SPRING! SPRINNNNGGGG!!!! SPRIIINNNNNNGGGGGGGG!!!!!! OMG. So, it begins. That incredible time of the year known as “riding season” is upon us. The horses returned to their “regularly scheduled programming” last weekend. Meaning, they spend very little time in the barn and under cover since winter has ended and grass is greening and growing by the second. They are happy. WE are happy. Not only is it better for them in the sense of actually BEING A HORSE, but it means much less mucking for those who love them!
So, right now they are all full of green grass, piss and vinegar. Meaning, they are a bit spirited, willful and happy. This doesn’t always equate to the most relaxing rides LOL but it is a good chance to work on communication and partnership.
There are a few things Takoda needs help with this season. One of them is his stall situation. We have traditional stalls with sliding wooden doors on them. They have a “window” – meaning there is a high portion when you close the door that has bars on it so they can see out. Doors are good in the winter because they keep the drafts out well. In the summer, not so much so because they hold in the heat. So, lots of people use stall guards, which are basically cloth or rubber material and you hang them from both sides of your stall opening making a sort of barrier. Your horse can stick his head out easily, the set-up is much cooler temp-wise, etc.
So, Takoda, being Takoda, had some fun with his stall guard last year. He’d periodically half-way crawl under it to get to the hay stacked beside his stall for the next day. He often cranes his neck OVER it and curls into this snakey position to get to his buddy’s feed bin in the stall next to his, where he’ll lick up all the leftover crumbs that Angus doesn’t eat. He’ll lean on his stall guard and rip it (I repaired it TWICE last year). We ended up trying to put additional single chain guards up last year (you can see these in the picture – they are covered in rubber and used as additional measures for crafty horses). He’d put his head IN BETWEEN them and do the grain licking thing. We put up two stall guards, one on top of the other, to make a big tall one. This resulted in the leaning….LOL.
So, I am looking into other options like this door from BIG D – it is tall, which he needs, but open. And it is steel so hopefully he won’t break it.
Horses are so funny. No two are the same. Takoda is comic relief for the entire barn. Yet, he is laid back and pretty gentle, doesn’t get too rattled about much too often (although when he does it is a doozy), and my “issues” with him for the most part revolve around the fact that he is lazy. LOL “lazy” in horse terms simply means that if horses could be couch potatoes, a “lazy” horse would. Now, this isn’t all bad. These horses are also known as your “more whoa than go” horses (which I was insistent upon when looking), they are often great trail horses (because they also often like to just fall into a line and mostly walk) and are not “hot” (meaning – I dunno, think of the common view of an Arab for instance) or “forward” (forward usually means more fast). All of these things fit my bill as far as what I want in a horse. My hot, forward days are over (thank you very much though High Pockets you were awesome when I was younger and more reckless).
Horses like Takoda though, are challenging in the respect that they also tend to not really be interested in pleasing you, are not really interested in working (because they are couch potatoes!) and can have just as much attitude (in a different way) as the opposite type of horse. Takoda’s motto is – evade and ignore when misbehaving. So, we have our discussions at various points. Sometimes they take place on the trail, which is very frustrating. One of my main goals is for that to stop happening.
An old horse woman told me that all he needs is a “wet saddle pad on a regular basis” – meaning, the horse needs worked to sweaty, cause that is good for all of us. LOL. This is true. Although I am trying to also make that work meaningful and enjoyable because THAT is fair to both of us.
I am reminded again though how much horses can be just like their people. When I just described Takoda in terms of not being concerned with pleasing, not really interested in doing much of anything that isn’t his idea, etc….I am also giving a perfect description of myself. I’m a loner, so is Takoda. For a herd animal, he never is in a hurry to get to his friends when I take him out to the field late. We both meander our way around the barn. I don’t like to tack up quickly, don’t tend to run here and there…I’m more like – jeez, relax people… He mirrors these things in his own life and approach. One of my GFs with a hotter, more forward horse and I often turn them out at the same time, as we ride together often. As they work their way up the hill to the herd, her horse will pick up a trot, then a canter in order to catch up with the rest of the boys. Takoda usually just walks, stopping along the way to eat grass. If he does pick up a trot we’ll stand there and take bets on how many strides he’ll take before he is like – fuck this, I’m walkin’. LOL, yup, that’s my boy.
In Loving Memory
...of the first horse to hold my heart