Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

Wolfie the Wonder Horse!
Wolfie, 24/02/08

Friday, 20 July 2012

In the land of the Little People

Big changes for Wolfie this week.  I walk past Wolfie's field to get to my car every night.  Last Sunday as I walked down the road past the field, Wolfie was up to his belly in grass, literally.  The electric fencing had been moved around 30 feet in width, the whole length of the field.  Wolfie was skipping around in the long grass thinking all his Christmases had came at once.  Wolfie just can't have access to that type or amount of grass.  I am trying to get more weight off him and he can easily put weight on in the space of hours on grass like that.  He can't possibly be expected to be athletic and have a useful working life when he is carrying too much weight.  I tossed and turned all night, worrying about him on the grass.  Eventually  I made the decision to do the only thing I haven't yet tried....put him in with the ponies.  Wolfie has never been allowed in with Buttons as he tends to be too rough trying to get him to play and ends up using Buttons as a football.  There is also a rule at the yard that mares and geldings are kept in separate fields and do not get to touch over fence lines (Buttons is the exception to this rule as he lives with girls).  When I got to the stables on Monday, Wolfie had exhausted himself gorging on the grass all night and spent most of the morning sleeping off his grass hangover in his stable.  Once he'd woken up, I turned him out with the ponies and stayed down in the field poo picking so I could keep an eye on them.  He was fine, he tends to herd the ponies around a little bit, but he doesn't rush them and he's not being mean to them.  It's not completely ideal as there is probably too little grass in there for him and they are all supplemented morning and night with soaked hay.  But this way I might actually get him down to an indeal weight whereas at the moment he has sort of plauteued and is back to putting weight on.  He was a bit upset to start with as he has been in the same field with the other geldings since he was 2.  He can still see the other boys, so he did a lot of shouting the first couple of nights and he kicked off when he saw one of the boys being led down to the field which resulted in a puffy fetlock (near hind this time).  He didn't really understand the piles of hay being put out in the field and cantered around jumping them.  The ponies were most annoyed as they were both standing at a pile eating during all of this.  He is settling more every day and I know it's the best option I've got to get the weight off him.  He's got company and he doesn't need to wear the grazing muzzle.

Either Buttons has said something funny or Wolfie thinks I'm having a laugh putting him in a field with hardly any grass

A feed Rep from Dengie is coming to the yard mid August and they are bringing a weigh bridge with them.  It will be interesting to know all 3 of their weights as the weigh tape is not really that accurate.

Wolfie is sound (apart from the puffy fetlock).  I long reined him a few times last week and I hope to take him for a short hack tomorrow.  The weather once more has been most unkind and I don't know how anyone (without an indoor school) is managing to get any sort of consistent riding done.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Wolfie is a star

There was a time when Wolfie found it difficult to even walk near a folded up tarpaulin on the ground, never mind walk over it or have it touch him .  Today he was doing this.

I am so very proud of him.  It is very humbling when you think about what horses will allow us to do with a little time, patience and trust.  We have put a lot of work in with the tarp and today he was really relaxed about it all.

We never managed to get a little long reining done, due to the rain and the midges (I have never seen anything like it.  Clouds and clouds of them.  The horses looked like their skin was moving there were so many crawling all over them).  We did a little more with the clicker, continuing with the target training.  Hopefully this week, the weather will hold out and I can long rein him and maybe have a little ride on him by the end of the week.

Friday, 6 July 2012

"Tell me Clarice.....have the lambs stopped screaming?"

I shouldn't joke, but Wolfie's grazing muzzle bears more than a passing resemblance to the mask worn by Hannibal Lector in the film Silence of the lambs.  Even looking at a photograph of Wolfie wearing the muzzle makes me feel really sad.  I understand grazing muzzles have their uses and many people have great success in managing their horses weight using them, but I am struggling with the whole concept of it.  It is completely restricting their natural behaviours and ok they can still eat and drink, but they can't nip whilst playing or groom each other and it must be so frustrating for them.  I  bought the muzzle last year and never used it.  Last year Wolfie was kept in a fenced off part of one of the fields on restricted grazing on his own.  This was initially due to him being in isolation with his virus and then it continued to try and get some weight off him.  I completely disagree with keeping any horse on its own, and by the end of his time in isolation, he was pretty miserable.  As Wolfie is kept at a livery yard, I have little control over where he grazes and how much access to fresh grass he has.  His weight is actually very good at the moment, I would like him to lose another few kilos, or certainly not put any weight on.  We are having completely different weather conditions from last year and all the rain we are having is washing a lot of the goodness out of the grass.  The downside of that is that the fields are waterlogged and boggy.  I've been considering once again putting the grazing muzzle on.  I've been trying it on him for 5 to 10 minutes at a time to try and get him used to it.  The other day I put the muzzle on and took him down to the field.  I stood with him for 20 minutes to make sure he was ok.  He cantered around for a while tossing his head.  I don't think he was so much distressed, more like furious.  I thought I would walk up to the gate and watch to see if he settled.  I must have taken only 4 or 5 steps when i turned around and the grazing muzzle was lying on the ground and Wolfie had a huge mouthful of grass.  I couldn't work out how he had managed to get it off, as it was all still fastened and there was nothing nearby that he could have rubbed it on.  I put the muzzle back on, sat down in the grass and waited.  After about 5 minutes he lifted his left back foot up to his left ear and hauled the muzzle over his head and ears.  He then wandered off leaving the muzzle dumped on the ground.  The first time it might have been coincidence that he was scratching behind his ear and the muzzle came off.  The second time when I saw him, he knew exactly what he was doing.  I was already concerned about how tight the muzzle was, if I tightened it any, it would dig into him.  So Wolfie has solved the dilemma over the grazing muzzle....if I put it on, he'll just take it off.

The idea that grass can at times be harmful to horses is difficult for most people to understand.  After all, horses love lush green grass.  But allowing some horses a large constant source of the green stuff can really be detrimental.  Much of the grazing in the UK has been improved i.e. re-seeded with grass species chosen for maximum milk and meat production in sheep and cattle (animals that are not known for their athleticism, or expected to live a long and active life).  Whereas horses evolved to thrive on forage that is sparse and low in nutrients.  My dream would be to have my own grazing where I could set up a track system like paddock paradise.

Wolfie finished his Danilon on Monday and he's back being turned out overnight and brought into his stable during the day.  He's been trotted up and looks sound.  He's still been resting as the weather has been awful and the ground conditions are not suitable for doing anything.  We've been working a little with the clicker, mainly just on touching targets, but it's good fun and Wolfie is a wonderful student, if not a little over enthusiastic at times!  If the weather stays dry over the weekend, I will long rein him and see how he is.

And just randomly, this statue is part of Glasgow's culture.  The rider always has a cone on his head.  the police and council have stopped taking it off as a cone just gets put straight back on.  I quite like it.  I don't think I've ever seen it without a cone.