A sad mishap to Thor, PLUS some training updates from FjordNewbies… WARNING, there are a couple of graphic pictures here!
See FjordNewbies’ previous posts to read about how she went overnight from having ZERO horses to owning THREE and ONE-HALF HORSES, and follow Sive’s new baby Thor’s birth and his progress to date.
My horses have always had a large salt block in the paddock for 24/7 access. When we started separating Sive for her impending foaling, we installed a wall holder for the smaller salt bricks in her stall. The holder has two metal edges on each side that the brick slides into. After Thor’s birth, we kept it there so he and Sive could have salt when we stalled them at night.
As time went on, we opened all the stalls up to all the horses. Apparently, one of them had slid the salt brick halfway up the holder, and Thor must have been licking the salt brick and one of the other horses may have shoved him out of the way. His lip was sliced open on the metal edge of the holder. We came home one late evening to find this:
The vet put in dissolvable stitches, which went away about a week later, too early to properly seal the lip. So the vet came back out and put regular stitches in. We still have the stitches in, as it does not look like the lip completely healed back onto itself, so she’s going to look at it again the next time she comes out. Poor guy was such a trooper about it. The night it happened, he was just munching away at hay, oblivious that half his lip was hanging off his face. We’ll keep you guys updated on what the vet suggests for the next course of action. Note: salt brick holder was immediately removed, and I would strongly suggest they not be used.
The rest of the news is much more positive!
After several months of giving Sive 24/7 hay and 15 pounds of grain a day, it became apparent that she was having a very difficult time keeping weight on while nursing. We discussed with the vet, and she suggested we wean at 4 months. This would give Thor time to transition before his gelding at 6 months, and would allow Sive to gain much needed weight before winter.
We put a gate up between the two stalls in the interior of the shelter, and Mark put some temporary fencing inside the paddock to allow Sive to have her own space, and still have an area for Thor, Kirsti and Bjorn. We began the weaning process by separating Thor and Sive all day, then putting them together again at night. Other days, we kept them together during the day and separated them at night. This went on for about week. Then near the end of August, we just never put them together again. And we waited for the chaos to begin. And we waited…and we waited.
As far as I can tell, Sive was more than ready to have Thor leave her side, and Thor had a strong enough relationship with us, Kirsti and Bjorn, that he really had no issues with the weaning. The first 24 hours he was a little mopey, and stood along the fence (which you can’t really see in the photo, but has small square wire mesh between the wood boards), so he could see Sive and talk to her/smell her, but he could not nurse. He spent most of his time eating hay, though.
Sive’s bag became very full, and about 24 hours after the weaning, “sprung a leak” and milk squirted everywhere for most of the day. Her legs were soaked. After that, the bag started to dry up - we had stopped giving her grain/pasture and she was only getting hay. Within a week, her bag stopped filling. About a week after that, we introduced grain (she gets 3 pounds a day) and has been steadily gaining weight. She needs to gain about another 50-100 pounds to be where we would like her, and Thor is doing well on his grain and hay (last time I used the weight tape a couple weeks ago he was at 400 pounds).
Interestingly, before we weaned Thor, he was quite rambunctious, nipping at Kirsti and Bjorn behind the back legs, on the face, trying to mount them from the side and putting his front legs over their backs. Now Kirsti and Bjorn were very patient with him and never retaliated since Sive was never too far away and they knew they’d be in big trouble if they even looked sideways at Thor. I’m thinking that once Sive was no longer in the immediate area to protect Thor, he decided it might be in his best interest to stop - he is such a gentleman now. Much more mellow. He’s been doing great with his ground work, picking hooves is no problem, he stands tied for grooming, and leads well for us.
When we had mentioned to people (some horse people and some without horses) that we were having a foal, their response was the same. Shock and stern warnings that we were in for a lot of trouble raising a foal. From our experience so far, it has been much easier training Thor than it has been retraining Kirsti and Bjorn! Now I could imagine that if a foal was left on pasture for months at a time and then brought in to train, it would be difficult. But we worked with Thor almost every day for about 15 minutes or more since birth. I am really looking forward to his future years, as I am quite sure he is going to be way ahead of where Kirsti and Bjorn are now at ages 5 and 6.
[Connie's NOTE: Raising our own foals also made for easy training, simply because we DID handle and teach them things daily from Day 1. IMO, so long as their mom is tractable and well-trained, the baby is perfectly happy to go along with mom and do what she does. The only thing difficult with foals was trying to keep them from hurting themselves, which somehow both of them still managed to do!]
Thor’s first trailer ride:
With winter coming right around the bend, we wanted to make sure that Thor had a couple rides in the trailer before next spring. Our intention was to do it with Sive as his trailer companion, but that just never got around to happening before the weaning. Since Bjorn has gone out a couple times lately for lessons, we thought the next time he went, Thor could tag along. We did a trial run on Monday, led Bjorn and Thor out of the paddock to the trailer. We loaded Bjorn first, so Thor could see what the end goal was. We had hay loaded into the front of the trailer and a bowl of grain on Thor’s side of the trailer. After leading him to the entrance, we just let him sniff around and take his time. Within 5 minutes, he had sniffed his way to the grain and was in. We shut the back door and let him hang in there with Bjorn for about 10 minutes. Then we took Bjorn out, leaving Thor in the trailer.
He became a bit anxious at first, calling to Bjorn, so we led Bjorn around the trailer to the side door where Thor could see him. He calmed immediately. We walked Bjorn further and further away from the trailer, but as long as Thor could still eye-ball him, he was fine.
Friday we took him with Bjorn to Bjorn’s riding lesson. He did great while the trailer was in motion (something we hadn’t practiced yet). We parked the trailer where the side door opened to the riding ring, and Thor sat there contentedly munching hay for over an hour while Bjorn had his lesson. Mark stayed by the trailer keeping Thor company too. After Bjorn’s lesson ended, we led Thor out of the trailer and into the ring, so he could become familiar with the area. We then loaded them back up, and headed for home. A very successful first trailer ride indeed! We plan to try to squeeze in at least one more run before winter.
Training Updates on Fjords:
We’ve been with Bjorn a couple times to riding lessons, and this week was our first time saddled and actually riding. The first time we were working on ground work. Our instructor rode Bjorn first, and he did really well. I had saddled him up and rode him at a walk several times this spring in our small paddock area, but he had not been saddled up in such a big riding ring before. He stood relatively still for mounting (we can work on that a bit), and walked and trotted.
He would definitely rather stop than take off, which is fine with me - while I’m relearning how to ride I’d rather have to egg him on than hold him back. He seemed quite relaxed and didn’t balk at what we asked him to do. He definitely needs some fine-tuning and has some things to learn, but I am please that he’s not ill-mannered and difficult to work with. Kirsti might be a different story, and she’s going for her first groundwork lesson soon. Mark will also be on the search for a saddle for Sive.
We are working on extending the paddock area for winter, now that we have 4 horses instead of 3. By snowfall, Thor and Sive should be able to be back together, so we will remove the temporary weaning fencing to create one much larger area.
Thor and Bjorn enjoying a gorgeous fall afternoon! We are still wondering if Thor is going to stay such a light color (his face seems to be much more grey and his coat is almost white, with just hints of brown here and there) or if this is still just his foal color and he will turn more brown like Bjorn.
Some friends are selling the last of their Fjord horses, and they no longer have a need for their cart (pictured below). The cart has shafts for a single horse or a pair, and we are also getting custom made pair and single biothane harnesses fit for Fjords. Our goal is to start working on driving next summer with Kirsti and Bjorn, so hopefully we can find a training cart soon!
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING F.N. JOIN US ON FUTURE GRANITE STATE CARRIAGE DRIVES!!]