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Some of you may take one look at the title of this post and reply with a hearty, “Well, duh.”

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.

Got it!

How about you? Follow rules or ignore them?

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