Saturday, October 24, 2015

a horse and his friend

A couple of days ago I was getting ready to turn the boys out to the front field, which had a month off and was limed, overseeded with spring fescue, and seeded for winter with grazing rye. We had just the right rain at the right time to get it off to a lovely start, and the herd had been eyeing it for several weeks.

I'm not quite ready to turn them on it full-time but for the past week I've been giving them a couple hours out there each day and they've been enjoying it a lot, but not going nuts, which is good. (Nuts would be them pacing up and down the fence line off and on all day and trying to break through the gate!)

Keil Bay came out of the barn first, to the side gate which I had open and waiting. The pony and donkeys had gone out the other way, and Cody was still in the barn. He's moving pretty well at this point; the abscess exit has grown down the hoof about 1/4 inch, but he's not totally sound on that hoof yet. So he was taking his time to get to the front field.

I was standing in the gateway and started to close it just in case the donkeys or pony decided to come through and go to the barn. Not likely with the grass out there singing their tune, but it was a reflex on my part. Keil put his body in the gateway and stopped so I couldn't close it, and when he heard Cody coming from behind, he used his nose to shove the gate wide open - giving Cody space to get through. The two walked off together almost literally into the sunset, with not a bit of space between them.

If you want to look at herd "order" Keil Bay is top horse and Cody is at the bottom. This is why I think the idea of herd order is not quite the whole picture when it comes to horses and the way they operate when they truly live together, in other words, are not separated very much of the time and have access to stalls, and each other close to full time.

Keil Bay didn't rush out to the green grass -  he waited for his friend whose hoof is slowing him down right now, and he didn't insist that Cody follow behind him - he actually shoved the gate open so Cody could join him shoulder to shoulder and walk to the pasture together. 

It's nice knowing the horses have their own relationships with one another and that they make allowances when needed. 

A different day this week I had tacked Keil up in his stall and Cody was standing in the barn aisle watching. Knowing there would be no issue, I didn't hesitate to open the stall door to walk Keil through on our way to the arena, but Keil realized before coming through that he might bump Cody with the door as he passed - he stopped and pulled back into the stall. I got it - and asked Cody to move over a few steps. On we went with no problems. This is one of those times when the horse is smarter than his rider, and I'm happy to listen and adjust my request as needed!

They have their spats from time to time, but for the most part, this herd gets along well. Anyone can turn out with any other one but I think they're happiest all together. 


Grey Horse Matters said...

Keil Bay is a sweetheart and he knows how to be a leader and look out for his herd. We have the same thing here. Basically, they all seem to look out for one another. A few weeks ago when Dusty wasn't allowed out of her small paddock because of her laminitis flare up most of the herd stayed up in the catch pen eating form hay nets. They'd go into the next paddock to graze but made sure one or two of them were within her sight so she didn't feel deserted. Then at night when I had to bring her in the barn while they all stayed out for the night (their choice) I was surprised when Nate came up and asked to be brought in. He's her guy and they are inseparable. He has the stall next to hers and they snuffled each other and I'm sure she was very happy to have him home for the night.

This is one of the reasons why I just don't understand how some people can say animals have no feelings or relationships. I feel sorry for them because they don't get it.

billie said...

Oh, Nate, what a sweetie!

I so agree - animals have feelings, relationships, and intention. It's so clear if you live with them and pay attention.

Matthew said...

Loved reading about the gate-opener Keil!

billie said...

It was a sweet gesture, Matthew. (and you know that on the weekend he kicked (not literally) Cody out of his stall so the part about them having their spats was borne out quickly!)