What's New: Chasitys Challenges

Perfecting The Moves6 2 20 19

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Perfecting the Moves: 6-2-20

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Chasity fully enjoys her lessons these days and waits anxiously at the stall door! She knows when I count my blessings, I count my mules (and donkeys!) TWICE! Chasity has been working in the Hourglass Pattern and through obstacles for two months now. Her posture and core strength continue to improve with her weekly lessons. Now it is time to perfect each movement and make sure they are done correctly and in complete balance.

In addition to her weekly stretching exercises, we do abdominal flexion exercises with Chasity every day at feeding time. We ask her to tighten her abdominal muscles, raise her back and hold for sixty seconds. We do this by tickling her belly firmly at the midline underneath while she is eating from her feeder. This makes for marked improvement in her sway back (Lordosis).

We have had her left hind hip adjusted twice and she is now better able to swing through the hip joint and bring her foot underneath her center of balance with each stride. Instead of simply lowering her head and neck, she is now lowering her head and neck and arching across her entire spine. Her stiffness has greatly subsided.

At every halt in the Hourglass Pattern, we stop, square up, reward, arch the spine and reward again. Chasity really enjoys this exercise!

Her movement around the cones continues to progress with the small circles at each cone. She is much more flexible, stays upright and bends to the arc of the turn through her rib cage.

Because of the overweighted crest on her neck, she has more difficulty bedding to the right, so we do a neck stretch to the right, before transversing around the cone to the right. This simple pause allows her to rebalance and keep her upright balance while bending though her rib cage on the circle around the cone.

With the stiffness in her left hip gone, she can now reach underneath, lift her her body efficiently and reach upward and forward with her front legs, adding some increased suspension to her gait.

Both hind legs are now reaching well underneath her body and provide the support she needs for her athletic performance to be much more precise and executed correctly.

When her lesson was over, we decided to make a couple of visitations with her new friends, first with Billy Bad Ass, a 26-year-old mule and then with our 10-year-old mini donkeys, Augie and Spuds. When movements are consistently done the same way whether in the training pattern or just going from one place to another, when halts are always squared up and when good behavior is consistently rewarded, there is no anxiety. Standing still and waiting patiently become the norm and this makes for a mutually satisfying relationship between you and your equine!


Chasity Meets The Monster Vac 6 2 20 20

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity Meets the Monster Vac: 6-2-20

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6-2-20

Chasity is now regularly coming to her stall door and is always anxious to see what the next challenge will be. The one thing she HAS learned is that she will never be hurt by anyone here. Cleaning her ears was a necessary evil at first, but she now enjoys the gentle cleaning as I wipe the rag with the grain of the hair to get the dirt from her ears. And she loves having clean ears! We are ALWAYS consistent and stay with the routine about everything we do with all of our equines. They appreciate knowing what comes next. Ours is a NO ANXIETY zone, but that doesn’t mean we do not challenge them and set boundaries for good behavior. Chasity is about to be tested to the max with her next new challenge!

Chasity really enjoyed the brisk brushing with the multi-bristled human hair brush. It is the only brush that I have found the really expedites shedding and leaves the coat soft and shiny. It reaches deep in the coat and aerates the hair shafts. After the brushing, it is followed with either the shedding blade to remove the loosened hair laying on top, or….there is an introduction to the VACUUM CLEANER!!! Chasity was not too sure about this BIG BLUE THING that rolled!

We always take the introduction of new things slowly. I gently coaxed Chasity toward the vacuum cleaner. This was an approach that she recognized from her obstacle training and moved furtively toward me to receive her reward of crimped oats.

She watched the cameras while I went to plug it in. The loud sucking noise startled her! I acknowledged her concern and calmed her with a soothing voice.

But then it was time for the business of vacuuming HER! I use the cotton lead rope for control, but she is prevented from going backwards with the second hitch rail tie made of a stout braided nylon rope with bull snaps on each end. The last thing you want is for the rope to break! I talked to Chasity and ask her if she would rather calm down and step forward to receive her reward…she thought about it…I waited patiently…

…and she decided that was a pretty good idea! She tentatively accepted the vacuum on her forehead. This is a spot where they generally like to be vacuumed first.

I laughed as she made a plea for help from the camera people! Then I had to straighten out the hose and she was certain that big black coiled “snake” was going to get her!

She wasn’t exactly pleased, but she allowed me to begin to vacuum her neck…and then her shoulder. I kept a hand on her so she could feel my caring support.

It didn’t take long for her to calm down and allow me to vacuum the rest of her body. She discovered that it actually felt pretty good!

Then I looped the “BIG BLACK SNAKE” over the hitch rail to prepare to do the other side. She sat back on the rope again, but was easily coaxed forward again.

Things are always different from one side of an equine to the next. So, when I approached from the other side, she again sat back on the rope, but came forward again quickly to receive her reward.

I did her forehead again while she fixated her gaze to the camera people. When I got to her body, she was fixated on the BIG BLUE BOX, but not bothered at all by the suction, or the hose.

After I finished her right side, I knelt by the BIG BLUE BOX and asked her to come and investigate which Chasity did willingly. She had conquered the challenge of the MONSTER VAC!!!

Chasity’s Farrier Visit 5 22 20 12

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s Farrier Visit: 5-22-20

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5-22-20

When Chasity first arrived, her hooves were inordinately long in front with Borium shoes and her back feet were worn unevenly and at the wrong angles. Because her body was in such bad posture and her hooves so out of balance, we knew it would take quite a while and lots of frequent trims to get her hooves balanced and aligned properly. This would have to be done in conjunction with getting her body into good posture with the core strength to support that good equine posture. This would be Chasity’s  challenges!

Chasity is now standing quietly and picking up her feet easily, but she still wasn’t sure about standing still without being tied up. A small challenge for her would be to learn to stand quietly in the alleyway of the barn while our farrier, Dean Geesen works on her instead of being at her work station in the Tack Barn. Because she stood still, she was rewarded with her favorite crimped oats. The misshapen hoof is beginning to rotate into a more balanced position, but we still have a lot of work ahead before the hoof will be correct.

Dean is a therapeutic corrective farrier that is familiar with Longears. This is a critical element in your Longears’ welfare. Longears have angles and hoof construction that is quite different from a horse and it takes a knowledgeable farrier to keep from doing them harm. Chasity feels the difference in the balance of her feet, however slight, and it affects her whole body!

Chasity’s hind feet appear as if they have been done like a farrier would do a horse. Her rear hooves are not as upright as they should be with insufficient heels. Dean leaves the heels, rasps the front feet and rolls the toes a bit to promote more proper action and healthy growth. As long as I have had donkeys, I have never had to put shoes on them. It is my experience that when they are in good postural balance in their body, they generally wear their feet evenly and vice versa. When fed properly, the hooves remain hard and balanced. They don’t even need to be trimmed all that often if they are not consistently standing on soft ground, or in mud. We use pea gravel in our runs and driveways. In the runs, we put about four inches down. It drains well, is hard enough to promote hard hooves, is rounded and does not chip the feet and is soft enough for the equines to lie down comfortably.

Chasity is tolerates yielding her back feet much better after having a chiropractic adjustment in her pelvis and hip joints yesterday. This is a dramatic beginning for her toward MUCH better balance and posture. She had to be a very sore and uncomfortable animal when she first arrived. She is now feeling some relief and is much more cooperative.

The front hoof on the opposite side reveals the compromised imbalance that she had when she came to us. However, the first trim put her on the road to recovery and her feet are beginning to grow in the correct direction. She has gained a lot more heel in the rear in the past eight weeks.

Chasity has learned to be sent into her stall and then to turn and square up for her reward! Her gait has improved substantially in the past two days with chiropractic work and another trim!


Chasity’s First Chiropractic Adjustment 5 21 20 11

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s First Chiropractic Adjustment: 5-21-20

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Although we were working on uneven ground in Chasity’s last lesson which made getting in sync very difficult, it was clear that it was time for a chiropractic adjustment of her skeletal system. Doing chiropractic adjustments can put the practitioner in very precarious positions, so it is wise to build trust with the animal before attempting to do these kinds of adjustments to their body. After more than a month of intensive care, Chasity has learned that we have her best interest at heart and is more than willing to cooperate with anything we want to do with her. Even though she is perfect about walking in sync, it is clear that her left hip is locked up, highly immobile and chiropractic adjustment is in now desperately needed!

Chasity walked out in the driveway so our equine chiropractor, Dave McClain, could assess her condition. She had better range of motion in the right hind leg than she did with the left. She was getting better in her spine, but her abdominal muscles still needed more work. Once the left hind leg and the rest of her body is put back in alignment, there will be more of an effect on the abdominal muscles at the walk in her lessons.

Dave agreed that the fallen crest could be straightened out, but it would take some time and serious therapy. Bailey showed Dave the progress in Chasity’s Diary that had been made already since she came to us on March 29th 2020. He was pleasantly surprised at the progress we had made considering we could not use his services during the COVID-19 shutdown. But before we could go any further successfully, we really needed to have her skeleton professionally aligned!

Dave carefully palpated both hip joints…

and the pelvic area. She was exceptionally stiff and locked up on the left side! He rocked her pelvis to the right…

…and then rocked it to the left. Chasity yielded her hind leg and he adjusted the locked up hip joint! Chasity’s eyes lit up in pleasure immediately! It must have felt REALLY good!

Dave demonstrated to me how her hip joint was not only locked up, but completely misaligned and stuck at an upward angle. Chasity gladly leaned forward to aid in her spinal adjustment!

We then asked Chasity to engage her abdominal muscles, raise her back and then hold for sixty seconds. We will do this once per day, every day. Then it was time to adjust her neck, first on the left side…

…and then on the right side. She was stiff on that side, so I asked her to stretch her neck around my body.

Then Dave did a second adjustment on that side…it was much better! Dave watched her back up. There was marked improvement in her hind quarters and she was finally able to walk easily straight backwards. She had previously been very stiff through the back-through “L” obstacle during her workouts. She will no doubt do much better the next time!

We checked Chasity’s neck again and found that it, too, was much looser and not as hard and immobile as it was before the adjustments. As she left the Tack Barn, it was evident that she was moving much more freely and smiling to herself all the way back to the barn!

Circles And Stretching 5 19 20 16

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Circles and Stretching: 5-19-20

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5-19-20

Chasity is continuing to gain core strength, balance and even has a little “prance” in her step these days. The bacterial infection is almost gone and she is eagerly waiting at the stall door for her lessons each week. She gets structured leading exercises in her proper postural “gear” and in between, she has other things happening on other days like daily “soaking” of her infection, vet appointments and the farrier. Today, we will add circles at every cone to increase the intensity of her workout. Stretching is done more frequently now.

Chasity carefully walks in sync with me, no more pulling on the lead rope or charging ahead like she did in the beginning. She is happy on her way to the outdoor dressage exercise arena. Varying the location of her postural core strength leading training keeps her fresh and engaged.

On the way to the dressage arena, we stop to visit with Augie and Spuds, our delightful little mini donkeys. Chasity is intrigued. Where she is stabled, she can only hear them. Then it’s on to the dressage arena.

Since the arena is also used as a turnout area, it is a bit bumpy and the sand is deeper than the other places where Chasity has worked. It will increase the intensity of her work. Still, she is bending nicely through her rib cage while remaining erect in her body and doing her four-square stretches very well indeed!

Chasity is bending her joints well while walking in sync with me, however, I am noticing she is a bit stiff in her left hind leg, especially around the turns to the left. We added circles at every cone in the Hourglass Pattern to help to enhance her bending technique.

She steps out nicely with her right front, but as she brings the left hip forward, her gait is stilted and limited in it’s range of motion. The abdominal muscles are only moderately engaged and she stops short of reaching underneath her body to her center of gravity.

The right hind leg moves forward into it’s correct position, but she is just lifting and swinging her left hind leg forward instead of bending adequately through her joints, particularly in her hip joint.

As she steps forward with the right hind foot, the left hind has an abnormal look to the extension of the leg. It appears stuck in the hip joint and pelvic area, and is not swinging freely. Still, she is bending fairly nicely through her spine.

Another good stretch while standing four-square was in order and Chasity let me know that it felt VERY GOOD!

On straight lines with no rails, Chasity is able to reach underneath her body to the center of gravity, but going around the turns reveals some stiffness in her pelvic area while the rest of her spine bends easily.

Chasity really enjoys her stretches and does them with no problem at all. Then we begin to track in the other direction and it is clear that bending to the right is particularly difficult for her.

As we proceed around the cones to the right, her bending gets a little better and the right leg moves easily under her center of gravity. But when she approaches the rails, her pelvis appears to stiffen and inhibit her movement again.

There is plenty of “reach” in her front legs, but the rear legs do not seem to be able to consistently follow her forward movement. Her abdominal muscles are engaged and she is attempting to round her back, but her stiff pelvic area is inhibiting the ability to reach well underneath her body.

Traversing the rails is making it apparent that she should probably have a visit from our proficient equine chiropractor. Since she just arrived a short time ago, I did not think it would be prudent to expose her to chiropractic until I could loosen her stiff body a little bit and gain her trust first.

We finished traversing the rails and she had to “lean” on the “Elbow Pull” to keep her balance. She did pretty well circling to the right for the last time, but it was now clear that she would need to be adjusted with chiropractic before any further lessons could take place and be beneficial to her.

We ended the lesson with one more four-square downward stretch, then a stretch to the right…

…then she did a stretch to the left and left the arena in perfect synchonization with each other. Still, she didn’t have the “reach” behind that I thought that she should.

Just to make things a bit more interesting, we opted to investigate the lane to the small park to look at this new area. Chasity thought the steps looked particularly strange, but she was not fearful.

She navigated the steps like a champ and stood quietly while we took in the sights. She saw Robin Laws’ “Donkey Talk” to her left and J. Payne Lara’s “Love Me Tender to her right.This was a major accomplishment for Chasity since standing still was NOT something she wanted to do when she first arrived.

Then we went back up the steps, left the area and went to see the pack mules, “A Friend to Lean On” by Robin Laws. Chasity played “cute” for the camera. Then we went to see Bonnie Shields’ “Friends,” a bronze statue of Kylie, Moxie and Jasper from our children’s series. As you can see, her posture is greatly improved…the “Elbow Pull” is staying LOOSE most of the time now!








































Vet Check 51320 3

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Vet Check: 5-13-20

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5-13-20

After 14 days on antibiotics, our veterinarian Greg Farrand came out to see how Chasity’s bacterial infection was doing. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the old, incredibly swollen infection in her udder and teats had gone down a significant 70%! We knew it would take quite some time to deal with something that had been wrong with her for so very long. When we first began treatment, it was as hard as a rock and as big as a grapefruit, but it was now softening into very smaller lumps and shrinking more rapidly than we had originally thought.

Greg asked me what I had been doing with her and I showed him her “diary” where I had documented in text and photographs all the workouts and everything else that we were doing with her.

He asked if we had kept up on the soaking with warm water and we showed him pictures of the rigging we had for her to hold a heated wet towel between her legs and up against her teats and udder.

We all discussed what the protocol would be going forward. I asked if we needed to change the antibiotics to another type, or if it would be okay to continue with what had been working. We decided that another 14 days of the same antibiotics would be okay.

Greg gave my Ranch Manager, Chad, and I another 14 days of EQUISOL-SOT and explained that we would give it once a day in her feed as we had been doing.

Chasity was given a handful of her favorite crimped oats for standing still and for waiting so patiently while we finished our conversation with Greg. She was very grateful!

I asked Chasity to stretch to the right and she did very well indeed…

Then I asked Chasity to stretch to the left and she did well that way, too!

Our final stretch was downward and she does this with ease, following my hand as low as I would like her to go… and she is always rewarded for her efforts!

Then we walked in sync back to the barn, quietly and obediently! Chasity knows we have her best interest at heart and is happy to comply! She is beginning to really trust us!

Stretching The Spine 5 5 20 13

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Stretching the Spine for Optimum Flexibility: 5-5-20

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5-5-20

Chasity was very stiff and compromised through her whole body when she first arrived. She was extremely rigid over the top line and could not flex from the poll at all, much less through her entire spine. The “Elbow Pull” self-correcting restraint and work in the Hourglass pattern has helped her to be more flexible in her head and neck, and has produced some flexion through her back. Now we are going to ask her to extend that flexion the whole length of her spine. She has been learning how to stay erect around turns while bending through her rib cage, and easily flexes her neck and back when squared up at the halt. These subtle actions have reshaped the body fat evenly over her body and reduced the size of her enlarged neck by 50% in just one month! Her posture is already greatly improved!

Chasity began by leaning on the “Elbow Pull” to keep her reasonable good equine posture. After a month of work, she is now able to sustain her own self-carriage a good part of the time. When she leans on the “Elbow Pull,” it is taut and when she is in self-carriage with good postural balance, it is loose. She started over the first pole and it was loose, then caught her balance on the second pole and it tightened…

On the third pole, she regained her balance and the “Elbow Pull” became loose again, but stepping over the last pole she allowed her balance to be too elongated and had to lean on it again.

As Chasity walked away, she again resumed her good equine balance and self-carriage and the “Elbow Pull” was loose again. We repeated the poles a little later in the Hourglass Pattern and she was then able to sustain her balance and self-carriage over the first pole…

…over the second and third poles, in good equine posture and not leaning on the “Elbow Pull”…

…and finished over the fourth pole with no loss of balance at all! As she is strengthened in good posture, her core muscles, ligaments and tendons will gain strength with symmetrical development and her time in self-carriage will increase. Ultimately, the “Elbow Pull” will remain loose at all times. She now walks in a rhythmic and cadenced fashion, matching every step that I take and halts easily upon request with no anxiety, or excess movement.

I asked her to square up and this time, instead of just flexing at the poll, I asked her to lower her head and stretch her entire spine from head to tail. Then we proceeded with more work in the Hourglass Pattern in the opposite direction and she practiced bending through her rib cage while staying erect around the corner cones.

Next, we negotiated the gate into the obstacles area, halted and squared up. I gave her a reward and asked her to stretch down again.

Chasity has been doing very well with breaking the bridge down into small steps. She halts easily, squares up and holds her balance in several new positions, with the front feet up, back feet down…

…with all four feet on the bridge and with front feet down and back feet up. She did very well at stretching her spine in all of these odd postions that added to her symmetrical core development.

Then she squared up again off the bridge and did one more deep stretch. Chasity was surprised to see the tarp where the tractor tire used to be and took exception to this “new” obstacle. The silly thing was that she side-passed the rail with her front feet on the tarp and her back feet in the sand. I thought, “Okay, now I know how to get her to side pass when I am ready! Silly Girl!” LOL!

We went back and tried again. She was hesitant, but realized what it was this time. I have to remember, Chasity has cataracts in both eyes and cannot see very well…trust is everything! There was no problem at all with the familiar smaller tires!

We reinforced her bending with the barrel exercises and practiced backing through the Back-Through “L.” She is still a bit “stuck” in reverse, but it will loosen up in time. She needs to learn to manipulate her body in a good postural balance and it is awkward for her now. It will just take patience and moving slowly. Speed will come with practice.

A nice deep spinal stretch relaxed and prepared her for the final obstacle! Chasity had been doing “Evasion Therapy” on me when I placed the tractor tire obstacle with too much open space around it. Boy, was she surprised to find out it was right there in front of her with no where to go but forward!

Chasity only put one foot inside the tire as she danced along the edge with her other three feet, so I opted to do it again the other way. This time, she put two feet into the center of the tractor tire… PROGRESS! Coming back through, she finally agreed to step through it with all four feet!

Finally, SUCCESS! My patience had paid off and our relationship was still intact! We finished with another REALLY DEEP stretch. Chasity’s flexibilty and elasticity were improving rapidly! Doing obstacles in confined spaces in the beginning promotes success and I am all about setting up your equine for SUCCESS!

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity Finds Flexibility

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4-28-20

Chasity does not have the most optimum conformation anyway, but when she first arrived, she was really stuck in a bad posture. She moved with a hollow back and her legs did not reach underneath her body when she walked. Her body did not allow for a flexible spine with ideal movement through her joints and I would presume that internal organ function was also compromised. Her body was very stiff and flexion of any kind was difficult for her. The bacterial infection in her udder was old and persistent. With our feeding, management and exercise program, Chasity has improved substantially and now enjoys a much more posturally correct body, more flexibility and a bacterial infection that is receding rapidly with antibiotics and the right kind of exercise. She is now happy to come to the stall door to accept her halter and “gives” easily and willingly to have the “Elbow Pull” postural restraint adjusted!

Standing in a 4-square posture used to be really difficult for Chasity and with her rigid back, she was unable to stretch her spine and flex at the poll while standing with equal weight over all four feet. With a month of our postural therapy leading exercises through the “Hourglass Pattern” this has changed dramatically and she can now flex easily when prompted.

Bending through her rib cage around the turns, while remaining erect in her body, was also impossible at first. With each new lesson, she continues to improve in both directions. The neck sweat encourages shrinking of the fat deposits on her crest and the bending is improving the alignment in her neck.

Work over the ground rails at the center of the “Hourglass Pattern” is helping her hoof-eye coordination, enabling proper foot placement, suspension and self-carriage in her body.

Chasity enjoys the simple challenges of these exercises as they provide more comfort in her body than she has ever known! She is happy and enthusiastic about these sessions!

With the rapid improvement through her body during the flatwork exercises in the “Hourglass Pattern,” we were able to begin going through some very simple obstacle exercises that made the sessions more interesting for her and kept her alert while adding some coordination to her body. The repetition of going through the gates the same way every time taught Chasity to wait patiently, bend correctly through her rib cage when walking through them and to consistently stand 4-square on both sides.

Breaking the obstacles down into smaller steps taught her to be alert and attentive to my commands and allowed her to learn to rebalance properly in each of these new positions.

When I first began the obstacles, I did not ask her to do the most difficult position of standing with her front feet down and her back feet on the bridge. She has been very good about stopping when I ask, so I decided to try it today and she did GREAT! I did not ask her to square up in this position yet, but I will as she becomes stronger in her core and can hold the position more easily. Then we walked of the end of the bridge and squared up again.

The first attempt at the tractor tire, Chasity walked up to it and looked at it, but would not do any more than that. The last attempt at the tractor tire, Chasity allowed me to pick up her foot and just direct it toward the middle like in the first photo, so I left it at that, rewarded her and asked no more. Today, she went one step further and offered to extend her foot herself, but still would not place it in the middle of the tractor tire, so we stopped, rewarded and will continue again next time! She is getting a LITTLE further each time and that is “rewardable” in my book! To force it would only result in a fight and probably wouldn’t get the job finished anyway! I am sure we will have better luck next time!

The last time over the smaller tires, she was hesitant. This time she forged ahead like a pro! And, going forward through the barrels was no problem at all! We might try backing through them the next time if she is willing.

Backing through the Back-Through “L” is getting much better and the tarp is a cinch! This time, she went right down the middle with no trouble at all! Taking small steps is critical to success!

Chasity has become a pro at negotiating the gate, standing perfectly and waiting patiently on each side.

The broom is yet another obstacle and Chasity learned it would not bite her as I politely swept up around her. She was rewarded for staying calm and afterwards, we did some spinal stretches.

Then it was time for yet another soak of her infected udder. The vet arrived to do a check and was so happy to find that we had reduced the infection by 70% in only 14 days! He really did not expect that! He also commented about how much better her posture was and the strength she showed over her top line. We opted to do a second 14-day run of the same antibiotics and continue the exercise and soaking.

Chasity no longer needs to be led into her stall and turned around to take off the halter. She can now be sent in and turns to face me of her own free will! Core strength postural exercises have a profound effect on the equine’s body and mind! Chasity is yet another example of the dramatic results that you can see when employing this relatively simply feeding, management and training program. It is not only for rehabilitation, but rather, it is a program that can give your equine athlete optimum health and the opportunity to perform to the best of his ability! Just ask Chasity!

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s Spring Walk: 4-21-20

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4-21-20

It was a gorgeous spring day and I was so pleased when Chasity came right to the door to meet me again as she had been doing consistently after only two lessons in her initial training. As I cleaned her nostrils and smelled the clean spring air, I thought it might be nice to forego the indoor arena lessons and go out and enjoy this lovely spring weather. Sometimes just doing things a little differently with the same basic lessons can give you both a new perspective on training and make it a lot more fun!

It is shedding season and the multi-bristled human hairbrush was doing its job of removing the excess hair and aerating her coat. Then, I added a sprinkle of Johnson’s baby oil to her mane and tail while she stood stock still! She was definitely learning to enjoy our time together and her friends in the barn were forgotten for the moment.

As I got her tacked up in her gear, I chatted with Chasity and told her I thought we would go for a walk outside today. She thought it would be a great idea! I noticed that her cresty neck was decreasing in size… very slowly. I put on her surcingle and only took it up a bit so it wouldn’t be too tight at the start.

I put on the bridle carefully over her ears, adjusted the “Elbow Pull” and put on her neck sweat. She even helped a bit by lowering her head. Then I did a last check on the girth of the surcingle.

I quickly washed her brushes and we were on our way down the road! Chasity was very excited!

Our first encounter was the Lucky Three Ciji Side Saddle Champion statue. And then the Lucky Three Mae  Bea C.T. Combined Training Champion statue. Chasity was fearless and very curious about them!

She met the fountain statue, “Dreaming of Friends” and another “Lucky Three Ciji” statue.

She wasn’t sure about “Lasagna” lying at the base of the cottonwood tree, but she loved the OLD WESTERN TOWN that was in construction!

During the course of the walk, we made gradual turns, straight lines and squared up at the halt at several intervals to continue her lessons in core strength and good posture. I noticed a lot of improvement in her back and her abs! She told me she thought the MULE CROSSING sign should say DONKEY CROSSING, but she posed nicely anyway!

When we got back to the work station, we did a couple of stretching exercises for her neck in one direction only, since doing them the other way would only exacerbate the present condition. When we get more of the fat off her crest, the stretches will have value in both directions.

When we were finished, we went back to her stall. She was “sent” into the stall, turned around to face me to get her halter removed and received her just reward! It was a great day!

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Soaking the Infection: 4-15-20 & 4-20-20

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4-15-20

Chasity did not enjoy the soaking of her teats with the hose, so I opted to change my approach to make her more comfortable. Her posture has improved considerably with her postural core strength exercises in the “Hourglass Pattern” and with negotiating some of the obstacles to add coordination. She is now coming to the stall door to be haltered. She’s a very quick learner!

The infection is still draining and that is good. Each soaking, I groom her and scrape the discharge from her hind legs while she stands quietly.

I thought I might be able to make a “diaper” out of an old sheet to hold a wet towel wrapped around a hot pack instead of running a warm water hose underneath. First things first…I politely introduced her to the sheet, then began to wrap it around her!

This would solve two issues for me. She would not be aggravated with the water running down her legs and I wouldn’t be wasting water for ten minutes! She stood like a trooper while Chad and I wrapped the sheet into a useable position while Chasity looked on with a certain curiosity. “What  do you think you are doing? Very odd things these people do!”

Once in place with the hot pack held in the sheet, we realized it was heavy and was pulling the sheet down, so I still had to stand there and hold up both sides to bring it up to her udder. At least I didn’t have to bend over! Chasity received her oats once again for being a trooper!

After ten minutes of soaking, Chad and I released the “diaper” carefully so as not to startle Chasity. We now knew what we would have to do to modify the “diaper” for future use.

Chasity had her first lesson in neck stretches after her soaking. This would be another aid in shrinking the fat roll over her neck…first to the left…and then to the right.

She was hesitant to do another stretch to the left, so I put her up against the hitch rail and tried again. She was still uncomfortable about doing a really good stretch, so I asked her to wrap her head around my waist. She complied and was amply rewarded for her efforts.

4-20-20

The next soaking on 4-20-20, I had the diaper modified and left the job to Steve and Bailey to execute to make sure that Chasity would accept help from everyone and not just me. Steve led her from the barn and cleaned the crust from her eyes.

Bailey began work scraping off the dried pus on her back legs with the shedding blade while Chasity stood quietly.

I had told Bailey that she might try giving Chasity a massage on her neck to see how she would tolerate it. She loved it!

I also asked Bailey to try using the massager on the infected area with only the hot pack (without the wet towel) to see if it would break up the infection in the hardened teats. The new “diaper” design worked like a charm! Unfortunately, the massager really didn’t make much of a difference on the hardened teats, so we will just use it on her neck and body going forward.

After the soaking, Greg Farrand, our vet called and told us the lab work was back. Chasity has a bacterial infection and not mastitis. She will be on antibiotics and daily soaking for quite some time. When she is done with the Uniprim, she will go on a second antibiotic regimen. As always, Chasity was generously rewarded for her compliance! She is such a dear donkey!

 

Vet Checkup For Mastitis4 14 20 15

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Vet Checkup for Mastitis: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

Chasity continues to improve, however, the drainage from her teats was not receding and began to look suspicious to me so I called our veterinarian out to take a look at her. It has been two weeks since she arrived and had it been the result of a weaned foal, she would have been drying up by now. When he arrived, I told Greg Farrand that I suspected an infection of some sort and then I went to get Chasity.

Greg took a look at the discharge and agreed that is was not as we had originally thought, This was not milk, but a small amount of pus and some very hard teats.

Chasity was a star while we poked and prodded to get a sufficient sample to test. Greg and my Ranch Manager, Chad, finally got a large enough sample to be a viable test sample.

In the light, one could see that it was clearly pus and not milk. Greg put the sample in the holding receptacle and took it with him to be tested. He would call with results.

Not all my jennets from past experience were so cooperative and we truly appreciated  Chasity’s quiet demeanor! Greg commented how much better she was looking after only two short weeks!

I mentioned to Greg that I had found some spots on her chest that could have been an old bot-hatching ground. I told him that I had scraped off the crusty scabs and applied Neosporin to the affected area. Most of the scabs were gone, but he said that she probably aggravated the area by scratching her chest on the fence. Donkeys will do that! I showed him her diary. He said that doing the core exercises would also help get rid of the infection.

Greg prescribed a regimen of Uniprim for the next 14 days along with daily hot water soaking.

Chasity tolerated the water, but was not thrilled with the water continuously running down her legs.

I decided if it was going to be a prolonged therapy, I would need to modify my future soaking approach to make her more comfortable during the process. This time, despite her displeasure, Chasity had cooperated and was happy to obtain her reward of crimped oats when it was all over!

Obstacles For Coordination 4 14 20 17

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Obstacles for Coordination: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

After doing her Hourglass Pattern exercises, first one way and then the other, we opted to add some variety to the workout by adding some straight forward obstacles. In our indoor arena, I have an open space of 60’ X 120’ and a 45’ round pen at the end of the arena in another 60’ X 60’ fenced off space. Around the outside perimeter of the round pen in that area, I put my obstacles. I have found that there is less margin of error learning obstacles in a confined space to add coordination to their core strength in good equine posture. They can learn to pay more attention and to be more meticulous in their execution of the obstacles. This is a helpful way to begin with obstacles. The first obstacle for Chasity was the gate!

After going through the gate and standing stock still while I latched it, we proceeded to the bridge. I was pleasantly surprised when she allowed me to stop her with only her front feet on the bridge. This is generally a Stage Two move in my program since obstacles are used for coordination. Most equines are so uncoordinated that they just want to keep walking over and through the obstacles without stopping at first. Good for Chasity!

Chasity then carefully walked up onto the bridge with all four feet and halted on command! This was going much better than I had expected!

When I asked her to square up, she got a bit skewed to the side on the bridge, but she was nevertheless squared up, just not in line with the bridge. So I took it and rewarded her effort.We can do better the next time.

Then we got off the bridge and I squared her up again. Then…I introduced her to the tractor tire.

She looked at it…wasn’t afraid of it…walked around it…

…and looked at it again. She was clearly NOT going to put her foot in the middle of that tire! I decided to quit while we were ahead and try again next time. Because I didn’t push her, she consented to walking through the smaller tires…

…tentatively, but she did it! And then she walked around the barrels with no trouble at all!

Just having Chasity navigate these obstacles without being afraid of them was a major accomplishment. We then walked into the back-through “L” and I decided to make it a little bit tougher.

After walking through the “L” forward, I asked Chasity to back through where she had come.

She was a bit perplexed, but slowly backed between the rails, made the turn at the elbow, and went straight back from there with very little forcible encouragement.

Once at the end of the back-through “L,” we headed for the tarp. She followed me obediently, but was so silly…

When we got to the tarp, she wanted to walk EXACTLY where I walked! I guess she KNEW it was safe there! Too funny!

I gave her a reward because she really didn’t balk and we proceeded out of the obstacle area.

As we left, we executed the gate correctly and she was rewarded again. She stood quietly until I was ready to move.

Then we proceeded down the arena wall towards the exit gate and stopped to turn off the lights. She was a little surprised that the wall opened up, but stood still while I opened the door and turned off the lights.

Then I closed the door and we exited the arena. Adding obstacles and simple expectations to her regular work in the Hourglass Pattern made the experience more interesting and engaging to Chasity. When you add new things to their lessons, you shouldn’t feel like the equine has to do it right the first time. Just quit while you are ahead and your equine WILL do better the next time! There is no battle to remember!

Beginning by negotiating obstacles in larger areas makes for a larger margin for error. Too many things can go wrong and lead to an unpleasant chain of negative events that suck you and your equine into unnecessary altercations. There is plenty of time to do them in the more open spaces once they have learned how to negotiate them in the smaller spaces. I first school green animals during ground driving and under saddle in the small open area of my indoor arena (60’ X 120” – Standard Small Dressage Arena Size) before I take them into the larger outside arenas. This has resulted in a decrease of bolting and running. When you set up your training environment, it is always optimal to set up the equine for success!

The Hourglass Pattern For Good Posture4

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: The Hourglass Pattern for Good Posture: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

The “Hourglass Pattern” is an amazing therapeutic approach to conditioning that I have used with all of my equines of varying ages, sizes and breeds. It builds a foundation of symmetrical strengthening at the core involving the ligaments, tendons muscles and soft tissue that support the skeletal frame and promotes even wear of the cartilage between bones in the joints. It can prevent arthritis as the animals age. This is vital to your equine athlete’s health. Chasity and I open the gate to her rebalancing and rehabilitation exercises in the “Hourglass Pattern.”

The red “X’s” in the pattern represent the points where you are to halt, square up, reward and wait. This process becomes helpful as your equine learns to navigate gates properly and learns to wait patiently through repetition and consistency in your behavior. Always go through gates exactly the same way so your equine knows what to expect. Abrupt actions lead to chaos.

We want to promote self-carriage, so we do not hold the lead rope in the right hand when leading from the left side where it can subtlety cause movement in the head and neck from side to side, adversely affecting their balance. Rather, we hold the lead rope in the left hand when leading from the left side and in the right hand when leading from the right side. We lead from the inside of the arcs in direction through the pattern. Always, say the animal’s name, give the command to “Walk On,” look where you are going, point in the direction of travel with your other hand and walk in sync with the equine’s front legs. This facilitates good posture for both of you!

When negotiating the “Hourglass Pattern,” there is an internal pendulum that swings back and forth and comes to center each time the animal halts and is squared up. If you were to work only along straight lines there is an optical illusion that takes place along the perimeter and makes the animal’s body lean to the inside of the track, and when halted, they cannot find the center of balance. Every time you halt, square up your equine and reward with the crimped oats that you keep in your fanny pack around your waist (other “treats” will not work the same way!). Then wait until they finish chewing so they can settle into their perfect balance unobstructed.

As they progess, they learn to bend to the arc of the turns through their rib cage, carry their body erect in good posture supported by stronger ab muscles that round the back upward as they learn to give to the “Elbow Pull” such that it remains loose. When it is tight, they are simply having difficulty holding their good posture and lean on the “Elbow Pull” much like a beginning ballet dancer must use the bar on the wall. Many people think that you do your equine a favor by not putting a bit in their mouth, but you cannot affect their posture without one. The animals that are not bitted and schooled in good posture can have all kinds of postural issues as they age. Chasity is falling in and out of good posture because she is only in Week Three of her training. As she improves, she will be able to keep the “Elbow Pull” loose for longer periods of time until it is always loose.

As this way of moving and standing becomes more habitual, so does their comfort in these positions. When they rest, they will stand 4-square instead of with splayed legs, or a hip dropped and a foot cocked. They are happy and deliberate in their movements and good posture continues to improve until this become their new habitual way of moving and resting. You will see marked changes in their play and rest patterns while in turnout.

Adding rails to the center of the pattern keeps them attentive, alert and teaches exact hoof placement (hoof-eye coordination). As their movement becomes more deliberate and balanced, their confidence is increased as is their trust in you for making them feel so comfortable in their own skin. They learn to wait for your command  before moving. They look forward to their time with you and will gladly leave the herd to be with you! No more herdbound behaviors!

We build this foundation through the “Hourglass Pattern” first during leading training,  then after obstacles and lunging training during Ground Driving, and finally Under Saddle. Each stage produces new challenges to the equine’s body and mind that add to their overall development in a logical, sequential and healthy way. Because of all these small steps, with gradual difficulty, it is easy and fun for both you and your equine to do. You are never over-faced with difficulty and you learn to appreciate the little victories along the way! Chasity was somewhat of a pushy, bully to start with, but she now waits patiently when I ask and navigates movement in much better posture, even after only three short weeks! More dramatic changes to Chasity’s body and mind are still to come! It’s not just about the end result. It’s all about the journey!

 

Tacking Up Appropriately 4 14 209

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Tacking Up Appropriately: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

Selecting the right tack for your Longears is essential to success. I rigged a cob-sized English bridle for Chasity with a pony Eggbutt snaffle bit (4 ½-inch), an over-sized Warmblood brow band to accommodate her wider forehead and not pinch her ears, and normal nose band with an “O” ring installed underneath with a lead rope attached. The “Elbow Pull” is the correct length and is put in place over the crown piece of the bridle and wrapped with a halter fleece to prevent rubbing on her poll. She will begin her postural core strength leading exercises to correct her unbalanced posture, her lordosis (sway back) and the enlarged fat roll across her neck.

When first putting on the light-weight surcingle, I loosely tighten the girth at first to allow her to get used to the pressure around her middle.

Then, of course, a reward for standing still is in order and very much appreciated. And it’s always nice to receive a loving donkey head-hug!

After this appropriate show of affection, I politely ask her if she is ready to accept the bridle. Chasity truly appreciates my consideration for her.

When I put on the bridle, I make sure that her ears are protected as I pull the crown piece over her ears by covering them with the palm of my hand. Then, when it is in place, I just pull my hand away from it’s position. I center the “O” ring and lead rope underneath her chin and snugly tighten the nose band.

With Chasity’s enlarged neck, I felt it would be beneficial to use a neck sweat to help to shrink the fatty deposits along her crest during her workout. I then took up more slack on the surcingle girth and loosely adjusted the “Elbow Pull” on the right side.

Next, I went around to the left side to adjust the tension on the “Elbow Pull.” Next, I went to the front, straightened her head in alignment with her spine, and checked to make sure that she could not raise her head high enough to invert her neck and back. It is tight enough to encourage her to use her abs, and raise her back. This positively affects her sloppy tendency to relax her sway back and will bring it into proper posture.

Now we are prepared to begin work in the Hourglass Pattern in the indoor arena. We begin to walk in sync.

After the workout, we go back to the designated work station to untack. I carefully remove her bridle, sliding it over her ears with one pass, lifting it upward as it goes over the ears. Then I remove the surcingle and neck sweat, and give her a generous reward for her cooperation.

The next step is to take the tack into the tack room, wipe it down and wash the bit before hanging it back up on the wall. Taking care of your tack and equipment in this manner prevents dirt build-up, chafing on the animal and weakened tack and equipment. Then, once a month, we spend time in the tack room going over all of the tack and equipment with Leathernew™  to keep it all in good condition. The cabinets where we store harness is lined with cedar to prevent mold and mildew. Once everything is back in place, I return Chasity to her stall and run. When your tack and equipment fits properly and is appropriate for the activity, it promotes success and enhances your experience together!

Learning To Be Haltered10

Chasity’s Challenges: Learning to Come to Be Haltered: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

We determined that Chasity had cataracts in both eyes, worse in the right eye than in the left. This made her hesitant to come to me at the stall door to be haltered. She wanted to come to me, but she just wasn’t sure. I insist that ALL my equines come to the stall door or gate to be haltered, so I knew I would have to train her and win her trust to get her to do it like all the others.

When she went away from the door, I simply stepped to the inside door of her stall and encougraged her to come to me from there, but she was still suspicious and ran to the far side of the pen. I just walked toward her and spoke in a calming fashion telling her to “Whoa.”

She began to get nervous and started to weave away from my approach, but before she could suck me into the back and forth along the fence, I stepped to the side, waved her into the stall and shut the door behind her.

She knew she was confined and went to the corner of the stall. I knew she could not see me very well with her right eye, so I opted to walk along the wall to her left side and approached her from the left side. Before attempting to put on her halter, I told her what a good girl she was and offered a handful of oats. I allowed her to finish chewing them before I put on the halter.

I was careful about putting on the halter slowly so I would not startle her and then gave her a reward of more oats for standing still. She was grateful and again, I waited until she was finished chewing before asking anything more from her.

Then I asked her to square up with equal weight over all four feet. This would become the protocol EVERY time she stops. I want to change her posture and begin to increase her core strength in good postural balance. The repetition of this movement will change her habitual way of standing.

I rewarded her again and then took off the halter while standing by the open door and watched her chew.

I rewarded her for NOT forging through the door, waited for her to finish chewing and then put the halter back on.

We then turned around and walked to the back of the stall to open the door I had closed, did another turn and exited the stall. She will soon tire of me going into the pen and chasing her into the stall. One thing that is also VERY important in halter training is the type of halter that you use. Although they do provide leverage, rope halters have pressure points everywhere there is a knot and the biggest knot is right underneath their ear. Try putting your index finger underneath your ear and ask yourself how long you could stand it just being there? Now put the palm of your hand under your ear. How does that feel? Nylon webbed halters lay flat against their face and do not cause distractions like rope halters will. The equine can focus their attention 100% on YOU and not be distracted by subtle pressure points!

I would much rather encourage my animals to comply happily and willingly than try to use any kind of forcible leverage with them. I have found it to be unnecessary. Building a willing bond between you prevents them from becoming herdbound and being sour about leaving their friends. It enhances the relationship between you so they really WANT to go with you. This particular routine gave Chasity an idea of what to expect and resulted in her coming to the stall door willingly when I call her after only two times of having to proceed this way…completely resistance free. She is a very intelligent girl and learns quickly despite the disadvantage of cataracts. I have other equines with eyesight issues that have been successfully trained the same way. The key is patience, understanding and a careful, respectful and sensible approach.

Chasity’s Week Two Bath9

Chasity’s Challenges: Chasity’s Week Two Bath: 4-10-20

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4-10-20:

It was the end of March when Chasity first arrived and the weather was much too cold to even think about giving her a bath, even with our indoor facility. Even though the equines come in to us with Health Certificates and a Coggins Test, we are still very careful about keeping them in quarantine for 30 days and bathing them for hygiene purposes. Chasity would be no exception.

Finally on April 10, it was warm enough to bath her. The water at the outside hitch rail would be too cold, so I opted to bath her in the Tack Barn where there was warm water. Chasity was about to experience her first bath at the Lucky Three Ranch! I began with the lower part of her front legs, then moved to her forehead and worked my way down her neck after spreading a line of shampoo across the full length of her body. I did not use the shampoo on her face.

Ordinarily, I do not use soap during the yearly bathing, but since she had come from another location, I used my Tres Semme Breakage Defense shampoo. It is not as drying as some shampoos and does not require any conditioning. As I sprayed her with water, the suds came up and I followed the sudsy water with my shedding blade to eradicate the dirt from her body as she was rinsed.

As I scraped her with the shedding blade, I just kept the water flowing until no more dirt and suds came from each area. Chasity was not exactly thrilled and moved into me and up against the hitch rail where I could not reach her. I just adjusted the spray to more power and aimed it at her flanks until she moved over. Then I adjusted the spray to be lighter and less penetrating again.

Once she was willing to stand still, I was able to check some questionable spots on her body. He chest had completely healed from the old bug bites, but I did notice a bald spot on her right hind leg. It didn’t look like much and I thought it would probably fill in with hair as her good hygiene was maintained. If need be, I would treat that with Neosporin, too. It works well on most things like this that donkeys seem to get quite often, including “jack sores.”

After the right side was all done, she was rewarded for being a good girl! After chewing her reward of crimped oats, we resumed first with her forehead on the left side.

I worked my way down the left side the same way as I had done on the right side…covered the length of her body with shampoo, followed by water and scraping the suds and dirt from her body with the shedding blade.

She was much better on this side! I sprayed her teats clean and she stood like a trooper!

She now knew what to expect and was amply rewarded for her efforts!

I had prepared to dry her with a hair dryer, but it was so warm, I decided to try her on the hotwalker. I wasn’t sure about how she would take it, but I took it slow, tied her with the chain looped through the ring on her halter and not under her chin. She walked right off as if she had done it all her life!

She dried much more quickly than she would have had I used the hair dryer! I was so proud of Chasity! I think she is finally beginning to trust us!!!

Chasity’s Week Two Workout18

Chasity’s Challenges: Chasity’s Week Two Workout: 4/6,8,10/20

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4-6-20:

Today, Chasity did much better after two days of rest over the weekend. Her hair coat is much softer and her color is becoming more brilliant. She was moving around quite a bit while being groomed and had to be corrected. After being corrected and rewarded, she stood still.

4-8-20:

Today she was much better during grooming after being corrected the last time, although she was still a bit impatient. She wanted to continue forward before she finished chewing during her lesson in the Hourglass Pattern. I expect that will change in time.

She stood still while I wiped the dried milk-like drainage from her teats and scraped off her legs.

I also found dried bug bites of some sort on her chest that I thought could be old scars from hatched bots. I scraped them off with the shedding blade and treated them with Neosporin. It worked well.

It has only been a week of lessons, but we have made some progress with her neck. It is difficult to tell much from looking at the left side of her body. But now, when you look at her neck from the right side, you can see her mane sticking up across the top. We could not see it at all before.

The neck sweat Velcro is overlapping a bit more and I am able to tighten the adjustment on the “Elbow Pull” since she is now more flexible in her neck.

Her back is beginning to look better even from the start of the lesson. Although she still leans on it, she is randomly submitting to the “Elbow Pull” and matching my steps more easily.

Chasity continues to improve. She is happy to stand quietly, is more balanced over the ground rails and squares up much more easily with only slight indications from the lead rope.

4-10-20:

With each new lesson, Chasity continues to improve. It is only necessary to do the Hourglass Pattern once in one direction and then cross the diagonal and do it in the other direction, at least once per week and no more often than once every other day. She is now learning to bend through her rib cage while remaining erect around the turns in both directions.

Again, she is balanced over the ground rails, squares up nicely and maintains her good posture. She resumes the pattern and goes over the ground rails again for a balanced finish! There was no need for pulling on the lead rope at all, just slight indications!

Chasity’s overall balance and core strength is progressing faster than I would have thought. This is the reason I tell people that these lessons on the flat ground will need to be done for 3-6 months to gain ultimate postural balance and core strength before moving on to obstacles for the addition of coordination. Some equines do progress faster than others. Chasity appears to be one of the faster ones!

Removing Chasity’s Shoes3

Chasity’s Challenges: Removing Chasity’s Shoes

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4-2-20:

Our farrier, Dean Geesen came out to take care of Chasity’s feet. The first order of business was to introduce himself with an offer of oats! She did not want my veterinarian, Greg Farrand, to pick up her feet on Tuesday, but during grooming on Wednesday, Ranch Manager, Chad and I cleaned her feet, so she was much more compliant today. Getting her hooves in balance will greatly improve her overall body balance. And, getting the shoes off her overgrown front feet will enable the frog to do its circulation job!

Her front hooves were exceptionally long with Borium shoes (non-slip) on them and her back feet were long and uneven. All four feet had been trimmed out of balance.

Dean showed us how the shoes had been abnormally and unevenly worn.

Dean removed the shoes and trimmed her hooves in the best balance that he could for now. Her hooves had been pressured to one side and would need several trims to get them properly symmetrical in alignment.

Dean is a correctional farrier and knew just what to do to get her started off on the right ‘foot’ so to speak. It was a definite improvement from where she was!

She will need to be checked periodically to keep her feet in good shape as she moves forward in her therapy. Sometimes these kinds of things just take time!

She was rewarded with oats in appreciation for her cooperation! Chasity seemed thankful for her newly balanced hooves.

ChasitysFirstWorkout4 1 20 21

Chasity’s Challenges: Chasity’s First Workouts: 4-1, 3-20

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4-1-20:

I led Chasity from the stall and introduced her to her new work station. It was clear that there would be a lot of work ahead. Her neck crest was fallen to one side, but was not yet permanently broken, as far as I could tell. She had fat pockets across her body and her hooves were overgrown with shoes on the front feet. At least her feet could be balanced after removing her shoes and having her trimmed. For now, I would introduce Chasity to her new routine of grooming and exercise.

Since I wanted a clean place to set the crownpiece of the bridle without it getting tangled in her hair, I went ahead and clipped her bridle path. She was very good about having the clippers behind her ears.

I wasn’t thrilled to have to do the workout with her feet so unbalanced, but I knew the farrier would be here the very next day, so I opted to get started. I had my Ranch manager, Chad, clean her feet.

Then I proceeded to groom her with the multi-bristled human hairbrush and scrape with the shedding blade what I thought was dried milk from the insides of her hind legs.

I tacked her up in a light weight surcingle, Eggbutt snaffle bridle and a neck sweat to help keep the crested neck stabilized and encourage shrinkage during the workout. Then I added and adjusted my “Elbow Pull” self-correcting, postural restraint to support good equine posture during her workout.

Then it was time to go to the indoor arena where I had the Hourglass Pattern with ground rails set up for her therapy sessions. She hollowed her neck and back, and “trailered” her hindquarters behind when she walked. It was the same when she stood still with an inverted neck and back and camped out behind.

I began her postural therapy…leading her through the Hourglass Pattern in the “Elbow Pull” restraint to encourage her good posture. The neck sweat would begin to shrink the crest on her neck. She didn’t know exactly what was expected at first, but soon “got with the program” of walk and halt in designated places. She was asked to square up with equal weight over all four feet and then be rewarded for her effort. I waited each time for her to finish chewing her crimped oats before proceeding again along the track of the Hourglass Pattern.

As she walked, she submitted to the pressure from the “Elbow Pull” restraint which meant she was holding her own good posture when it was loose. She would lean against it when she could not hold that posture, but I encouraged her to relax and “give” to it each time we halted.

Chasity tracked once around one way and then once around the other way. She walked over the ground rails in the center of the pattern and stopped at strategic places between the cones to do square halts and stand still. I also stood still after dispensing her rewards so she would never feel rushed. She learned to stretch her back and engage her abs, and slowly began to improve even after only one session!

One of my ranch hands, Steve, said that he noticed her back and overall posture looked ever so slightly better when she was done, even after only one session! I think I see some very subtle improvement from the beginning to the end of the workout as well. It will take a long time to get her REALLY correct in her posture, but it is truly exciting when it begins to happen!

4-3-20:

I went ahead and did Chasity’s therapy session in the Hourglass Pattern again. She did well in her workout and I noticed that her hair coat is already considerably softer. She had some difficulty squaring up, but it could be soreness from the previous workout. Standing squarely is unnatural for her and it will just take some time before it becomes comfortable. After having her hooves trimmed, she is moving a bit more balanced…not quite as awkwardly. Going forward, I will be doing her workouts at least once a week, but no more than every other day. Muscles need to be appropriately stressed during the workout, but not fatigued, a day of rest is needed in between to fully recover. I expect it will probably take six months before we have redistributed the fatty tissue and solidified her balance in good equine posture. I am fortunate to have such a nice indoor arena in which to work during inclement weather.

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Chasity’s Challenges: Chasity’s Health Check

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3-31-20

Our veterinarian, Greg Farrand, came to do a health check on Chasity the day after she arrived. She obviously needs a lot of core strength work, but it will improve her health and keep her occupied while she is in quarantine. Simple core strength leading lessons will have a dramatic effect on her overall health and welfare both physically and mentally. Wrangler looks on with interest as the vet surveys her condition.

He thought because of her enlarged, fallen crested neck and all the fatty deposits over her body that she may have foundered. But her feet were in pretty good shape…no stress rings from founder.

She did have Borium shoes on the front feet (maybe previously used for parades on asphalt?). They were inordinately grown out and her hooves behind were also a bit long in the heels. She was definitely out of balance.

When we looked at her udder, we noticed that she had possibly been nursing before she came to us. She had what looked like milk dripping from extended teats and dried fluid caked on the insides of her legs.

She has cataracts starting in her eyes which made her a bit head shy…

…but, her teeth had just been floated and they were good.

Her posture is terrible with substantial Lordosis (sway back) even though she is only 13 years old! She exhibits the posture of a jennet after several foals. Her fallen, crested neck will be another challenge. However, she is a very sweet and cooperative girl! She is obviously the victim of some negligence… intentional or not.

When Chasity begins her lessons, we will be employing a reward system of training called “Behavior Modification.” This is a more complex way of training than Clicker Training in that your voice is an important communication element that fully engages the animal’s attention and promotes a more intimate bond between you. She has already been exposed to this training process by asking her to come to be haltered, follow at my shoulder and to stand quietly for the veterinarian. It is the simple beginning to a lifetime of good manners.

When we train, we carry the crimped oats reward in a fanny pack around the waist. When the equine knows you have them, they don’t try to run off and are willing to follow you anywhere. Animals need to be rewarded for the good things they do with more than just a pat on the neck to insure that their good behaviors will be repeated. Food is the animal’s ultimate payment for doing a good job. You just need to learn what food is best to use and how to dispense rewards appropriately for the best results. For equines, the food is crimped (rolled, cracked, or steamed) oats. Contrary to popular belief, the equine that is rewarded with crimped oats is less likely to bite than one that does not get the practice of taking them gently from your hand. Your equine will always continue to work for a reward of crimped oats and the oats will give your equine the extra energy he needs during training. Carrots and other “treats” do not work the same way and will not yield the same results.

The most important thing when training your equine is to learn to dispense the crimped oats reward promptly and generously in the beginning, and only when your equine is complying. This will solidify the connection between you, insure that the positive behaviors will be repeated, and will begin to facilitate a strong, and mutually satisfying relationship. If your equine tries to pull away, just let go of the rope (if he is already haltered), call his name, reach in your fanny pack and offer the oats to coax him to return to you. Do not chase him! Be patient and do not try to progress through lessons too quickly as this is usually what causes disobedience.

It will take some time to strengthen Chasity’s core (the muscles, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue that support the skeletal frame), get her into good equine posture so her joints work properly and obtain her trust,  but I see no reason that it cannot be done…and I am pretty sure I can do it!

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