Tag Archives: pets

Let the De-Fuzzing Begin!

I discovered something sort of cute about Archie the other day.  I pulled into the driveway and saw his pasturemate was not in the field with him.  He was buried in the haypile as usual, but as I drove by I stopped, and rolled down the window.  “Archiiiieeeee!!!  Hi ArchiiieeeeEEEE!!!”  Up came his enormous buffalo face, and he talked back to me.  He’s got this great, deep, low pitched breathy greeting neigh, and it about melted my heart with the cute.  The only other horse that ever “talked” back to me like that is Allie’s amazing horse Phinny (who is pictured on this page – he is magic, pure and simple!).

In any case, this was the weekend of the attempted de-fuzzing of Archie.  I intended to give him a bigger clip than I usually do (normally I do a rough “bib clip” sort of thing) but my clippers couldn’t handle the yak hair.  The blades are dull and his coat is amazingly thick and long – plus he is recovering from a case of skin funk, so there’s some difficult going in there.  My clippers were heating up too much and he was getting irritated, so the only thing he got clipped was his chest and the lower part of his neck up to his jaw. 

Horse? Or Yak?

Looking Slightly More Civilized

I managed to trim down a lot of the excess hair off his jaws. I didn’t want to shave his face, or accidentally take chunks of hair off, so this was a pretty delicate operation.  Overall I managed to do an OK job – I wouldn’t take him to a show tomorrow, but his face looks a lot less like a buffalo now.

After that I hopped on for his first official ride in our indoor.  He was fine to get on, stood at the mounting block like a champ, and then we wandered around for a bit.  He takes a fair amount of leg to keep going, and is much more typically “green TB” than Kat was, in terms of how he goes.  He tends to want to go in a big oval instead of going straight, then turning and bending, and going straight again.  The canter is obtainable – it’s a bit of a big push at this point, especially the left lead (to the left he wants to lean in and cut the turns much more than he does to the right.  Which could be him but is also probably a lot to do with me, too!)

The other hilarious thing he does is try to attack his reflection.  My own horse, sometimes, will snake his head and bare his teeth at other horses while we are in the ring (bad boy!) – Archie does the same thing… to himself.   Every time we went by the big mirror at a speed faster than walk, he pinned his ears at himself and went “GRRRRRR!!!!” (well, if a horse was capable of such a noise, that’s what he did).  His head would come up and he would act all ferocious.  The first few times he did it, I didn’t even realize what was happening – I thought he was just having a tantrum about bit contact, or something.  It took a while for me to catch on but by the end of the ride I couldn’t stop laughing.

I also think part of him cutting off half the ring to the left was seeing his reflection in one of the end mirrors – he could see this “other” dark bay horse coming at him, and wanted no part of a head on collision.  That took some working through, and I’m still not sure he gets it.

It’s funny, psychologist types who study brains and animals and behavior often will remark on the ability to see the reflection and understand it as a sign of intelligence.  Like, rats generally don’t understand their reflection, but chimps do.  It’s a sort of self awareness thing.  Horses are interesting because some of them seem to get it (Kat – when she saw something else in the mirror, besides her, she knew enough to turn around to see it in ‘real life’) and others don’t (Archie).  But I’m not sure it’s a sign of intelligence, because Archie seems to learn very quickly and retains things well (I can tell that in the short time he was with Jess he still has some “buttons” from her, and it’s been quite a while!). 

After the ride I tried to continue the defuzzing by doing some mane pulling, but Archie is NOT a fan.  I will probably work on this over a few weeks and see if I can get him to stand the way I got my horse to (he HATES it – but essentially I rewarded him with a treat every time he kept his feet still, until he stopped trying to move around.  He’s allowed to do whatever he wants with his head and neck, as long as the feet stay put.  It was a long process).  I will probably clean it up with scissors (gasp!!!) and a thinning comb, but will work on this as it’s something that helps his adoptability 🙂

I also took some other ‘before’ photos, for the record.  I really think as he gains muscle and sheds, he’s going to be a really pretty horse.  For now, the masses of 6″ long yak hair are sort of hiding that fact, but you watch!  He’ll look great in a month or two! 

Horse or Moose? You decide!


Cute Face! Minus most of the Beard!

Quiet Ride

Last night we had a lovely ride in the indoor.  I didn’t want to do too much, seeing as she’s gotten worked the last few days for the Washington Post people, and both this afternoon and Friday afternoon there are people coming to look at her.  So Rosey has been working hard this week. 

I got to the barn in a little bit of a funk, which happens occasionally for no good reason I can think of.  This time I’m blaming it on the lack of rain in Maryland- everything’s all dry and dusty and the ground is like cement, and I tend to get a little tired/crabby feeling when things are like this.  Whatever the cause, the cure usually involves something with four legs and big, pretty eyes.  Rosey delivered yesterday!

Within minutes of hitting the saddle everything just felt better.  Miss mare gets more comfortable to ride every day- she’s happily figuring out the difference between trotting quicker and trotting more forward. I know to the non-riders that doesn’t make much sense, but it’s the difference between taking lots of fast little steps, and taking long, powerful strides.  Now that she’s learning that, she’s much more comfortable for me to ride, as I have trouble finding my balance on horses that “feel” little and/or quick.  She’s going more and more like a big horse, so it’s easier and easier for me to maintain some semblance of decent equitation.

Her canter is maturing as well as her trot- to the left, it’s almost as comfortable as Klondike’s, which is a pretty big deal.  To the right, it’s not quite as well balanced, but has still improved a ton.  I concentrated a little more on this direction than usual as a result of watching Liza lunge her the other day- under saddle, the weakness isn’t quite as apparent as it is from the ground. 

All in all, a wonderful, relaxing ride.  She’s getting really good at stretching down and out, sometimes looking like she actually had a long neck when I checked her out in the mirrors.  A couple times, she even got a little beyond that to actually giving to the bit more than usual. 

Afterwards we went for a walk down the driveway and back, and I am very pleased to report that even without company and after being “done” with work, she did not offer a single complaint or hop’n’spin. 

This week has been a whirlwind of activity for her, and it’s barely half over!  She will have earned a nice rest come Saturday…

And, as a side note, her blog has received over 3,000 hits as of yesterday 🙂  Thanks for reading!