Since tomorrow is supposed to be dropping temperatures with rain turning to snow overnight, I wasn't surprised to see that the whiteboards in the barn all proclaimed "Are your winter blankets ready?! Get'em out!" Moon'er's has been sitting in front of his stall since we moved in last month, and I'm EAGER to see him wearing it! Hood and all. So bring on the snow flurries!W stopped by while I was grooming Moon to ask me what I thought of his current weight. Terrible question to ask me. I cringe when I see overweight animals, horses, dogs, cats, anything. We as people are able to exercise and regulate our feed intake. Our pets however rely rather heavily on us for this. So to me, it's CRITICAL to pay attention to how much your animal is eating, how their weight and body shape is and the level of exercise they're recieving.
Hmmm...critical appraisal of Moon. Well, his haybelly is pretty near gone. While T treats all of her horses amazingly well, given the set-up of her land and group pastures it's not practical to use square bales. So they were always fed round bales of varying feed quality since they harvested their own hay and it was all stored outside. Instead of being able to shop around, you're more restricted to what you're able to pull off your own fields. I totally understand that. W on the other hand can shop around a bit more, and of course, is compensated for the costs since she's a boarding stables. So the hay is all medium square bales, shedded and smells like candy. Granted they don't have grass to graze here as Moon had at T's, but that matters little once the winter snow flies.
So I look at my boy. Personally, I'm thrilled. He's not ribby. I think if I hosed him down, you'd JUST be able to make out the outline of his ribs, soaking wet. With his winter coat, they're not visible but if you run your hands on his sides you can feel them. And they're not covered in a layer of fat. He's muscled, has no hollows over his hips or neck and looks very healthy and shiny. I'm pleased. No need to up his feed unless it's crazy cold out and he starts experiencing more weight loss. W was right with me and said she'd throw him an extra flake here and there as needed but we won't start him on any grain/feed.
It occurs to me, that keeping him indoors, being the easy keeper that he is, is probably cheaper for them then outdoor board in terms of input costs. He eats no grain, less hay then he would outside all winter, he only poops in one corner of his stall meaning very little straw is ever removed and added back. Even IN a 12x12 stall. So about $4/day less in feed then outdoors plus $1 extra in straw = $90 less then keeping him outside : P Go figure. And yes, I realize there's upkeep costs, electricity, wages for mucking stalls...
But I digress. I DID catch sight of some more new signs up...noting for boarders not to help themselves to hay, straw or grain unless they've paid for it. Interrresting...
So I got Moon in his gear to head off on the trails behind the barn for the first time. W warned me of bears, wolves and coyotes, but really, I'm not too worried. Horses normally don't stand around waiting for them.
I'm thinking it'll be a good change for Moon before the snow. Nice break from arena work. Plus, I want to see if he's herd bound and if he'll refuse to leave the sight of the other horses.
I lead him into the breezeway and let go of his reins to close the screen door so W's puppy doesn't run out...And as I reach for the door I see this *look* in Moon's face. He's gonna run.
So I lunge for his tail (yes, I left my horse standing there in a bridle, not holding his reins, facing away from me and walked behind his arse to close a door...dum-de-dumb)...
And he BOLTS.
Most people would let go of the tail. Remember, I'm stubborn. I try to hang on...and nearly get dragged on my face across the parking lot gravel : P Double-dum-de-dumb.
In hindsight, praise the horse-heavens my horse isn't a kicker. PERFECT opportunity and reason to double barrel me to the face.
Moon heads RIGHT for his paddock, runs the fence line with his girlfriend following and dashes into the huge muck heap. I start to bolt for the gate that would contain him to the back 1/2 of the property and see that W's little great dane puppy is running towards Moon. AURGH. Cause I left the barn door open of course : P
And behind Miss Molly the puppy, is W, taking in the entire situation. Moon running up and down the muck piles (it's an entire row of about a year's worth of poop) and Molly headed RIGHT for him thinking this is a new game!
I know that Moon is fine. He's a poo-head, but fine. Not really interested in running off, he just wanted to run with his little girlfriend. And I DID sorta point him out the door and walk away! Molly on the other hand is a baby. All morning I was chasing her off because she'd do figure 8's between Moon's feet when I wasn't watching. She'd walk up and lick Moon's nose. She grabbed his reins, stole his brush and tried to chew his tail. DANGER! Granted, Moon is a total gentleman and doesn't move when she's underfoot, other then to sniff her little puppy face when she reaches up to lick him...
Still, if he's running on a poo-pile like an idiot, she could very well get trodden right in to it. And I gotta save her first.
So I start waving my winter mitten around; "Here Molly! Come play!" And she DASHES to me, grabs hold of the mitten and starts tug-of-war with me. PHEW. I can grab her collar and keep her distracted. Meanwhile, W had climbed the muck heaps and grabbed Moon. We meet in the driveway and exchange escapees. Hers is cuter. Mine's covered in feces.
I thank her again, give Moon a scratch under the chin for not killing any of us, and hop on. What a way to start.
He leaves the barn without a blink. His girlfriend runs the fenceline and he ignores her. Out into the trees we wander, through bogs and grassy fields and mudroads. It was wonderful. We covered 6 miles before getting back to W's, including some road riding. He was awesome. He LOVES it. And he managed to brush most of the poop off his legs in the bogs.
It was perfect. I let W and some of the other riders know that if they ever want to trail ride, I'm game. And so's Moon'er. Just next time, we'll save the adventure for the ride...
Royal's new sign...and blinking for the camera...