Dulce and Dancer get a vet visit

Today, the vet came by to draw blood on both ponies to conduct a test for Insulin Resistance and Cushings.

dancer_6_17

Dancer came to me in January of 2005 and was the first of the horses I bought for my lesson string. She’s been with me ever since, and once I stopped teaching was retired from riding (which she never truly enjoyed anyway).

The vet couldn’t believe that she was at least 30 and more likely 35+. However, age is catching up with her and she had a series of founder attacks over the last 4-5 years when we couldn’t keep her off grass. We’ve finally got her feet looking okay and she is now sound but must be managed (dry lot, grass restriction, even feed restricted).

I fully expect the test to come back positive for IR and she might also be Cushings now due to her age.

dulce3_6_17.jpg

Dulce is concerning me a lot right now. For the second year in a row she came out of winter with a huge hair coat she didn’t shed and loss of topline (both classic Cushings symptoms). She was the main reason I jumped on the chance for this free testing being offered. By free, I mean the test was free but the other chemical she had to give for the test did cost me.

Dulce was rescued from an abusive, animal hoarder who had inbred all the horses; I bought her as a companion for Dancer from the person who rescued her. So I’m not surprised that I got confirmation today that her estimated age of 12-14 is way off – she is most likely 20+.

Her eye has been weeping so I have some ointment for that. Also, her mouth is a mess (this doesn’t surprise me because one of her inbred deformities was a strange overbite), so I have scheduled her in 2 weeks for a full dental.

She is also extremely shy. So I had haltered her two weeks ago and left the halter on as it would have been impossible to catch her at a moments notice. In the mornings I’ve been sitting with her and then slowly reaching over to clip on the lead rope and then brushing her while she ate.

I’m rather ready not to have any more vet bills for a while but this is something that should have been done years ago. Now that our financial situation has improved, I can start caring for all my animals the way that I’ve always wanted too – regular vet care, supplements and medication they need, and keeping the horses in a barn situation that suits their physical and mental health.

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4 Responses to Dulce and Dancer get a vet visit

  1. This is not in response to this particular post, but I felt like revealing my studies of the last week. I’ve been trying to work out a plan of action for my own horses, similar to yours but of course befitting my situation. I’ve been very interested in mimicry as I’ve never heard it described that way. Somewhere you said that Klaus Hempfling is the best at this. HIs book has been sitting on my shelf for YEARS. I started out reading it, tried the leading exercise and then got bogged down with how different everything was from traditional methods. I have long been in fear of ridicule.

    The problem is that at the time his book came out there were no you tube videos. He is in Europe, so far away. No one else I knew has any knowledge of him and it becomes difficult to really understand what he’s all about. I read your review of him and yes, you are correct: sometimes people don’t have the patience to really read the book or take the time to understand. Many of his videos are cryptic and more spiritual than practical.

    Anyway….once again, Thank You for your posts and insight. I brought the book to work with me and it will be my project for awhile. When the student is ready, the Master appears?? It’s all finally coming together.

    • Another interesting book is Gallop to Freedom https://www.amazon.com/Gallop-Freedom-Training-Founding-Cavalia/dp/1570764204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496928072&sr=8-1&keywords=gallop+to+freedom

      Most of it is a coffee book but the back section is where they go into their philosophy but again no specific exercises. These books you have to take as your theory and then you take that apply it to exercises you have to create. Again, why I like Intrinzen is they have done this and given me more concrete ideas and the confidence to continue:

      1.) teaching the ball play is really good for me because Dante likes to be too close to me. This gives us time to play together but with a safer distance. The activity has no real purpose other then play – it breaks me out of my focus, goal driven self which I need and the horse has time to express himself. I learn more about what motivates him or doesn’t.

      2.) The leg lifts starts to bring back the proud horse – the inner child of the horse that he has lost by being suppressed by humankind’s needs (trailering, vet, hauling, showing, performing). It gives him a place to show off and be rewarded for that.

      3.) The long walks aka Hempfling gives you connection time. Again no goal, just sharing. The horse begins to feel the relationship deepen and wants to spend even more time with you. If you can take him back to nature – let him start living a natural life on your trail walks going through water, grass, stepping over fallen logs etc… It awakes the horse and I wish I had this where I am but I’ll have to deal with just having a hay field.

      4.) I’m going to be buying a mat soon for Dante and I’ll go into that more later. They give some details on their Intrinzen Facebook page re: this.

      Allow as much freedom from constraint as possible is my number one goal this summer. I’ll let you know where it leads 😉

  2. Yes Hempfling is like reading a spiritual book where you want to know how to reach God but it’s all so complicated, wrapped in words that seem to be Greek, that you give up. Sometimes it takes time, stepping away, before returning and seeing it all.

    Definitely the advent of Youtube and people sharing their videos have opened the door to understanding. You might find this one of his interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ5N0-sMe14&t=1002s

    What I’ve done which probably Hempfling would fling his hands up in the air hahaha, is just spend a lot of time leading the horse – at first at the front and then eventually from behind. I took a lot of long walks with Pepper and Dancer, eventually some with Tristan and Z. If anyone asks what you are doing you can simply reply that you are “exercising for your health” and then tell them all about your Fit Bit haha. This is acceptable vs. trying to explain what you are really doing 😉

    Another exercise I’ve done which I’ve based off of watching Hempfling videos, is halter and leadrope the horse, and then face them about 4-6 feet away holding the leadrope loosely in the palm of your hand which is outwards from your body towards the horse. When the horse moves you move with them as if you are dancing. You copy whatever the horse presents. The hand follows the horse’s nose so if the horse moves to the right, you facing them, move your hand to the left.

    Other things I’ve done is teaching the cue to trot by body language, when I quick step my legs, lifting my knees, while we are lunging or walking. The horse begins to learn that this is my cue to trot because I reinforce with voice cue and because he wants to stay with me he must trot to keep up 🙂 If you are synchronizing your movements, this cue to pick up trot happens quickly and especially if you have done a lot of leading work.

    The same is true of teaching the half halt: while trotting with the horse if you pause and shift your weight back and then go back to trot, your horse will mimic (do this though after you have a well established connection).

    If the horse snorts or blows, you snort and blow. Sometimes you will see that the horse then repeats what you just did. If the horse stomps or lifts a leg, you do that. How quickly the two of you connect, I’ve found is really due to the horse himself (because I’m not Hempfling). So Dancer the pony who is more primal and who is much more “alive” to her environment, is quick to connect in this way – a horse that has tuned out humans and has been conformed to the human way, takes longer. The second horse almost seems shocked and startled that you are communicating this way.

    This is also where the amount of distance you put between you and your horse becomes incredibly important. Experiment with the distance, come close and if he feels pressured, go far. Play with this idea and if need be videotape, to see where your horse is on the spectrum. In the video I reference when Hempfling is lunging at trot and the horse breaks to canter, he backs off. These are things to play with as each horse experiences the presence of a human as psychological pressure.

    It’s one reason why I like the Intrinzen work because I see they are doing what I’ve learned from Hempfling but also with a clicker and taking it the direction I want to go with my own horse.

    • Thank you for your nice responses! I have read “Gallop to Freedom” (a long time ago) and enjoyed it. It made me realize how we have shut down the “play” in our horses, but in dogs it is encouraged. I did try the leading exercise a long time ago when I first read the Hemplfing, with a different horse. I need to reacquaint myself with it all before attempting it again. Watching his videos has helped remind me some.

      I remember now why I bought Hempfling’s book in the first place – on the cover it says “collected riding on loose rein”. I had been searching for something like that because I knew that if the horse could move in a collected frame on his own, you did not need to “hold him together” in order to have collection. I got into many arguments with dressage instructors over that. This was before the western dressage thing came out, and many of the recent protests against heavy contact, rollkur, etc. They all insisted that without contact the horse couldn’t be in “self-carriage”. HA!

      I am excited to revisit this book. What you said about mimicry and how he is a master intrigued me. I never got that far with his method, so now I am reading it with new eyes. I like the exercises you have suggested (I need to work on my own trotting though – very out-of-shape, haha!) . I guess I really do need a fitbit??!?! I think the clicker helps reinforce things for those of us with less-than-stellar body language. Although… I have done leading work, mostly in walk with halter and lead where I sped up, slowed down, etc. and they did well with that. So this should help when we attempt these things again.

      I must be content to being with my horses in their pen for a bit longer. The barn is still full of CRAP as the current owner was given a month’s extension to move out. Very frustrating! But my three horses followed me nicely around the pen without any insistence on my part. The clicker training has helped get them interested again, and they are very attentive. So we walked around as a group and I practiced my body language. We don’t have anywhere nice to walk at my place either: the weed pasture or the dirt road. While it isn’t pleasant per se, it is challenging. Like I said, I am excited to try your suggestions and to read more of the book!

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