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Horses are at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to scratch those pesky itches.

No hands.

No opposable thumbs.

No husbands to cajole into scratching an itchy back.

Thank goodness horses are creative.

And smart.

They’ll use whatever they can find to rub against.

Like an old weathered post in the pasture.

Can’t you just hear this mare saying, “Ah….?”

 

I can relate.

When you finally make that darned itch go away, you want to scream,

“Yes, yes, yes!”

You are with me here, aren’t you?

Wouldn’t want to reveal too much personal information!

The pump that provides water for our horses in the pasture has been acting up. Some days it won’t provide any water. And others, it overflows.

Yesterday was one of the overflowing days.

While I was out feeding our two old sweeties I watched the “service team” go to work on the problem. The “service team” is made up of the following:

  •  one woman
  • two corgis
  • a yellow lab
  • and two curious but rather unhelpful horses.

It was very entertaining, though more so I imagine from my perspective than hers!

 

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.

Pepper's back

Okay, I’ve had it with Fred. I’ve tried to like him, but the honest truth is, I don’t.

Don’t like him one bit.

He’s an aggressive bully. Other horse “parents” agree with me. Seems they’ve run into problems with him being pushy at the gate or trying to dominate their horses.

Yes, I know we’re talking horses and not children at daycare.

Life in the pasture and all that.

But these are my babies nonetheless, and I’ve worried about them all summer since Fred came on the scene.

So the latest insult is that Pepper’s back is scarred up from Fred’s insistence to “do the deed” with her. She’s twenty-nine years old, has big old arthritic hocks and is in pain most of the time. Frankly his drive to procreate is making me mad. Especially when he has any number of young mares in the herd. I’ve taken to calling him “Pimp Daddy” which I know isn’t very nice.

Pepper doesn’t seem like the same mare that she was BF (before Fred). She’s lost the sparkle in her eye and the sense of calm that used to surround her. Well – calm with her own brand of attitude.

She’ll hang out with her old friends at the gate waiting to be fed. Afterwards she seems a bit lost, and eventually makes her way back to Fred’s herd.

I want her to ditch this guy.

Slam the door in his face.

Tell him adios.

She doesn’t have to be a mindless automaton. A geriatric love slave to a young and inexperienced GELDING. Something by the way I think he’s forgotten.

I know I’m getting worked up over this. Sorry for the rant.

It’s just that for horses and humans, there are times when quite simply, love bites!

I love this picture of Bud. See how his nostrils are flared? Notice his perked ears and alert expression?

“What in the blankety-blank are you doing here?” is written all over his face.

Sometimes when the horses are in the far pasture instead of by the gate waiting for us to feed them, Rick will drop me off so that I only have a one-way trip to bring them in.

On this particular evening, Bud and the other bachelors were enjoying the sweet new grass in the southern-most corner of the pasture. I scrambled over the fence – no small feat in itself- and approached Bud.

The look on his face says it all.

“Hey wait a minute. Where did you come from?”

Then he switched to caution.

“You aren’t supposed to be out here.”

I could practically hear the gears turning in his head as he tried to figure out why I wasn’t in my usual location. Horses are curious animals and Bud is no exception. He enjoys a good puzzle as much as the next horse. He even looked around as if trying to catch Amigo’s eye for confirmation.

“Is she really out here or is it my imagination? What was in that grass anyway?”

As near as I could tell, Amigo confirmed that I was real. At least he walked up to me and sniffed my hand, always hopeful that I’ll be holding a treat.

Sadly there were no treats.

At least not yet.

I went up to Bud, stroked his neck and invited him to come in for dinner. Then I started walking toward the gate.

That’s when he got it.

“Oh, she’s leading me to dinner. Now I understand.”

That and the fact that Miss P., ever the alert girl, had figured out what was going down. She was already moving.

Bud can’t tolerate her being first, so he got his giddy-up going.

A little trot – just enough to outpace Pepper. It’s a game they’ve played since day one of being together.

She’s the vigilant one. Nothing much gets past her. I often rely on her to see me at the gate and initiate action.

Bud follows her lead.

And then she lets him get ahead. In all the times I’ve called them in, I can scarcely remember when Pepper was first out the gate.

She orchestrates it so that Bud gets to be first.

 

Sounding a lot like an old married couple aren’t they?

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that the summer has brought some drama to the pasture.

And for my new readers, here’s the very quick version.

Pepper left the Herd of Oldsters and got a new “boyfriend.” For a good month, we disliked Beau because as far as we were concerned, he stole her from her friends. And wasn’t very nice about it.

It was horse life in living Technicolor.

And I didn’t like it.

Not one single bit.

They were upsetting my idea of how things should be.

Well, here’s the newsflash that I seem to need to learn.

Yet again!

I’m not in charge.

Let me say it once more.

I am not in charge.

I am nothing more than a participant.

And isn’t that true for each of us?

Really.

The harder we try to assert our will; control the outcome and make things go as we want them to, the more the lesson shows up.

Yes, we have to do our own particular brand of work – whatever that is. I’m not saying that we’re powerless over everything in our lives.

I don’t believe that. But I do believe that we are powerless over events that aren’t really ours to begin with.

Like the natural order of life in the pasture.

And just to drive the point home for me, I can see that the horses are working things out. As horses will do if left on their own.

The bachelors (Bud, Red and Amigo) are beginning to tolerate Beau. They aren’t friends yet, but they are able to be in the same general vicinity.

And Beau, the young hotshot, has learned some respect. He doesn’t chase the bachelors anymore. He’s loosened his grip on Pepper too. There isn’t as much carrying on when she wanders away.

It’s as if all the players have taken a deep breath, settled down and accepted each other.

And you know what?

I’ve done the same.

All is well.

We’ve even started giving Beau a treat or two when he wanders to the fence line.

It’s time we made friends.

About the picture above: I took it this week when we’d just finished with the farrier. I will say it did my heart good to see the four friends lined up.

Just like old times.  (Okay, so I have a little more work to do on the lesson!)

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