Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How do we get it?

My horses, in a word, right now, are big lazy TURDS.

They lounge around all day in their dusty paddocks, socializing, trying to pick grass through the fence, eating breakfast, dinner, and their midnight snack, and doing little else.

The grass is so lush and green I don't dare put them out for more than 20 minutes at a time, so they aren't getting much exercise (and when I DO turn them out, running around is a distant, distant second to eating said lush green grass).

Their manners are in the toilet (except for standards like brushing/touching everywhere without issue, hoof picking, and turning out).  Chev hasn't even seen a saddle in months.  Who knows what she even remembers.

Why are they so pushy?  Why does Chev insist on pushing my buttons every time I go to do something slightly out of the routine?  Why is she suddenly crowding my space all over the place?

Their safety and handle-ability hasn't been affected (much), but their response time is way down.  They need a job.  They are fat and bored.

It got me thinking a little bit, though.

Horses need just a few things to be happy, healthy, and content:
1. Good feed.
2. Clean fresh water.
3. Shelter of some variety (whether or not they choose to use it).
4. Salt.
5. Exercise.
6. Appropriate vaccination, deworming and dental care.

A lot of the things we push on them are really for OUR benefit and have nothing or nothing to do with their physical or mental health.  These include:

1. Trace minerals (Does your horse eat?  Good.  Then he's getting all he needs.  In the PNW, only selenium supplementation is a necessity.  The rest is a waste of your hard earned money and there is plenty of science to back that opinion up)
2. Blanketing (unless it is pouring and your horse lives in the PNW outside in winter, or you have a sudden and drastic change in temperature that your thin coated horse can't cope with, OR he's an Arab with 1 mm of fur and can't grow more---it's probably best to forgo the blankets.  Don't feel bad.  Your horse will thank you)
3. Box stalls.

I know everyone has an opinion on those last three things...and that's fine.  This is, obviously, how I feel about it.  I've been in a lot of different barns and known a lot of people, and nothing incites heated discussion like whether or not horses need trace minerals, blankets, or box stalls, for heaven's sakes. 

So which thing are my horses not getting?

#5--a very important one--exercise!

There's nowhere to train or ride on the property, but fortunately for me, I've recently become the proud owner of a 2 horse slant, so that should be changing shortly!

Consistent exercise seems to be the thing that most directly influences a horse's attitude.

Horses were, LITERALLY, made to run.

But we keep them cooped up 23 hours a day and expect all that muscle and energy to come walking calmly out of a stall for us, every time.

Even if they get turnout--and especially if there's lovely, distracting grass around--it's not the same as exercise.

I've never seen Chev more happy then when she's in consistent work.  She'll try her heart out for me if I set her up right.

So I owe it to her to get us both back into it again.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What the hell are we doing?

Sometimes I wonder that.

Horses are SO MUCH WORK.  And MONEY.  They get hurt a lot.  God willing they live a long time, and they need care, they need attention, they need, need, need.

Occasionally I get away down to Eugene for a few days to visit friends and family.  I actually forget I have horses for minutes on end.  Sometimes an HOUR.  A whole hour.  And when I remember I always feel guilty that I'd forgotten and been just a normal person for a little while.

I'm still relatively young--I just had my 31st birthday.  But I've had horses since 2005, when I got my Ben.  I was 20 at the time.  My subsequent decisions about employment, schooling, and moving were all bound up in my horses.  I didn't want to move Ben because he was a fragile old man, so I put off grad school. 

I haven't regretted these decisions, exactly.  But horses have been my first responsibility and that was my choice. 

I am one of those people who occasionally kind of dreads going to the barn.  It's hard physical work, I'm exhausted, and there's always something to fix or something more to do or worry over.  But the second I see them it all changes.  I love them with something entirely irrational.  Leaning into them after a rough day makes the all work and the money and the sacrifice just fall away into that place the things that don't really matter go.

I wonder if this is sort of what having kids is like.