Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Of Haynets and Valleys

Royal and I have had some interesting adventures over the past couple of weeks. The biggest change came when we got hay and put it out for the horses. Given the drought of this past summer, hay is in short supply so we're trying to reduce the amount of waste. There were a lot of slow-feeders at the Horse Expo this year, but the one we decided on was basically a small hole haynet big enough to put over a round bale. I picked up a couple in October and we were able to start using them a couple of weeks ago. This resulted in lots of confusion with the horses. Here was hay, but with a tough inedible exterior. At first they tried to bite through the net, but they eventually realized that it was easier to nibble through the holes. It doesn't seem to have slowed down their consumption much, but there's a lot less waste.

While the nets are designed to help horses eat like they are grazing, they are no longer moving like they're grazing, which has caused Royal's hind legs to stock up. Not severely or horribly, but enough to be annoying.

They usually go down after 5 or 10 minutes of moving him around, and they look completely normal. But the next time they're a bit stocked up, although they seem to be less and less stocked up each time I see him. Hopefully this means he's adjusting to his new activity level.

I've also been able to ride him in the big field a bit, but the struggle is crossing the little valley that separates the back pasture from the field. I thought that wouldn't be a problem as he's had to cross it multiple times where they were turned out there. But now it's muddier which greatly displeases him. So he prefers to gingerly inch his way down the hill, then leap across like there are alligators at the bottom. I tried to play with him a bit OnLine to help his realize crossing the valley is no big deal. He disagrees.

At this point, I'm not sure how to address this. On one hand, he's going to have to cross this valley a lot next year since the field is the best riding place, so I want to nip this in the bud. On the other, all the slipping and sliding can't be good for his joints and connective tissues, and I don't want to risk an injury over this. So we'll play it by ear for now.

We had a very successful session with Contact today. He started stretching pretty much immediately and was more than willing to take the contact at the trot, even offering the canter at one point. He's got a fairly fluffy winter coat, so I'm trying to keep out sessions short so he doesn't get too sweaty. It seems to be working.

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