Monday, June 29, 2015

Great Vet Visit!

 Chrome staring at himself in the window
 while waiting on sedative to take effect...

The vet visit went really well!  Chrome was up first.  She said his teeth weren't bad at all and there were no sores in his mouth.  After finishing his teeth I let him stand/graze in the yard while his sedative wore off.  Have I mentioned that I love that my vet doesn't tie the horse's head up??  She leaves their heads loose and just moves with them, even getting down on her knees when needed.  Chrome kept moving his head side to side and she just followed him.  She said, "That's what everybody needs first thing in the morning is to dance!"  Hehe.  Too funny!

 Sorry for crappy cell phone pictures.  
This was after while they were grazing. 
 I was too busy talking to take pictures during the visit.

Then Rocky was next.  We talked about his hooves and she looked at them.  She said my farrier is doing everything just as she would have recommended.  She said x-rays aren't necessary right now unless we just want them.  She said we could get some once his hoof angles are corrected so that we have a baseline and know in the future if he ever has any rotation.  I think I said all of that right lol.  She also said we should wait on the vaccines since he's been under a lot of stress with moving, laminitis, getting trimmed and now getting his teeth done.  I totally agree with that.  :)

We told her that we didn't know if he'd ever had his teeth done.  After he was sedated she walked up to him with the power float and he started backing up.  Hubby stood next to him and asked him to whoa.  He did.  We told her how smart he is and that he learns new things quickly, often in one lesson.  He was tense for a minute and then he just accepted it and relaxed his whole head and neck and didn't fight at all.  He didn't even move side to side like Chrome did.  She agreed that he does learn quickly and she said it looks like we got ourselves a diamond in the rough.  :D  She really liked him!

She said if all of his teeth had been like his left side that he wasn't in too bad of shape, but his right side more than made up for it... he had half inch hooks and a ramp on that side.  She got him floated and I can't wait to see him eat supper tonight!  He's going to be so much more comfortable.  I can totally see why people get addicted to rescuing.  Every time I do something to make him more comfortable and healthy it just makes me so much happier!  :D  When it's regular maintenance on Chrome, it's just regular maintenance lol.

Rocky was so funny when he was sedated.  The vet picked up one of his hooves to show me something and he lost his balance and went backwards down onto his knee (he actually caught himself before hitting his knee) and she jokingly said she taught him to bow.  It cracked me up.  So she just explained what she was trying to say about the hoof instead of trying to make him hold it up.  He was still more out of it than we realized.  Then he was wobbly and walked over to a tree and rested his head against it like it would hold him up or something.  So cute!

Since they were sedated she checked for beans on both of them, just like last time.  Chrome didn't have any, but Rocky had two.  One of them was long, pointed and probably an inch long!  Ouch!  Rocky isn't going to know what to think after all of this hehe.

We also talked about Zep and she said she's gelded donkeys before.  They react different to sedatives, but she's never had a problem with dangerous bleeding.  She leaves them open to drain like horses.  We will probably go ahead and get it done this fall since she seemed completely confident about doing it.  She agreed he definitely needs his hooves done when he's sedated for gelding.

We let them graze in the yard a little while and then put them back out into the pasture and fly sprayed them.  Zep is bad about being obnoxious around sedated horses so we trapped him in the round pen away from them.  Since he had no shelter we put him in our makeshift squeeze chute (out of a third of a hay ring haha) and fly sprayed him.  He wasn't happy about it, but he did well.  I scratched him all over the face too hoping he will remember how good it feels.  I can't wait until we can build something temporarily in the round pen so I can lock him up and work with him.  I think I could make progress if I just spent time touching him and showing him that it's okay.

Anyway I also found this picture that my friend sent to me the day we picked up Rocky.  This was taken while he was being trimmed.  They were working on his rear hooves so I chopped the picture in half since I don't have permission to post their faces on a public blog, but you can see how long his front hooves are...

King of side eye lol.

So they were really long, but they actually don't look as bad as she made it sound... of course his right front is the one that grows really distorted so I'm sure it looked worse.  The angle isn't directly from the side either, so they may be longer than they appear in the picture... not sure.

I don't know if we will ever know what exactly caused the laminitis, but since both my farrier and my vet think we can get it fixed right up I'm going to stop worrying about it excessively.  We will just keep him trimmed, I'll look into getting him some boots and we will be strict about his diet and weight.

P.S.  The vet guessed the exact same time frame for the laminitis that my farrier did, so it happened a month or so ago.  The weird thing is tomorrow makes five weeks we've had him..... so did it happen while we had him or before we got him?  Could the trim have caused it?  Was it our grass?  I'm so confused!!  He was never lame at all until this week, well not since we've had him...  my friend mentioned he was ouchy on his front hooves  the week before we picked him up... she thought it was a stone bruise...  I'm wondering if it happened when she said he was bruised and his hooves are just growing out faster than they think because of the ration balancer I have him on with the protein in it.  It had only been a few weeks since he was last trimmed when she did his hooves this weekend and there was already almost an inch of growth to trim off!  I just think I would have noticed if he had laminitis since he's been here...  sorry for rambling.  I'm writing as I think so this is not organized at all.

P.P.S.  I have an idea!  I'll take a picture of his founder ring today while holding a measuring tape up to it showing how far down it is, then take another picture in five weeks to see how far down it is.  That will help me guess when it happened.... also yes I'm know I'm obsessing again.... it probably doesn't even matter when it happened exactly, but it makes me crazy not knowing for sure!  Feel free to ignore my rambling lol.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bad News :(

The farrier came today.  As soon as she started trimming Rocky's hooves she told me he has laminitis.... in all four hooves....  It's probably mechanical from not having his feet trimmed in years and being ridden with extremely long toes (not by us, it happened before we brought him home).  She said we have his diet perfect and he's a great weight, so it's unlikely to be metabolic.

She said it's a mild case and she's confident it can be completely turned around, but it will probably take a full year for him to grow out a new hoof that is completely attached.  She said he should be pain free within a couple of months and we will be able to ride him by fall (not that I really care at this point, I just want him healthy).  She has had much worse cases that she was able to reverse the damage and bring the horse back into full work (obviously once fully healed) without the use of shoes.  That gives me hope, but I won't lie.  I cried when she told me and I've been in a slump all day about it.  I'm pissed that this could have been prevented with proper trimming and the common sense not to ride a horse with f***** up feet.  I haven't told my friend yet... not sure if I should... or how I should tell her... or if I even want to talk to her...

So the plan at this point is to put him on a four week trim cycle (Chrome will be too just because his hooves grow at an insane rate in the summer) and I'll be rasping his hooves weekly.  It's very important to keep the toes back and not let any flares happen (just in the month we've had him the flares came back and his hoof was getting distorted... and he was trimmed the day we picked him up).  We are also going to start treating for thrush and white line disease.  I've never dealt with white line disease so all tips and advice are welcome.

Anyway there is probably a lot I'm forgetting to mention, but it's late and I really don't want to think about it anymore.

To lighten up the post a bit I will share something that isn't so sad....

I hate when Chrome's mane is so short on his withers.... I wish it would all stay long....

 Oops, I did it again....

Yeah I couldn't take it anymore... so I roached him again.

 What should I do with all of his mane??

The vet comes out Monday to do teeth, vaccines and coggins.  I'll update then on everything.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hooves! Oy Vey!

Sorry no pictures.  This is just a quick post for my record keeping.  Feel free to ignore.

When I went out to feed tonight Rocky was limping on his left front.  I checked him all over.  There is no heat, no swelling and no digital pulse.  There are no injuries, no punctures, no nothing.  Everything looks and feels completely normal.  He is still walking and trotting freely (with a limp) and is eating well and in good spirits, so I'm going to assume abscess or stone bruise as of right now.  He does have thrush (holy stink Batman!!!!).

So the plan as of right now.  I have the farrier (due anyway) and vet (already had her scheduled for teeth and coggins) scheduled and will also do a soak on him (and Chrome) for thrush.  I'll update when I know more.  Good, happy, healing thoughts are always welcome.  :D

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Donkey, Goats and Yard Work! Oh my!

 Led Zeppelin saying hi to hubby.

Little Zep has been on my mind a lot lately.  I am so happy to now have two horses that I can approach, touch, catch, groom, fly spray, work with, etc., but it's making me even more frustrated that I can't catch or touch or fly spray the donkey.  It's so against my nature to have an animal I can't touch and care for like he needs.  His hooves are starting to slipper a little.  They normally self trim really well, but with all the wet weather the ground is just too soft to break them off.  I also hate that I can't groom him.  It's so annoying that donkeys take so long to shed out.  I know grooming might not speed that up much, but it would make me feel like I was at least doing something.

 Dirty donkey.

The vet is coming out on the 29th to do Chrome and Rocky's coggins and teeth.  I'm going to talk to her about gelding Zep.  I'm terrified to do it since he can't be caught/handled/etc. and donkeys are apparently heavier bleeders than horses so they are supposed to be stitched up instead of allowed to drain.  This of course would have to be done in the fall when the flies are gone, but I want to get the information on it.  I want to know if she's gelded a full grown donkey before.  Most people around here just don't geld them so a lot of vets have never actually done it.  That makes me really nervous.  I also want to have his hooves done while he's sedated.  The only problem is doing his hooves once is only a short term solution.  They need to be done regularly.

I have touched his legs and he's offered to kick.  He also offers to bite.  He is very defensive about his body.  I'm hoping gelding him will help, but I doubt it will eliminate all of his behaviors because he's so old.  We've been catching him in the round pen and making a squeeze chute out of a third of our hay ring to halter him, deworm him and fly spray him.  I can't really do it by myself though so the only time we can do it is on weekends.  I need to go back to clicker training, but he will have to be trapped in the round pen for that because the other horses won't leave us alone.  I can't leave him in the round pen at this time of year without shelter though because of the bugs.  He spends a lot of time in the shed hiding from the bugs and rain.

So anyway I'll keep thinking on all of this and I'll let you know what I find out from the vet next week.  For now here are some pictures.  We finally replaced the Jolly ball that Chrome drowned in the pond at our old house.  This one is peppermint scented!!

 The horses weren't interested, but Zep loved it!  The goats were scared of it then brown goat sniffed it, did the flehmen (is that what it's called in goats?) and walked away lol.  Speaking of goats....

...the little turds have been leaning on the fence and got it pushed down far enough to go over it.  Grr!  We got him back in and tied the fence back up, but we will probably have to put up an electric fence to stop them from ruining it.  Brats!! They are doing a great job of keeping the weeds eaten down though so I won't complain too much.

We have been so busy the last couple of weekends catching up on yard work that we haven't gotten to ride (and I'm so sad and getting seriously frustrated that we haven't been able to).  We got really behind on yard work because of the month straight of rain.  We had trees down everywhere, limbs down everywhere, overgrown grass and weeds, etc.  We spent last weekend cleaning up and mowing the yard and then this weekend cleaning up and mowing the pasture.  All I can say is thank goodness for dad's fourwheeler.  That makes stick/limb/tree pick up so much easier.  I have to get pictures of the pasture after hubby brush hogged it this weekend.  It looks amazing!  The woods look like a park.  My arena can be used again too yay!  Now I just have to find time to ride!  Work is sucking my life away, but I won't gripe about it... too much.

I'll try to get pictures of the pasture tomorrow while I catch up on housework.  I also need to get the sweet itch post finished.  Sorry it's taken me so long.  I've been so busy!

I guess that's all for now.  I hope everyone is doing well and getting to ride!!  Also I hope you aren't having to deal the the horde of mosquitoes that we are!!  I itch 24/7 from the little #&*%%$!!  Oh and the chiggers!  I have an infected chigger bite on my foot that I'm frankly terrified to take my sock off to look at it everyday..... 8o!  This week the heat index will be over 110F everyday so don't expect any fun posts lol.  Stay cool guys!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

If you have horse friends in Florida...

If you have friends with horses in Florida please spread the word.  There is a weed called Creeping Indigo that is being found all over Florida and it KILLS.  Here is a picture.

The easiest way to tell them apart from harmless varieties of Indigo and other plants is that the leaves alternate.  They are not lined up straight across from each other.  I'm no expert as I don't live in Florida and have never seen it (and just learned that it existed), but here are some resources.  If your horses have been eating it and aren't showing any signs DON'T ASSUME it is safe!  It has a cumulative effect!  If not treated properly (some sources say there is no treatment, but they are finding something that works) the symptoms can be permanent or the horse could die.

Here is the website for more information.
Here is the Facebook group.
Here is a map showing where it has been confirmed to be located.

People have been finding it in pastures, at show grounds, camp sites and even alongside roads and in parking lots.  I'm not trying to alarm people, but I really want to spread the word before more horses die.  The symptoms are often misdiagnosed as EPM, etc.  Please spread the word!  Thanks!

P.S.  Grazeonext kills it, but it has a deep tap root (up to three feet) that needs to be destroyed.  It can't survive in cold weather so it hasn't be found anywhere else (so far, not confirmed anyway) except maybe in south Texas.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Chrome Ride 109 - Also Salt!

We were soooo busy today!!  We did TONS of yard work (the stuff we got behind on while building the house and also cleaning up from multiple high wind thunderstorms this spring with lots of downed trees and limbs).  I managed to snag a ride on Chrome in the new saddle.  I rode for about forty minutes (I can't believe it's been a month since I last rode Chrome).  I was just riding in the yard, on the driveway and on the road in front of our property.  I was going from the front gate back to the house relaying messages between my dad and hubby lol.  We even carried the mail back.  Pony express!

I'm not one hundred percent sure what he thought of the saddle.  He seemed a little tender footed (due for a trim and I probably need to do another thrush soak since it's rained almost every day for the last month).  I think the saddle was fine, but the girth might be bothering him.  I'll explain why below.

 Not bothered by the four wheeler, even when it's pulling a trailer.

 He hated standing still.

We did some lateral flexion because he did not want to stand still.  His sweet itch is really bothering him, so all he can think about when standing still is how much he wants to scratch.  I feel so sorry for him.  I'm hoping that the rain will go away so I can start doing his neem oil to get him some relief.  I'll be doing a sweet itch post soon.  I have a lot to share!

 Watching my mom and dad's twelve year old Yorkie mix.

 So handsome!!!

At one point when we were walking back up the driveway Chrome's head shot up and he started seriously balking.  My dad was on the outside of the fence on the other side of the pine trees, pruning limbs.  He's never seen anything on the other side of the trees so he was freaked out.  I asked dad to talk to him and he finally chilled out.

The saddle looks good on him.  Sorry for the bad picture.  It's hard to get far enough away while holding him hehe.  Notice how the girth is right up against his elbows?  It does that on Rocky too.  I don't know how to fix it.  I'm used to the center rigging on the Aussie saddle now.  I haven't used a western saddle (that's what I grew up riding in) in so long I don't remember what to do.  I can't really slide it back anymore.  It's well behind his shoulder... the only thing I could think of is maybe using the rear cinch?  If it has that piece between the two girths would that prevent the front one from sliding up behind the elbows?  Any help is appreciated!

Weird picture above lol.  It's hard to take pictures from that angle, but I had my leg swung across the horn so that they were both on his left side.  I used to do that all the time when I was a kid, but I haven't on Chrome because he's green and I never knew if he would spook or turn suddenly.  In the western saddle it felt natural to just swing a leg across.  I like to sit that way when my hips or knees start bothering me.  He wasn't bothered by it, although he was mildly confused at first.

 I managed to talk hubby into taking one picture... narcoleptic pony is narcoleptic haha.

I'm happy to see my leg position is pretty good in the new saddle.  It's not perfect, but it's way better than a year ago.  :)  I wish I had remembered to pull my shirt down.  I hate the way my Kerrits tights wrinkle at my hip...

Then while untacking he had to help.  It looks like he's holding the tailgate open for me haha.  He was probably actually rubbing his face... at least he doesn't do it on me!

 His sweat patterns looked really good, but a longer ride will tell more.  
I'll check for any soreness tomorrow.

Then when the downpour started we went to town and got...

 Himalayan rock salt on a rope!

I've never bought any before, but I've always wanted to get some to see if Chrome likes it.

 Rocky chased Chrome off, sniffed it and walked away.  
He was more worried about when supper was arriving.
He's doing fantastic at feeding time now!

 Chrome came back.  After pushing it off in the dirt (I picked it back up), he started licking it.

 Can you believe how flea bitten his face is getting?

Some of those are actual bug bites, but most are flea-bite coloring coming in.

 Finally got his tongue!

He's rubbing the crap out of his mane by the withers... I have to decide if I want to roach him again.  I was enjoying him having a mane for a change.... I may give him a while with the neem oil to see if it grows back in again before I decide to cut it... I hate uneven manes though so we shall just have to wait and see how long I last.

 Zep liked the rock salt!!  He was gnawing on it.

I couldn't get lined up so you could see his teeth.  When I moved to the side he thought I was chasing him off and he ran away.  :\  Also if anyone has ever wondered why I post a lot of head shots of Zep... uhh it's to keep things PG related haha!!  Being a jack he tends to expose himself a lot.  ;)

We also got a big bag of loose salt to hang in the barn because they've been doing a lot of sweating just standing in the pasture (been a heat index over 100 for a couple of weeks already) and I know they can't get enough salt off the block.  They were all more interested in waiting for supper, but Rocky showed the most interest.  I think they will really like having the loose stuff available.

 We hung it in the barn in a rubber bucket so they can't break it by rubbing against it.

We also had to bungee strap it down so they can't tip it.
Our boys like to play with anything in the pasture and have destroyed many buckets.

Hubby put a hook on the pole where I groom and tack up Chrome so I can hang the rock salt from it.  I don't want to leave it out in the pasture because they would probably eat it too fast.  With the salt block and the loose salt, it's not like they need a third kind of salt available free choice.  Since Chrome loves licking salt blocks I figured he might like to lick the rock salt while I'm grooming him and tacking up.  It will give him something to occupy himself with hehe.

We were going to take Chrome and Rocky on a trail ride together for the first time, but hubby was too busy helping dad with the yard work.  Dad can't do as much as he used to, but he still tries to, so we like to help or hang nearby to keep an eye on him.  Then when dad went inside we tried to ride, but every time we'd go to tack up it would start raining again... ugh!!!  Both saddles have suede seats, so even though they are synthetic I really don't want them to get wet... oh well we will try again tomorrow.  :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rocky Ride 2 (with us)

Hubby rode Rocky out on the road for the first time today.  We ordered a synthetic (has to be light for hubby) western saddle and a halter/bridle which came in today so we were testing them out.  The halter/bridle needs some adjustments (we took the noseband off because it was too small, but I'll fix it tomorrow), but the saddle appears to work well for both of them.  I'll do more checking tomorrow when the mosquitoes aren't so bad.  Rocky was very good on the road.  He's awesome with traffic, but he did neigh for Chrome a few times and he's totally buddy sour (but I knew that before I brought him home).  I can't wait to take them out together to see how they feed off of each other out on the trail (road).  Anyway I'm really tired so I'll just share the pictures for now.  I'll share better ones of the bridle tomorrow once we have it fitting right.

 He was pooping, not flipping his tail like Chrome lol.  He's so handsome!

 He was listening for Chrome the whole time.

 Great with vehicles.

 I caught him mid-neigh hehe.  So cute!

 I waited at the driveway while he took him the opposite direction
 (because he wanted to turn in the driveway on his own).

 On the way back.  Ignore the price tag under his browband hehe.
I didn't want to take it off until I was sure we were keeping it.

 Chrome neighed a lot, but I don't think he was a nutcase or anything.
He wasn't super sweaty or anything when we got back so that's good.
He was standing at the gate as we came down the driveway.
By the time we untacked and led Rocky to the pasture Chrome
was grazing on the other side of the round pen.  :D

Last picture is just because I love my boy's neck hehe!

P.S. I almost forgot to mention.  Rocky is doing great with feeding time manners!!  He barely pins his ears at Chrome now and follows us politely.  No charging or aggression.  He lets us smack horseflies off of him while he eats.  He lets us approach him anywhere in the pasture and smack flies without a halter or rope.  He even came to me for the first time and asked me to kill the flies.  :D  Good boy!!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rocky Improves

Rocky did excellent today for feeding!!  Hubby carried the whip and Rocky's bucket and I carried Zep's bucket and the scoop with Chrome's feed.  I walked in first and started opening the round pen.  Rocky came up next to me, very polite, very calm, ears forward, hoping I would feed him.  Chrome wouldn't come anywhere near us, so I asked hubby to lead Rocky away and feed him.  Hubby walked off and shook the feed but Rocky stayed by me so I gently shooed him away.  Hubby put his pan down at a good distance from the round pen and Rocky wouldn't approach until hubby turned and walked away.  Chrome high tailed it around Rocky and came to me.  I fed him and locked him in the round pen, then went to feed the donkey.  The goats are horrible about stealing Zep's food so I have to chase them away, but of course that scares him too because he's so skittish.  Eventually the goats give up and stand on the hill, then Zep comes back to me and eats out of his bucket.  It's all so complicated!!  I wish we had a barn with stalls sometimes.

So then I walked back over to Rocky.  He wasn't letting hubby near him because he knew hubby had the whip, so I tried approaching him.  He acted like he was going to run off, but I was slow and relaxed and he continued eating while I scratched him all over and shooed flies.  Then he let hubby approach (after he put the whip down).  So we stood one on each side and pet him all over while he ate.  :)

When Chrome finished I let him out.  The goats tried to steal Zep's food again because I got too far away, but he was done anyway so it didn't matter.  We grabbed all of the buckets and walked to the gate.  Chrome of course followed us, then Rocky followed us.  I stopped next to Chrome while hubby opened the gate and Rocky walked up behind me and put his nose on my shoulder!  So cute!  We pet him some more and then left.  Once we were outside the pasture Rocky pinned his ears at Chrome and he ran off.  I don't mind Rocky being the boss over Chrome, I just don't want him charging him and I don't want him threatening Chrome when we're nearby.  Politely pinning his ears to make Chrome move once we are outside the pasture is okay.  I knew from the beginning that Rocky would probably be in charge.  I'm pleased with the progress he's made!  I knew Rocky would figure it out quickly.  He never once pinned his ears at us or acted aggressive and I'm very happy he waited until we were outside the pasture before he chased Chrome away.  Yay!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hubby Feeds Rocky

Tonight I let hubby feed Rocky (I put Chrome in the round pen to eat and then fed Zep when Rocky was busy).  Hubby had the whip and kept Rocky away from him while the feed was in his hands.  He set the bucket down and then faced it.  Rocky immediately went for the bucket so hubby ran him off.  When Rocky stood still at a decent distance hubby turned and walked away.  He then repeated what I did yesterday... let him eat, move him away, let him eat, move him away, etc.  The second time he moved him away the little brat trotted around hubby and me and tried to go for Zep's food so I chased him off.  From that point on I body blocked him from getting to Zep if he decided to go off in the pasture away from hubby.

After he was done eating we picked the buckets up.  Then we tried approaching him (without apples) and he walked away, so I started following him.  I aimed my body parallel to him instead of facing him and just edged closer and closer.  He finally figured out what I was doing and trotted over to Chrome.  I just walked around Chrome and reached out to Rocky.  His curiosity got the better of him and he hesitated long enough that I could get close enough to touch him.  I immediately started scratching his sweaty chest (they both sweat all day out in the pasture doing nothing because it's been so hot and humid).  He realized that felt pretty darn good and stood still.  I scratched him all over and hubby walked over to scratch him too.  Rocky is SO DIRTY!!  He's getting a bath this weekend!  My fingers were black within seconds of scratching him.  I guess the good thing about black horses is you can't see the dirt... but they still get dirty haha!!

So tomorrow hubby will take the feed out, keep Rocky away until he sits it down on the ground.  When Rocky is standing still with his ears forward, hubby will walk away, then he will let Rocky eat in peace until he's done.  Chasing him off the feed was just to establish in his mind that we can.  We don't want to do that all the time or it creates anxiety and can actually make food aggression worse.  Someday we should be able to put his feed down, invite him in to eat (turn away) and then come back and pet him while he eats, but it might take a while before he's that comfortable.  He pinned his ears at my dog while he was eating so he's still being protective of his feed.  Baby steps!

Sorry for the boring updates.  Hopefully I'll be able to get some more pictures soon, but don't count on it.  My work schedule is wearing me out!!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Establishing Feeding Time Ground Rules

Sorry no new pictures today (reusing old ones).  I've been incredibly busy and had a headache all day, so it didn't happen.  :(

Yesterday we turned the boys out together for the first time and it all went smoothly.  Until feeding time.  I knew it was going to be interesting figuring out how to feed three at the same time again, but I wasn't counting on Rocky being food aggressive.  I can't really blame him since he lived in a big herd on 100 acres for several years and they fed by throwing feed out on the ground and letting everyone battle it out.

So yesterday I carried the buckets out to the pasture.  Hubby was there, but I wanted to do it on my own since I sometimes have to feed by myself.  I have to pour Chrome's feed in first because his bucket stays in the pasture (it's huge because he dumps smaller ones).  Chrome was standing by his bucket, waiting, like he always does.  Rocky came barreling in and got way too close to me, so I swung my hand around and smacked him with the feed scoop.  I think I got him in the face, but I'm not sure because he was behind me.

He ran away and I walked away from Chrome to sit Rocky's bucket down a fair distance away.  Rocky tried to go around me to chase Chrome off of his feed, so I chased him off again.  When I got him far enough away I was able to put his bucket down and he started eating.  Then I gave the donkey his bucket.  We stood there and watched them all eat.  Chrome got done first and to my surprise he came straight to me.  He didn't even try to go to Rocky's bucket.  When Rocky finished he walked over to Chrome's bucket and Chrome immediately walked over to Rocky's bucket.  When Chrome found it empty he went to chase the donkey off, but I beat him there and picked the bucket up since Zep was done eating anyway.  Then I grabbed Rocky's bucket and all was well.  Not too bad.

Today was a whole different ball game!!  As soon as we walked into the pasture, Chrome waiting by his bucket, Rocky charged!!  I was appalled!!!  Hubby chased him off aggressively several times and Rocky kicked in his direction once, but no where near close enough to touch him.  We were both PISSED!  I immediately moved Chrome's bucket into the round pen where he would be safe (he was eating this whole time) and went to get a whip.

Then I carried Rocky's bucket out again and he tried to approach me while I was still standing by it.  I've decided since he's being aggressive I don't want him even approaching me when I have feed so I smacked him with the whip when he got too close and he ran off.  After that he finally realized I was serious.  I stood by the bucket, facing Rocky and waited.  Every time he tried to approach me I chased him off (but did not hit him again).  When he stopped trying to approach me I turned my back and walked away.  He waited a long minute and then walked to his bucket, ears forward and started eating.  I let him eat for half a minute and then turned and walked toward him.  When he didn't immediately leave the feed I snapped the whip on the ground.  He trotted away.  I did that several times just to make sure he knew that I controlled the feed and that he had to leave if I asked him to.

Once he finished eating I walked over and picked up his bucket.  I had already let Chrome out while Rocky was eating, so he came to me to see if the bucket had crumbs.  To my surprise Rocky walked right up to us, ears forward, not aggressive at all.  I let them both sniff the bucket, pet them both and then walked away.  I put the buckets and whip outside of the pasture and then asked hubby to approach Rocky to make sure he would let him (remember he plays hard to catch sometimes too).

As soon as hubby walked in his direction Rocky bolted!!!  I was so surprised considering I was the one who hit him with a scoop and a whip and I was the one who chased him off the feed.  Then I realized hubby's body language was too assertive and that he was still angry about being charged and kicked at.  So we went to pick apples off the tree and talked for a few minutes while he calmed down.  Rocky can read people very well apparently (as opposed to Chrome who has no clue when you're mad at him haha).

Hubby tried for a few minutes to get Rocky to approach, but he wouldn't.  He just grazed and watched him, moving away if he got too close.  So I grabbed the scoop (Rocky needed more incentive than just an apple) and asked Chrome to follow me, then I asked hubby to walk to me.  Hubby, Chrome and I stood in a circle playing with the scoop and apples.  Rocky heard the apple rattling in the scoop and finally came to us.  Hubby fed him an apple (these are tiny apples) and we walked away again.  After a minute Rocky walked to us again and got another apple.  That time he stood still and let both of us pet on him and Chrome and the goats sniffed our fingers.  We were all a happy family again.

I'm disappointed that he would act like that, but I also understand why he does.  Living in that herd of half wild horses and being on the bottom in rank does that to a horse.  He will just have to learn the ground rules, which are that the humans control the food and he is NEVER allowed to threaten the humans.  I think he will figure it out quickly since we are fair and consistent.

I do not like hitting horses, but they are large, dangerous animals and if he chooses to escalate a situation like that I will return in like kind.  Once he was no longer being threatening I lowered my own aggressive stance.  I was assertive, but calm.  I highly doubt he will need to be touched with the whip again.  All it took was one time to get his attention and prove to him that my bark does have bite if it needs to.

So that's the update on how they are doing.  When there is no feed involved they are one big happy family with no problems at all.  They stand shoulder to shoulder at the gate and neigh at us when we come outside, happy as can be.  Rocky is a bold horse, but he's not mean, so I think once we establish that we are in charge that all of the feeding problems will go away.  For the moment I'm going to continue to feed Chrome in the round pen.  He's a little slow to back down from other horses when he's eating and I don't want him to get hurt if he decides to stand up to Rocky.

In happier news we ordered Rocky a bridle and I can't wait until it gets here.  It's so cool!!!  It's going to be a looooong week waiting for it.  :)