Saturday, March 12, 2011

Springing Forward

Today Angel looked like a "normal" or perhaps an "average" horse. An untrained eye would look at her and see a "normal-looking" horse with no glaring physical or behavioral issues. Angel arrived at my house eleven weeks ago, weighing approximately 750 lbs. with a Body Condition Score of 2 (on a scale of 1 through 9 and 5 - 6.5 being ideal). Today the weight tape showed that she has gained 200 lbs. and with the vet-recommended adjustments to the weight tape, she probably weighs about 940 lbs. Her Body Condition Score has risen from a 2 to 4.5 or 5.

I groomed her for the first time in several weeks. She stood quietly, calmly and seemed to enjoy my company. To an untrained eye, she would have looked well-behaved. A trained eye might have wondered why I didn't tie her up instead of working with her untied? (The answer is: she doesn't pull back or rear if I don't tie her up.) She did not attempt to kick or move away from me. I also know her better now and didn't ask for anything that I thought would provoke a kick.

I have been so busy working for the past several weeks, I have not done much with Angel except feed her. Every morning and night I would feed her and check on her and talk with her for a few minutes, but there wasn't time for any more than that. Her only job was to eat, gain weight, and relax a little. Today it looked like she has been doing her job well.

Her coat still looks a little weird. Angel arrived at the Santa Clara County Animal Shelter in San Martin about 250 lbs. underweight. Because of malnutrition, her coat is still coarse, wiry and dull. Her skin is flaky and dry. She is just starting to shed her strange, wiry winter coat and I am very interested in seeing what kind of a summer coat comes in its place. I am hoping that good nutrition for the past eleven weeks is going to be enough to allow her to grow a soft, shiny, healthy-looking coat.

Now that her winter coat is shedding and she is filling out, I am noticing more scars and white spots on her. There are white spots all along her spine, all the way to the tail bone. They are not sensitive to touch, but they clearly look like scars from something. She also appears to have scars across her nose, from a too-tight halter left on continuously or perhaps a rough hackamore. The white scars across the bridge of her nose show something was not right in her unknown past.

Today I cleaned her left front foot for the first time. This is the first (and only) one of Angel's hooves I have cleaned so far. She is very mistrustful and will not allow me to hold her foot off the ground more than a half a second (literally) before she slams it back onto the ground. I have been attempting to handle and hold her front feet for a few weeks. I have not tried to lift a back foot yet. I am too afraid of being kicked in the head. But today she allowed me to hold her left front foot long enough to hastily clean it. This is a huge improvement from the last time I tried. She still would not allow me to hold her right front foot more than one second. We will continue to work on that. I have no plans at the present to attempt anything with her back feet. That will come in time, when there is more trust flowing between us. I will be wearing a helmet when and if I ask for a back foot from her.

Tonight our clocks "Spring Forward" into Daylight Saving Time. I am hoping that more light in the evenings will give me a little more time to play and work with Angel. I still miss Nick terribly. I cry almost every day because I still miss him so much. He died eleven weeks ago and it feels like it was yesterday. But little Angel is settling down and warming up and I am very grateful to have her living outside my window.


  1. She looks wonderful! I'll be happy to help you get started on the hoof handling with clicker training. Let me know when you're available.

  2. Good job, Martha! She's looking so much healthier!