Tuesday, July 08, 2008

playing horse fairy

This afternoon I decided to play horse fairy. I went out to check on everyone in the barn at 2, horse cookies in hand, and Salina and Rafer Johnson were waiting in their stall for the treat. The geldings had wandered out to the back field, so I set their cookies aside and mucked, topped off waters and hay in mangers, and got tarps ready for shavings.

The geldings usually come in if they see me at the barn, but after all the rain we've been having (as of tonight, over 6 inches in a week's time!) they are glad to be out in the sunshine. So out they stayed.

That was when I decided to be the horse fairy. I fixed the hay in their mangers so the top surface was flat, and right in the middle I put two horse cookies for each one.

Keil Bay, who can sniff out a horse fairy from miles away, came sauntering up to the barn and found his cookies. The expression on his face was priceless.

Around 4:30 I went out and found it pretty muggy, so I decided to offer hosings. Keil Bay was first in line, but then he sidetracked himself into the big barnyard. Cody was second (not the norm, and he may have wanted company more than the hosing) in line, so he and I went into the small barnyard and situated ourselves with a pile of hay, some fresh water, and the hose, under the shade of the big pin oak.

Cody is fine with being hosed, but he doesn't love it like the other horses do. I decided to turn the hosing into a game where he was in total control of the flow of water. I hosed until he indicated he wanted me to stop, and during those moments, turned the hose into a water fountain. He loves that part of hosing, so that became the fun, safe part that magically happened each time he let me know he needed a break. I lowered the hose so he could lower his head to the "fountain" and let him nibble the water and lip the nozzle. When he had calmed himself that way, we proceeded with more hosing. The interesting thing is that he allowed me to gently hose his entire face today, and he actively sought out the water when he'd been given the chance to "play" with the fountain first. He also let me do an impromptu sheath cleaning, which again, he tolerates, but it's not usually something he relaxes into. Today he did. Each time he shifted his hind leg, I went back to the fountain.

After the hosing was done, I sat in a chair beneath the tree and just hung out with him for awhile. It wasn't long before I saw Keil Bay's nose in the crack of the barn doors, asking for his turn. So they traded places.

Keil Bay needs no game to make hosing fun. He loves it. He stood and got his turn, then hiked one hind leg out and into the air, which appeared to be his request for a sheath cleaning. He has never done that before, but when I checked, he needed it, so on we went. Then he grazed while I watched from then chair. By that point, the pony was banging on the gate asking for his turn, so Keil Bay went to the other side of the barn with Cody, and Apache Moon came in for his hosing.

He used to really dislike being hosed, and for awhile we thought he just didn't like the water. As it turns out, Apache Moon loves being hosed, but he really needs to be free when you do it. He stands facing the hose, and then pirouettes in a circle so you can get every part of him. When he's done, he marches straight up to the hose and takes the nozzle in his mouth. All done!

Salina came up to the edge of the barnyard and asked for her turn. I took the hose into her paddock and gave her a rinse. Rafer Johnson took one look at the water and went to the far end of the paddock, then into the stall. We respect his choice to stay dry. :)

The hosing got the excess fly spray off (the oil-based spray can get heavy after a few days of applications) and cooled them down, and was a wonderful way to spend the hot part of the day. I was, of course, as wet as the horses!

Tonight we had another thunderstorm so they were in from 7 until 9 p.m. After the rain was done (and the thunder and lightning) I opened the arena and let them in, and in the soft glow of our arena light (I think we are close to needing a new bulb!) they marched around and stretched their muscles. The night creatures were making a huge din after the rainfall, and the pristine arena footing gradually revealed hoof prints of all the horses. I walked around and tracked them, noting the imprints of their frogs and the basic shapes of their feet, as well as how they're tracking up. This is one of my favorite ways of checking hoof structure and movement. It's especially nice in the cool of night with all of them milling around, coming up to say hello, and continuing on their paths.

I highly recommend taking some time to play and surprise and just be with your horses. I came in feeling the same way I feel after massage or a swim. Totally relaxed.


mamie said...

Sounds like things are back to being peaceful and pleasant, and not so "out of whack" in your world. Glad to hear it.

billie said...

Yes, Mamie, and so quickly. We have the equine chiropractor coming today so the horses will be feeling especially good by the afternoon.

Victoria Cummings said...

Massages, chiropractors, summer showers - Your horses are in heaven! I wish my girls and I could come visit you. We're hosing too, but yesterday was so hot and muggy that even at 9 pm it was hard to find any cool relief. Today, it's better - which is the way it goes, the ebb and flow.

billie said...

I wish you could bring the girls too!

It rained more during the night, but w/o the dramatic effects in the sky. We had to put Salina and Rafer back on their side of the barn, as Keil Bay and Salina will sometimes "hog" the gelding side and leave Cody and Apache out in the rain. I at least like them to have the option of shelter!

the7msn said...

So great to read that you've gone from out of whack to totally relaxed. Horses ... and one dry little donkey... will do that to you. And I'm still so stunned that you got 6" of rain in one week that I don't know what else to say! That's more than I've seen in the last year.

billie said...

Linda, the forecast for the next 7 days has thunderstorms every single day!

The best thing about all this rain is that local hay farmers will now get second and possibly even third cuttings this year, which will help keep costs down for horse owners.

On the other hand, this much rain also turns the area into a tropical rainforest/jungle. Things are growing like crazy, including all manner of mushrooms.

I hope you get some rain soon - it seems like it keeps coming close but skirting right around the 7msn!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds as if you and all the horses had a great time playing with the hose and I'm sure they enjoyed the horse fairy cookies. They all sound as spoiled as ours are!We are so hot up here too, the whole herd is inside in front of their fans for the day and out for the night. We are in for thunderstorms everyday and it is just so humid. I'm sure they will all enjoy their adjustments too. What a bunch of happy horses you have, and donkey too. If only he would take the bath he would be so much cooler.Maybe someday he will check it out further.

billie said...

I really should video Keil Bay during his chiropractic adjustments. Today he banged on the door with his knee while waiting for Cody's adjustment to be done. It took longer than usual, as Cody had a huge amount of stuff going on - all on the right, so when he got stung last week he must have bolted sideways or something and totally jerked himself out of line.

Keil then took his halter off its hook and tossed it very nicely to the chiropractor. I assured him he was next, so he settled down and ate some hay.

She went right to the spot and he stood like a statue. Apparently his right PI was slightly rotated, but the big thing was the tiny joint that attaches to the last vertebrae. It was out the exact opposite way of the PI, which is unusual. She said it is very likely why he was hiking that leg out yesterday when I was hosing him. I knew something was up, but it wasn't presenting as the usual PI.

He was tender in that spot but very happy when he was done.

And the pony had a few little maintenance things, as usual. He does his yoga and airs above the ground and that seems to keep him pretty clear!

It was such a relief to get these things taken care of. I've said it before and I'll repeat myself:

The bodywork on the horses is without question the best money I spend.

The look in Keil Bay's eye when everything is fixed and clear is priceless. He let out one big sigh of relief today when she was done.