Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Of Dogs, Horses, Donkey, and a Wee Begging Pony


I would like to start by thanking everyone who has taken the time to send positive thoughts and energy my way; it's working! I was able to walk downstairs this morning without any significant discomfort - well done people :-)

Photo: Roberta Coppler
This photo is of two of my newest friends, Arthur and Aimo. Due to the fact he is sitting closer to the camera, Aimo the Jack Russel looks considerably bigger than he is in person; although his personality certainly is even bigger than it looks here.

These pups are the "security" team at Coppler Farms, where I've been horse riding this fall. They take the job very seriously. Every time I arrive they threaten me with barks, tail wagging, and in Arthur's case, usually a long story about how he's been waiting for someone to go riding so he can run alongside. Arthur likes to run along with the horses, while Aimo likes to run about three miles for every mile the horses walk. I don't think there could be a more perfect exercise routine for a Jack Russel.

This is Lizzie. She's a registered National Show Horse (a deliberate cross of Arabian and Saddlebred). She is not however, a show horse by profession, although she does get out to local fun shows. Lizzie is what we call a "trail veteran" which means that when we're riding through the woods and a chipmunk bursts from out of nowhere and races practically under her hoof, she just keeps walking without needing to jump three feet into the air.




That's not to suggest that Lizzie doesn't still have horse moments. For while dogs evolved from predators, horses evolved from prey. When it is particularly windy Lizzie starts to suspect that Horrible Beasts and Horse Eating Monsters could potentially be waiting ... everywhere.

This suspicion was not alleviated when the latest trainee recently arrived at Coppler Farms.


Poor Buddy - he looks different, he sounds different, and Lizzie cannot walk by him without stopping and staring. Really, rudely, ears forward, with a "What!" look that is just not friendly.


This week Lizzie did finally allow a nose sniff  from Buddy and did not squeal (something mares tend to do when they are making a fuss) but she's still got a way to go on being more accepting of his glorious differences.









The pony is Sampson, who can tell if anyone could be convinced to slip him a little snack it might be me. He likes to reach through and nuzzle me as I groom and saddle Lizzie.
Sampson however, must be kept on a "dry lot" without access to green grass which has a high sugar content; he's on a perpetual pony-diet. Unfortunately for the little dude he gains weight just by looking at food, a condition I can easily relate to. I think it is plain to see here that he is saying, "Please miss, just a crumb!"



Photo: Roberta Coppler
 Lizzie at a fun show with a Jr. rider 

Over eating in horses can lead to both intestinal problems like colic and hoof/leg issues like laminitis and eventually founder, where the horse's hoof rotates, resulting in not just permanent damage but causing pain with every step. To avoid this easy-keepers like Sampson are fed grass-hay, as dried grasses have a lower sugar content than green grasses, plus daily intake can be monitored and limited.  Like most Labradors, ponies would prefer the option of eating to death.






The weekly riding therapy is proving useful not just for keeping my joints mobile but for supplementing my mental health. I'm also greatly enjoying the opportunity to spend some time on a farm again. Especially when, at the end of the ride, I get to go home and leave all the clean up chores to someone else!



8 comments:

  1. What a wonderful crew and Lizzie is beautiful. I never knew ponies liked to over eat...lol. I am glad riding is helping you.

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    1. Poor ponies - most of them evolved to be able to get by on very little. It's not easy being a minimal keeper in a world where excess is available!

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  2. The pony has a really sweet face. I'm glad that riding is helping you. My biped is feeling quite nostalgic - she used to ride a lot.
    I was worried the first time I heard a donkey - I thought someone was hurting him, they make a strange sound!

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    1. Donkeys have the gift of sounding perpetually forlorn - their bray and and a peacocks call always sound distressed (something about a bird that sounds like it's shouting "help, help" is just a little unsettling.)

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  3. Oh I just love horses!!!
    I had 2 horses when I was younger, and I would LOVE to have more, and plan to one day!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. Yes, horses were part of growing up for me too and I'm so grateful to be able to ride again. Hope to one day have a few acres with horses again but that may not prove to be practical - best wishes for having horses in your life again!

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  4. Lizzie looks just lovely! And I have a real soft spot in my heart for donkeys. Still miss our mammoth jack, Mr. Jones. So glad that you're finding riding helpful both physically and mentally. Suspect all that fresh air doesn't hurt either :-)

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