We recently had a recurrence of a problem with Valentine (see Getting a Room). As you know if you’ve read this blog, we have a mare and a gelding. We have a three-horse barn and their stalls are next to each other. Every once in awhile, Valentine for one reason or another decides that he wants to be in her stall. (As for what that reason might be, well, he is a guy – it’s either food or…well, this is a family show.) Since he’s 16.2 hands high (that’s 64.8 inches in people talk) and weighs about 1200 pounds, and there’s an inch of wood slats and a few nails and screws between him and his destination, it’s not too hard for him to accomplish his goal. So a few days ago, we came up to the barn to find one less plank of wood between their stalls. Again.
So this time, in addition to replacing the nails with screws, we took the simple but effective step of switching their stalls. The wall between their stalls is formed by vertical slats nailed to two horizontal planks, one at the top and one at the bottom. Moonshine’s stall was the smooth side of the wall; the nail heads were on her side. So Valentine could simply push on the boards and presto! Out popped the nails and down went the boards. By putting him in the stall with the smooth side, it made it much harder for him to remove the planks because he would have to actually break the boards. Of course, if he wanted to, he could easily do it, but shhhh…don’t tell him that.
Anyway, Valentine’s now in the middle stall and Moonshine is in the first stall. Unfortunately, after months of it being the other way around, we were bound to forget the new routine, and tonight we did. We opened the gate and let Moonshine into the middle stall. We could have just left her there, I suppose, but we really didn’t want to risk yet another replay of Getting a Room. At the very least, it’s a pain to put those boards back up, and the worst-case scenario is an injury to one or both of our horses.
So we needed to switch her into the other stall. Let me tell you, that was easier said than done. There were OATS in the feed trough. Once her head was in there, she wasn’t letting them go. Since we don’t leave halters on our horses (I’ll have to post the reasons for that someday), I couldn’t just grab her and pull her out of the stall. We tried to get her out of the stall by pushing her around. Normally that would work, because she’s actually very obedient, but have I mentioned that she really likes OATS? She wasn’t budging. I risked life and limb and stood in front of the bucket to keep her away from the oats while Bill tried to lure her out with a handful of oats, but she’s no dummy. Trade 2 cups of oats for about a tablespoon? Come on. Eventually, Bill went for the halter while I tried to keep Moonshine from eating my jacket till he got back. We got the halter on and pulled her out of that stall into the right stall with no problem, and let a very anxious Valentine into his stall to discover if there were any oats left for him. Needless to say, that bucket required a refill.