Yesterday I went to the barn to let the horses out and to my surprise Romeo greeted me with his head through the gate we use for his stall. He’s always the one who has his head through a fence eating grass so it wasn’t unusual but after a few minutes it became apparent that he couldn’t figure out how to get his head out of the gate. It’s funny now but I started worrying about his panicking and me trying to manipulate his head to freedom. Of course I expected he wouldn’t know what I was doing and would fight me. I briefly thought I might even had to get out a saw of some kind.
Now let me say right now that of all the animals I’ve worked with over the years, horses are probably the smartest I’ve come across. You can tell how much more intelligent they are from the way they learn and make decisions. Still, in situations like this I wonder.
Since I always seem to have a camera nearby, I grabbed one and pushed record as I tried an idea. If I could just get Romeo to move to the side a little and then incent him to turn his head sideways to fetch a carrot, maybe I could encourage him to fix this problem himself. And it worked. Below is a short (25 second) video.
So this has taught me a few things:
1) It’s important to check on the horses, even if they’re “safe” in the barn. If there is something to get scratched on or tangled in, they’ll find it. Romeo even scalped an inch square piece of fur from his head the day before on a little rough piece of metal on the fence (you can see it wrapped in twine in the video).
2) Perhaps gates aren’t the best wall substitutes. We intended on building a real wall with a wooden gate like the other stalls but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. This reminds me of the importance to get that project done.
3) Try the simple first. Romeo clearly wasn’t panicked when I found him so it was a good idea to not freak out and look for some complicated solution. A few carrots did the trick in this case.
Have you had anything like this happen with your horse(s)? Please share your story.
The video I posted yesterday was just a little display of the snow with some scenes from our barn and pasture. Yesterday, Mikki and I brought cameras with us up to the barn to see how our horses reacted to the white stuff. After being cooped up all day the day before (we didn’t want them wet and cold), our horses were ready to leave the barn. I’m so glad we had cameras because Cash and Valentine in particular really seemed to enjoy the snow.
This video is also high definition and runs about 4 minutes. In it you’ll see just how dirty Cash looks against the pure white snow. Turns out his patches aren’t white, they’re tan! You’ll see Cash roll several times including once right in front of us. He romps and throws his head around. I loved seeing his beautiful long mane flowing and his “horn” snorts are pretty cute. Maybe we should have called him “Horatio”. That’s a common sound with him. At the end of the video I added a few slow motion sequences of him prancing around. Valentine got into the rolling and romping, too but he’s hard to see. The white of the snow blew out the exposure on the camera so much of Valentine’s fur detail is lost unless he’s right in front of the camera. Moonshine makes her authority known a few times and Romeo mostly stands around and eats.
Once again, you can view this video full size and I recommend it.
We don’t get a whole lot of snow in east Tennessee. Maybe once or twice a year we’ll get a dusting. Well starting yesterday it actually did snow – pretty much all day. And today the snow continued, albeit light flurries. In the three years or so we’ve been here, this is the most snow we’ve seen! I know you cold weather people will laugh but we warm weather southern people get excited when it sticks to the ground. Schools are closed, people stick up on milk and bread, etc. It’s kinda cozy, so long as the electric stays on.
I went outside and took a short video of some snowy scenery around the barn and pasture. This is part 1 of 2. After I shot and edited this video, Mikki and I let the horses out today and got some great video of them playing in it. I’ll post that probably tomorrow.
This is high definition video and it’s probably better seen in full screen mode. After you push play, there is a little icon in the bottom right corner of the video that will allow you to expand it to full screen. The video length is about 3 minutes and there is no music. Just snow falling, traffic in the background, the hum of the video recorder and occasional horsey sounds.
EDIT: I almost forgot – making an appearance in this short video are our new barn kittens, Daisy and Clover! They’ve never seen snow before and don’t seem to like it a whole lot.
We once again have fine east Tennessee Moonshine at our farm. This evening we went over to ride her and get Lance’s final evaluation before bringing her home. The report? Well, not so great. We observed Moonshine hunching up her back at canter and this is after she had been longed. After some demonstration and instruction from Lance, I hopped on and rode her around the ring a few times. She was tense and it was obvious to me she simply didn’t want to move. And I was on high alert and nervous as can be, given her odd performance last week. I walked her and she gave me no trouble doing it except I really had to push her just to walk. I wasn’t ready for anything more than that. Lance reiterated his advice that we should get rid of her and find another horse. I’m still not completely convinced of that but at the same time I realize the insanity of keeping a horse you’re too afraid to ride. I might be more open to it if I knew she would have a good home but who wants a horse you can’t easily ride? I’m afraid she’d be treated with a heavy hand and have a miserable and possibly short life. Uggg. I guess if I can’t work with her I’ll have a 20-year pasture ornament. I love this stupid horse, darn it. I almost wish she was mean to me so I could more easily send her to auction.
Lance brought her back tonight and the boys (Sinbad and Valentine) were quite attentive. We put Moonshine in a stall so the horses could sniff and nicker at each other for a while. Then we let her loose into our pasture so she could re-assert her authority. It was less dramatic than we expected but still funny. I shot a short little video of it (below).
But just so you know, we haven’t totally given up on her. We’re going to explore horse chiropractics and look into marbling (someone mentioned it in comments). In the meantime, it’s good to have a backup horse (Sinbad).
Even though she’s trouble, we’re glad to have our sweet Moonshine back.