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Winter is hard on old horses.
They use their calories for warmth or weight. It’s either/or, and the main reason we keep Miss Pepper blanketed most of the time. She can take a lot of heat. I think she gave up sweating long ago.
But when the weather gets warm, we remove her red blanket and let her old bones soak up the sun. We hope she revels in the heat.
Let me tell you though, when that blanket comes off, so does our denial.
It’s when we really see our bony old girl. It always surprises me. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, she remains the strong, muscular alpha mare of the herd, the horse she used to be.
I remember her in her glory days.
It’s much the way I think of myself–though I was never an alpha.
I’ve had many conversations lately with my companion baby boomers about how we don’t think of ourselves as old. We still remember our glory days, when we were taking on the world. In our minds we haven’t changed, and are often shocked when we catch sight of ourselves in a mirror.
“Who is that person?” We wonder. “Surely it isn’t me. Where did those wrinkles come from? And that tummy?”
Like Pepper, my body has changed with my ever-increasing journeys round the sun. I’m not suggesting I’m ready to cash in my chips.
Far from it.
But like Miss P. I am learning to accept (with a modicum of grumbling) the adjustments my body is making.
How about you?
Isn’t it time we open this conversation?
If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile you know that we’ve taken Chickadee under our wing. She and Pepper have become good pals; we’ve dubbed them The Golden Girls. Chickadee is 32 years old—a year older than Miss P, so they’re a good match.
Chickadee and Pepper share some of the same issues. Both are skinny old mares. As horses age, keeping weight on can be a challenge. We feed Chickadee when we feed Pepper. It didn’t seem right not to, and Chickadee’s owner has given her blessing.
I guess we’re just used to feeding two horses!
Pepper is totally tuned in to us. Most of the time she’s waiting at the gate. And if not, she hears or sees us almost immediately when we enter the pasture.
Chickadee isn’t quite a well conditioned. If she isn’t close to Pepper when we arrive, sometimes she misses out.
Or comes running to the gate in a panic. “I’m sorry I’m late. It won’t happen again.”
She’s come to rely on that daily ration of grain. You can see in the photos, that she’s pretty ribby.
One day when Chickadee was extra slow getting to the gate, Rick decided to offer her curb service, rather than bring her out to eat and then put her back in. Pepper was almost halfway through her pan of grain, so it seemed like a good idea.
We do have other things to do with our time besides hang out at the pasture, though the horses can’t fathom such a thought.