Friday, May 30, 2008

We're Graining Ground...

Sammy has been home one week now and more has happened than just her finding out how to eat grain. She has discovered she loves to be scratched, she loves standing in her stall and watching it rain instead of standing out in the rain. She has such keen hearing, why she can hear me pop the lid on the feed drum all the way out in the back barn, :-). She has discovered that she doesn't have to mug me for her feed that if she waits politely she will still get her share. She has learned that she doesn't have to attack her bucket the moment the grain hits the bottom, she can wait until I get the scoop out of the way, and she has gotten tons better about taking her wormer. The first three days was a wrestling match. Who knew such a small horse in such a weak condition could be so strong? I think I wore as much wormer as I got in her. LOL

Her weight is not obviously changing yet, but her spirit is soaring, her eyes are bright, and she is such a joy to be around. Her nicker is low and sounds so much like her mothers, but her whinny is trill, and so girly.

The vet says we must wait until she gains weight before we can work on her teeth and give her vaccinations. However this week we are going to begin learning our leading manners and confidence. It really is amazing how much she trusts me, but even at 580lbs, that is still allot of horse in your lap when she decides something is going to eat her. LOL So we must work on this. Fortunately she does remember how to stand in the cross-ties and we will find out this week if she remembers getting baths. I think it will be a nice treat for her to be scrubbed all over and be clean. So far she is very funny about walking in the mud so I think she would like to be clean.

Over the holiday weekend we had a fair amount of rain; enough to make her pen gooey. One of the mornings I flipped her hay into the doorway (where it was dry) because I didn't want to climb back over the rail. Well, right about that time Sammy received a visitor, so being a proud Mom, I climbed over and got Sammy to come out of her stall for her company. When she was finished visiting she went back to her hay of course. Well the funny part is instead of standing with her feet in the mud and eating, she stepped over her pile of hay back into her stall, spun around and went back to eating. I had to laugh, because she didn't want to stand in the mud. Sam has the makings of quite the little diva, LOL.

Stay tuned - I will post at least once a week with updates and as she gains weight, of course I will have to show her off. I will also try to make short posts to keep everyone up to date on her accomplishments in training. She is so smart that I expect lots of funny stories of her figuring out ways around what Mom wants her to do. LOL

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sammy Discovered Grain...

Saturday mornings feeding greeted me with a full bucket of mash from the night before. The new salt block still hasn't been licked, and the water bucket was still almost full. Frustration, worry, and confusion sets in. I dump out the now soured mash, and replace it with dry grain hoping that she just didn't like the mash, however, she still wasn't eating. A phone call to the vet later, he explained that she just may not know what to do with grain in a bucket, and the salt and water will come with time. He said just keep the bucket full and she will eventually start drinking.

As the day passed she picked at the safechoice grain, but I decided to add just a little sweet feed and maybe it would entice her more than the other. It definitely helped, but she still just picked at it. I left her with her hay, and grain for the rest of my barn chores.

As we prepared to leave for my daughters rodeo, I checked back to see if she had eaten her grain. She had cleaned her bucket and was nickering at me when I walked out of the barn to her pen. I of course gave her just a little more per her six meal schedule and noticed she had only a half of a bucket of water.

Relief. She is starting to figure it out. Now I know she is going to be okay

Home At Last...

The next morning I called the lady and asked if it would be okay if I picked up Sammy that afternoon. She agreed but again wouldn't be home. I arrived with my trailer and proceeded out to the field to halter Sam. As she did the day before she came to me and dropped her head into my chest. I haltered her and lead her out of the field to the trailer.

Sam has been on a trailer one time in her life when she was 4 months old. I carried her to a county show for the weanling class, and nothing else has ever been done with her. No other training, NOTHING. When we got to the trailer, she stretched her neck to look in and then turned to look at me. I touched her shoulder and told her it was just like last time, but his time you are coming home. It was as if she understood my words, because she walked right up into the trailer.

Finally, she is home and the task of bringing her health back must begin, albeit very slowly. She is so much like her mother it is scary. Those same soft almond shaped eyes, the same shape of her head, the same small muzzle.

I gave her a stall with lots of bedding for her bones. She doesn't have much to pad them with right now, as she only weighs 580lbs. I gave her some hay and she practically inhaled it. A clean bucket of water, salt block, and soaked grain and beet pulp. The strange thing is she didn't drink, lick the salt or eat the mash. The vet prescribed 6 small meals a day and increasing grazing time by 5 minutes a day until her weight picks up and she is more used to eating regularly again.

Right now she isn't sure what to do with something in a bucket, so we will watch and see if she eats.

The Phone Call

After returning home from a trip with my best friend, my husband gave me a message to call the lady. He said "she wants to talk to you about Sam, but don't you buy that horse". I was afraid to hope, because this couldn't have come at a worse time. I just couldn't afford to buy another horse.

A couple of days passed and I finally got up the nerve to call the lady. She told me that she wanted to know if I wanted Sammy. I said "Of COURSE I do, but I can't buy a horse right now". She said "oh no hon, I don't want you to pay for her, I just can't take care of her anymore and knew you would want her. And if you do you can come and get her". You could have pushed me over with a feather. I was somewhere between tears and screaming at the top of my lungs. I ask if I could come and see her that night and she agreed but was not going to be home, so she told me which field to look in.

My best friend went with me and neither one of us could believe our eyes when we pulled into the drive. Sam was one of the better looking on the approximately 13 horses on the place. If it were not for Sam's white markings I wouldn't have believed it was her.

How it all began...

Sammy's story began 8 years ago when I began looking for a horse of my own. I finally found a Mare that was everything I wanted, a Tennessee Walking Horse, Bay with two white socks and a full blaze, and she was the right height. The lady who owned her had lots of horses and surely wouldn't miss this one. I had met her through a friend of mine and inquired about the mare named Misty. She was reluctant to let her go but she finally agreed after we made a deal that would allow her to breed Misty for a foal to keep. At the time I didn't think this was a terrible idea but during the following months I realized that I would be sorry.

Sammy was born on a cool early November night in 2002. She was so cute and Misty was so proud of her foal. However, it became clear that something wasn't quite right. Sammy didn't get up to nurse. Despite urgings from her mother, and repeated attempts by me she still was not up after an hour. My vet advised me during this hour that if she didn't get up to call him and he would come to see about her. Time passed so slowly and after what seemed like forever the vet arrived. Upon examination of the foal he determined that she had contracted tendons in both front legs and we would need to do physical therapy to stretch them out. He gave the mare and foal their shots, and then we notice that Misty didn't have a lot of milk. So the vet left a bottle and a syringe for me to give her a shot every two hours until she had dropped her milk. He also showed me how to milk Misty and bottle feed Sammy; and told me to call him the next morning if the foal was still not trying to stand.

I massaged Sammy's legs and fed her a regular intervals all that night in the barn. Misty wasn't at all upset by my presence in the stall with them. As things settled down, I turned off all the barn lights and decided I would try to nap for awhile. After a short time, I heard Misty moving around in the stall and opened my eyes. Where I was sitting propped up in the corner with Sam laying close by, Misty had positioned her self in front of us. She would reach down and nuzzle Sam and then reach over and nuzzle the top of my head; she then raised her head up and let out this long satisfied sigh. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. She would repeat this ever so often in the long stretches between feeding and massaging Sam's legs.

By Morning, Sammy was trying to stand but still couldn't straighten out both legs. So I called the vet and he came back to check on her. He took some x-rays to see if there was another reason for the problem and could find nothing. He told me about some other things I could try and said that it just might take some time. So another night of barn camping was in store for me. A friend came and took a shift with Sam to make sure that she was feeding enough and so I could get some real sleep. Sam could now sort of stand with help once you got her up and nurse from her mother. Misty through this whole thing was amazing. She knew that we were there to help her and never tried to reject Sam or acted aggressive in any way toward us for handling Sam. As night came Sam was getting better and better at standing but only on one leg, so the massage continued. By the next day things were looking like it might all be OK. Sam was standing mostly on both front legs and only need slight help to rise after laying down to sleep. We continued to encourage her to walk around the stall by leading Misty away from her and this helped her a lot.

I approached the lady and offered a good price for Sam. Probably more than she was actually worth, but she wouldn't hear of it. She was going to keep her. Over the months that followed I tried several different times to convince her to sell Sammy to me, but the result was always the same.

Shortly after Sam was born my husband and I purchased a farm several miles away and started making plans to move our horses there. I really didn't want to leave Sammy behind and approached the lady one more time. Still no such luck.

Years pass, and many lessons are learned. I realized more and more how things were at the lady's farm and that was not the best way, or the right way to maintain a horses health. On several occasions I would run into the lady and I of course always ask about Sam. I could never bring myself to go see her, because I knew deep in my heart what it would be like. I knew I couldn't deal with the sight of what was happening. I would always tell the lady before we parted, "if you ever change your mind, please call me first". I was afraid that call would never come.