Monday, May 23, 2011

A Happy Day!

Today Lea took Diesel out for a little spin around the block - if you will!
She decided to play with him at liberty in the outdoor and then do a little soft line ground driving.  The result was a half hour of complete fun!  The look on Diesel's face is the one I have been waiting for since he came here in April of 2009.  


It has been a long road to "fun" for Diesel. But he seems to finally be ready mentally to move forward. His draw has been so great. Lea and I will play with him together and he will trot to us constantly. I am really proud of him. He is confident with the line driving using the light lines and it is fun to try to "motivate" him across cavaletti's and playing point-to-point.

I guess sometimes you have to go through trials to come out shining on the other side.

Because today was a shining moment for him and me!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moving Forward

It has now been a week and a couple of days since Diesel had his laminitis attack.  All I can say, is that I am so blessed that after all the meds, and hosing down his legs, he still loves us and trusts us. I was pretty worried that he would lump us together with the worthless humans that treated him badly before he came to live with us.

I sort of always put him up on this pedestal because he was abused and abandoned.  Looking back that probably was the wrong direction to take.  I knew it was important to spend undemanding time to build trust with us, but he never had a purpose here but to be loved, to eat, to bug his herdmates, and be the cutest lawn ornament you have ever seen.

I have a deep tendency to put human emotions and thoughts into my animals - all of them all the time.  I am beginning to see that this is not always the right thing to do!

I don't regret how he has lived here the last two years, but now I can see that we have filled a spot in his heart that is safe a secure.  It is okay to move forward with living and trying new things.

Because he is on a dry lot, he has required a lot more attention on my part.  I have to admit that owning him has been easy.  It has taken only time spent and lots of love on my part, but very little horsemanship. Now his routine includes me in his activities.  We take him out for 4-5 laps a day on our track.  Coupled with the walking he gets a snippet of grazing here and there.  On Monday, Lea hooked him up to some very lightweight laundry line and tried ground driving with him.  And guess what, he survived just fine.  I was always afraid it would flood back memories of painful days past.  But nope.  He just moved forward like it was no big deal.  I think he actually liked being in the driver's seat!  Lea only did one lap and ended on a good note and a handful of pellets.  Then we went back to walking with a lead line.

We have also been taking him into our outdoor arena to trot around at liberty.  He seems to really like that and keeps trying to steal a bite of grass here and there.  Lea worked yesterday doing a little point to point and Diesel picked it right up.  His draw is great - especially when you have a pocket full of feed pellets (diet ones of course!).

I am excited about what lies ahead.  We are waiting on our very kind neighbor to come try to rough up the track.  We certainly want Scout and Diesel to be able to use all that space. 

So, here is hoping we can get the track down to a nice soft dirt and to lots of fun new days learning to play with Diesel and giving him a purpose!
Lots of love,
Marianne and Diesel!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Diesel is Doing G-R-E-A-T!

Remember the Tony the Tiger ad....G-R-E-A-T!  Well, that pretty much sums up Diesel's last couple of days.

He is completely recovered from his low-grade laminitis attack and ready to get back to being a spunky mini hinny.
On the down side (from Diesel's perspective), he has to be off the grass until further notice!  Luckily we have a nice sized dry lot and we are taking him for lots of walks.  He gets a 2-lap walk around our track in the morning and "5 minutes" of free grazing time.  Talk about soaking up every moment of that!
Then in the afternoon we take him into the outdoor arena and have him trot around, work on his draw, and try to keep him moving in between little snitches of grazing (the arena has some very short grass).  After the 20 minute play time, he goes for another 2-lap walk around the track, and we finish up with another 5-minute grazing time. 
He seems to be enjoying his new routine, although the early morning turn-out for the other 2 horses is a little hard on him.  He gets sort of upset, but then after rolling a dozen times, will settle in for eating his morning hay.
Yesterday, on Monday, during our afternoon walk, Lea put some driving lines on him.  We know that he was abused by his previous owners when being taught and used to drive a cart, so we have avoided it like the plague!  But, Lea has the magic touch; as she does with every animal on this farm!  She worked with a light laundry line and that was just fine by him.  She did a whole lap around our track with the lines and he didn't mind it one bit!  She ended a on good note with lots of treats and he was a happy camper. 

It is so good to see how much he has come to trust us.  To overcome simple tasks that used to be so traumatic is a real testimony to his willingness to trust humans again.
We will continue to work with him at an even pace so not to overwhelm him. 

Baby steps on the driving lines!

In the meantime, we are working furiously to try to figure out how to drag the track so that we can get it down to just dirt.  That way he and Scout can be turned out for LOTS of exercise and movement.  We will put hay nets out and there will be little "oasis" areas of grass then can nibble down for a treat.

More on that later.  Until then, Diesel is gonna get more exercise than he has in the last two years!  And he doesn't seem to mind it at all. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Diesel's Journey Takes a Turn

Back Tracking to Last Saturday, May 7th
Diesel seemed a little off today.  Almost stiff.  He didn't have the sparkle or spunk he always does.  Did he fall, did he get kicked, did he sleep in a weird position?  What did our little guy do???  I watched him all day and he was on his normal routine.  Out to the track in the morning (6:30 to 8:30) to graze, back in to have hay in his dry lot (8:30 to 10:30), then out for a little more grazing time (10:30 to 12:00), drylotted for 2 more hours and then out to graze one last hour for the day.  He wanted to go out and be with the herd.  He was eating, pooping, everything seemed normal except this stiffness in his forearm.

Sunday, May 8th
The same as Saturday.  When I would touch his forearm, he actually flinched, so I was sure he must have taken a tumble and hurt himself.  Well, we will just watch him like a hawk and hope he begins to improve.

Monday, May 9th
Diesel seems a little better today. He is moving a little looser and still eating good.  Again, normal routine and watch his every move.

Tuesday, May 10th
This is the day everything changed.  I noticed right away in the morning that he was shifting his front feet back and forth - that's it - RED FLAG!!!  I immediately went in to call the vet. 

He said he wouldn't be able to get out until after lunch and to "hose down his front legs for a minimum of 20 minutes every 3-4 hours.  It sounds like laminitis."  Out came the hose - Diesel does not like water, so this was a bit challenge for him.  But he stood so good.  It must have felt cooling and relieved some of the inflammation. I stayed home from work today, so Lea and I could take care of him.
Lea and I have been taking online equine courses, so we got out our notes and looked up laminitis symptoms.  There it was, he had 7 out of 10 low-grade laminitis symptoms.  How could this be???  I thought we had done everything possible to avoid this kind of thing?

We waited patiently for the vet and he didn't get out until almost 5:00pm.  But, he is worth waiting for - he is a brilliant vet!  He spent 90 minutes with us and could see that Diesel was already improving just from the hydro therapy.  He put him on 4 doses of Banamine (pain killer and anti-inflammatory) 12 hours apart and another 24 hours of hydro-therapy.
How could this have happened?  We watch our boys so closely, know the symptoms of laminitis (or thought we did), keep the grass on the track very short.  What went wrong? What did we miss?  How could this be?

Diesel getting hydro therapy on his front legs
Well, I have now heard from several vets and other horse friends that this spring - the grasses are out of control with sugar.  Must be the right combination of cold/rain/warm/sun to make the grass grow like gang-busters and the sugars to be extreme. That helps to explain some things.  Must have been too much grass - even the small number of hours they were out was too much.  Dang!

Getting the Banamine in Diesel was a huge relief for me knowing that soon he would be more comfortable.  Like a child, when your pets hurt - you hurt!

Wednesday, May 11th
Stayed home from work today so that we could continue Diesel's care.  Same routine - Banamine every 12 hours and more hydro theraphy.  Diesel was clearly more comfortable today.  Thank you Lord!  Getting the Banamine in him was an interesting endeavor.  We had to change our tactics every time to try to administer it to him.  He is one smart cookie!  Anyway, we got it in him - slowly and patiently.  It is so good to see him feeling better.  But, with feeling better comes more spunkiness. 

Monday and Tuesday he didn't mind staying close to the barn - he was a hurting little pup!  But now that the Banamine is kicking in, he wants so bad to go back out to graze and to play!

Sadly, he has to be dry lotted while the other boys are out.  We kept Scout close by in the outdoor, so Diesel toughed it out pretty well.  He always had hay and we had a big grooming session today to pass the time for him.  He is a good little patient!

Such a good boy!

Hydro Therpy and Kisses!
Thursday, May 12th
I typically don't work on Thursday, so it was good to be home again.  Lea and I continued pretty much the same routine as Wednesday.  He is doing great and off the pain killer.  Feet feel cool (versus very warm when inflammed), sparkle in his eye is back, and he even trotted a couple of steps!

Friday, May 13th
Wow, what a difference a couple of days can make. Diesel is completely off the hydro therapy and the pain killers and today he did a full out trot! He is pretty much back to normal. It has been a long and worrisome week, but I am happy to report that we have his feet stabilized and what I am calling Phase One complete. 

Now on to Phase Two - what do we do with the track.  It is clear that he no longer can be on the track - even as sparse as it is, there is too much grass.  Plus, Scout has gained a little weight this spring and we decided that whatever treatment Diesel gets would be good for Scout too.  So, we are looking for an excavator to come and completely scrape the track down to dirt.  We will leave a few pockets of grass for them to nibble, but mostly they will just get hay on the track.  More on "Phase Two" next week.

Diesel is having a great day, not happy to be dry lotted, but he is tolerating it well.  Maybe tomorrow we will turn him out for some play time.

Saturday, May 14th
Today was a very windy day.  Lea, Allison and I decided we would take everybody for a walk on the track.  But, the horses had other plans.  It was cold, cloudy and very windy and I think everybody was feeling pretty spooky.  The horses were about to explode into a Seabiscuit moment!  We immediately abandonded that plan and got Eddie and Scout back in their paddocks. 

I decided to turn Diesel loose out in the outdoor arena so he could run off some much needed steam.  And boy did he.  Wish I had brought out the camera - he had a ball!
He ran around like a maniac, he bucked and jumped, rang his neck around, and ran all over the place.  He was so glad to finally get out and stretch his little mini hinny legs and have some fun.  We even let him graze a little. 

So, now it is time to implement some changes in his life and make some necessary track changes too.  We had a big grooming session with all the boys and even Diesel stood to be curried off - which he never does!  I think he was so happy for the attention and freedom of running around.  It was a glorious day and I am so thankful to our vet for all his help getting him sound again.  We did two laps around the track and a nice fast pace and I think he loved the exercise.  This will probably be our routine for a while!

So, here we are to today, Sunday, May 15
Well, after church I went out and turned Diesel loose for 15 minutes in the outdoor.  He had so much fun taking a bite of grass here and there and chasing around.  I kept him moving for about 20 minutes and then thought I would take him for a walk around the track.  We almost got 2 laps in, but he was a little spooked by the wind and all the moving brush on the south line.  So, we got in a good lap and a half brisk walk.  After all that I let him loose to graze in the outdoor which has very short grass.  He only got 5 minutes (literally), but seemed happy and content with that.

Looks like the future will be a little different for Diesel and Scout.  No more lush grass or even sparse grass on the track.  More exercise for both of them and hopefully that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.
I am on a diet too, so this will be great for Diesel and I to get lots of exercise together.  I am committing to him a 1/2 hour to one hour a day of arena work, long walks, and a little snippet of grazing time.

Lea and I would like to try some soft line driving with him.  Since we know that he was abused in the past - the bulk of it looks to be from driving.  If I can convince him that line driving (that would be with no cart - just long lines) is fun, hopefully he will respond positively.  It is clear that he loves us and trusts us (especially after having to give him four doses of Banamine), so I think it will go well!

I am so looking forward to the future with him.  What I thought would be a dry-lot prison sentence has turned into an opportunity for him and me to bond closer, get more exercise, and have lots of fun!

I will be posting here regularly to chronical our journey of a healthy lifestyle change for a little equine guy!  Hope you come back often!
Marianne and Diesel!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ramming Speed!

Now, I bet you wouldn't put that title right along side a sweet little mini hinny???  

But, that is just what it describes, DIESEL!

In case you don't know what a mini hinny is; he is 1/2 miniature horse and 1/2 miniature Sicilian Donkey.  He has very horse like traits (versus the long donkey ears), and other characteristics that puts him in the hinny category.

Because Diesel is a miniature little guy, his diet must match his size.  BUT, Diesel likes Eddie's hay better (our almost 16-hand gelding).  Eddie gets some alfalfa because he is a very big boy with very big nutritional needs.  Diesel gets VERY NICE straight grass hay.  He is, by no means, starved - he pretty much has hay available all day long!  We have also put in a Paddock Paradise for he and Scout to share to be sure they get lots of exercise, lots of movement, some grass, feeling like they are out in the pasture, etc., etc., etc.  Bottom line, Diesel has got a REALLY nice set up here.

In order to accommodate each horse's special dietary needs, each guy has his own paddock.  That way at feeding time, there is no fighting, no dominance games, and everybody gets the right kind of feed according to their waistline!  And Diesels happens to be the biggest.  We are working on that!

Anyway, in order to keep his "Princeliness" out of the big boy's hay, we had to up our "security" (if you will).  In other words, despite the fence dividing the paddocks we had to add snow fencing to keep Diesel on his side of the buffet table!
 He is SO mad about this.  He is a roamer.  He loves to be on the move.  So, the fact that he 1. can not roam everywhere he wants, and 2. he cannot get to the really good alfalfa hay has made this a very unhappy little mini hinny.  It actually is sort of cute!  We give him so much love and attention, that I am sure he will get through this.

That is Scout the paint and Eddie on the right.  They are just so good about this new little change to their paddock - truly, they could care less.  They take these changes in stride!

But not Diesel.  Now to the reason for the title of this post.  Diesel, today, decided he was not happy with the new arrangement and "head-butted" smack into the fence and ripped it open (the fence that is, not his head!).  Ah, now he can get back over to Eddie's side of the paddock.  So, we tried to shore it up (in the freezing cold, I might add).  And WHAM!  He rammed right through it again.  There was just no stopping this little guy.  He was quite determined.

I think Lea finally got it fixed so he couldn't go under it (yes, he did that too - do you see that orange fence that is touching the ground - he somehow went under it), he couldn't ram through it, and he was finally contained.

I do feel kind of sorry for him.  He doesn't do real well with change.  I have learned a lot about how he sees the world by reading Temple Grandin's book, Animals in Translation.  If you have animals - read this book!  It will completely change how you interact with your pets!

Anyway, here is to a better day tomorrow for our little guy.  Lea and I will shower him with lots of love, take him for walks, and help him through this little crisis he feels he is being put through.
Lots of love and lots of carrots always help make things right with the world!

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Little Moment

It has been really hot here lately – humid and in the 90’s. So we aren’t doing very much with the horses. They are turned out to pasture, occasionally hosed off, and then brought in to their dry lots/stalls to rest, sleep, eat, and be in the shade and in front of their fans. They seem very happy with the routine and look forward to when we are out and being busy in the barn.
Since Diesel has come to the farm, we have had no expectations from him. We wanted him to learn to trust us, become part of the herd, be healthy, feel safe, and just take some time to settle into our farm routine.
He has been here for 16 months. He has simply become part of our family. However, since we really don’t ask much of him, he sort of just goes along with the herd. When Scout and Eddie are being played with, Diesel usually just comes along and hangs out. We know he has been trained to drive, but that seems to have been a very frightening experience for him. He sees no point to the Parelli games, so he just goes along. And that’s okay!
He loves long walks, treats, and scratches – so that pretty much is what we do with him.
Some days I wonder if he is bored. As he just sort of has that look about him. On those days I will take him for an extra walk (or ask Lea or Allison to), groom him, or just hang out with him.
But this morning, we had this moment. It was a moment that I have longed for since he came to live with us. He was just waking up from a nap when I went over to take off his fly mask and just say hello. I took off his mask, proceeded to give him some gentle scratches and he leaned over to me and put his head right up next to me. He just leaned on me, sort of laying his head against me. I softly whispered in his ear and he didn’t move. I kept talking softly, just telling him how much I loved him, how glad I was that he was with us, and kept on scratching. He continued to lean on me. We just stood for a moment, together. I could really feel that he felt safe; new he was loved, and seemed to be content.
It was a moment I will never forget; because that moment was the reason we spent 6 months trying to rescue him and spent the last 16 months building trust. What a gift that moment was. How lucky am I that I had the opportunity to experience it. Thank you Diesel, for being a teacher of patience, a companion like no other, and a little donk who is willing to share his heart!
Love, your mom - Marianne

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Catch Me if You Can!

This is Diesel.
I have found a new game!
And it is FUN!

So, the humans put me in the same paddock as the bi-colored wonder. (aka Scout)
 Then I sneak through the fence...

And get in with the monochromatic hypochondriac.

And he chases me!
So I kick him with my powerful little distal appendages!

Then the quiet human scolds the Edward, and I get to run back into my pen.
It's like a game of tag.

But I always win.

The End!