December 2007


Jasper Wishes Everyone a Happy Christmas!

I am off to Squaw Valley with the hubby for 4 days – woohoo!


Sheath Cleaning

We noticed a few days ago that Jasper had some sludge on the inside of his legs near his what’s-it.  Michelle suggested it may be time for his first sheath cleaning.


So I asked her what it was all about. She mentioned geldings, bla bla, regularly clean, bla bla rubber gloves, something called smegma and a disgusting smell.

You had me at rubber gloves.

So I called in the vet. In this instance I would rather pay someone whatever money to go digging around up there! I don’t know what the average is of horse owners who clean it themselves but I will probably never be one of them!

Still, I was very curious about the whole procedure as I have never seen this act done in person – only heard stories and something about Brownies shouldn’t be nearby when you are doing it. So, fascinated with my new topic of discussion, I brought it up over dinner with my husband that night. By the time he realized what particular organ I was talking about, he lost all of his appetite and had visibly crossed his legs. Perhaps not the best time to bring this up. 

So being that I am a new horse owner and perhaps there is someone else out there who wants to know what it is all about, I observed the whole procedure….and took pictures. (I know, I’m weird.)


First Jasper was lightly sedated. This allows the horse to
relax and <ahem> let it all hang out.
It also makes it safer for anyone doing work under there!
Yep, Jasper looks contentedly stoned in this picture.
I would like to have what he’s having.


Oscar the cat decided he would supervise the proceedings from atop the vets truck.


The vet prepared a bucket of warm water, a lot of cotton batting
and had a bottle liquid soapy stuff of which I forget the name.
My job was to pour the soap onto the cotton batting for her (and take pictures 🙂


The first thing she did was stick her finger right up in his what’s-it  (oy!) and check for what is
called a ‘bean’ which is basically a buildup of I don’t want to know. Jasper had no bean.
Apparently all horses are different in regards to accumulation.


This was too much for Oscar and he promptly left.


She then proceeded to clean up and inside the sheath with the warm soapy
water. He did have some dirt buildup.

I asked the vet if there had been a class for this procedure
in vet school. An exam?

Apparently not. It’s on the job training.


So there you have it, Jasper’s shiny, clean you know what’s-it. I just had to
take a picture of it. After all, I just paid a lot of money for it to look like this…
and I don’t know when I will see it this clean again!

Kudos to the vet for explaining everything, answering all my
silly questions and sticking her hand in regions I
will never visit.

Okay, I warned you! The vet came out today and:

The good news
The good news is that Jasper has a shiny clean who-who.

The bad news 
Jasper has ringworm. Slightly frustrated about this but guess these things can happen at a boarding stable. Ringworm is not actually a worm but a skin fungus. It may have originated from a horse that was recently rescued from a feedlot. She was quarantined when she arrived but ringworm can spread from something as simple as a curry comb, as Jasper is not even near this particular horse. I noticed 4 bumps along his back last week. They seemed to irritate him when I rubbed them. I thought they may just be bites but they seemed too big -about the size of a nickel. It turned out several other horses had the same mysterious bumps. The vet came today and confirmed it was most probably ringworm and gave me a topical that has to be applied twice a day for two weeks as well as the other horses that have been affected. By today, one of the bumps (blister) on Jasper had popped and had scabbed up and the hair was missing. 


This was near his wither on his back – yck!

All I could think about was Jasper’s beautiful coat and how hard I have worked to get it healthy and beautiful and then this happens- wahh! The vet said it is difficult to get rid of as it is so easily spread. If anyone else has had this happen or is familiar with it,  maybe you can shed some light. Hopefully we have caught this early enough to get rid of it easily. Fingers crossed  

Happy December!


Bear fur!!!

Well, the cold weather has arrived and Jasper is starting to look like a woolly mammoth. I was curious if his coat would be as thick as last years, but considering it can get pretty cold at night in N. Cal. it seems to have grown in just as thick. With all the great food and oil in his diet, it is soft and luxurious and feels just like a bear rug!
One area that I have been continuously working on is Jasper lifting his feet. Jasper gets trimmed every month by a wonderful barefoot trimmer. His first trim last year, I think he was so scared he stood perfectly still and was quite good. But after that, he decided he didn’t like it and figured out ways to avoid the whole lifting his leg up thing altogether. Kind of his MO with most of our training with him – so nervous at first he goes along with it – then he gets comfortable enough to decide he does not like it :). The next step is coaxing him along to want to work with me.
So we had got to the point that Jasper decided this whole thing was boring and uncomfortable and he would lift his leg, but snatch it away. I would get reports from Michelle when the trimmer came out that he was ‘better than last time’ but not necessarily good. I felt like I had the bad kid in the barn – lol.
The barefoot farrier works with an apparatus called a hoof jack. The horse’s leg is placed on top of it as she files his hoof with a rasp. I was shocked to find out that the trimmer goes through one whole rasp every time she does Jasper’s hooves! She says he has great feet, very dense and solid (obviously!)
For the next month I worked on getting him to lift his leg onto the hoof jack himself. I tried to make it into a game of sorts. I could get him to lift his leg onto stairs at the entrance to the tack room on command. He learned that in about 2 minutes. But he would not step on the hoof jack – it is a much smaller target and I’m sure a little harder for him. I tried a mounting block next. Well, he now happily sticks his leg on it whenever we are near it. That was probably not a good idea….
The last time the trimmer was out, I made a point of being there and seeing just how he reacted. There was some snatching of his front legs, but he was reasonably good with the back legs. He did quite better with me there, which is a testament to how much he has grown to trust me.
It seemed to be partly a balancing issue as he is still young and learning. She would lift his front leg and he would lift a back leg slightly as well, so that he would be balancing on TWO legs instead of three, then of course he would lose balance and try to snatch his leg away. So this week in our lesson we worked on getting him used to offering his leg when we ask. In other words, they lift it – instead of you holding a 200 lb leg! The Parelli method is to pinch the chestnut slightly. It’s a little uncomfortable for the horse and it causes them to lift their leg. As soon as you feel a shift in weight, release. Eventually you can work up to the horse offering his leg by just touching the chestnut. All in all, Jasper was very good and there was no leg snatching. So I think it is a question of continuously working on it so that he learns how to keep his balance and realizes that lifting his leg is not such a bad thing after all.


You want me to do what?

Jasper offers his leg

Here, he offers his leg up nicely.


He offers his back leg but tend to lift it high up under himself…


So we are working on getting him to lift slightly and turn his hoof up