Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ask Tuffy: Training a human to groom

It has been awhile since I have answered mail, so I thought I'd post an inquiry here:

Dear Tuffy,

I simply don't know what to do. My human cannot seem to get grooming down. She brushes way too hard and it makes my skin sore. I know she doesn't mean too, but she simply puts too much pressure and I shiver the whole time. What can I do to make her lighten up?

Signed Shivering and Sad.

Dear Shivering,

I sympathize, truly I do. Being brushed by a stiff hard brush is torture. Training your human to lighten her pressure will be difficult. Some humans never realize our skin is so sensitive. Try moving away from the brush, tossing your head and perhaps nipping at her. When she brushes you with the right pressure relax and lean in a bit, to show her it pleases you. If she continues to abuse your hide make it difficult for her to catch you. I suggest trotting off right as she comes up and then letting her get close several times before running off again. This type of behavior will teach her that her presence is annoying and she must change her ways.
Another thing you can do is grab the harsh brushes out of the grooming kit and shred them, or drop them where the barn hound will get them. They make great chew toys.
There is not reason for a horse to be brushed without care for his delicate skin. Even mud and dirt don't merit harsh treatment. Perhaps you can nudge her into a wall or doorway and she will get the hint. Sadly, sometimes we horses must use aversion therapy to get our humans to behave.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hitting the trail

We had a very nice ride today. The hillsides are green and it was quite warm. Passing through the woods it was very tempting to eat some new grass, but being a gentlehorse I minded my manners and didn't eat with a bit in my mouth. Lucky and his human came along. The difference in his appearance is amazing. He has been getting gentle work outs in the arena and lunge ring and has toned up. His human said he must have been trained for western and english riding, I shuddered at the thought of doing both. We stopped several times to rest and my human was nice enough to give me a handful of her magic fizzing water. Wonderful stuff, but it makes my lips tingle.

We saw two forest cows. They are so slender and fleet, not like those big black and white things down the road that merely stand around and eat. The trees are getting buds and it smells like spring. There is a show coming up in a few weeks and I need to start getting my human in shape. She wintered well and doesn’t need must reminding to get her back in form. She's been so responsive and easy lately I feel sure we'll do well. More later.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A nice spring day

Spring is really beautiful. It feels so nice to shed out the itchy winter hair. Shorty and I groom each other whenever possible. Not that my human doesn't do a fine job, but since she refuses to use her teeth she doesn't get the hair pulled loose as well as he does. I was also subjected to a visit from the sticker man, no sticks this time, but a tube of nasty paste stuff. What is does I'm not sure, but it tastes terrible.

Lucky has continued to improve in appearance. Is human has started gently lunging him, as well as leading him along side her other horse when she rides. Shorty and I heard from Pebbles that Trooper would be home soon. He did not do well on the Winter Circuit and is probably going to trade his human in, again. If he would quit being such a snob and settle for a nice domestic model then he would be much happier. I know that my human is very satisfactory; I made a good choice. More later.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happenings around the barn

The cat beast has once again found my diary and embarrassed me. He has meowed my spelling errors from the rafters and implied I am an idiot. I pointed out to him that I understand humanese very well and I was the first horse to figure out how to use the office computer, as well as open the door. He scoffed and said he spoke, and understood, several languages and that he himself had been using computers since he first heard they had mice attached to them. He’s such a snooty beast and I hope the Rat Terror dog gets him. I don’t have much use for dogs, and this one pees on everything he can reach, but they do keep the cat beast in fits.

Lucky and Shorty have both consoled me and made many admiring comments about my writing ability. I am not completely placated, but do appreciate their support. Lucky looks better every day. I simply cannot believe the change in his appearance and demeanor. His human is a very nice human and always remembers to bring Shorty and me treats when she visits Lucky. My human has been helping with Lucky, I am so glad I taught her to share! My human’s herdmate has even come out again, and it had been a long time since I had seen him. I often wondered if he had been run off by a more dominate male, but thus far had seen no bite marks on my human’s neck to indicate she had changed herds. The herdmate has helped by brushing Lucky and feeding him treats and seems quite taken with him.

There is also another new foal in the mares’ paddock. It is a very unique looking thing, being covered with small pebble shaped spots from its head to its hooves. It is a filly. Pebbles said it was an Appaloosa like I am, but I don’t believe it. After all I am an Appaloosa and I only have white markings over my hips. I think she is just pulling my cannon bone to tease me. I hear the barn help approaching so I must close for today. More later.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lucky speaks

It has been a few days since my last entry, but I can now report on my talk with the new horse, Lucky. The nasty cat beast snuck a peek in my diary and rudely informed me that the word is “rescue”, not RESKEW and then he demeaned my illustrious ancestors. Foul animal, I hope an owl gets him.

Lucky was turned out with us two days after he arrived. He was put in with Shorty and me, in a smaller paddock, to make sure he would not get hurt. He was already looking so much better than when he came in. Good, regular food, even in smaller amounts, can make an animal look brighter . We all trotted around when first turned out, and Shorty and Lucky both rolled, but I didn’t want to ruin my nice brush job, so I cantered around a few times, chasing my shadow. Then we grazed for a while. I was amazed that even though Lucky’s ribs are visible he grazed slowly and very gentlehorsely. He is a nice addition to the herd.

Finally we all settled under a shade tree and he told us the rest of his story. Seems Lucky is actually a well bred animal. He came from a mid sized breeder that had nice mares and property. His sire was a horse that lived many states away and had a large stud fee. Lucky has never met his sire, but heard him referred to several times as an “improvement sire”. Lucky left his first home when he was two and was set to training a young female human. He said they worked together for several years, even winning in shows, and then she had to go to some place called “college” and could not remain with him.

Lucky’s next human was the start of his problems. She was not as good a rider, she didn’t understand a horse’s needs and by ignoring them she created problems that intimidated her. Lucky told me he worked with several different humans trainers, but none of them could get his personal human to work correctly. He ended up not being ridden, rarely visited and then finally sold to another human.

This next human was a nightpeople for poor Lucky. He was beaten for being spirited, had severe bits used and was often worked until he was exhausted. He lost weight and got moody and fearful. He was horrified to find himself dumped at an AUCTION! Oh I shuddered at the word. AUCTIONS are what our dams used to frighten us with when we were bad little foals! AUCTIONS are the end of the trail for so many horses! Those of us raised by, and partnered with, resposible people really have no concept of how terrible they are, but we guess and shiver.

Lucky told us about the AUCTION ( sorry I can’t help imagining it like that. Like FIRE! It is such a fearful word!) He was put in a small muddy pen with other sad horses. Some were skinny and had cuts and scars. Some were in better condition, but nervous and worried about their futures. Several horses in the pen next to his were clearly horsterical. He said you could tell they had not been around humans much. They were panicked from being hauled in the wheeled caves. Several wore halters, dragging ropes, which were caked in mud and manure. When it came time to visit the ring of horsehell they were chased through a runway and then galloped around madly in the ring, the ropes slapping their legs and sides. Lucky choked up and Shorty and I scratched his withers while he recollected himself. He dropped his head when he told us that all of the frightened horses ended up in the big double decker wheeled cave. We knew what that meant!

Lucky was finally led out of there by a “cowboy” looking fellow that he referred to as a “DEELER”. He made this human sound so evil and so scary. Shorty couldn’t even nibble on leaves any more; he was so shocked at the thought of Lucky’s life. I am so blessed with my human that I have nothing but sympathy for others that do not have the same life I do! I need to switch leads again back to Lucky’s story.

Lucky went home with the “DEELER” and was immediately made miserable. He lived in a small pen with several other horses, including some with injuries. The injuries were ignored for the most part, unless they were easily treatable with yellow spray. Horses were often dragged out and hosed off to be shown to humans. They were then lunged until they could barely move, so they would look gentle, and then put away sweaty and sore. I felt my skin just shivering at his words, like flies were crawling all over me. Thankfully he finished rather quickly.

The “DEELER” finally ran out of feed and the horses were starved. Several died, including a few mares and colts. Finally things got so bad that the “SHERIFT” showed up and shut the “DEELER” down. Humans came in and started loading horses into wheeled caves to take away. Lucky feared he was going to have to load into a double decker, but none of those ever arrived. While waiting to be taken, the remaining horses were fed and watered, and had their injuries treated. Lucky left in the last group, they were the horses in the BEST condition. Shorty and I shivered for several minutes, recalling how he looked when he arrived. He was finally haltered by a tall human, that smelled of warm grass and molasses, and led into a wheeled cave. He wasn’t sure if his ride was going to be his last, but he was grateful that he had a few moments of kindness before loading. When he was unloaded here he said he almost collapsed with relief. He said the last few days have been like a refoaling and he hopes his new human will give him time to get better so he can show her how grateful he is. I am so happy he was rescued by his human and brought here. I know he will do well now. More later.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Meeting a RESKEW

I had a very strange experience today. I met a horse that was a RESKEW. I’m not exactly sure what that is, and I was afraid to ask on so short an acquaintancship . He arrived today while we were all turned out. I was astounded when a thin, dirty horse was unloaded out of one of the wheeled caves and led into the barn.

Shorty and I trotted along the fence and were horrified at his condition. He was thin and matted, his hooves long and scaly. I felt just awful for him! He disappeared into the barn with one of my human’s companions so we didn’t see him again until we were brought in for feeding.

When we were stalled for the night I discovered he was in the stall next to me, where Trooper usually stays when he is not on the show circuit. Shorty is on the other side of me, and Pebbles is across the aisle. We all ate quietly, but I could tell the others were watching the new horse as much as I was. He looked somewhat better, having had a bath and his mane combed. I heard the humans talking about the farrier coming out to see him, as well as the sticker man. I shuddered in sympathy.

When we had all finished eating and the barn lights were turned out I politely introduced myself. He relayed to me that he wasn’t quite sure what his name was now, although the human that had brought him in had been calling him Lucky. He didn’t remember his old name because he was never called by anything. This set my whiskers to quivering with indignation. How could a human demean a horse so as to not recognize his name?

We talked for quite some time and oh the horrors he told me. He hadn’t had his feet done in over a year. He hadn’t seen the sticker man in longer than that. He was so thin and starved I didn’t ask when he had last had regular feed. I can’t imagine my darling human ever letting me do without! I’m sure she would sell her man-thing first before letting me suffer. It’s late, and I’ll relate more of his story tomorrow. Poor Lucky, I’m sure I’ll have nightpeoples after his story! More later.