Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Settling In

Royal's been at the new place for a few days now and he's settling in very well. He survived some thunderstorms the first couple days which probably accelerated the acceptance process. It's hard to fight over the pecking order when everyone needs shelter. He's also getting close with Gabby the filly, who looks almost exactly like him. Seriously, it's kinda spooky as we have no reason to believe they're related. But they both are red/copper bays with stripes and two hind socks. We'll just have to call them the twins.

Monday, we started to get acclimated to the place. The bugs were pretty bad, so I put on his fly bonnet and kept the halter and lead rope on. I have to say he looked pretty unique.

Royal's Ridiculous Getup

His butt cut also looked good too. Not good good, but not infected or needing stitches. It'll probably be totally healed up in a month or so.

The main riding area is a former cornfield across the creek, which is plenty big. I got to survey it last week, but I didn't realize how deep it was in some places, especially close to the creek. Royal would sink up to his fetlocks just walking around, and the dirt was just inert. No spring or elasticity. At the old farm, we mostly rode in the arena, which was mostly shallow but fairly springy, or out in one of the pastures. So this is a change for both of us. My jumps had already been put out, and I tried to put them in more shallow places, but Royal was just reluctant. Usually he's pretty eager to jump, especially jumps he knows well, but I think the footing was unsettling to him. He's just not used to it, and being a RBE, any change tends to worry him more than it should. The good news is that it'll pack down fairly easily and hopefully be very riding friendly before long.

Then it was time to explore the road! The property is off a loooooooooooooong dirt road that houses several horse places, so people are used to them going up and down the road. And Royal was happy to go exploring.

We made it about a mile up the road before heading back. I usually hate the term "barn sour" because it's often not true. It usually means a horse who shuffles away from the barn and power walks back. Royal's the opposite: he power walks away from home and moseys back. He really likes to explore and gets less spooky on the journey out. Seriously, we encountered fast cars, ATVs, people loading brightly colored things onto brightly colored vehicles and barking dogs, none of which made him do anything other than blink. The puddles and plastic bag tied to the fence were going to kill him, though. Obviously.

The next day, we tried some jumping. It was suggested to me that I should move the jumps closer to the middle of the field, as it might be shallower there. And it was. I still had to be careful placing them, but Royal wasn't sinking as much. It was a short session, just to remind him of what jumping was in order to prep us for Carriage House. Then we headed out on the road again.

 Gabby says, "Wait, don't leave!"

Bandit and Xena are confused. And Coco doesn't care.

The road is the exact opposite of the field: Very packed, almost as hard as concrete, which is mostly great. One of the ways to strengthen a horse's tendons is Long Slow Distance Conditioning, which basically means walking for a long time on a hard surface. And we have plenty of that. The only problems are the little stones on the road, which would cause Royal to flinch a bit if he stepped on them. I was sort of surprised by this, but then again, the dirt road surrounding the old farm was very soft, to the point of sinking down in some places (which made driving on it really interesting). Again, this is just going to take some getting used to.

We walked down the road for a long time, all the way to the highway. Royal, of course, wanted to keep going, but I was not in the mood for highway riding.

 No, we are not going down the highway. Maybe later.

 As usual, he walked much slower going back home, actually taking in the sights, stopping to graze, look at the pretty tree, and sniffing the flattened/petrified squirrel corpses. Ew.

 There's a sheep farm on the road, which seemed to contain no sheep when we first passed it. When we came back, however, the ewes and their lambs were out and making lots of noise. I don't know if Royal's ever met any sheep before, but he had no idea what to make of these.

We stopped to take in the cuteness of the sheep when two of them left their barn and started running right at us. Royal just about had a heart attack as the Horse-Eating Sheep of Death came at us as fast as their little sheep legs could take them. Luckily the Sheep of Death were contained by a fence, but aren't they cute?

We escaped the Evil Sheepies and made it back safely. I was worried about Royal's hooves considering all the stones he stepped on, so I mixed up a gram of powdered bute with molasses, which ended up being very messy. I'd never mixed bute and molasses when it was 90 degrees and wasn't prepared for how runny the molasses was, and got it all over. On my breeches, the lead rope, the handle of the dressing room door. Blech. Next time, I'll wear gloves. Gabby was happy to have her buddy back and would not stop harassing him as he tried to drink. Ah youth. They'll figure it out in time.

So far, so good. I'm very happy and Royal seems very cheerful. Onwards and upwards.


  1. Sounds like you are having a great time! Sonny and I have been attack by birds before. Like chicken size, and not contained by fence. I am not sure if he was more scared or if I was LOL.

    I tried molasses on the bit for a while...didn't last too long. Sonny always looked like a little kid that had just eaten spaghetti. Except I was covered, too.

  2. One of the places I worked at last year during my internship had a "Warning: Attack Chicken on Duty" sign. Every time I saw it, I cracked up. :D Attacking chickens, or birds of any kind, can be pretty bizarre.