Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tickle In The Feet

"Sometimes, when I have had less exercise than usual, I have felt so full of life and spring that when John has taken me out to exercise I really could not keep quiet; do what I would, it seemed as if I must jump, or dance, or prance, and many a good shake I know I must have given him, especially at the first; but he was always good and patient.
"Steady, steady, my boy," he would say; "wait a bit, and we will have a good swing, and soon get the tickle out of your feet." Then as soon as we were out of the village, he would give me a few miles at a spanking trot, and then bring me back as fresh as before, only clear of the fidgets, as he called them. Spirited horses, when not enough exercised, are often called skittish, when it is only play; and some grooms will punish them, but our John did not; he knew it was only high spirits."

-Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

The Cold Week took its toll on everyone. The horses were cranky and crabby, as was everyone else. I discovered a nifty way to unfreeze the spigot: it took some trial and error, but I balanced it between the spigot and a pipe with the nozzle pointing at the spigot. Left it there for a couple of minutes, and when I came back, no spigot-sicle!

Obviously I didn't do much with Royal. Neither of us a particularly fond of cold, and it can be dangerous to do to much physical activity in freezing cold. It did fluctuate from negatives to single digits to teens. I couldn't feel much of a difference, to be honest. Once it gets past a certain point (mid-teens for me), it's just cold. Maybe I could feel the difference from 0 to -50, but not to the extent I could feel the difference between 0 to 50.

The first day I could do anything with Royal was Saturday, but on Friday he got the "tickle-in-the-feet" syndrome, and could not eat his grain normally. He'd take a bite, then spook at the hay bales, a bird, a horse-eating-invisible-squirrel, anything. Moving him around a bit helped, but not enough. So Saturday, we went out to the front to let him boogie for a bit and burn off some energy.

It helped. We played a bit with the figure-8 and hopping over some trees. He ate his grain like a normal horse and was no longer worried about the horse-eating-invisible-squirrel. He looks fabulous, weight wise. His ribs are still somewhat visible when he does a big theatrical sigh, but otherwise he looks great.

Coco the pony had some trouble, though. The cold was not kind to him, he's starting to have some teeth troubles, and he doesn't like to fight for a spot at the hay bales. There's plenty of space around the hay, but since everyone was so crabby, he just didn't eat enough and dropped quite a bit of weight. So now he has his own little paddock (which I can't upload pictures of, for some reason) with as much hay as he wants and a bit of SeniorGlo every day. He and Royal will visit the Tooth Fairy soon, so hopefully we'll get the tooth situation straightened out. So far, he's been pretty happy. He's been eating his hay well, and knows when it's grain time and practically bounces up and down when he sees it coming. He's on the mend.

It's been fairly warm the past few day. We got some snow on Sunday, which I hoped would provide a nice cushion over the glare ice. Unfortunately, it didn't and the back paddock and big field were as slippery as ever, but the front is still nice. We carved out a little ring close which is mostly ice free. I'm getting a little more particular about posture and not letting him bounce around shaped like a llama. He's getting batter about it, but old habits are hard to break.

Today we went for a walk on the road. As usual, we try to make it to the Sheep of Death farm, and at first it went well. However, as we approached the Sheep of Death, he lost his mind over the nondescript light gray barn and equally nondescript light gray mailbox in front of it. He just completely shut down and refused to move in any way, snorting and blowing at the barn he walked past all summer and fall long without incident. Why? I don't know. Maybe the gray looked weird against the snow. Maybe he saw something in the woods beyond the barn. Maybe Satan and his demons were having a rave in there. Whatever the reason, I ended up having to get off and play with him on the ground, trying to help him rediscover his brain. We eventually got past the Sheep of Death (he was fine with them, by the way), and after I got back on, slowly inched our way back and forth towards the Demonic Barn. There was a lot of circling and pooping and chewing on the bit and frenetic stretching, and I'm sure the sheep and their people thought we were absolutely nuts, but after about a half an hour, I got him to walk semi-calmly past the Demonic Barn, if a little quickly. We made it home without further incident, and I let him mosey around the front ring to clear his mind. There was a lot of sighing and snorting.

I'll try to get us back to the Evil Area soon, but it's going really cold again, with a few days in the single and negative digits again. So, it may be a while. We have to survive the next cold snap and dream of warmer days in the future. Soon, but not soon enough for me.

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