Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spencer Day-to-Day

What's Spencer been up to lately? I'm frequently asked that question in emails and it makes my heart swell that so many people care about him.

Well, with the weather being yucky and the days short, and me busy as heck, poor Spencer has been kind of bored. My niece says he reminds her of a woolly mammoth right now, with his fuzzy winter coat on.

But Rich and I have promised ourselves that we are going to start working with him at least every other day to get him safer and cooperative, especially, with his feet.

Last week, I was able to get a gigantic front foot up on my stand long enough to clean it and take 2 nips. WOW! That was exciting! It was our first time!

But then for the past few weeks he's been nursing abscesses. First, he was lame on his left front, and as soon as that foot started feeling better, another abscess in his right foot decided to surface.

I wanted to make him feel better by offering him some bute. I stood next to him with with a syringe full of bute mixed with applesauce, but each time I tried to get him to open up, by putting my fingers into the side of his mouth, he'd smush his lips tight and lift his head way out of my reach.

He's the kind of horse who really seems to understand when you look into his eye and try to reason with him, as weird as that may sound to some, even to me. But it works, so I explained to him that I was trying to help him feel better and needed his cooperation.

His response was to press his big ol' head against my chest, letting me know that he'd like to oblige, but he was feeling bad enough, he just didn't want anything yucky squirted into his mouth. Please.

He's so great at communicating his feelings. I don't get how his past owners couldn't see that in him and were so cruel to him at times causing him to become billigerent and mean.

So his grain was laced with applesauce and bute for a few days, which he didn't mind, and the abscesses soon ruptured and he was walking better almost instantly.

The first thing I noticed about Spencer when he came here was that I never saw him laying down. Ever! But the pain in his feet caused him to get off of them often. It was really good to see him laying down actually, even if it was because his feet hurt. I think a horse who can't lay down is just always on guard and always a bit stressed and that's not good for anyone.

(Spencer is taking a load off his painful feet while his gal Pearl, normally nearly white, watches over him.)

So after he was moving better, we decided to get back to working on trimming his feet, when I asked for him to set a foot up on my stand, he said NOPE!

So we are going to forget about trimming and get cooperation and just work with him, which will help with all other aspects of his behavior. This is a horse that needs handled frequently or he easily reverts back to his old ways.

For instance as I was brushing him, when my brush would get near his flank area he'd launch a big old Belgian draft horse kick. Thank goodness, this isn't a typical behavior for most drafts, or there would be lots of draft horse owners' dead bodies found lying near their horses.

Rich, who lost his left hand in an accident, is practicing PNH with Spencer which was great to see. Spencer was really trying for him even though we have to work on Rich's tool handling. (To give a perspective of Spencer's size, Rich is 6' 5". And at times, he enjoys coming off as intimidating as Spencer does!)

When you're working on the tool handling for the first time, it's not easy to handle the rope, stick and string with two hands, let alone one-handed. But when we work together, I can help Rich out with the stick while he deals only with the rope. We'll work it out.

Spencer is a great project horse for Rich. They are both my big guys!


Rachel said...

Oh my gosh - that last picture of Spencer and Rich just melted my heart. So crazy to think that this horse was deemed so dangerous that there was almost no hope for him. I know he's not done developing into his REAL self, but I am so happy you two took a chance on him. How amazing is that picture?

And Rich, I hear ya on the tools thing. Every time I try to use a longer longe line, I end up with a horse standing still waiting for me to untangle myself and pick myself back up from the mud.

Can't wait to see you guys and meet Spencer and Forrest and Pearl and and and :)

KD said...

Hey - good to hear how you and Spencer are doing. I used to get tangled up and dizzy when I first tried working with stick and rope.

Nancy (aka Tony's person) said...

Thanks for the update on Spencer!

bhm said...

Amazing. What a turn around. I haven't posted in a while, but I still follow your blog.

I've put some pictures of Trooper on my blog. He's the Shire that was like Spencer. I'm not going to write very much on my blog. It's there mainly for photos.

allhorsestuff said...

Hiya girl!!
I am trying to catch up some...
I love all the pictures and this post. it does get harder to work in the crap weather..I have always had an arean to board in so can still work.

Spencer is so very different now becasue of your loving kindnesses to him. You have done such awesome things!
I have a Christain farrier that is truly amazing. This may not be for everyone or even you...but he is really lovely hearted..he has been taking some of the most difficult horses that have to be twitched and drugged even(so owners say to him) He prayes over them and litterally places his hands on them and says,
"you have no spirit of fear but of a sound Mind, in Jesus". he then procedes to work on them ground tied, trimming the hooves!

I have lately had to tell my mare such things as the owners have pitted themselves against me and are kicking me out of the stable-10 days-no less.
So my mare has been fit to be tied..she is running and rearing and will not go in her stall. I wonder if they have done something to her?
I prayed over her today as she was trying to escape the stall..and she stopped and snorted and began to eat.

3 days then I am like arena and just the outdoors to work in.
We need healing, it'll be good.
Glad to see you here, KK

Pat said...

Hi Kk,

I'm sorry to hear you are getting kicked out of the stables. Do you have a place to go?

My hubby and I were just in Oregon last weekend. We drove to Grants Pass first to visit his Aunt to celebrate her 60th birthday. That was fun. Then on the way home we took a side trip and I trimmed 10 horses at the Mt Hood B&B. What an awesome place and the owners/family who live there were just wonderful. They let us stay in this cute cabin and served the most amazing breakfast I've ever eaten. Then we trimmed 10 of hte most well behaved horses. What a great time my husband and I had. And it was our 20 wedding aniversary, so that worked out nicely. I LOVE Oregon! I've always wanted to move there.

Thank you for the advice on Spencer. I must may try that since nothing else has worked so far. We were considering hauling him to our vets clinic and sedating him completely and trimming him while he's on the ground. Something has to be done fo rhis feet soon. I worry they are just going to rot off or infection will set in if I don't do something soon. But he's not cooperative with them and if a draft horse doesn't offer to assist you with his feet, it ain't gonna happen. It's not not getting the cooperation of a normal sized horse.

Anyway, thanks again and I hope you work things out for your mare.


fernvalley01 said...

Just fouour blog again after a few months .So glad to see how far Spenser has come with you!