July 30, 2014

Meet my new donkey!

I got a new donkey!  Surprise!  This handsome fellow is exactly like the little man Jethro — super sweet, tolerant, and eager to learn. 

So cute!
Actually he IS Jethro believe it or not.

Fluffy Jethro

Yup, I body clipped Jethro.  It is 110* out and that shaggy coat was just too hot for the poor fellow.  I purchased some Andis clippers (which arrived today), gave him a bath, walked him in the sun for an hour, and set to work.   Technically my mom actually did the clipping, and since it was her first time attempting I think she did well... way better than I would have done.  Fair is in three weeks, so I think the clip lines will be faded out by then.

A small portion of the hair that was clipped
The body clipping didn't phase him one bit.  He stood there calmly like a pro the whole time.

I love the clipped face/head!

July 25, 2014

In which I step out of my comfort zone

Yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone big time. I decided to go to my first 4-H riding meet since last summer. 

She loaded within 5 minutes, and we were off!  Upon arrival she lunged just fine until the other members and their horses showed up. She was whinnying and bucking (while on the lunge) around.  After she somewhat got a hold of herself, we went with the group to practice showmanship patterns.

A year ago during showmanship she would have been prancing around uncontrollably. Yesterday, however, was a new chapter!  I would say she did pretty well, although we did have to redo the pattern since the first time was a complete fail. The second went a lot better — she listened and obeyed rather well, and I was really happy with her performance!

Next we tacked up, and I was a nervous wreck. In the words of my mom, "You look like you are going to puke."  I reluctantly mounted up and gave Ypke a task to do. I made her do small circles, figure eights, and direction changes at the walk. She was actually doing great!

Next we went to the rail for walk/jog. There were 7 or 8 other horses besides us, and they were all super calm. Ypke was really feeding off of this and seemed to be relaxed.  She was acting similar to how she behaves at home. Ypke was going at the pace I asked, passing, and changing directions at both the walk and jog.

After awhile we moved onto patterns.  This involved waiting in the lineup which she HATED. She was really fidgety and kept on wanting to back up and bump into other horses. I did manage to get her more or less under control. Once it was our turn for the pattern, she seemed happy that she was finally going to do something. That pattern was trot to the center, do a figure eight at the trot, trot to the end cone, halt, and do a 90* haunch turn. Our circles weren't round, but at least she was listening.

Once back in line she was getting increasingly impatient.  Even though I was just sitting there with loose reins she would throw her head around and back up. I pretty much just let her throw her hissy fit, but whenever she would back I would make her go forward. 

We got a second try at the pattern.  Yay redemption!  All of a sudden we both heard LOUD thundering hooves.  Off to the right someone was galloping their horse on a mini dirt track next to the arena.  I heard her start to do her signature squeal and could tell she was thinking about surging away.  I decided to be somewhat proactive and pull her head around while yelling my signature, "OH GEEEEZ! HOLY COW!" I'm not sure if it spooked me and then spooked her, vice versa, or if we both got scared at the same time. What's even more surprising is that directly after that I trotted her on and finished the pattern. My typical reaction would have been to freeze and sit there like a sack of potatoes.

The meet was done, and the trailer loading saga began.
After over an hour she was finally loaded.  Luckily the trailer has great lighting inside...

July 18, 2014

Stop the Madness!

This is something that has really, really, reeeeeally been getting on my nerves lately.

Bugs, which leads us to fly spray.

I should start my own fly spray company and claim you only have to spray your horse once and it lasts them a lifetime. I would strike it rich.

Plastered everywhere you see, companies claim that their product is special and lasts for 14 DAYS guaranteed. Can't forgot how they are sweat-resistant, weather-resistant, and magical.  Hahaha, haha, ha... ha.  I think they made a typo and it is supposed to say 14 MINUTES.  No matter how much I douse Ypke with fly spray, it never ever lasts for 14 days. I'm lucky if helps for 14 seconds. I have proof: I left for vacation for four days after thoroughly bathing Ypke with a "14 day" flyspray... came back to one eaten up horse covered in bugs.

I seem to get the best results from Tri Tec, but it always leaves a greasy residue on Ypke's coat (maybe that helps it stick on?).  It definitely doesn't last the advertised 14 days which irks me, but it does seem to do a pretty good job for one day.

Which fly spray do you use?  Are you happy with it?

July 15, 2014

Pocket Pony Horse Treats, aka THE BEST!

As most of you know, I use the clicker training method with Ypke. We use it for everything, be it ground work or under saddle.  Pocket Pony Organic Horse Treats recently sent me some samples for Ypke to try out during our clicker sessions. Ypke is a food junky and knows what's what when it comes to treats, so I was interested to try them out. Furthermore, I have tried various treats with Jethro and he has refused them all, so I was interested to see if their 100% picky equine approved guarantee was legit.
pocket pony organic horse treats
The blurb, click the picture to view it larger
The treats come in four different adorable shapes and are just the right size for clicker training. Furthermore, they smell a-m-a-z-i-n-g!  Seriously,  I had to resist the urge to eat these things! They just smelled that fantastic. I mean, they even look appetizing- my stomach was practically growling. 

pocket pony organic horse treats

I liked the fact that these are 100% organic and after reading the ingredients you don't have to hit up Google.  Another added plus is that these treats aren't crumbly soft, yet they aren't oh-my-gosh-I-cracked-my-tooth hard.
pocket pony organic horse treats
Ingredients in the peppermint treats
Needless to say, I sprinted walked up to the barn to present them to Miss Mare herself.  I decided to have her sample the peppermint first and she gobbled it up without thinking twice. I wouldn't consider Ypke to be a picky eater, but she has refused flavored treats in the past. These treats come in four flavors: peppermint, apples and carrots, oatmeal molasses, and pumpkin. She sampled the remaining flavors and was all smiles!

horse smiling
Taken directly after she swallowed the treat
In order to put these treats to the real test, I gave them to Mister Picky himself. Jethro refuses to eat anything besides grass, hay, grain, and rice bran. It is a huge pain to use those as clicker training treats, so I was really hoping he would enjoy these. I gave him an oatmeal molasses treat and he loved it! He gave it one sniff and chowed it right down. I wasn't sure what he would think of the other three flavors, but much to my surprise he liked them.

I am extremely happy with Pocket Pony and don't have one negative thing to say.  These are very convenient for clicker training, and it makes me happy knowing that there aren't any funky ingredients.  Highly recommend!

**Disclosure: Pocket Pony Organic Horse Treats sent me samples of their treats free of charge for review purposes.  While I did receive these products at no expense, all thoughts expressed in this review are based off of my own experiences. Despite my experience being positive, I cannot guarantee their products.**

July 3, 2014

Therapy Donkey In-Training

I’m not actually sure if I have mentioned it on the blog yet, but there are several reasons why I wanted to get a miniature donkey: a loving pet, 4-H project, and therapy. What many people do not know is that miniature donkeys can be registered therapeutic animals. Like dogs, they can visit nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, etc. upon being certified. I’m planning on getting him certified through the Pet Partners program, and they have to be at least one year old in order to get the certification, so he still has another 7 months.

Right now I am just working on getting him exposed to everything: people petting him all over, people doing unusual things (ie: shrieking, waving arms around wildly, falling down) around him,  strange noises, tarps, manhole covers, bridges, water, crutches, bicycles, dogs, people crowding him, etc.  I’m really glad I got him when he was a weanling… he thinks all of this is normal stuff now and doesn’t give it a second thought.
I think he has the perfect temperament to be in a therapeutic program. He loves people, has a carefree mindset, and is always eager to please. 

Photo: Taking Henry and Jethro for a walk together.  They did great!
Jethro and Henry the English Mastiff going for a walk together

Crossing the manhole cover