Days 98-104 – Phil’s Courage’s Journal

It’s time to de worm once again. I asked Phil to lower his head and tip his nose towards me. I let him smell the de wormer (Yum, fruit flavor) and I gently inserted the syringe into the corner of his mouth. Ta-Da! De worming complete…using no halter, no lead and Phil was in his big pasture. He had the option to say “No, thank you” and trot away, but he respected me enough to stay. This really was mutual communication at its finest.

Paige, my 10 year old, wanted to earn some money, so she offered to ride Phil. As a side note: I do not advocate young children riding young, green horses. I am very against parents buying a young horse for their child, so they can grow up and learn together. Paige is one of the exceptions. She is a very experienced rider, for her age, and I closely supervise her. I also would not ever have her ride a horse that has proven to me that he has unsafe behaviors. It is true a horse, is a horse, and a prey animal, so they are never bombproof and there is always potential for something to happen. The fact that I feel comfortable having Paige ride Phil says a lot about Phil’s true character; he is just a good guy.

Another minor set back. Phil lost a front shoe, bummer! Phil was free jumping 3’ feet with absolute ease. I could tell by his body language that he was having fun. I caught a glimmer from his front hoof as he sailed over the jump and I noticed his shoe was crooked. Thank goodness I keep farrier tools on hand because the shoe needed to be pulled immediately to prevent a nail penetrating the sole. Phil calmly stood and let me tug and clumsily rasp the clinches off the nails to remove the shoe. Awe, Shucks! We were having so much fun! I called my awesome farrier and if he is in town he’ll stop by within a day or two to help me out. In the meantime, Phil is back in his stall and we’ll find something creative pass the time until the farrier arrives.

Side Note: Please take the time to learn how to pull a shoe properly. Your farrier will be happy to show you how in case of an emergency. You can purchase an inexpensive farrier kit through the various catalogs such as Valley Vet Supply. If you have a weekend, I would suggest attending a farrier workshop for horse owners.

I have witnessed Phil’s true talent. He is a jumper. He has the slow legged movement (super hunter canter and hand gallop) for hunters and the scope, tight knees, and attitude for jumpers (ears forward, alert expression, no thought of refusal). Since Phil absolutely loves the trails, he would be a perfect fox hunter, too. Some “wet blankets” and Phil would be an exceptional children’s hunter with his calm demeanor.

Phil’s shoe was easily put back on by the farrier and we were back in business. Since I caught the loose shoe so quickly and removed it, there wasn’t any damage to the hoof wall.

Lets Play Polo!

I was sweeping the feed room and I had one of my creative moments. I thought it would be great to use a broom to hit the beach ball through two cones set up as the goal. My idea was launched and I recruited my daughter and her wonder pony to help me out. Phil and I started out with our regular routine (ground work, grooming, tacking up). I led Phil and carried the broom out in front of me, swinging it back and forth. NOTE: I couldn’t accomplish this exercise if I hadn’t taught Phil how to properly lead. Phil didn’t mind the broom, so I twirled it like a baton. Phil gave me the A-OK sign (head down, soft eye, floppy ears) and I progressed to hitting the ball with the broom (away from him). At this point, I am no longer leading Phil; he has joined up and is a willing participant in my game. I feel Phil has no concerns about the broom or ball. I mounted up to quickly find that I distinctly had a disadvantage. Phil was too tall and I have to bend to my toes to hit the ball. What a great exercise for my balance. Phil and I had to have confidence in each other, too. Phil had an opportunity to ditch me, but he had enough respect for me to keep me aboard. I had enough respect for him to not to put all my weight in one stirrup (could make his back sore) and stay out of his mouth. Now, I really had a true appreciation for those tiny polo ponies. My daughter on her pony continually scored goals and cried out “G-O-A-L!” like the announcers do on Spanish TV.