hungry-horses

Here in Colorado, February and March are rough months for the pasture horses. It’s when we must keep an extra sharp eye on Pepper because this is when she tends to lose her weight.

 The herd is bored and hungry.

Horses by nature are grazing animals. Their idea of a good time is a field full of grass where they can nibble as long as they want. Which is all the time – a little bite here, a nibble there. And there is enough grass for everyone to eat their fill.

So now the pasture is blanketed in snow, covering even the few bits of dry grass that some horses try to eat. In winter, horses live for the sound of the truck that magically appears twice a day to deposit their ration of hay.

They play a game rather like the children’s game of musical chairs. Everyone starts out in a line across the pasture, each with their own small pile of hay. Then the stronger, bigger horses eat their fill and move on to the next pile, displacing the horse that was there.  Who then does the same. And the next and the next all the way down the line.

And usually at the very end of the line are the Oldsters, including our sweet Miss P. They get nudged away from their hay by everyone. It’s one of the reasons we are so methodical about her daily grain feeding.

The rest of the day, the horses mill around nibbling up the last bits of hay, hanging out like boys on a street corner, just looking to stir up a little action. They’ll chase each other, nip and kick, pick fights or stand idly waiting for the sound of the truck and the next meal.

When we show up to feed, the word goes out. “The snack people are here!”

The horses jostle each other at the gate for the prime spot. And just as in the hay line, the bigger, more aggressive horses will try to nudge the others away from the gate.

But in our little corner of the universe, we don’t allow that behavior.

The pushy horses are “strongly invited” to leave.

We reward polite behavior.

And loyalty.

Amigo always gets the first hay cube. There is something to be said for being a good friend.

I know everyone is bored and hungry. Believe me, I’m doing my part to entertain them with snacks, but we sure are ready for spring and a little green grass.

Come on April!

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