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RU Santana

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Photo by S. Ralston
  • BLM Freezebrand 08605502
  • Bay 3-year-old gelding
  • Mustang # 5502
  • Born Summer 2008
  • Captured from the Callaghan HMA, NV on January 5, 2009
  • Will be registered with the Wild Horse and Burro Association
  • Sponsors: Carla Prentiss
  • Students: Nadja Fischlechner and Carly Painter
  • Practicum Student: Kateri Mankiewicz

February 2011

    This month we have been continuing with our nutrition study and our training with Jose. We started lights out at 9pm every night in order to help change the horses shed out before Ag Field Day and the Auction. We transitioned the horses over to the next portion of the nutrition study where we are testing the affects of breakfasts of oats vs. our TMR cubes on behavior and reactivity. Tanner has stayed on the cubes for about four weeks now and has gained an astounding 30 extra lbs. Definitely considered an easy keeper, he is now around 1008 lbs and the only horse over 1000 lbs, including our pregnant mare Shy Anne! We will be crossing him over to oats in the beginning of March.

    Some of the behavior testing we have done includes introducing unfamiliar stimuli to see how the horses react. Santana is a very cautious when it comes to unfamiliar things. We have been working with him on this by giving him time to explore new “toys” and other things he can play with, which he seems to enjoy very much. Nadja and I set up things such as large feed pans, horse toys, cardboard, plastic bags, rakes, brooms, and open umbrellas around the barn and allowed him to explore them.

    In our training sessions with Jose we have started exposing him to the horse blanket, a training bit, and a surcingle. Tanner did not take to the horse blanket very well initially. Jose needed to introduce it to him while it was on the ground first and allow him to sniff it and walk over it. Then he felt more comfortable with it on. He also did not like wearing the surcingle and moving around with it. He would constantly turn and sniff and bite at it and did not want to move. We will definitely be working more to get him used to wearing it. He did not seem to mind the training bit even when we were lunging him with it in his mouth (the lunge line was not attached to it).

Written by Carly Painter

January 2011
    Winter break is over and the mustangs have come in for the beginning of the spring semester. I’m very happy to report that all of them survived the 24-hour turnout without problems. Santana definitely enjoyed being turned out with his fellow friends and playing in the snow, he even put on some weight and looks now like a very well fed teddy bear (978 lbs).

    With the start of the new year we also began our new nutrition study. This semester we are studying the effects of corn versus TMR (Total Mixed Ration) hay cubes on the horses and how it effects their behavior. Tanner’s “team” is currently on the corn diet and Santana seems to enjoy his new diet so far. The nutrition study and its effects on the horses will be observed and we will also conduct behaviors tests. The tests performed with the horses will include walking down the barn aisle, halting, standing still for one minute, turning on the haunches, lifting all four feet, backing up, getting weighed on the scale, and approaching a student standing on a stool. We are really looking forward to these tests and how the horses will respond.

    Carly and I also started up again our training sessions with Jose Romero-Bosch. We have been reinforcing the basic commands with Tanner (walk, stand still, turn on the haunches and forehand, backing up…). Jose has also made makeshift girths with his arms and a lunge line, imitating the tightening that a girth makes. Santana wasn’t very happy with this new experience but with time we are sure that he will get used to it. The next step we will be taking in his training is to get a surcingle on him.

    With Ag Field Day and the Auction just around the corner, Carly and I will work extra hard with Tanner to get him ready. We also will soon be moving the horses to the Red Barn on College Farm Road, so we will be doing everything we can to make that go as smoothly as possible.
Written by Nadja Fischlechner

December 2010

    The month of December was a busy one with the completion our nutrition study, finalizing all of our stimulus and behavior testing, and finishing up our training sessions with Jose Romero-Bosch our part time trainer assisting us this semester. Tanner so far has been pretty consistent behavior-wise, despite the difference in feed types that he received. The higher sugar content didn't seem to affect his reactivity too much, though we are still evaluating the results of the testing. We recently discovered that Tanner has a mustache which Jose explains may describe a “dependability” type characteristic. I think both traits suit him very well.

    We also figured out that Santana's issues with his back feet were not without reason. An open hoof abscess was discovered in his left hind hoof during the first farrier visit in early December. He needed to be mildly sedated in order for the farrier to trim his back hooves because he was in some pain. We had him restricted from his weekly training for about a month but he was back to his old self within a few days after the farrier trimmed up his hooves properly. Nadja and I had to reinforce some of his round pen cues and ground manners after his long break, and worked even harder to get him to lift his back feet in order to keep them clean, but he is coming along once more. We had the wonderful opportunity of having Dr. Jim Kenney, a chiropractor, come and work on some of the horses. Santana had only minor realignment issues in his lower back and accepted Dr. Kenney's handiwork with no problem.

    One of the newer challenges that Tanner had to experience was the measuring stick and an above ground scale which we set up near the back door of the barn. We took our time introducing them to him. The measuring stick took a little longer to habituate him to, but we are doing so with a lot of scratching and encouragement. He has no problem stepping up on the scale and standing nicely while we read his weight. He even backs off it very well. His latest measurements are 61 inches and 947 lbs.

    We ended the semester with 24 hour turnout. They all survived the blizzard we had near the end of December and we brought them in to spend two nights in their warm comfortable stalls as the snow started to melt. Tanner wasn't too eager to lead his herd out into the snow. Dr. Ralston caught him on video hopping from side to side because he was surrounded by 2 feet of snow on either side of the path. It was a hilarious moment, but once he finally jumped into the snow he seemed to relax and began running around and munching on the snow with the others. The horses’ herd mentality was so strong that they also decided to unhinge the gate that separated the fields so they could all be together. They are now a happy, playful herd. We continue to check on them daily and bring them in periodically to groom and weight them to remind them of their manners, which has been very beneficial.  It has been a very rewarding and experimental semester and we are both so excited to continue the research and training in the spring.

Written by Carly Painter

November 2010

    Santana has progressed from Kindergarten learning (the very basics of leading and having his feet picked up) to first grade. He is already used to being touched and groomed with assorted brushes all over his body, which he seems to enjoy very much. Nadja and I are working on getting Santana used to picking out his hooves. So far he is doing a good job with picking up his front feet but needs a little more work on his hind feet. Santana responds positively to the pressure of the halter and lead rope, which makes it a pleasure for us to work with him. Tanner is very intelligent and has picked up on commands rather quickly. We have trained him to walk on, stop, back up, turn on his forehand and we are still working on his turn on the haunches. We also have continued desensitizing him to different stimuli, such as plastic bags, the scale room, umbrella and the scary aisle. We started turning the mustangs out in the paddocks about 2 weeks ago and Santana seems to enjoy being outside and interacting with his friends.

    This week we started our nutrition study. We are studying the effects of a high starch, high sugar ration in comparison to a regular low starch and sugar ration with respect to the effects on trainability of the horses and their responses to new stimuli. Both diets are balanced to meet the nutritional needs of the horses. We will be conducting stimulus tests after Thanksgiving break to determine the effects of the diet change, having done a series of preliminary tests the weeks before we started the experimental diets. Santana is now eating around 26lb of cubes a day and is continuing to fill out nicely. He now weighs 383.5 kg! 

    Our future goals include teaching Santana turning on his haunches, and heightening his awareness of our commands more using vocal and body cues.

Written by Nadja Fischlechner and Carly Painter

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