(Photo Gallery) The old ladies got their hair done and had a frolic. The bay mare was putting on such a show that I wished I had my camera. She kept it up until I ran and got my camera, and even as I came running back, I could see she was still strutting around with her tail in the air. As soon as I arrived and aimed the camera, however, she stopped and only gave me a very modest performance to shoot.
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Comedy of Errors: How to Add a Horse to Your Pasture Full of Horses

I had just stepped out to let the dogs pee and check on the geldings. I was so confident that it would be a quick excursion that I left the movie I was watching on pause and didn’t even turn off the tv.

Yesterday I reintroduced two geldings to the herd, part of acclimating the new gelding Ned. I had left Ned and two quiet geldings alone in the pasture for two days, so Ned could get used to the terrain and boundaries of the ten-acre field, with its creek and tree groves along that creek. All was going well. I had already reintroduced some geldings, two by two, so the herd was back up to seven. There were just two more to add, two of the more assertive geldings. I was going to take my time. Continue reading

Picky Eater?

It’s that time of year when I stop feeding horses since they have so much grass. Last night I fed the mares one last time, and they all went to get the hay except one. Suzie stood and watched a couple of other horses eating but wouldn’t go find some hay for herself. She *was* watching, not rolling around or pawing or acting painful. So I checked her gums (perfect pink & moist) and listened to her gut (oh my what a racket!) and looked her over. She seemed fine except for not eating. Though it was possible that she wasn’t hungry, the others were probably no hungrier than her and they were eating. I decided I should lock her up for further study but not until I finished feeding.

Once I had finished, I went back to get her. She was standing in the same spot, still watching another mare eat. I approached just as some of the bossier mares were starting to change places and move other horses around. As they did so, the mare that Suzie had been watching moved away from her manger to keep her distance from the bossies. As soon as she left, Suzie sauntered up and started eating from that manger. Is it possible that Suzie is so OCD she cannot eat in any of the other spots, she has to eat in that one?

I locked her up anyway so I could count her poops. This morning she was still fine, had pooped and finished the little bit of hay I left her with. I do not know what to make of this.

Out to Pasture Part Two: November

It was 1994 and my brother’s show mare, about 17 years old, had never been bred and had been identified as having some version of  “undersized” or “shriveled” ovaries.  I don’t understand that diagnosis, never have, not even when I heard it in Crimes of the Heart.  It seems absurd.  Aren’t they supposed to be wrinkled?  And how BIG do they have to be to produce a teensy little egg anyway? At the time I had lost track of the mare’s age, but even if she had been “only” 14 as I thought, that was pretty late for a first breeding.

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Out to Pasture Part One: The Mountain

Mares grazing in the evening

Being put out to pasture is jargon for retirement.  In the horse world, it is becoming less so, as more and more people realize the benefits of giving horses time off to just be horses.   Like the fountain of youth, a pasture can relieve a number of intractable ailments, from ulcers to joint problems to stress disorders.

I don’t know what the numbers for people are, but it seems to me that the earlier our horses get out to pasture, the longer they live.  Most of our horses live most of their lives at pasture.  For many, it is the same pasture they ran in at their mothers’ sides.   For others, it is the pasture they grew up in after being weaned.  For all of them (except the stallions), it is with the same horses, the same herd they that they spend years getting to know.  It is a very soothing environment for a horse.

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