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

Posts Tagged ‘Mix

Another Drama

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What is it with all the issues coming our way lately? It’s as if the universe is seeking to exercise the limits of my ability to cope with stress.

It’s getting exhausting, I tell ya.

Yesterday afternoon, while serving up pans of feed for the horses, I noticed blood on Mix’s leg.

I took pictures to send to Cyndie up at the house. While I was waiting for her to acknowledge, a little intimidation from Swings caused Mix to attempt a hasty retreat that almost failed because of the way she tried to avoid using that wounded leg. I knew this would require inspection by someone who knows much more about horses than me.

Cyndie made some calls and shared the images. Because it looked like it could be a puncture wound and the location was near a joint, it was deemed worth contacting a veterinarian.

I moved horses around and closed gates to isolate Mix from all three of the others so she wouldn’t need to do any hasty retreating. The vet finally arrived long after dark, but he quickly analyzed the wound and administered meds. I drove Cyndie down to the barn and she used crutches to come in and observe.

The vet strongly suggested we confine Mix to just the space under her half of the overhang and gave us two medications that I will need to give her with her food.

If she stops eating because I put medicines in her food, I will lose my mind.

I strung some fence tape between posts to constrain Mix to the overhang. Having her pinned in there also required me to provide her with a bucket for water.

The cause of her wound remains a mystery. I will need to look for a possible loose screw or nail that she might have come up against.

On the bright side, there aren’t many more things left that I need to fill in for Cyndie’s expertise around here. I’ve already grappled with a majority of them at this point. All this drama is helping me to appreciate how wonderful my life was a month ago before all the illnesses and accidents made their way into our routine.

On Monday we met with Cyndie’s trauma surgeon again and he decided to leave the stitches in her ankle for one more week. Otherwise, he said the foot and ankle look good. Not that I’m counting, but only seven more weeks until she can walk on it.

That will be a little drama that I am looking forward to seeing.



Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2022 at 7:00 am

First Bite

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For the first time in my life, I have finally been bitten by a horse. It’s not an occasion people generally keep track of, unless they spend a fair amount of time around horses, I suppose. I have only been around horses for 5 or 6 years.

Our Thoroughbred mare, Mix bit me in the middle of my back yesterday morning. I yelped and cursed and all the horses startled. The other three didn’t know what had happened, but Mix knew. Cyndie responded by making sure Mix knew we were not accepting such behavior. She used her amped up energy and a boundary extension stick to move Mix to and fro around the paddock until the mare finally showed some sign of acquiescence by dropping her head.

In talking it over when we got back in the house, I came up with a possible theory for her behavior.

When the horses first arrived here, Mix, more than the other horses, showed aggressiveness around feeding times. It mostly manifests in her demonstrative body language, taking on stallion-like behaviors of pawing and snaking her neck. She might also chase away or attempt to bite the butts of other horses around her. When we bring out her pan of food, she doesn’t tend to act aggressively toward us.

Lately, when Cyndie or I move around her to scoop poop or hang hay nets while she is gobbling from her feed pan, Mix will sharply swish her tail or pin her ears back and swing her head in our direction to flaunt her command over her food. We have been verbally responding with our disapproval and carrying on with our task at hand to show her she does not direct our activity.

Yesterday, while she was eating and after I completed my scooping, I stood in her vicinity even though I wasn’t working anymore, thinking I might condition her to my unthreatening presence when she has food. When she gestured her displeasure, I calmly held my ground.

This lasted maybe a minute before I moved on to something else. The four horses were finishing the last of the pellets in their feed pans and basically chilling. Maybe moseying down to get a drink or nuzzle a hay net with half interest. I came out to tie up one of the last hay bags. Mix approached and nosed the bag, then lifted her head to inhale the scent of my breath. I tossed the bag over the fence and was tying it to the top board, losing sight of Mix as she moved behind me.

Bam! I felt a wicked pinch on my back and let out a shout. Was she maybe responding to my earlier posturing in her space while she had been eating? It wouldn’t surprise me.

Good thing I was wearing my “space suit” and escaped with nothing more than a tender bruise beneath all the layers.

By the afternoon, we were very pleased to see Mix remained pleasant as I was making two passes around her with the wheelbarrow while she was still eating. We are taking that as a good sign she received the message we were sending earlier that morning.



Written by johnwhays

February 10, 2022 at 7:00 am

Talking To

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Yesterday, I received a text from Cyndie asking me to remind her to tell me about the “talkin’ to” she dished out to Mix. Sounded like a scene I’d like to have witnessed.

Last weekend I noticed Mix behaving like a bossy mean girl, chasing and nipping after the two chestnuts, Mia and Light. She’s done it before, so I wasn’t surprised, but it seemed so unnecessary. The other two hardly appear to be challenging Mix’s authority.

Well, it seems Mix is still feeling a need to behave badly. In front of Cyndie, she not only pinned her ears back and nipped after the chestnuts but she continued on, pushing them down to the bottom of the paddock. Then she turned her backside to them and forced them toward the willow tree with threats of a kick.

That was enough for Cyndie. She rushed up to Mix and let her know this was an unwelcome level of abuse against the others. Sounds like Cyndie basically gave Mix a dose of her own medicine. She kept after the mean mare and sternly forced her to run around the paddock until Cyndie said she could stop.

Cyndie said the other three horses looked on calmly, recognizing the issue was Mix’s alone. They went back to grazing as Mix darted to and fro around them and Cyndie chased her.

After Cyndie sensed that her point had been made, she turned to leave, and Mix slowly approached her, ears forward. Cyndie took a big breath to drain her amped-up energy and Mix lowered her head contritely, as if in apology. They stood together for a moment, nose to nose.

After hearing this story, I felt a little sympathy for Mix.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of these “talking to” sessions myself.



Written by johnwhays

November 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Mix Photographed

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I didn’t set out to write about Mix today. It’s just that I took this picture of her over the weekend that I really like looking at and I wanted to use it in a post.

There is no specific story to go along with this image. It was early in the morning and the sun had just risen over our horizon. The horses had finished chomping their servings of feed and she was probably contemplating what to do next. As Mix turned her head, this moment was captured.

I like the way the sun highlights her tail, but with the addition of the fence shadow breaking it up.

I like how she is pointed toward the open gate to the hayfield.

I like how the hayfield is illuminated by the low-angle sunlight.

I like the two directions of fence line that accent the scene.

I like how attentive her ears look.

Mix’s full Thoroughbred racing name is “Pleasant Mix.” She was born in Ontario and started racing at age three. Over her three years of running she earned $213,420. We were told all four of the horses became broodmares after they were retired from racing, but we don’t have any of those details. Mix is currently 17-years-old. That is approximately 53 in human years. She is the youngest of the four now living with us.

When the horses arrived at Wintervale last April, one of the things we noticed about Mix was how she demonstrated food aggression. When feed pans were being prepared, she would chase off the others and paw at the ground. They all continue to work on their comfort level around feed time and are showing good progress about moving beyond any issues.

Mix takes multiple deep inhales to learn people’s scent. She is now showing a propensity to be very present with whoever shows up to visit. She loves attention and demonstrates a kind of quirky sense of humor about ways to get it.

For those of you who remember our old herd leader, Legacy, there is no denying that they share a very similar appearance, both being Grays. We feel they share a little bit more than just color.

I think that is one more reason I like this picture of Mix so much. I think I see some of Legacy’s spirit coming through.



Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2021 at 6:00 am