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Who’s the Boss?

Who’s the Boss?

I was working on updating some posts with better quality photos when I came across this unpublished post from nearly 12 years ago. I don’t know why I didn’t publish it but here it is. Look at how little The Kid was. Wow!

Pushy horse

A few days ago a storm started blowing into our area, bringing lots of lightning. Mikki read some horror stories of horses being struck by lightning and ever since then we’ve made it a habit to bring the horses in whenever possible during lightning storms. Usually, when they hear thunder they head towards the barn, expecting to be let in but on this day they were nowhere to be found. Rather than standing around waiting, I grabbed a single carrot (this is important later) and headed into the pasture to round up our tardy horses. I found them as far back in the pasture as you can get (of course) and since they weren’t following because I’m good looking, I opted for the old carrot on the stick routine, only my arm was the stick. This worked well…too well. Valentine and Moonshine both love carrots. They love them so much they want to eat the wiggly carrot-looking things that are holding the carrots. Hey, if it smells like a carrot it must be a carrot, right? Knowing I had a long way to walk back to the barn, I cleverly broke the single carrot into pieces and gave them each a small piece. Okay, now let’s all move to the barn now. Moonshine, being the more gentle one, followed with interest. Valentine, however, being the 6-year-old gelding and alpha-male extraordinaire decided he wanted more carrot NOW, passed me and cut me off to show how serious he was. I went around him, he followed and nudged me with his head. HEY! It was clear to me at this point that I hadn’t adequately established myself as the herd leader upon my arrival into the pasture, therefore Valentine assumed this position and was trying to boss me around.

So the lesson here for me is to learn more about making sure it’s known I’m the herd leader. Not the big scary human, not the yelling crazy guy who sometimes gives out carrots, but also not the manure-shoveling underling who’s holding back those tasty wiggly carrot fingers.

Horses don’t respect a day of rest

Horses don’t respect a day of rest

One of the things you learn as a horse owner is to expect that work related to your horse habit will not be confined to a schedule. It would be great if everything in barn and pasture ran smoothly while you’re at work, on vacation or it’s cold/rainy/yucky outside. I would prefer that to-do items conveniently appear on my list around, oh, 11 AM on a Saturday, provided it’s sunny, not too windy, and warm (but not too warm) and I’m not sick. But that’s not how life works. Case in point is this little incident that happened Sunday. It was cold, I had just completed a few necessary outside tasks (watering horses, putting out hay) and was looking forward to kicking off my boots and enjoying the remainder of my afternoon on a day that is supposed to be a day of rest. As I leaned down to lock a gate I heard what sounded like a car crash. I spun around to look down the road at a stop sign where no one actually stops but didn’t see any cars there. My next instinct was to see what Cash was doing. He tends to be the instigator of trouble and this time my instinct was right. Cash was facing away from the fence, rearing up at one of our other equines. Behind him was a cracked fence board. The sound I heard was the snapping of wood and screws tearing out of a fence post. I watched him examine his handiwork and I would bet an apple he was thinking of how he might use this broken fence to some advantage. I’m sure it was an accident – he was kicking at someone or thrashing around, posturing in response to the fresh new hay roll. Just as I thought I was done for the day, I had to repair a fence.

broken fence
Cash breaks another fence board

As I examined the fence post (right in the photo) and discovered it was missing a large piece of wood that came off as the screws ripped through, I had a few angry words for Cash, which he completely ignored. After calming down a little, it occurred to me that this was a demonstration of the amazing power of a horse. When I relayed the story to Mikki, she reminded me that that’s probably what would happen to our bones if we were to be kicked like that. Food for thought.

As I was adding the above photo, the folder that I use to store such photos had others over the years showing Cash standing next to broken fences. I haven’t searched lately but I suspect I’ve written other posts about this very subject. Troublemaker! Don’t get me wrong, though, he’s a nice horse but he is alpha in his herd and isn’t afraid to demonstrate it.

So if you’re thinking about having horses, mentally prepare yourself for the eventuality of having to do unplanned barn, pasture, fence and sometimes horse repairs at inconvenient times. And always keep spare fence boards around.