Mostly successful in the float training department this weekend.
On Saturday I bribed him into the float and snapped the chain up quickly before he could back out again. Sneaky, but necessary. I'd been advised to take a long drive even though the indoor arena is only 3 km away. So off we went on a tiki-tour of the outskirts of Hastings. Max was really good, no stamping or scrambling and just seemed to be watching the world go past.
We got to the arena, unloaded (fairly quickly but not in a panic) and then Max and I had our lunch. Once he had stretched his legs a bit, visited the girls and checked out the grass quality, back on the float. He was pretty good, just trying to back off again but with food in front of him, I was able to do up the chain without drama.
It was another tour of the neighbourhood and then home again. He wasn't keen to go anywhere near the float again so I decided against trying to reload him. That just seemed to be a battle that could turn ugly, and undo all the good work we had achieved. So maybe another day???
Poor little Max. He has a sore tummy, is making cow pat poos, and is quite sorry for himself.
I don't have too much sympathy because it is self-inflicted! Of course, I am concerned about the state of his gut because hind-gut fermenters like horses are very reliant on this working properly. But he and the other boys got out of their paddock on Saturday night and gorged themselves on long, green grass and some baleage. The next day he was not himself and wouldn't eat his feed. This is very unusual for the horse who is the equine equivalent of a Labrador retriever!
I hope that time, toxin binder and lots of hay will put him right.
Saddle fitting is something I have only just begun to learn about. We are very lucky to have a wonderful therapist/saddle fitter who visits our region about once a month. She's worked with both of my horses and we achieved some great things with my older mare.
Young Maxie, although pretty much unspoilt, was ridden in a saddle way too small for him when we went to see him. It was his laid-back attitude to having this nasty old heap of leather thrown up on him, and then visciously girthed up that made the first good impression on me. He just kind of steeled himself, and didn't move a muscle. So one of the first things to do was to sort out a suitable saddle for him.
I am a fan of the synthetic Wintec saddles made by Bates in Australia. They are virtually the only saddles we can buy here that have changeable gullets. And since they are synthetic, they are incredibly easy to look after and no worries if you're riding in the rain! Naturally, it didn't work out that I could ride both my horses in the same saddle. Max is a bit narrower and a completely different shape to the mare. So I found a second-hand dressage saddle (above) which seems to be doing the job with the correct gullet size in it.
Now as we get into some real work, I need to make sure that I do his massage and stretches to build up his muscle. I hope he will develop more of a topline with correct work. He doesn't yet have much in the way of back muscle, and has the tell-tale sign of poor saddle fit - muscle wastage at the shoulders. It's a difficult thing to get a photo of, but we have some drawings (wither and loin) that will show our progress.
Let's just say I wouldn't like to try to ride the goober bareback at the moment!!!
Max is back in town, sharing a paddock with the Big Boys as of Monday. Initially he was in with Chad, The Pony (aka Painintheass) but their feed requirements were a bit different and they were not doing well. So we swapped Max with one of the other boys.
He looked a bit confused and lost at first. And when I left to go home he stood and looked at me as if to say "Haven't you forgotten to put me back where I belong?". Each morning he is waiting at the fenceline, but as it has only been a few days, I'm not too worried. There is certainly no loss of appetite to indicate a problem!
I have been working hard on his float training. As much as possible I feed him in the float which works well as he is like the horse version of a Labrador. As in "food is good, more food is better". So he happily clomps up the ramp to get to his feed. The problem is that he tends to grab a mouthfull, then back out to the ramp so that he can see what is going on around him. Not helpful if you are trying to teach him to stand there calmly. So I just quietly put him back in. And repeat. And repeat. Hopefully this will sink in soon.
I have taken him on a few short trips around the block to give him good experiences of travelling. This weekend I hope to take a longer drive to the local indoor arena. He will then get off, eat hay, be fussed over and then go home again. (As long as I can get him back in the float).