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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Archive for May 21st, 2022

Good Behavior

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I maintain a routine (imagine that) in the morning when I walk Delilah and then feed and clean up after the horses. On my own for the last four weeks, while Cyndie has been convalescing after her knee replacement surgery, the horses are showing recognition for my consistent way of doing things.

As Delilah and I round the bend of the back pasture into view of the horses, I always offer a soft verbal greeting to the horses. No matter where they happen to be standing when I make that turn, by the time I pass through the barn to grab the wheelbarrow and open the door under the overhang, Swings will be standing in the first spot by the door to greet me.

It’s a crapshoot whether the two chestnuts will be on “their side” or anywhere else at that point, often a function of wherever Mix has harassed them to be, but not always. This morning, Mia was right where she should be, opposite Swings. Mix was close enough to where she is served her feed pan. Light stood on the wrong side, about halfway down toward the waterer.

My first order of business is to clean up any manure piles located under the overhang. In the early days of this exercise, the horses demonstrated some impatience with my actions delaying the service of their morning feed. Now they remain wonderfully calm and wait politely for me to work at a leisurely pace to get the job done.

When I disappear back into the barn, they know what will come next. I return with filled feed pans. Today the distribution went flawlessly, which is not always the case. Too often, Light will upset the order by ignoring her feed pan and instead choosing to steal Swings’ pan, which triggers what I call the morning ballet.

Swings will switch to eat Mix’s; Mix will choose either of the chestnuts’ pans, which they theatrically abandon. Mia will be the odd mare out and Light will go find a different pan.

When I am able, I put gates between them, isolating the chestnuts. That calms things significantly. It is only when one or both of the chestnuts stay on the wrong side that I am unable to take advantage of using the gates.

Today, as I placed the pan for Swings and then walked over to place Mix’s, I saw Light stroll downhill around the waterer and come up on the correct side to allow me to close the gates and give her and Mia their pans in the usual locations. All four stayed in place and munched away peacefully.

When Light chooses to play along with my intentions, everyone benefits.

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Written by johnwhays

May 21, 2022 at 9:26 am