Punks Kid Rock is the registered name of my American Quarter horse gelding, Rocky. This blog chronicles our adventures together,
as well as stories from my horse past and, occasionally, a tidbit from my non horse life.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Emergency Plans

Earlier this week, my area was inundated with a torrential downpour of rain.   Some places got up to 10 inches of rain in 24 hours.  There was a lot of flooding, which is very unusual for us- the last time we had a flood of any seriousness was in 1972.  I called in to work, as I was unable to cross two brand new rivers on the one road I had to take into town.   I began to worry about Rocky after I heard about some other road closings that effectively closed off any access I might have to him.

It occurred to me for the first time that there would be nothing I could do if the barn I board him at were to flood badly enough for the horses to need to be evacuated.  Saying that, I don't mean to sound naive, but my area rarely has "evacuation" type weather.  No tornados, hurricanes, or -until now- floods.  Sure we have some hard winters, but that is easily solved with hay and a good winter blanket.  Plus, Rocky grows a thick coat so he doesn't often need a blanket anyway.  (My favorite is the thick fur that grows behind his ears; it's downy soft but makes his ears look all cute and small because of the amount of fuzz.)

It took me a while to manage to contact my barn owner the day of the flooding, but once I caught her on the phone she reasurred me that the horses were all okay.  I was able to breathe much easier after that, but for a while I had been trying mightily not to panic.  This was the type of random, suddenly dangerous situation that you can't do anything about when it happens. Our meterologists didn't even know the storm was going to be as bad as it was, how were we supposed to plan for it?

The thing is, I don't know what I would have done even if I had known.  I lucked out in many ways, but it made me wonder what people in other parts of the country have planned for major weather events such as the one that inspired this post.  Do you have a place that you know you can take your animals in the event of a flood/tornado/hurricane/other extreme weather?  Would you try to leave your area, or dig in and hope for the best?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 Walkabout Tour!

This last weekend I took the opportunity to go to Clinton Anderson's 2012 Walkabout Tour in Des Moines, Iowa.  It was a blast! The states I saw represented (for sure) included: Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, and even Florida!  Overall the tour was great, watching Clinton work with the problem horses is the best part to me. His timing is pretty much perfect, and it's clear by how fast the horses he is working with improve that he is communicating clearly with them.  Side note: the problem horses Clinton works with are all local horses that their owners applied to have used as demonstration horses at the tour.

For those of you who have never been to or heard of the CA Walkabout Tour, here's the general schedule:
Day 1
9-9:15 am: Clinton performs groundwork with Diez, a horse he has trained and takes on his tour. It's impressive to watch as they move together gracefully. This year this demonstration didn't happen, and it was hinted that Diez was having a problem.
9:15-10:30 am: Clinton talks about his Method, gives the audience his philosophy and explains where he came from and what his Method is about.
10:30-11 am: Break/Autograph signing
11-12:30 pm: Clinton round pens a disrespectful/pushy horse. This time, it was a really lazy paint horse of some type that the owner bought because he is beautiful.  I think he had blue eyes, and was named "Gus."  He was using his shoulders to push his owner around, literally turning his head and moving into her with his chest. She obligingly moved for him.  She said that Gus' issue was kicking out when he decided he'd had enough of lunging or round penning.  He never kicked out at Clinton, but I was much more concerned with the way Gus moved his owner around. Clinton set clear boundaries with the fellow, and while Gus tried to slow down a lot he wasn't aggressive in the round pen.
12:30-1:30 pm: Lunch
1:30-3 pm: Problem horse #2, generally has issues under saddle that the owner is worried about.  This year, the mare was brought in because she liked to move out quickly and I think she had bucked or something.  She was a pretty buckskin mare, and was another good example of a horse moving their owner all about the arena. The mare had no respect for the human at the end of her lead rope and did generally as she pleased.  Clinton did ground work with her, teaching her to lunge respectfully.
3-3:30 pm- Break/Autograph signing
3:30- 5 pm: Clinton rides Diez, showing off what you can achieve if you follow his Method.  They do reining patterns, back in circles, side pass all around the arena, etc.  They did do this, but I noticed a few steps of Diez's where he seemed a little off.  It didn't appear to be anything major.

I'm going to cut this post off here, but I will talk about Day 2 soon, including the gorgeous Tennessee Walker I drooled over :).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trail Ride

My mom, Mindy, is relatively new to being a rider and owner of a horse.  She always wanted a horse growing up, but was told she couldn't have one.  Now as an adult, she has taken the opportunity to purchase her own horse.  Her first horse ended up being a bad match which concluded with my mom in the hospital for two days. The horse (ironically named "Lady") bucked my mom off at the bottom of a hill on a short trail ride.  My mom had tried to flex her into a circle after Lady started trotting down the hill, and Lady decided it would be better to just offload my mom.  Lady is now with a more experienced family who adores her.   That whole debacle convinced my mom that she wants a calmer, more steady horse rather than one with attitude.  She also has been drooling over Norwegian Fjords for several years.

She now owns Tapper, a 6 year old Norwegian Fjord gelding. She boards him with Rocky, and they are friends in the same pasture.  Mindy takes riding lessons from our barn owner/manager, and listens to my advice as well.

Her goal is to trail ride, and someday train Tapper to pull a cart.  She has some fear issues due to the incident with Lady but has been much better about taking more regular lessons.  Tapper is a sweetheart, and his biggest issue at this point is that he can be pretty clumsy.  I think he's still growing into his large feet!

With all of that background, two days ago I went on a trail ride with my mom.  Rocky has been doing super well (I still have to write about a trail ride I did almost a month ago now...it's coming...) so I figured he'd be a good, steady trail horse for me while I watched over my mom.

We started out and it was really hot that day, close to 80 degrees plus some humidity thrown in for fun.  My mom said that she wanted to do the loop of the trail by the barn that we have already done before, and I was a bit disappointed.  The day before my BO and I went for a trail ride to the neighbor's trails, which were beautiful and a nice change of pace for me.

I agreed to do the smaller loop, and we were most of the way through when I stopped to chat with my mom for a bit.  I talked to her about her desire to go on day trip trail rides with Tapper, and how I want her to be confident doing trail rides at the barn before going on a ride in a new location.  She acknowledged my concerns and told me that her plan is to ride Tapper as much as possible this summer, getting more miles under their feet.

I offered to take her to the neighbor's trails again, as Tapper was doing well that day and so was Rocky.  She thought about it for a minute, and then decided to go for it.  She said, "I need to go by what Tapper is showing me, and he's fine. I'm the one that's worried."

We got over to the neighbor's trails, and talked about how pretty they are with their wide, grassy riding lanes and tall trees.   We rode down a gravel road to the back of the neighbor's property, then took a left past their burn pile.  Here, I stopped to watch my mom's face as we turned the corner to a long, beautiful stretch of trail.  It was grassy with a lot of pines on one side, and other deciduous trees on the other.  Her eyes lit up and she laughed in delight when she saw it, exclaiming, "Wow! This is gorgeous!"

I felt happy that I could be there with her when she got to enjoy her longest trail ride to date, and that it could go so well.  We even trotted together down that long, grassy lane, the dogs loping along beside us with grins on their faces.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Human Euthanasia

Recently on the Fugly blog, they have been discussing humane euthanasia in the case of "rescued" horses.  It got me thinking about another type of euthanasia, one which is probably more controversial than whether or not to put down a horse.

I'm talking about human euthanasia, specifically in people who will never recover from things like Alzheimer's, or who would already be dead if a machine weren't breathing for them.  Generally, I think people should be allowed to die when it is clear their quality of life is suffering a great deal.  I am trying to be as broad as possible in this, as there are always exceptions to the rule.

I have one grandma who has entered the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, and occasionally has refused to eat.  Eventually, the nurses get her eating again but she isn't the woman who used to be my grandmother.  My grandmother would never have allowed herself to get to the state she is in, but Alzheimer's is a sneaky thief who steals your memories, thoughts, and wishes from you before you know it.  I love my grandmother deeply, and that is why I believe she should be allowed to die.  It seems like the only humane thing to do- I would put my dog to sleep if he ever got as far gone as she is.  She struggles to remember anyone, even her husband and six children.

So what do you think?  Is this too slippery a slope? I know there are terrible people who would "let go" of their "loved ones" just to get an inheritance, or stop paying medical bills, or because Mom always liked the other sibling better.  What is the right course of action?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wound Update

I was at the barn again tonight and Rocky was not pleased to have been in a stall/run overnight.  He came right to me and thought he was going to walk right out of his stall when I had his halter halfway on.  I backed him up and he remembered "oh yeah, I have to wait for her."  My first thought was to check his neck wound, but he was cranky and restless. I took his fly sheet and mask off, then let him go in the outdoor arena.   He happily ambled to the side of the arena to eat the grass that he could reach- if you haven't noticed, my boy likes to graze!

I let him do that for a few minutes, then went to get a lunge whip.  When I came back, he was just getting up after a good roll in the dirt.   When he saw me heading for him, he turned and edged down the arena fence while still looking for grass.  I pointed in the direction he was already heading (his cue to move that way) and clucked when he didn't respond right away.  He moved off at a walk, looking mildly irritated.  He turned a corner in the arena and realized that I was serious about making him move.

He then turned, ears pricked, and began to walk to me.  This is how I catch him out in the pasture when he's decided he doesn't want to do anything.  However, I wanted him to let off a little energy and see just how cranky he might be after his stall rest. I pointed him on to my left and he swung his head that way, a little offended that I didn't let him catch me.

I then started to free lunge him, asking him to trot around me and change directions.  He was resistant to travelling right, so he had to hustle a little until he gave in.  Overall, he turned really nicely for me without anything attaching me to him. I let him catch me a few minutes later, and looked at his wound.  It was full of arena sand and dirt from his recent roll.

I hosed it out with the setting on shower and used one of my fingers to slide the grit out.  Then, I sprayed Vetericyn on it and continued with my ride.   When I put him away, I sprayed more Vetericyn on it and it seems like it's healing okay. The part under where his flap of skin covers the wound is still pretty wet, but the rest of it is starting to heal.
It's easier to see how much of his mane I trimmed here, and how large the wound is relative to his neck.

Sorry this photo is a bit blurry, he was grazing and it was hard to get a clear shot with my cell phone.
Happiness is:

He was really pleased to get the clover :)

A new look for Rocky

The last two weeks have been really busy so I haven't been able to get out to the barn very much- as in, twice, which is why I wrote the Snow White review rather than more Rocky stuff.  C'est la vie.  I've got a great trail ride to tell you guys about, but before that I want to talk about my time at the barn yesterday.

Pretty, new fly sheet!
Rocky got a new fly sheet for my birthday, and he looks so shiny and clean underneath it! (knock on wood) I groomed and tacked him up as usual, then did some flexing exercises and worked on trying to be light, asking him with the lightest touch and then raising the pressure if he resisted.  I tried to be conscious of asking lightly every time I used a new cue, rather than falling into the trap of staying at the last pressure level that worked. Thanks, Mugs!

He responded pretty well, but he'll be better after I have been consistent with him for a few days. I can't blame him for being a little off after not being worked with for about two weeks. 

So after doing that I thought I would take him on the small trail loop to work on leg yielding across the trail, more lightness exercises but in a different environment.  He wasn't thrilled with going out on the trail, instead trying to get me to let him go down the driveway- which ends at a big highway.  I said "no thanks" for today, and then proceeded to ask, then tell him not to eat grass/leaves/ferns while going down the trail.  I ended up popping him in the head with the end of my mecate rein, which got him up and trotting but at least proved that I was serious about the not grazing while working thing. 

A few minutes later, he tossed his head and I saw a flap of skin under his mane come up to reveal a one inch by one inch wound on his neck.  It was right on the top of his neck, hidden under his mane.  I gasped and leaned forward to look at it.  It was about a third of the way down his neck from his ears, and every time he shook his head the flap jiggled.  I finished the loop with him and had my barn manager look at it.
Yeah, it's kinda gross.
See the flap? It's to the left of the raw wound.

You can see daylight! and how deep the wound is.
She gasped, too, but then relaxed after seeing that it wasn't as bad as it initially looks. I could tell that she felt terrible about not having noticed it before I did, but I assured her that I had completely groomed and tacked him up without knowing it was there- I had skipped brushing his mane. She advised me to shave the mane around it, clean it out and see how strongly attached the flap of skin was.

I shaved immediately around the wound, then cleaned up his bridle path as long as I was there.  I stood there looking at his neck, which had a clean bridle path, then a chunk of mane the length of my palm, and then another patch of shaved neck. Awkward.  I decided to shave off all of his mane to the wound, sortof like the show Arabian bridle path.  Rocky looks like an Arab now! (ha....ha...not.) But it does look better than it did. I braided the rest of his mane in a french braid going down his neck so that it would stay out of the wound. I thought it looked pretty, and I did a decent job for my first attempt at that type of horsey hairdo.
Shaved bridle path, braided mane.  This was the day after I originally did the braid though, so it's  messier than it was yesterday.
The flap, on the other hand, was just the wrong amount of attached- enough of a deep attachment (about a thumb width) to make me not want to pull it off, but not enough that it looks like it will reattach. So now we need to wait for it to die and fall off.  In the meantime, I put triple antibiotic ointment on it and put him in a stall so his horse friends won't help him get it full of dirt.  He happily clomped through his stall and out into the run attached to it to sniff the ground and try to get some grass. 

He will live, and his mane will look awkward growing back in, but it was pretty horrifying to suddenly see that flap of skin come up under his mane.  C'est la vie.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman: A Review

***WARNING: SPOILERS!*** Snow White and the Huntsman

I have been excited to see this movie since I first heard about it last year.  I watched (and rewatched) the trailers eagerly, anticipating the contemporary version of a wonderful fairy tale.  I watched interviews with the actors, who discussed the film and whetted my appetite even more.

The actual movie was, overall, entertaining.  I was disappointed by many things, however, which to be fair may be in part due to the difficulty in any movie to achieve the hopes I had for this one, but not entirely.  Nope, not entirely at all.

In the past, I have kept an open mind about Kristen Stewart's acting.  I heard others make fun of her, but I was willing to accept her tremulous voice and trembling lips as character traits.  I saw interviews where she talked about the strong, modern female character of Snow White and I hoped that she would give the character courage and intelligence.  I think she tried, but she doesn't have the emotional range as an actor to fulfill the role in this case.  There was one scene in particular that made me want to knock her off her horse.

The Huntsman and Snow White are set up as the main love interest, although this isn't entirely clear until about 3/4 of the way through the movie.  Still, you can see some chemistry between them, which is due entirely to Chris Hemsworth. He plays the Huntsman, and was the best actor of the entire movie.  Not just because he's incredibly attractive, but his acting pulled the movie through.  I don't know how he was able to create the chemistry that managed to survive Kristen Stewart's acting, but he did.

A great example of the way "Snow White" could kill the moment is when the Huntsman looks at Snow White, and tells her that she "looks fetching in armor" (or something very similar).  He smiles at her charmingly and any normal woman would at least smile back.  Not Snow White.  She stares at him, almost blankly but with the slightest look of... disapproval?  The Huntsman seems to shrug and remains near her, getting ready to fight beside her against the Evil Queen.  There was no warmth in Snow White's eyes at all.  As Tyra Banks would say, she needs to "smi-eyes" (smile with her eyes).  She could have at least pretended Robert Pattinson was there, and did her patented smile/grimace. 

Moving on, I wish they would have explained more in the script.  There were too many scenes of Kristen Stewart's face looking pale but with rosy lips- I get it, she follows the Snow White archetype, let's get to more important things.
  1. Snow White travels through three different forests, two of which are enchanted.  The first is "evil" and the second is hosted by fairies, so it's "good."  The evil forest does not hurt her, and she evens gets a huge, knight-eating troll to leave her and the Huntsman alone just by standing in front of it looking delicate.  You see a bat winged humanoid attached to a tree as well, but none of these creatures ever resurfaces after she leaves that forest. I kept hoping that they would follow the saintly Snow White into battle against the Queen, but they don't.  I think the scene of Snow White vs. Troll was meant to show her purity... again. 
  2. In the fairy forest, you see Snow White wake up on a fawnskin blanket.  Now, this forest is incredibly green and full of cheerful life, but they have SW wake up on a dead baby deer skin.  Um, to show her innocence more, and how she is like a fawn? You can see the white spots on a chestnut back ground of the fur, complete with white belly fur on the edges.  Wouldn't it have been more in character for the moss to thicken magically under SW, and for her to awaken cuddling the cute forest animals?
  3. In another scene, peasants are scrambling to drink a thick white liquid which is pouring out of a pipe from Queen Ravenna's castle.  I assume it is some sort of food source, but then the scene changes to show the Queen taking a bath in what appears to be the same liquid.  What is the liquid?! It looks to be a similar consistency to paint: Who bathes in stuff like this? 
  4. There is some sort of magical connection between Ravenna and her creepy brother, but you never know more than that.  She is able to heal her brother from afar, which keeps him young, too. How? Why?  There is a small segment where Ravenna's mother casts a spell on her to keep her forever young and beautiful, as long as she regularly sucks the life out of other beautiful women.  It appeared that the village they were living in was being attacked by men, so now Ravenna hates men (except for her brother) and uses her powers of beauty to seduce and then kill kings, making her the Queen of the kingdom.  But what does her brother have to do with that- he didn't appear to be part of the spell at all.  

Snow White and the Huntsman is worth seeing, but it's not as great as the previews make it look.