Monday, April 14, 2008

Ranch Antics

The wind kept up all weekend in Chatsworth and, with the temperatures dropping today, I wonder if we'll still have wind when I go for my lesson this evening. Right now I'm watching a heavy breeze out my window, although that's not necessarily a clue as to how things will be 7 miles north of here.

Even though we couldn't ride, Ace did get quite a bit of turnout time on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, I let him out with Mini, the miniature horse owned by the other attorney at the ranch. She owns Beau, a thoroughbred, and Reina, who may be a quarab. The attached video shows Ace in a few moments of actual interaction with Mini and then a brief look at Jake (Ace's neighbor on the north side) and Reina, who has the trimmed tail. Ace is more into parallel hanging out rather than actual play.

As you can see from the video, the arena is bordered on one side by the stall runs, so the turned-out horses can get up close and personal with the ones left behind bars. I tried, but failed, to capture Ace getting back at Sebastian, the huge thoroughbred in the stall to the south of Ace's, as Ace would trot down the row of stalls, lunge to nip Sebastian, and turn tail and dance out of Sebastian's reach. I think it makes up for all of the times Ace has gotten nailed by Sebastian with no place to escape if he fights back.

On Sunday, after Tim had finished Ace's feet and I was getting ready to let him back into his stall with fresh water, shavings, and a snack waiting, I saw that Sebastian was getting caught up in his blanket. Sebastian had managed to unbuckle one of the fastenings in front (my friend Melinda's horse Vento is a genius at this) and had pulled the blanket partially off his prodigious rear end, so as he stepped forward, he was stepping on the blanket and blocking preventing further movement. All of the other clips were still in place, so the elastic bands were wrapped between his legs.

The horse's size intimidates me and I had no intention of trying to go into his stall to fix things. He's not terribly fond of me, because I keep waiving him away from me and my horse when we're in the run. Nevertheless, I got him to come over to the rail where I tried to get the blanket back in place. He stood while I adjusted it and then promptly ripped at the front and got it off his butt again. Not that I could blame him. At 11:45 it was probably close to 90 degrees and he was definitely overheated.

I had no idea when or if his owner would come by that day, and neither of the phone numbers on her contact sheet work (I've tried to reach her before), so the only safe solution was to get the blanket off. I got him to come over to me at the fence again and I unbuckled the fasteners at the side of the blanket and the one back-leg fastener I could reach. Then I got the other fastener in front, which he had been frantically trying to work open. He stood remarkably still while I pulled the blanket off his back and dropped it to the ground, where I hoped he would just step out of the last elasticized fastener. It caught on his leg wrappings, but I managed to reach to get it to the ground (I'm amazed he didn't kick at me) and then he did step out. The yellow blanket is pretty filthy, but at least Sebastian didn't break a leg.

Ace acts as if a blanket is going to eat him and he would probably have been in the next county if that was the way I took his off. We need to work on that (even though I don't have to blanket every year, which is why he acts as if he's never seen one most of the time) and bicycles. Every one that rolled by while we were doing his feet on Sunday was grounds for a startle. I had warned Tim to beware of motorcycles, but Ace barely blinked at the several that went by the gate. Those bicycles were a different story entirely. Since I'm planning to take biking up for Bike to Work month in May, I'm thinking we may need to desensitize him to those silent monsters.

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