Friday, November 6, 2009

The Joys of Boys... or "What the books you read as a teen never told you about horse ownership" (be warned, this is TMI!)

Horses usually come in one of three varieties. Mares, stallions or geldings. There IS a fourth option, spayed mares, but those are so rare that most horse people never meet one... and a fifth that is a hermaphrodite but those are almost as rare as spayed mares and so those two have no real bearing on this topic.

Now most horse people have a preference. This preference is usually based in some stereotype that may or may not have a basis in fact OR it is based on some horrible experience the horse person had some time early in their horsey life.

Most reasonable horse people who want to have a pleasure horse understand that a stallion is a high maintenance animal and more than the average horse owner can handle so those can be crossed right off the list even if the idea of a big Black Stallion appeals to us on a gut level. Despite what Walter Farley would have us believe, that bond between Alec and Shetan was FICTION, and not something you can count on keeping you safe with your own little stud muffin.

So that basically leaves two options, mares and geldings.

Now despite the fact that several horses who have been my special friends have been mares, I am a gelding girl ALL THE WAY! There is no hormonal fluctuation to deal with, no fear of a neighbor's stallion getting loose and jumping the fence and leaving you with an unwanted foal and/or massive vet bills... geldings tend, in general, to be fairly predictable in mood and their life revolves around people and food, unlike mares and stallions who are at least part of the time obsessed with reproduction. Like I said, stereotypes... not always true but in general these are the perceptions.

Now folks who like mares usually like the fact that mares tend to be just a bit more "on" than geldings. They seem to have more active minds. Total stereotype here but I have seen it to be true. Mares tend to be thinkers. Also, if you WANT to breed you have that option. But the main thing i see mare lovers say they prefer about mares is... no sheath cleaning.

Every non-horse person in the room is going "huh?" and every horse person in the room is either laughing (gelding fans) or gagging (mare fans).

Because really when it comes down to it, much of the time the preference comes down to whether or not dealing with this nasty chore freaks you out.

For you non-horsie people, the sheath is... where his boy part hides. So sheath cleaning is.... cleaning his boy bit and the place he stores it. I don't think that description fully expresses how absolutely foul a job this is. Some lucky gelding owners have remarkably clean boys and never have to give them a scrub. Others *points to herself* have filthy filthy boys who end up coated in a sticky black tarlike substance that smells somewhat like road kill mixed with sour kraut and some foul thing created by scientists as a secret biological weapon.

This subject has come up several times in several places over the last week and so i thought I would address it here... the joys of having boys.

Now to be fair, mares can be gross, too. Mary is a disgusting little hussy. From April until August every 21 days for a week or so she coats her own back half and Brego's front legs with a thick sticky pungent smelling liquid that runs down between her bum cheeks and will leave her scalded if i don't coat her whole back end all the way to her teats with Bag Balm or Vaseline. And the smell sticks to me. I wash her every day to try and keep her skin healthy otherwise this stuff makes her hair fall out, and nothing i have tried seems to get the smell off of ME after washing her. Thankfully no one else seems to be able to smell it but to me it is almost overwhelming. I've been around enough mares to know that not all do this, but Mary actually makes me glad my other two are boys. I'm hoping by next spring she will have realized Brego is a gelding and go back to not showing heat like she did after Sparrow was gelded. I could tell she was in heat because her scent changed but her behaviour never did and she wasn't squirting all over herself. mares also get a weird funky build up between their teats similar to the foul gunk boys get in their sheath. *shudder*

Now not only do geldings get this reeking build up of goop in their wiener storage unit, but they also get this bizarre hard lump of crud in a small pocket next to their urethral opening called a "bean"... which you have to somehow pry out of there without getting kicked, IF you can get him to relax enough to let you even get to the thing, since they have the remarkable ability to make their entire penis disappear into their body cavity if they want to.

Now many years ago I had a small side business doing horse grooming. Pulling manes, clipping, braiding for shows and sheath cleaning. Before long the sheath cleaning became my biggest money maker. So I pretty well got to the point where i could do it without batting an eye. And people were willing to pay... a lot. I charged $65 for a full body clip (this was almost 20 years ago, so that was like big money), $30 to pull a mane, and $70 to clean a sheath (more if I had to train the horse to let me clean him first, as this can be a time consuming process if the owner hasn't made an effort to get him used to it). I once got $300 for cleaning a horse because he was a complete prat and his owner just plain didn't want to deal with it. hehe. It's amazing what people will be willing to pay someone to do a job they find repulsive.

I wonder why THIS sort of thing never comes up in My Friend Flicka or the Black Stallion?

This topic is over for today, but not over for good. Tomorrow i will try to tell the story of the sheath cleaning and the Girl Scouts, and this weekend the boys will both be getting their fall cleaning and so far Brego's reaction to me in that general area is that he has been horribly violated and needs to call the Special Victim's Unit to report the crime I have perpetrated against him. He literally tries to cross his hind legs. I'll put TMI warnings on all of these, for those who would rather not hear about horse wieners and the foul deed of having to clean them.

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

By Jove, I think he's got it!

More work on transitioning from long lining to ground driving. Brego is SO annoyed by not being able to see me. Annoyed and confused. I spent some time ground driving then giving him breaks by going back to having him go around me, pushing him out of his comfort zone then bringing him back in to think about it. By the end of the session i was able to move the reins up a ring on the surcingle (closer to where they will be when I am riding him) and he was responding to them nicely. No time in the bridle, though. It was cold and i do not want one of his early experiences to be a cold bit in his mouth.

We didn't have any freak outs or explosions this time, so no having to run along behind him until his brain kicked back in. When he started to get over stimulated i would just slow him down and he did great. I finished up by coating his legs in Listerine (lol) and trying the Aussie saddle on him again. This time with girth... my girth is way too long so now I need to pick up a shorter one. Mine uses the ring overgirth so I can't just use a short English girth like i did with my old Aussie. So I'm putting a nice saddle pad and a shorter Aussie girth on my Christmas list... i mean since i won't be asking for a horse for Christmas (for the first time since i was about 3, yeeeeeeahhh!!!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

hot doggity dawg!!!

Every week i toss my Aussie saddle up on hairy bear to see if it fits. Every week it is just a bit too wide to sit on him without sticking out to his sides and resting on his spine.... but not today! between the way his shape is changing and filling out from maturity and the way the muscle is filling in from lots of trotting on the long lines my saddle now FITS HIM!!! It's not the BEST fit, but if he keeps filling in through his back it will only get better. if the saddle was just an inch longer it would be too long for him and he'd never grow into THAT but as it is it squeaks in as JUST short enough.

I need to get a nice western saddle pad since the saddle is designed more like a western on the underside, and then start strapping it on him when he works on the long lines. Assuming the girth will go tight enough. i may need to get a shorter one. He is such a tiny little peapod.

For those who have not seen it, this is my saddle:


I am absolutely chuffed to bits.

Brego, on the other hand, is not terribly thrilled. lol.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

LOL, my dog is soooo ugly!

I love my dog. Seriously. He warms my heart and puts a huge grin on my face. I find him absolutely adorable.

I think that may be a sign that I am mentally ill.

he is down to like 6 teeth now, mostly in the back. So when he snoozes his tongue flops out. I took this picture last night because he was just looking so adorable.


That is where he sleeps, between my feet, head down, back against my leg. Tongue hanging out. He keeps my toes warm on cold winter nights.

Man, I love that stupid dog.


Swine flu has officially hit the school! We have 4 confirmed cases in the high school as of yesterday. The children are mostly delighted, hoping they close school for a week, lol. They are going to need WAY more than 4 cases to close the school.

The time change has my sleep totally screwed up as usual. I fall asleep, then wake up, then can't fall back to sleep, then finally fall asleep and sleep for 20 minutes. URGH!! I hate hate hate the time change. We should just stick it on daylight saving time and leave it there year around. Time is such a simple concept, do we REALLY need to intentionally make it more complicated?

Can you imagine working at a clock/watch store during the time change? Wow. That would seriously SUCK. I get testy having to change 4 or 5 clocks, can you imagine having to change hundreds of them? I didn't change any this year. Just thinking about it made me testy. Tsu changed them all.

As I was typing my twice yearly anti-time change rant just now i realized i didn't post my annual "anti-columbus day" rant! I'll give the Reader's Digest Condensed version: America was ALREADY FULL OF PEOPLE! He may have been the first European to find the place and let enough other people know about it to get in the history books but as far as actually DISCOVERING the place... that is like me "discovering" the mall just because no one I know had any idea it was there. FULL OF PEOPLE! Do all those people who were already living here just not count?

*yawn* It's too early in the morning for this kind of foolishness, lol.

It's been almost 5 months since I had my gall bladder removed. Shouldn't the incisions have STOPPED ITCHING by now? Man of man, it feels like I have mosquito bites that never go away!

I hope the weather is decent today. I obviously need some time with my ponies so i don't keep getting crabbier, lol.