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It’s just an old white plastic bucket repurposed from some other function into holding Pepper’s favorite thing in the world.

Hay cubes.

These little green chunks of alfalfa make her tail fly up.

Big time.

They are the Oreo cookies of the horse world.

Or maybe the mini Snickers bars.

** Feel free to insert the name of your favorite snack here.

She keeps one eye on the bucket at all times. It may look as if she is munching away on her pan of grain, but make no mistake; she knows exactly where the bucket is located. Lately it’s been on a post close to the gate.

Long ago, before she became so savvy, we were able to store the bucket in the back of the car or truck, along with the feed pans, lead ropes and other horse paraphernalia.

But Pepper caught on and couldn’t concentrate on eating her grain.

All she wanted to do was bury her face in cubes and snarf them up. We had to resort to Plan B – move the bucket out of her line of sight.

It’s worked fairly well, that is until Pepper gets a hankering for cubes. When that happens, Plan B flies out the window.

I’m never sure what triggers her desire for hay cubes. Then again, I’m never sure what triggers my “need” for Twizzlers or candy corn or any of the numerous other goodies that light up my brain.

So yesterday, I was walking Bud through the gate into the pasture. He’d finished eating first – like always. Pepper had several large handfuls of grain yet to eat, so I figured all was well.

Silly me.

Once my back was to her, she got the craving for cubes and made her way to the bucket, which you can see from the photo is balanced quite precariously on a post.

“No problem,” she figured.

She nosed the bucket to the ground and began eating her beloved cubes.

I scurried back to find alfalfa cubes scattered among the dry grass and tumble weeds like an autumn Easter egg hunt.

I scooped them into the bucket nearly as fast as Pepper ate them.

In the end I think I salvaged more than she ate, but it was close.

She gave me this innocent look – “What?”

“Never mind,” I muttered as I led her through the gate.

It was just another day in the pasture.

I had walked into the pasture while Bud and Pepper munched on their grain, looking for a better shot for a photo that I wanted.

But the photo I actually took was this one – Red, Amigo and Chickadee lined up at the fence waiting for more treats.

The car and our two old sweeties are to the right, out of sight from this angle.

I know it may not be terribly polite to look at or comment upon a person’s (or horse’s) back side, but …

This photo makes me smile.

For so many reasons.

  • These three horses have got me figured out. They know that if they stand at the fence, I will give them treats. Which is exactly what I do.
  • I love their persistence. They are part of the Herd of Oldsters, and as such receive our care and love. They’re family.
  • They know their place. Each horse knows exactly where to stand. They don’t usually crowd each other, though on occasion they will try to push Chickadee out. She’s such a shy girl, we have to look out for her.
  • I don’t often get to see the snack-feeding process from behind. It looks entirely different.


    And isn’t it always good to look at something from all angles?

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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