Monday, January 21, 2013

at liberty with the Big Bay

Keil Bay was so caked with mud yesterday I went out earlier than usual thinking it was going to take longer to get him clean. Just as I went out the back door he was at the water trough giving himself a shower with his hoof, which basically re-constituted the mud and made a real mess halfway down both sides and the saddle area was drenched!

I decided we would just focus on the grooming and see if his back dried off by the time we finished. In the midst of the grooming it became clear he needed his sheath cleaned, and since the temp was in the mid-60s, and we're looking at several really cold days this week, I figured we'd just go ahead and do the full spa treatment.

He was fully cooperative with the sheath cleaning but once I finished that and the first once-over groom, he untied himself two times, indicating he was ready to be done. But I wanted to get every tiny chunk of mud off, and still had his hooves to pick, so he had to wait me out.

When I finished it was just starting to get dusky out. We went for a quick walk in the arena and I found that daughter had left the lunge whip out there - she'd been free lunging the pony - so I took Keil's lead rope off, picked up the lunge whip, and asked him to walk on.

He was incredible! He used the entire arena to walk, using the diagonals to change direction each time so we were working both ways exactly equally.

After he'd warmed up at the walk, I did two trot steps and he lifted his back and went into his gorgeous floating trot. We alternated walk/trot for awhile, and then I did two canter steps - no response - but when I called out can-ter! he did a lovely transition into the canter and did this beautifully many times in each direction.

By the end he did a bit of gallop with a big buck thrown in going both ways, and then we did a few more walk/trot/canters each way and finished up in the near-darkness.

I don't do this a lot with Keil, but it was such a joy to see him move and feel his energy as he transitioned up and down at my request.

When I took him out to the front field he didn't want to leave me but stood there after I removed his halter and kept his eyes on mine. "Go on and have your hay with your buddies," I said several times, and finally he did.

There's no walk from the barn aisle to the barnyard through the gate to the backyard and into the house better than one that ends a good time with the horses and donkeys. And that's just about every single time I take that walk, so I'm celebrating today. I'm lucky I get to be part of the November Hill herd.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Happy to say I know how you feel billie!

It's tons of work - mud, stacking hay, winterizing... but nothing beats living with your horse(s). Joy!

Kate said...

Sounds positively magical - except for the mud!

Matthew C. said...

Just lovely.

Thanks for sharing!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Wow! It doesn't get any better than that does it? I like that he drenched himself with a shower, maybe he was trying to get the mud off for you because he really wanted to work...

billie said...

C, I'm glad you took the chance to live on your farm with Val - there is a lot of work, but it's mostly wonderful getting to see them and manage everything oneself. It would be hard for me to ever go back to boarding.

billie said...

Kate, I have been trying to view the mud as some sort of medicinal treatment they're applying to themselves - sort of like the facials we humans sometimes get. And as I have squished around in it myself (just the boots!) imagining it as a sort of facial for the earth itself. Crazy, I know, but it helps me get out of the yuck, not more mud mindset when really, there is nothing I can do to not have it or make it dry up faster.

The real magic is the pony, who gets every bit as muddy as the big horses but miraculously ends up clean the next day even if he hasn't been groomed. I still think fairies come in the night and trade a ride for a grooming.

billie said...

Thanks, Matthew!

billie said...

A, that's possible, but he is a shower hound if the temps go up - it was only mid-60s but I guess to Keil that was warm after the 40s!

Victoria Cummings said...

I love the description of you dancing with the Big Bay. I think some horses just love to be little pigs. Silk had so many years where she wasn't allowed to get muddy while she was a show horse. Now, she enjoys getting filthy and I confess that I just let her because she clearly is having so much fun. Siete is very fastidious but she really likes to be out in the snow or the rain, while Silk hates it. She'll always be a California girl, I guess. Hope that Cody is doing better.

billie said...

When Keil first came into our family, along with the Little Man, the barn we boarded at had a small wading pond in the main pasture. Probably 3 times out of 5 when we went out there (which was daily, sometimes more than once in a day) they had both gone into the pond and rolled at the edge. Often I would to out to get Keil in and one side would be pristine, the other a complete, and I am not exaggerating, sheet of dried mud.

This was nothing like that, but they do like to roll after it's rained!

Cody is much much better today. I actually tried to wrap his hoof yesterday with Animalintex and he was totally uncooperative. Also with soaking. When I realized I was getting highly annoyed at his resistance, I stopped. I don't know if it's an abscess and he was saying NO, no need to treat it that way, or if it is one and it's just eased up. I've shifted things around for two days giving him respite from the pony but also giving him time with Keil Bay, and the break seems to have helped.