Friday, December 31, 2010

ending the year on a lovely note

This morning I went out for the first time in almost a week to feed breakfast to horses and donkeys. I've (and my daughter) been sick with a nasty cold and my husband has been doing the entire roster of chores - he is now getting his turn with the cold and so it's time for us to get back to our regular routine again.

The horses were totally silent as I mixed tubs. As I've written before, there is usually an entire symphony of sound outside the feed room door as I mix and prepare the feed tubs. At first I thought they were all just preoccupied in paddocks, but then I realized they were all in the barn - but they were truly not making a peep.

So I called out: You are all so quiet today!

Salina instantly did a big whinny. Then one by one they all began to do their usual routine. Keil Bay and Salina are what I call the Hanoverian chorus. The rest add their own sounds to the mix. It was good to be back in the barn, and with the temperature going up to the 60s today, I felt almost naked. No snow pants, no Lands End parka, no hat, no gloves.

Although the cold was gone, what we have now is one big muddy mess. Six inches of snow is melting into already fairly saturated ground. I don't remember seeing standing puddles in the arena before, but there were some up at the shady end.

All the equines needed grooming, so after doing some tidying up in the feed/tack room, and doing some mucking, I came inside for a snack and something to drink, and then went back out to the field with the grooming bucket.

Cody enjoyed his grooming so much that when Keil Bay approached, Cody pinned his ears at him! I have literally never seen Cody pin his ears at all, but at Keil Bay! I was shocked.

Keil Bay wanted his grooming done as a sort of progressive party. We started in the front field, passed through the paddock for a spell, and ended up in the back, standing at the arena gate while my daughter rode Cody and then her pony. Keil Bay went into a sort of trance as I used the tiny black currycomb I have for horse faces. It is rubber and very soft. I made little circles all over his face, and even did his eyelids, which he loves. He dropped his head, closed his eyes, and heaved a big contented sigh. We did a little bit of ground work in the arena, and then I moved on to groom the lovely black mare.

Rafer Johnson did not want to wait, so he wedged himself between me and Salina, and I got a nice rhythm going of a few strokes on Salina and a few on Rafer Johnson. He ended up putting his entire head into my arms and gave me a super-duper donkey snuggle. I think he missed me.

I noticed that Salina's neck muscles seemed tight and hard, so I pulled out one special grooming tool that is pretty hard rubber with lots of "prongs" and began to use it gently but firmly across all her major muscle groups. She lowered her head and began to chew softly as I worked. Finally I pocketed the tool and used my hands to massage her neck from poll all the way down through her shoulders and onto her forelegs. She really loved this, and I could feel some difference in her muscle tone as I worked. I think it's time for a professional massage for her - but for today she was happy to get what I could offer.

As the sun went down on the last day of the year, I was in the barnyard with Keil Bay, Salina, and the donkey boys, who kept sneaking into the hay tent every time I turned around. Cody and Patch Pony were under the barn shelter eating hay from piles.

It was a mushy, muddy mess out there, with some areas still slick with melted snow that has turned solid again during the nights, and other areas that are melted down but have big chunks of frozen snow/ice/mud lying about.

Hearing the sound of equines eating hay, snorting softly, obviously okay with whatever the weather has given us, I was very happy indeed to be with them, spending the last day of this year with such a loving, generous, funny, and talented bunch of equines.

Happy New Year! Enjoy this last day of 2010!


Anonymous said...

I like how they all waited for you to speak to answer.

I love grooming too - and most of my horses seem to like it as well. Even Dawn appreciates it most of the time.

Have a very happy New Year!

billie said...

Kate, they all seemed like they were in slight awe that I was there.

The only one here who doesn't really care for grooming is the pony, but he is often the one that needs it the most!

You too have a happy new year - will be fun reading about your work with Pie as the new year unfolds.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Thanks for sharing your peaceful grooming session. A great way to finish the year...

Thanks for being such a supportive blog friend Billie :)

Happy New Year!

billie said...

C, a ride would have been nice too, but I knew my limits for today. :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Glad to hear you and your daughter are feeling better, sorry your husband caught it though.

Your herd is nothing short of amazing, they are so tuned into all the humans they live with. Seems you had a lovely last day of the year.

Wishing you and your family and critters, much happiness and health in the new year. Happy 2011!

billie said...

Arlene, I think if you look at all the amazing equines who live with all of us blogging horsewomen, we are without a doubt proof that equines are capable of so much more than many people think.

Happiest of new years to you and your entire family!

Máire said...

Billie, happy new year. What it is to have a supportive husband! That is a lovely scene you describe among your equine family.

billie said...

Thank you, Maire, and happy new year to you and yours as well. I am lucky to have a husband who loves these animals as much as I do and who truly did jump in and learn what he needed to know so that he can care for them when I need him to.

ponymaid said...

Billie, we have strangely warm and rainy weather here today but the temps will plummet this evening, leaving us encased in ice. I am pleased to hear that your germs are on the run. The Woman is still a light greenish colour but is at least buckling down to work again. She managed to comb our faces today - Jack and I grow very thick mats of hair on our foreheads for the winter and these can only be groomed with a toothed device. Amazing what becomes unearthed and brought to the surface. We wish you all the very best of healthy and happy years, with lots of adventures for the donkey lads (perhaps hunting in a cart).

billie said...

Sheaffer, those donkey puffs seem like Mary Poppins' carpet bag - I have found all kinds of things collected in R&R's.

The happiest of new year's to you and your entire family!