Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I always tell students to avoid shortcuts in their handling and habits. Horses are dangerous enough when we are on our toes; taking shortcuts increases our chances of accidents. Of course I don't always follow my own advice and I've had my share of injuries, from bruises to hospital stays, as a result. Sometimes it's our horses who end up injured. Sometimes a shortcut just becomes a "longcut"...a long walk to catch a loose horse, fixing a fence, broken tack or a mess to clean up. Luckily, if your horses are well trained and/or kindhearted souls, you sometimes get off a little easier.

This time of year, the grass has become pretty short everywhere as our first frost was a month ago and it's no longer growing back. I try to extend the grazing season by letting the ponies graze around the buildings and driveway. They graze here in the summer too but this time of year they are willing to do a little more weed control than in the summer when they have good grass to enjoy. Today I had turned Ande and Stowaway out in the area outside their pen and just looped a piece of electric rope (not hot) around some posts to hold them in. They had done a really good cleanup job by the time I went out after lunch. I took their halters to get them but they both had come right to the fence when they saw me filling the water tub and putting out hay. It was only 15 feet to the opening of the pen, with a deep mud puddle on one side which would funnel them into the area that led to the gate. I got lazy, didn't put halters on, and just let them out. Stowaway immediately took one step and in the "grass is always greener" philosophy, dropped his head to eat the short muddy grass and weeds on this side of the line. Ande cooperatively headed for the gate. Unfortunately he went past the gate which leads immediately to a dead end at the feed room door. Unless you forgot to shut the door. Which I had. So he went in.

Now the feed room, as you can see, is not very big. It also functions as the tack room for the lesson ponies and so the left hand side has the saddle racks, some shelving, etc. The right hand side is where the hay is stacked. Ande walked all the way in and stopped, just as if he had loaded himself into the trailer. And there he was. Thank goodness he didn't panic. Thank goodness the trailer work seemed to make him comfortable being squashed in there. Thank goodness he had a full tummy from grazing and wasn't the least bit interested in the pile of hay which he could have pulled down and gotten tangled up in . Instead he looked out the window as if to say, "hm, never saw the view from here before". He was so content, I actually took a picture of him but my cell phone camera decided not to keep that picture.

There really was not room for me to squeeze around his large bottom to get to the front of him to ask him to back out. While I was wondering what to do, he slowly and carefully began to back out, just as methodically as we had practiced with the trailer. When only his front feet remained inside, he discovered the little white bucket I keep hay stretcher pellets in (you can see it there on the left). "I knew there was a reason I came in here", he said, and helped himself to a large mouthful, very Pooh-like. By this time, I was able to get past his shoulders, get a large handful of hay stretcher pellets myself, and ask him to back the rest of the way out, for which he got the my large handful.

Don't forget to shut the feedroom door...and don't forget to use a halter.

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