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It happens every spring, and each year I tell myself I’ll remember next time.
And then I promptly forget.
When the pastures finally green up and the horses are able to eat their fill of the sweet, new grass, they develop a serious case of “green-grass-itis.”
And our sweet girl, Miss P. is no exception.
This eating grass is serious business – nothing to trifle with or be distracted from.
So on Friday, as always, I went out to feed Pepper.
It’s a bit of a hike, since the herd has been moved to the back pasture, but no worries. It was a beautiful day and the walk was good for me. I fixed her food and set out to get her.
Of course she and her little band of friends, Amigo and Chickadee were in the southernmost corner of the pasture.
When I got close enough, I called to her. This usually gets me at minimum, a raised head. More often she walks toward me.
Not this time.
Didn’t acknowledge my presence at all.
I can almost always count on Amigo to get the group going, if Pepper doesn’t.
When I got right up on them, I said, “Hey girl. Are you ready for lunch?”
She finally deigned to look at me.
Then she put her head back into the grass and resumed eating.
I walked closer, put my hand on her neck and stroked it. “ Come on Pep, time to eat.”
She continued to ignore me, as if she were suddenly deaf.
I didn’t bring a halter. These days we just don’t need it since she comes in on her own.
Except when she has green-grass-itis.
I stood for a while trying to coax the horses in. But they were having none of it.
At one point they looked up, gazed at me, and then shot a look at each other. It was as if they were considering my proposal. But quickly they unanimously agreed, “No thanks. Not today.” And they put heads into the sweet green grass.
I can’t say as I blame them.
The way they plucked the blades of grass into their mouths made it sound quite delicious.
It’s been a baren pasture this winter, so I get their fixation on the green.
And soon enough Miss P. will figure out that the grass is here to stay.
And I will remember to take a lead rope with me.
Yesterday was a quiet Sunday afternoon in the pasture.
And oh my goodness, that sky.
It was a Colorado sky for certain.
Our spring snow has boosted the greening up process, such that now the pasture sports the beginnings of a verdant covering.
Even though now it’s more a crew cut than long hair.
But the long hair, er…long grass is on the way.
And the horses know it. They are almost giddy, out there nibbling at the tiny green shoots.
Even Miss P. seems to be on the mend.
These days she often trots in when she sees me. And she’s eating all of her grain, instead of leaving a substantial amount.
Perhaps with the spring, warmer weather, and abundant shedding, her grief is abating. She is adjusting to life without Bud, as are we.
Spring brings the promise of new life.
And yesterday all of us got the message.
Loud and clear.
Thank you Mother Nature.
With the copious amounts of rain we’ve had in the past few weeks, the grass is really lush. Tall and brilliant green and ripe for rolling.
That is if you’re a horse.
Or a child.
It goes with summer and the wild abandon we used to feel once school let out.
I miss that child’s feeling of having three months of freedom and summer fun stretching out before me.
I suppose adults roll in the grass too, but I think following that topic could take us into dangerous territory, especially for a Monday morning.
So let’s stick to horses, okay?
If you’re a white horse that loves to roll in the fresh, cool grass, you sometimes run into a problem.
Especially if your hipbones stick out. I’m only guessing about this part since it’s been decades since my hips had visible bones. But for Bud, it’s an issue. All that wild rolling in the grass stains his coat a greenish brown color.
Bud doesn’t mind one bit.
It’s all part of being a horse.
It’s just his goofy human friend who notices.
Here’s hoping you have some grass-staining-events in your future this summer.
I think we all could use a touch of wild abandon!
P.S. Miss Chickadee is back in the pasture. Yippee!!
And you’d be right.
I’m not talking about the obvious, anatomical differences. What I mean is something much more subtle.
It’s about following rules versus ignoring them.
But here’s how it went down in my little world of horses and the pasture.
I recognized the look in his eye.
It helps to have raised a son and been a teacher for many years.
I know that look.
It’s the one that says, “I’m about to do something you’re probably not going to like. What are you going to do about it?”
It seems to me that males of all ages (and species) are familiar with that look.
And yes, I am aware that this isn’t one hundred percent a gender thing. Sometimes the tables get reversed.
Perhaps a bit of background is in order. Our feeding schedule has changed. The green grass of the pasture is just too alluring. Bud and Pepper are less interested in their grain and more interested in nibbling tender green blades of grass. The pasture they’re in is chewed to stubs, so when they get the chance to eat long, fresh grass, well I understand the draw.
We’ve worked out a compromise. They eat part of their grain and then I let them wander off to eat grass for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then I bring them back to finish their medicine-dosed grain. It’s working pretty well.
Except for one hardheaded appaloosa.
He’s decided he needs to sneak off to eat grass before eating even a taste of his grain.
He comes out the gate; breezes past the feed pan and shoots me the look.
It’s a kind of sidelong glance, laced with attitude.
And more than a little guilt.
He has this “catch me if you can” thing going.
He nibbles grass and watches me out of the corner of his eye.
I say things to him like, “I see you,” but he ignores me.
Pepper on the other hand, usually eats at least two-thirds of her grain before heading for the green grass. And she sends no sidelong glances. She knows she’s followed the rules. Just as Bud knows he’s broken them.
When it’s time to come back to the grain, Bud has taken to running away. I sigh, stop and regroup. Chasing a horse never works. They just run faster. With Bud we have to get out in front of him. Then he lets himself get caught and we walk back to the grain, which he duly finishes.
And Miss Pepper?
As soon as she sees me coming, she walks toward me. I don’t even need the halter because she’s figured out the routine.
Grain, grass, grain.
How about you? Follow rules or ignore them?
We had a Midwestern-style thunderstorm last night, complete with rolling thunder, lightning, and a steady soft rain that lulled me to sleep and continued most of the night. It made for cozy sleeping. This morning when I stuck my head out the patio door to greet the morning, I saw mist rising off the lawn like little puffs of smoke. The air smelled fresh and earthy. And the grass seemed to magically change overnight from kind of green to unbelievably green!
I read recently, though I can’t remember exactly where, that green is the most popular color. Green is soothing, and connects us to nature – a connection that is missing for many people today, unless you count watching Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel on television. In my mind, that’s a pretty weak connection.
After what has seemed like a long, brown winter, my eyes have been starved for the green of spring. In the past couple of weeks, my hunger has been fed.
When I look over the tree line in town, I see the delicious, almost neon, spring green of willows coming back to life. I seek them out as I drive, greedy to slurp up every glorious drop of green.
The horses are nearly giddy with the tiny shoots of green grass that have returned to the pasture. They wander into sections of pasture long avoided over the winter, just to nibble what must taste to them like nectar of the gods.
Horses are grazers. It’s what they do, so the winter with dry, barren pasture and two feedings of hay is hard on them. They pluck at brown shoots, mainly I suspect, to keep the boredom away. But there’s no nutrition in dead grass. They wait like refugees in a survivor’s camp, dependent on the kindness of their human friends to deliver the twice- daily feedings that keep them alive.
But now we’re heading into the season of abundance where Bud, Pepper and their friends can forage for themselves, and dip their velvety soft lips into oceans of green whenever they want.
The past two winters have been rough for Pepper. We’ve had trouble keeping weight on her, so I especially welcome spring for her. She can eat to her heart’s content, and hopefully convert all that delectable, luscious grass to calories and pounds.
Bon Appetit dear ones!
And Happy Earth Day.