Oh how I wish it was as romantic as the image makes it out to be! LOL. So, since my last blog entry in December, we, as predicted, have experienced 8 weeks of what I consider sheer Purgatory. Winter arrived right after Christmas and it stuck its nasty claws in our backs and stripped away every bit of warmth, security and patience we could muster. It is now the last day of February and we are bracing for March to enter our lives with a roar as the latest winter storm event makes its way across the country and the season gets set to punch us in the face once again tomorrow.
But, there is hope. The calendar keeps advancing and next weekend begins daylight savings time. I’m not a fan of the practice of daylight savings time but it does signal the coming of spring in this part of the country. I’ll take any “sign” I can get at this point.
Takoda wore a blanket this winter for the first time in his life. I was worried that he might freak out or tear it up or any number of things when I ordered it and frankly I wasn’t even sure I was gonna use it. I toggle back and forth on blankets. One part of me feeling that horses have been around for eons and we try to treat them like indoor lap dogs. They grow thicker coats for a reason in the winter and we should just let them be horses. The other part of me thinks – yeah, but they are NOT like the horses of old and they don’t roam the countryside 24/7 and you DO alter their natural lives, therefore probably altering their ability to withstand a lot of the “natural” things that they historically could withstand, like polar vortex temps and gouging winds…
In the end, I admittedly, caved to peer pressure. LOL. I introduced him to his blanket slowly, first showing it to him, making noise with it, rubbing him with the material. This is called “sacking out” or “desensitizing” in the horse world. The mindset is that if you introduce things slowly and allow a horse to get used to them, he won’t feel like the object is going to eat him. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have had to do any of this because Takoda could not have cared less about me throwing the damn thing over him and buckling him up. He half-heartedly flicked a back leg when I was fiddling with the rear straps and when I said “it’s OK bud” and rubbed him he put it down and that was that. After I got it on he was completely uninterested in it and more interested in getting back to his hay. So far (still crossing fingers) the blanket has even stayed intact. Horses are masters of tearing through blankets. There is this hilarious YouTube series on horses and blankets and every bit of it is true.
IF HORSES WERE PEOPLE - BLANKET EDITIONS:
Anyway, I’d like to believe he appreciates my efforts to add to his comfort. But, who knows?
So, this season having been deemed “The Winter of Ice and Sub-Zero” (we always deem winter with a name – last year it was the Winter of Weekend Snow because every weekend it seemed to dump several inches of fresh snow just when I was hoping to go visit horses during my search) we have been dealing with frozen water buckets, three inch thick ice in the barn driveway, stall doors that won’t shut because ice builds up on the bottom of them, and all the other general inconveniences of winter at a barn. I’m saying people – I will take battling flies any day over this sh&t!
There was a day a few weeks ago where it was warm enough to take his blanket off and get a good look at my boy. It is good to do this periodically during the winter if you are blanketing. Blankets can hide weight loss and any rubs or sores they are causing. I was glad to see he had none of these. He looked fabulous! A great bit better than the somewhat stringy look he had last year when he arrived. His tail is filling back in nicely (he likes to rub his butt on things for no apparent reason – he doesn’t have worms but he probably DOES need a sheath cleaning, which could be the culprit as I seriously doubt he has EVER had that done) where he had rubbed a good swath of it off by the end of fall. The blanket flap protects it and as an extra measure I braided and conditioned it for winter and once a week have been unbraiding, reconditioning and rebraiding. He’s a little bit fat, which is just fine with me for winter, and his coat is nice and soft.
So, looking forward to spring we have tons of work to do! I would say that last summer was the “getting to know each other” phase of our relationship. I wouldn’t exactly call it a honeymoon phase LOL. In life with horses the honeymoon generally doesn’t last a whole season. We did, however, get to experience the ups and downs of our relationship as we waded into me being a first-time horse person and Takoda actually being treated as “someone’s horse” rather than just one of the many horses in a field that gets ridden now and again. He learned (and didn’t always appreciate) that things are expected of him. I learned (and didn’t always appreciate) that he has his own opinion and that I need to recognize that and work within his mindset just as much as I need to have expectations according to my own.
I think most of all I learned that he is an individual and that I cannot compare him to other horses that I have known, or other people’s horses around me. He is unique, as we all are. Some things that will work or have worked with other horses will work with him and others will not. I am finally understanding what my riding instructor and friend meant with her comments when I would get frustrated last summer at his lack of knowledge or apparent interest in obtaining any. She would say – yes, he doesn’t know much and yes, you are worried about “teaching” him because he is your first horse BUT what you are teaching him will be unique to you two. YOU guys will have done it, not someone else. The experiences and knowledge and relationship will be unique between you and THAT is priceless.
This all relates to another aspect of life right now, which I will blog about soon…
In Loving Memory
...of the first horse to hold my heart