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Please help with a horse

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:41 pm
by Pumpkin&Piglet
I'm looking after my friends horse while she is away. I started on Saturday morning and she is back this saturday coming. All has been OK but I'm now pretty nervous of the horse and she knows this.

She's on her field tonight with an outdoor rug on and one underneath. It feels quite mild at the moment and I was told by the owner she would not be happy left outside all night but would manage just fine. I've left her food in the field which she would usually have in her stable.

I will go up in the morning as usual to feed her but won't be taking off her rugs or brushing her or bringing her in. I have a friend to call and a number if I get into trouble but as it's Christmas and I didn't think it was an emergency I was hoping to carry on as I am currently just until 27th when Ic an ask for someone to pop over and help with it all.

Will the horse be OK with this? She's got water in the field and plenty of grass and it's big enough for her. We're in Gloucestershire. I don't think it's very cold for December here at all but it has bene raining a lot and I think it will carry on to do so on and off.

I know little about horses and was just left with instructions that all sounded fine and I was looking forward to it all but the more nervous I've got, the more irritable Peanut (the horse) has got and the more nervous it's made me! I don't want to be in the stable with her in case she kicks me and I don't want to get her in from the field. When putting her out this morning and my attempt to put her to bed this evening it was clear to both of us that I was not in charge. Even I know that that is not good.

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:58 pm
by diggernotdreamer
I don't know much about horses either so I can understand how you feel. Your friend left you with her horse and she must have known you weren't horsey. Animals can get very stroppy especially if they cotton on that you are a bit nervy. Do you feed her once or twice a day? Most animals like their food and will come over for it, you could try putting her food into the stable for her, get a small tin and rattle her pellets (if she has those) or anything else you could rattle just to get her attention and once she is in shut the door behind her, that way you don't have to go in at all, then in the morning before you let her out put out food and water in the field and just let her out, then put the food in the stable at night. She certainly won't freeze to death. Anyway, you are doing your best, she won't starve or dehydrate. Walk around confidently (even if you don't feel it) and just talk in a business like or schoolmarm voice and pretend like you couldn't care less about her. You are very nice to look after someones animal over the christmas holiday and if you were really worried, could you not call your friend and voice your concerns, I know you don't want to bother or worry people on their holidays but at the end of the day, it is her animal. I think you have to do what you feel comfortable doing at the end of the day and it is only for a few days. Sorry can't be more help. Happy christmas. Lyn

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:05 pm
by Pumpkin&Piglet
Thank you. You seem to have the same opinions as me so I'm at least reassured that I haven't totally got it all wrong! I think she'll manage for a few days if I do my best. She's fed twice a day and on quite a lot as we don't want her to lose weight over the winter.

Her stable is across the road form her field so I have to lead her in or leave her. My main concern is the rugs (other than her being outside in the cold at night, but then she is a animal with a fur coat!), I think they need moving about so they don't become uncomfortable - I think it's like us wearing the same clothes for a week without taking them off.

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:49 pm
by Crickleymal
I'd offer to help but my freezer isn't big enough :icon_smile:

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:58 am
by trinder
So sorry for not spotting this earlier. I haven't been on for a few days.
Don't worry if she is wearing a rug the rain won't bother her. The only fussy thing about rugs is that you are supposed to take them off daily to check that there have been no rucks or creases that could be uncomfortable ( like getting a stone in your shoe) The only likely trouble for you is if the sun comes out her desire to roll and scratch her back will often make the rug displace or a buckle come undone.
As for the irritable bit, again she is just used to a routine and she is also used to a certain person doing it, so she probably just confused. You are also likely to be a bit slower and even that is a factor. ( think about how long someone takes to changes a babies nappy when the task is unfamiliar and how wriggly the baby gets).
If you have not been warned that she kicks or bits then please trust me she wont. so try to enjoy this time with her, when you give her her feed, just stay with her, she will be glad of the company. Listening to her rhythmical munching can have a really calming effect for people. I will watch the forum more carefully . I am in Tewkesbury if you need me I can pop over. good Luck and enjoy your at "onenesss" time.

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:28 am
by Pumpkin&Piglet
Thank you. I'v been waiting for you reply specifically as I knew you knew about horses!
I thought maybe today I'd try and bring her in during the day. A few days break from handling her and I thought I'd be better if I do it in the daylight rather than in the dark. I was thinking about 3pm. I know that means she'll in her stable a longer than usual but after two nights out in the field I'm hoping she'll just be glad to be in for a bit.
She's kicked and nipped before but it was really rare I think and when I was in the stable and clearly not getting it quite right she never showed any sign of kicking (it's that I'm more worried about, biting I can handle!)
When I take her food up I've patted her and tried to make sure she's warm enough under that rug and make sure she's not in any obvious pain or discomfort.
As long as she doesn't refuse to move for me when I'm trying to lead her or gallop off across the field again I think I might manage this afternoon but we'll see!
Thank you very much Trinder, you're help has been reassuring and very kind

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:14 pm
by trinder
Can i ask for a little more information? is she alone in the field i.e no other horses or sheep?

If alone she will appreciate her routine even more than one that lives with company. If she lives with other equines when they get brought in people often wrongly think that she also wants to come in. She is actually wanting to be as close to her field companions as possible, sorry I always write in an illogical way ... what I am trying to say is if she lives with other field companions her biggest upset is being separated from them.
However if she lives alone then the comfort of a deep bed can often encourage them to lay down and relax.

So bringing her in during the daylight may well be a good thing for your confidence in handling her but if she is to be shut in she will need hay ( you don't mention that)? unlike people a horses stomach is designed to actually hold very little food horses are designed to be foraging ( nibbling) for about 16 hours per day. I don't want you to panic just understand the principles so that you know your areas to relax about.

As for handling mostly try to keep one hand on her at all times that you are in with her ,(that way she knows exactly where you are and you don't run the risk of startling her) but every move of her muscles you get to feel. for example if you had say a hand across her ribs you would feel her body will crinkle if she is turning her head towards you (you can then anticipate and avoid a nip) and her muscle will stretch as she turns away or reaches down. Also try to stay close to her as possible when going behind her ( as opposed to giving her a wide birth) that way if she does kick she will give a heafty shove alternative to you getting a hoof going at 60 miles.

hopw this helps keep in touch and enjoy your time with her xx

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:24 pm
by Pumpkin&Piglet
Yes that's great, thanks. I will def try and keep a hand on her when I'm in the stable. And staying close to her if I have to go behind is something I didn't know but now makes perfect sense!

She is alone in the stable and in the field. I know she gets lonely but there's another horse coming to keep her company very soon. I put some hay in the field while she was out all night and there's some in her stable. I've managed to get her in this afternoon out fo the rain and swap her rugs. She doesn't seem to want to be brushed by me although she apparently loves all the fuss of brushing, so I'm assuming it's because she doesn't know me.

I'm going back in a minute to feed her and will be there in the morning to feed her, swap her rugs again and walk her up to the field.

Her owner is back on Saturday so I'm hoping she can survive me until then! I am trying to do what's best but it's clearly very obvious to her that although I go in very confident (I think), I become very nervous at the slightest move by her!

Thank you for your help

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:21 am
by trinder
Ok so the not wanting to be brushed maybe that she is thin skinned.
Knowing how big she is and/or her breeding will give me a clue.

If you are ”confidently swatting” her with a hard brush and she is thin skinned IT HURTS. Try using the bush on your own arm to judge how hard to groom. Because you don’t know her, just make sure it’s more of a caress across the easy body parts. That way you can both relax. Be careful not to knock her shoulders or indeed any points (read protruding bony bits). Also don’t stay in one part for too long. Think of grooming a bit like brushing your own hair, you need the sensitivity to know that you have just hit a knot but once you know that there are no knots a strong sweep is invigorating but remember too much brushing in the same place can get a bit scratchy. Some people have a sort of rubber mitt with dimples on one side and short bristles on the other. If she has one of these then you can mould your hand grip over her bones and not give her a thwack ( accidentally) with the hard wooden part of the brush.

On to the leading

When you walk with her she is likely to be a bit fresh and eager -she is hungry no matter how much you left her last night she will have been standing for ages with nothing to chew so try to get a “feel” for her manners, ” a bit like dog training .. when you have seen her been led up by her owner does she normally walks on a loose rein? Where does her handler walk. ? alongside or in front? If you were to do a big yelp and dive to the side and halt what would she do?

So if she is like mine well mannered on a lead rein I can walk in front and he will follow (useful if it’s a narrow path or bridge) but if we are just transferring from field to tack area he will walk along side me I always have my hip level with his shoulder . that way if I “brace” a halt I have caught his head to swing towards me and his backend will automatically away. Because I know mine so well I will also step into his hindquarters to assist with the shove (move that away and face me) signal. My earlier request for breed and size information is that often ponies get labelled as being bargy. ( I hasten to add this is purely training not actually related to any breed or size)

I would like to keep this exchange going because I would really like you to be able to look back on this and have enjoyed the albeit temporary “ownership” although it is a bit scary at first it is also a great opportunity for you to try stuff out without “knowledgeable people” helping (read being knowalls) the “carry a stick and kick kick kick sort of people.

I don’t know if the person who owns Peanut has advised for or against titbits ( it may be that if she is a biter then the owner will be clearly NO hand titbits) but if she is allowed you could have a bit of fun trying to find out does she Have any words that are understood ??? Naturally your voice intonation will be different so you will need to help. For example give her the smallest piece of carrot ( about thumbnail size) just so she is motivated. Then try this exercise. Stand directly in front of her on a loose rein ( when she is standing still) stretch out your hand open and flat against her chest , step towards her and keep your body momentum going as you place your hand on her chest and say “back” if she steps back immediately say “good” and give her another piece of carrot.

Play this game for a while and see how quickly (this can take 100 goes if she has no clue what you are on about and or is distracted by other stuff) but if she is focused and already knows the command (which she should) you two will get confidence in each other and have some quality time.. you can then move on to other voice commands like “ move over “ etc etc.

Good luck I am on 3pm till 11pm shift tomorrow but I will try to check in if my shift is quiet.

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:54 am
by Pumpkin&Piglet
I don't know her breed. She's a big pony/small horse if that helps?! Her coat is thin, clearly been trimmed, I've no idea about her skin. I thought the same as what you were saying so I've tried to be gentle with brushing her and tried to cover her back and sides, and legs if I feel brave but she clearly doesn't' like her neck or head being brushed. And I've chosen the softest brushes I can find. I think!

I've given her carrots from hand but whole ones, not little bits. I was taught to walk shoulder to shoulder with horses so I tried to do this but she kept stopping. It works best if I'm either just in front of or level with her nose. She's generally pretty good just walking to or from the field except when she's refused to go up the drive or leave the field when I've either left her in the field or walked her back to the stable, left her for a bit and tried again later. She stops when I need her to; when I stop walking and tell her to stop or (whoa).

When we're in the stable I'm quite happy moving her over or pushing her back so I can move around. She's moving her head towards me a lot more than she was but she hasn't tried to bite yet while I'm doing her rugs. I'm worried about her kicking mostly but she hasn't actually showed any signs of this either.

Considering my experience of looking horses is limited I think we do pretty well (although I could be wrong) but I get nervous easily, I don't even really know exactly what of, and I think she sees this and it makes her wary of me, which makes me more nervous and so on. I can go in very confident but as soon as she turns her head I think she's not happy and is going to hurt me (I know I'm over reacting but it's hard to turn it off). So as long as I get most of what I need to do done in the first 5 minutes we manage! lol

She doesn't seem to like me changing rugs etc while she's eating so I stopped that, I thought it was a good idea because she'd be distracted and I could just get on with it. I try to be careful that straps etc aren't swinging and banging on her legs. Maybe I am mistaking her not liking it for interest in what I'm doing? I know from when I've had riding lessons that I think the smallest movement by the horse is much bigger than it actually is.

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:15 pm
by diggernotdreamer
Glad you are getting some expert help at last, you sound to me like you are doing really well, come here, things could be worse, a friend of mine here was tasked with looking after a couple of bears (yes real bears you don't need a licence for exotics in Southern Ireland) while the owner was away, he had one or two really hairy moments with them. But well done to you.

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:43 pm
by trinder
Sorry I could not get back to you earlier.
I agree with DND you are doing a grand job. I wonder what your reward will be? a nice hack perhaps?
Your reference to peanut having been clipped would account for why she doesn't particularly enjoy the grooming. When clipped (electrically shaved) the hair is at varying stages of it's natural life so it isn't ever as nice for them, they usually put up with it, as you have indicated she does

By now I am sure you have settled into your handling so good ... carry on... but I,m happy to help if you need it.

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:31 am
by Pumpkin&Piglet
Thank you so much for your help. It was very kind, I'm glad Peanut is surviving me and I'm sure she'll be please tomorrow when her family is home x

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:25 pm
by happyhippy
Hi how's it going?Sounds like you have been offered some great advise there!It also sounds like you are doing a really fabulous job hon?I'm sure Peanut appreciates it!lol Just out of interest,would you offer to do it again?How did it go today,and will you miss looking after Peanut?

Re: Please help with a horse

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:03 am
by trinder
In response to Happy hippie's question. It 's a bit like evaluating a course in the 5 mins before you are allowed to go home..
Next week ( Pumpkin&Piglet) will have one memory and next year another.
What I would have loved is that that Pumpkin&Piglet could have gotten over the "hell I'm stuck in Mongolia and I do not speak the language" and relaxed into WOW me and this horse are having a conversations SHE is listening to ME she is trying to make sense of what I am trying to explain.
Now that is a fantastic journey.

Not meaning to dismiss the one you have been on, Pumpkin&Piglet xx