 2nd place in the large class. Oh, and much to my surprise, I won my horsemanship class. I have not really been concentrating on my horsemanship at the rides, but one really does go with the other. And the better you ride, usually the better the horse will score, and the more you work on the horse doing well, then the better your horsemanship score can be.

So, next weekend we are in Nebraska for our 2nd to last ride of the season. The truck is in the shop, and I should be able to stop well again. I was amazed how fast the brakes went, when they went. After Nebraska, we have a weekend off, and then our last ride of the year, will be out in East Texas. When I think back over this past year, the places we have seen, people we have met, terrific horses we have shared the trail with, I actually get a bit emotional. (maybe it is just PMS ) My horse was given a second chance, and I have been given the opportunity to travel with him to rides I never thought I would ever attend, and compete for awards I never dreamed of chasing after. And in turn, I have had some many wonderful people who have followed us on this journey through this blog, cheering us on, and actually thanking ME for sharing our adventures. That just leaves me speechless, as it has been the support, thoughts, prayers etc. from YOU that has me thankful.


Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

Good job! You are an inspiration.

Where in Nebraska are you riding. That's where I was for my vacation (Fort Robinson). I didn't have a horse, but I wich I had - the trails were gorgeous and there was a lot of them.

Tammy in TX said...

Once again Jonni, you and Hank rock!!! Have a safe trip to Nebraska and don't forget your camera! Hugs...

Kathy said...

Jonni, this is your friend from The California Classic in Rolling Hills. You were an inspiration to Bruce and I then and continue to be one now. How great to stumble across your Blog. I've been reading "Trot on Hank" for a few months and finally read some of your posts from 2008. In one of the pictures I saw the on side of your trailer and thought, "could this be Jonni"? After reading and reading I discovered YES THIS IS!!! Cheers K~

Kimberly said...

Congratulations on a successful year with Hank! I've enjoyed your blog immensely. My horse is a reformed kicker and he is not allowed to even flick a nasty ear at another horse. There is so much communication going on between them we do not know about...

I am glad it was not more serious. Take care and have a nice off season.