Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oh, no! Sore Feet:

Me and my buddy BEFORE his sore feet!

The farrier came late yesterday afternoon to the ranch to trim horses. He removed Kanani's shoes and trimmed his feet. He came while I was in town having my taxes done. I had thought he would just check out Kanani's feet then return at a time when I could be there. But, he seems to be a very nice man, and he went ahead and did the work to save me the expense of another return trip.

This morning I took Kanani to the arena to play more games. He walked a little hesitantly on the way out there, but I decided to just turn him loose and see how he did. When he didn't seem to want to move around much or follow me, it seemed like a better idea to take him back to his paddock and wait a day or two for him to adjust to being without shoes. Sometimes when a horse has been shod and you remove the shoes, he may need a day or two to get used to going barefoot again.

Halfway back to the paddock, Kanani stopped and refused to go another step.

I coaxed. I cajoled. I offered him carrots.

The poor guy just stood there--raising first one foot, then another, clearly not wanting to put ANY of his feet down on the hard ground. The arena is all sand. But the walk back to the paddock is hard ground and has a few little rocks here and there and a bit of gravel.

I pushed and I pulled. I clucked and I begged. I raised my voice in a no-nonsense tone and slapped his rump--not hard but still a slap--with the end of the lead rope.

We went nowhere.

It was about 11:00 am and the sun was getting hotter and hotter.

In desperation--and thirst--after twenty minutes, I tossed the lead rope over his neck and left him standing there out in the open while I went to get a bucket of hay pellets, apples and carrots--AND my dressage whip.

He was stilling standing there in the same spot when I returned. Surely, he'll move now, I thought, tap-tapping him politely but insistently on the rump with the whip while I sought to urge him forward.

No, he wouldn't move. He was interested in the bucket but not enough to walk three steps up to it.

I tapped him a little harder then and spoke VERY sternly to him--and all he did was look at me with big hurt eyes.

Well, I've never actually whipped or beat a horse and I am not about to start now. So I gave up on the whip and decided to wait him out. (There's no pushing or shoving a 1500 hundred pound horse who doesn't want to move, in any case!)

Forty-five minutes later, we were still both standing there while he thought the whole thing over. By then, it was now past noon and I thought I might pass out under the glare of the hot sun.

Once again, I left him standing there and went to get my water bottle and my cell phone. I called the ranch owner who I hoped might be down at his house nearby. He was home and said he'd be up shortly and maybe together we could get him moving.

I trudged back to Kanani. I sighed. He sighed. And took one tiny step in the direction of the bucket.

Eureka! I gave him a piece of carrot. And moved the bucket another two steps away.

And so it went. One step at a time, toward the bucket and the paddock beyond.

Just as the owner came down the drive to help, Kanani finally stepped into his paddock and got the WHOLE bucket of goodies.

Inside his paddock, there are nice, soft rubber mats in the shady run-in shed. I don't think Kanani will venture off those mats until his feet feel a little better and ready for hard ground.

Tonight, I called the farrier and told him he better come back and put Kanani's shoes on. Maybe he's not a barefoot kind of horse.

"Call me, Monday," the farrier said. "If he isn't used to it by then, I'll come put them back on him."

Tonight, I cruised the internet to see how much Easy Boots cost and how long it will take for them to be shipped here. Easy Boots are just what they sound like--boots a horse can wear when he has tender or sore feet.

Tomorrow, I will give my poor guy a nice long massage in hopes it will take his mind off his feet and he will forgive me for all the pain of today--and for tapping on him with a whip and raising my voice when he really wasn't being disobedient or mean--he was just hurting!

Games People Play:

Hey, I'm a horse! I need to run!

While waiting for the rest of Kanani's tack to arrive, we have been playing games. The games are designed to let my big boy know that I am indeed his new "herd leader" and he can trust me. He has been a very willing participant. However, the day before yesterday, he let me know that he had had enough of this game-playing-- it was time to gallop and run. I played one last "back-up half the arena game" before I turned him loose because, after all, it's not HIS decision which games we play and when: It's the herd leader's. (That's ME.)

However, I am a benevolent leader, so I do take his "needs" into consideration. Two laps around the arena and he came right back to me, as if to say, "Well, I got to gallop around so now I'm ready to play games again."

Yesterday, I turned him loose to run BEFORE we played any games and all he did was follow me around. I played with the big scary whip with the long white rope lash--twirling it over my head, whipping to the left and to the right, swinging it around my head like a drunken cowboy with a lasso. I paid no attention to Kanani and what his reaction to "this crazy human behavior" might be.

With my back to him, I beat on a barrel and lashed this way and that. (The idea is to let him know that my long scary whip is no big deal. Wait til I tie an even scarier white plastic bag to the end of it!)

Then I felt a warm breath on my neck. I turned around and there he was--faithfully following me and watching me act like a lunatic. No matter where I went or what I did, he followed. No leadline, no bridle. Nada. Now, I am not sure if he is following me--or the carrots in my pocket. But I can tell you that there is plenty of tasty grass growing at the edges of this huge fenced arena. If he were like any other horse I have known, he would have been busy checking out the grass within easy reach, not following me.

Every day with this guy is a new adventure! I know horses pretty darn well after so many years with them, but every horse is a little bit different and with this guy, I never quite know what to expect! But then I never had a Friesian before, either.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Glorious Hair Man:

After a good grooming session, I undid Kanani's braids this morning. This boy has hair! And it streams behind him like a flag when he gallops.

I discovered this when I turned him out in the huge riding paddock for the first time so he could check it out. Kay had her camera ready and caught some stunning shots of him strutting his stuff.

He raced around like a Nascar driver for a few minutes--kicking up his heels and relishing freedom after his long journey. Then he calmly trotted back over to me and just stood there waiting to see what might happen next.

There won't be any riding til the rest of my tack gets here. The box that came with him lacked a saddle pad, for one thing. But this is a great time for just getting to know one another and he seems to already realize that I'm his new owner. Or is it the other way around and he now owns me!!!

Have lost my heart to him already. I am so in love. Who can resist all that hair???

The String Game:

Kanani told me today that although he is a very brave boy about most things, he is terrified of the long white lash on my lunge whip. To him, it apparently looks like a cobra about to bite him. Well, we can't have that, now can we?

I took the long white lash (think string, here) off my lunge whip and gave him a lesson in "Yes, you can trust this thing not to hurt you."

It took about 20 minutes and a pocketful of carrots to convince him but he finally decided that I could toss the "cobra" up in the air, whirl it around my head, drag it along the ground and even throw it at him and drape it all over his body wherever the notion took me, and he would be just fine. Nothing bad would happen to him.

The photo below shows the moment of truth when he decided it was okay if I tossed it over his neck.

Such a sweet, trusting boy he is!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Images From A Long, Happy Day!

After a long windy night during which I slept very little imagining my horse being out on a barge on the ocean all night--braving huge swells and wondering where on earth he was going--we (my sister, Kay, and I) headed to the docks. We had been told we could pick up Kanani at about 8:30 am but when we got there, he hadn't come off the barge yet. The dock was very busy with fork lifts, big trucks coming and going, and containers being unloaded. Kay had brought her camera. I brought a lead rope, a lunge whip, a bucket of goodies and a pocketful of carrots in case we needed some or all of that to persuade Kanani to get on yet another trailer.

Poor guy! He's come so far and traveled so long. I was in a fever to see if he was okay--and just to get my first glimpse of him!

Can this be what we are waiting for?

It is! Here comes my new horse in a three horse container (along with a gray gelding and a paint horse stallion.) A fork lift has just taken them off the barge.

The middle horse's butt is definitely a Friesian horse's butt! Wouldn't you know that my first view of Kanani would be his butt!

He's got my name on him so he must be mine!

Wonderful nice lady who loaned the use of her trailer to pick up Kanani. While I helped unload another horse, she held him for me after we brought him out of the travel stall.

Heading for the trailer.

He walked right in--no fuss at all.

All loaded and ready to see his new home.

Driveway back to the ranch. Kay and I followed Kanani in the trailer.

After unloading, we head for the paddock.

Checking out the paddock--his new "home sweet home."

Meeting next door neighbor, Walker, a big warmblood who wanted to let him know who was boss. Kanani just looked at him as if to say, "Hey, man, don't sweat the small stuff! If you knew what all I've been through lately, you'd be a little nicer to me."

A little trot to stretch the legs after so many miles!

Posing by the fence...

A good roll is horse heaven!

Eating orchard grass pellets.

Already, he loves treats!

He's such a beautiful boy!

We'll be back to see you tomorrow, Kanani! And maybe I'll unbraid your hair and see just how long it really is.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kanani En Route:

Pacific Airlift Horse Loading: Yep, horses go in a container in the back of the plane.

Kanani's great adventure--and mine--has begun. I'm told he was clipped and prettily braided to keep his long hair out of his eyes before he was loaded onto a trailer with a herd of goats for the eight and a half hour drive to LAX airport (Los Angeles.) This all happened on Friday. He was supposed to board the plane at 11:30 pm, in company with the goats and a couple of other horses, but boarding was delayed until 1:30 am.

Don't feel bad about the goats. From all accounts, he liked them. There were a bunch of white milking goats and some little black Nubian goats. Lest the scent of the goats should upset my big "brave" boy, his nostrils were dabbed with a touch of Vick's Vaporub.

Not sure what time he made it to Honolulu. There he was examined by a vet and then transported to a boarding barn to await the last leg of his journey to Maui. He will come by barge, like just about everything else that comes to Maui. Loading takes place late on Monday afternoon and the trip takes all night. I cannot visualize this (or maybe just don't want to!) but a huge crane will hoist him in his stall on and off the barge. Tugs maneuver the barge the whole trip--no one is on the barge itself, steering or watching over the cargo. It has been very windy lately, with big surf, so we are anxiously watching weather reports and hoping for no tsunamis or huge swells. This is one of the roughest ocean crossings anywhere, but please God, just this once, can't you calm the seas between here and Honolulu?

At least, he will have the company of two other horses--and maybe even his goat friends. (Will they all get seasick?)

Come Tuesday morning, he will be available for pick up at the dock at about 8:30 am.

Meanwhile, my sister Kay and I are busily preparing for his arrival. Yesterday, we took "my horse stuff" up to the ranch where I will be boarding Kanani. We found his paddock and my assigned tack locker. Kanani will have a nice large paddock with a run-in shed complete with automatic waterer. There is also a very large pasture where he can eventually be turned out with other horse buddies. He should be quite happy with this arrangement, as horses prefer being outside with shelter to being cooped up in a stall all the time.

I poked around looking for the nearest electrical outlet where I can plug in clippers when I need to clip him. Couldn't find one. So we went searching all over the property looking for an outlet--only to conclude that THERE IS NO ELECTRICITY coming into the ranch, ANYWHERE. No lights in the feed room--nada.

With all the checking I did into this facility, the one thing I neglected to ask about was: Do you by chance have electricity?

This will not bother Kanani at all--but his new human is a little shocked. Thank goodness I haven't bought clippers yet. Guess I will have to look for the cordless, rechargeable kind that I never liked in the past.

Life is about being flexible, right?

Now, please excuse me while I go check the weather report again.