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The daily feeding routine started as usual with Bud and Pepper exiting the pasture, finding their respective feed pans and going to work making their delicious medicine-dosed grain disappear.

Bud is all business when it comes to eating. Once he starts, he doesn’t look up until the pan is clean as a whistle. There’s no dilly-dallying with this guy.

Pepper is a different story. First off she’s a picky eater. If she catches even a whiff of something not quite right (as in medicine in her food), she won’t eat. And she eats slowly, chewing each bite with great care. She likes to look around. Eating is a social event for our girl. Think sitting at a small café in Paris with a café au lait and croissant. That would be Pepper.

So on the day I referenced at the beginning of this post, I thought something was up because Pepper seemed nervous. She wasn’t doing her regular Pepper-eating-behavior. She’d take a bite and then stare into the pasture. A few times she walked away from her feed pan and I had to re-direct her back to eating.

Then I saw him.

Fred.

The boyfriend.

Bud’s nemesis.

Pepper’s summer fling.

He was standing a few yards inside the gate, trying to look nonchalant, but definitely waiting for Pepper.

He’s learned he’s not welcome when we’re around.

But he was there, doing his Svengali thing – sending thought waves to Miss P.

She couldn’t eat; couldn’t concentrate.

All she seemed to want to do was get back to you-know-who.

That’s when I had the girlfriend heart to heart talk with her. I tried telling her she should never endanger her health for a male.

Any male.

If it were a healthy relationship, he’d want her to eat her grain and keep her weight up.

But I wasn’t having much luck.

She was responding to a call much older than any Feminism rhetoric.

Survival of the herd.

It’s hard wired into her and I can’t blame her.

Though I’m not all that happy about her behavior either.

But it seems she and Bud have a system. Most of the month, Pepper hangs out with the Herd of Oldsters.

They’re her friends.

Her security.

Her family.

When she comes into her cycle (sorry but I had to say it) she becomes part of Fred’s harem.

It seems to be working.

There’s no more drama.

Bud appears quite blasé about the arrangement.

Red and Amigo are no longer afraid.

And really, who am I to interfere with Mother Nature?

If you have relationship advice for Pepper (or Bud) please leave it in the comment section below. Both have told me they’re open to hearing from you!

We have a daily feeding routine that roughly goes like this:

Load up grain and drive to the pasture.

Set feed pans on the back of the pickup and open the gate, making sure not to let the whole herd out – just our two old sweeties.

Hand out treats to the Herd of Oldsters who glue themselves to the fence line, so we can’t help but see them. I sing and talk and stroke noses (not mine.) For the record, Rick doesn’t sing to the horses, but on occasion he’s been known to talk to them.

Brush Bud and Pepper while they snarf down their medicine-laced grain.

Move to the dessert bar and dispense hay cubes and/or horse candy to our sweeties.

Lead them back through the gate.

Repeat the next day.

And the next.

Bud and Pepper have this routine down cold. They know it better than we do. Most days when we pull up, they’re standing at the gate, waiting for us. I wonder exactly what time they mosey to that part of the pasture. How long do they actually stand there waiting for us? And what do they do on those rare occasions when we don’t come out to feed? I worry about that, but they don’t hold it against us.

Forgiving animals – our horses.

Last year I set up the dessert bar because I had to move the snacks out of Miss Pepper’s line of vision. She was having trouble concentrating on her grain. All she was interested in was nosing into the bucket of snacks and stuffing her mouth with hay cubes. I assured her I could relate, but nonetheless, she had to finish her dinner before she could have dessert.

I had a lot of practice being a mother. Can you tell?

So now, our horses know that when their grain pans are empty, they’re allowed to move to the dessert bar for, well, dessert.

It’s a seamless transition.

Other horse owners watch us and shake their heads. I’m not sure it’s awe or embarrassment.

We do let our sweeties get away with behavior other folks would probably not tolerate. We figure they’re retired and have earned the right to be pampered.

And if others don’t agree-to each their own.

On many days Bud and Pepper put themselves back into the pasture, though they need us to help with the latch. They know the drill.

Smart animals – our horses. 

They’ve trained us well!

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