It seems like every time I go out to ride lately I end up bathing a horse. Or two. That's what happened yesterday when I went out to ride. Salina came and stood by me, I looked her over, she seemed itchy, and since it was a warm day with a warm evening predicted, I shifted gears and bathed her.
She stood and stretched her nose forward, enjoying every moment of her bath. I used a very soft-pronged curry in one hand, soapy sponge in the other, and ended up removing about another half-pound of shedding hair. The bathing part is actually not what takes the time - it's the rinsing. I'm not sure why, but she seems especially hard to rinse - the shampoo seems to really cling to her coat and skin. Fortunately she loves being rinsed, so after a moment's difficulty when Keil Bay sauntered down the grass paddock and she was determined to go with him, I just dragged the hose and finished her rinse under the holly tree.
We got into it together, the sound of the water, the flow of suds off her back and down her legs, the cooling. Even when Keil got bored and led the herd back up to the barn, through the aisle, and across to the big barnyard, Salina and I stood entranced and connected by that stream of cool water.
I was still planning to ride, but when I got to Keil Bay, he too seemed itchy. In his case, he had a few ticks attached in the groin area, and he was fussing (by walking away) each time I tried to get them off. So I got his halter and a lead rope and we went to the bathing area for his first real bath of the year. Keil likes being bathed too but he is very nudgy as he tries to pull my arm with the hose to different parts of his body - do this part, do that part - mostly he just wants me to hose right beneath his jaw, but carefully so he doesn't get sprayed in the face.
Yesterday, though, he stood nicely while I sponged and did tick removal (easier with soapy hands and skin), rinsed him thoroughly, which took about 1/4 the time it takes to rinse Salina. You're done, I told him, but he followed me to the barn where he clearly expected to be treated for his time. You can see with Keil Bay how the expressive horse gets rewarded for being expressive, and thus it blooms into even more expression.
All through his bath he kept presenting his muzzle to me to be kissed, and when he comes along to the feed/tack room and stands patiently, it's absolutely impossible for me to not give him a handful of something. Yesterday he got a handful of alfalfa pellets for my interrupting his grazing to get bathed, and then he got a handful of oats because... well, just because he asked and I love saying yes to the Big Bay.
By this time it was dusk and I still hadn't checked and refilled water troughs.
With springtime and growing season there are many more chores to be done.
The week before last I cleaned and dragged the arena, last week I mowed buttercups, this week it's rotating/dragging fields, and the next big thing to do is weed-eat.
And grooming gets more detailed. Brushing, bathing, checking for ticks, dealing with biting pests, and managing the heat... all this is partly why spring is NOT my favorite season. But right now it's still more my favorite than this long, cold, wet winter we just came through!
On another note, we have a certain kind of cicada emerging right now by the dozens. They are everywhere, and anywhere there isn't a live cicada, there is the shell of one. These are like no cicada I've ever seen - they have golden wings and red eyes, and resemble little insect demons. Is it a coincidence that the leaves, every single leaf, on the squash and cucumber plants are now simply gone? All that remain are stems and blossoms.
May! I can't quite believe it but it's here.