Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rainy Day Horse Play

In February of 2010, I posted pics of a couple of our horses playing in a winter storm, you can see that post and those photos HERE.

Yesterday morning, I was lucky and caught these two playing during the rain (enough with the rain already!)...so of course they are both very muddy from rolling around in all the lovely mud we have here at the farm.

The palomino is our 3-year old, Cooper (not his registered name), he still has most of his winter hair, and will be much darker when he shed off. His daddy is absolutely GORGE-OUS as a "chocolate palomino", I don't think Cooper will get that dark, but he'll still be beautiful when he sheds off.

If you want to see his daddy, here is the link... Fire on Bug pics

Cooper is always the play-instigator as you'll see him in both "play pics" postings...in this posting, he has bugged Dooger (pronounced Dew-jur) into messing around.

Dooger is our daughter's barrel horse, he is 16, she's been riding him since we purchased him as an 8 year old. As our daughter is pregnant this year, Dooger gets the year off to just be a horse, which I think he really needed.

Here's a little background info on Dooger:

Dooger was literally raised in a barn, meaning he was always kept in a stall except for training, excersizing and showing...he never had the opportunity to be in a field by himself or learned how to socialize with other horses. This created some challenges for us when we first brought him home, as our horses are turned out in the pastures every evening at dark in the summer, and they are turned out all winter, they only come into the barn to eat their grain rations, then back out they go. Although we will bring them in if sub-zero temps are predicted, which luckily we don't get a lot of in Ohio.

We've had several different veterinarians tell us that horses are much, much healthier if they can live outside as opposed to living in a barn. I personally think it's just downright cruel and inhumane to keep a horse locked in a stall 23 hours every-single-day!!! I've seen horses living in stalls in severe emotional distress, chewing their stalls down from boredom, not to mention the health issues that arise from it. Just think about them having to inhale all that stale dust all the time...and what problems that causes.

The first time we turned Dooger out into our small paddock, he had no idea what to do, he didn't explore, he couldn't find the creek...we had to lead him around and show him everything, it was really sad. But this guy has really opened up and relaxed in the past 8 years

And Dooger is a horse that truly LOVES his job, racing around the barrels...we've often joked that he would load himself in the trailer on show days....and guess what, HE DID! When loading up to head to a show, we always load Dooger last as he takes his own sweet time backing out of the trailer, so if he's the last one on the trailer, then he gets to be the first one off, lots quicker than if he was at the front of the trailer.

A couple of years ago, hubby went out to load everyone while I was packing up to go, he loaded Finnegan first, then went to get Red who is always second, but when he went in Red's stall with the halter, he realized he was in Dooger's so he backed out and forgot to latch the stall door, so he went to put the halter on Red, led him to the trailer, and lo and behold, there was Dooger! Already loaded in Red's spot, without a halter on!!!

Dooger had pushed the stall door open with his nose, walked out of the barn, turned right and walked down the driveway 20 feet to the back of the horse trailer, then had to make a left U-turn to hop in the back. When my hubby got to the back of the trailer and looked inside, Dooger just looked at him as if to say, "Tie me up, I'm ready". Sooooo, hubby tied Red to the side of the trailer, went back to the barn for Dooger's halter and just left Doog in Red's spot for that trip. So, YES, this horse actually loaded himself for that day's competition. Totally true story, no exaggeration!!!!

Here is another Doog (we tend to shorten his name most of the time) story...

You'll notice a lot of horses that you see standing in a field look like they are asleep on their feet, but they are actually just dozing....to really go to sleep they have to lay down, and a horse won't lay down to go to sleep unless he feels safe. Horses in the wild will lay down to sleep as long as there is another one standing guard, so if you see a field of horses, you'll never see all of them laying down at the same time...(just a little fact I thought you might find interesting)...but I needed to include it so you'll understand the rest of this story.

Dooger never, ever layed down to sleep, so what started happening was that he would doze off standing up then fall completely asleep, and if a horse falls completely asleep on his feet, his knees give out, so Dooger would then fall down nose first into the dirt. Yep, we watched it happen a few times before calling the vet and having him explain that this was exactly what was happening. So over the years we've watched it happen over, and over, and over again...and as soon as he falls, he either jumps right back up and proceeds to do it again, or he rolls over and acts like he's scratching his back before jumping back up.

I know, strange...but Doog is the absolutely best horse to have around, he has the best ground manners...stands for grooming and saddling, he stands without complaint all day at a competition, he's a dream to doctor (when he gets a cut), doesn't even flinch when receiving his vaccinations. The only thing he really hates is getting his teeth cleaned, narcotics are definitely called for to get that job done.

This past winter we pastured him with Cooper for the first time and Dooger LOVES Cooper....for the first time in 8 years, Dooger is finally laying down to sleep. I guess he just never felt safe enough with the other horses to let his guard down to lay down. But for some reason with Cooper, he does. It might sound silly but I was so very happy the first time I looked out and saw Dooger asleep, laying flat out in the sun. He's much more relaxed this year, his eyes just have a more joyful look to them (he always had a serious look in them before).

Cooper has even helped Dooger learn to play, have fun and act young again.

I hope you'll enjoy these stories and pics as much as I've enjoyed sharing them. In the following pic...Dooger is telling Cooper, "Enough, I'm done playing..."

I'd love to hear your pet stories, please feel to share them in the comments section...

Can you feel the love in this pic???


AC Quigley said...

It's wonderful that you managed to capture the horses so naturally. The're lovely photos, especially the last one!

Anonymous said...

Aw, those photos and stories are so sweet! And your horses are beautiful. Even with the mud. ;) Pet stories, though... eek! Don't ask me that unless you want a novel instead of a comment! LOL. We have so many pets - goats, chickens, bunnies, cats, hermit crabs, hamsters, a dog... and that means even more stories than pets! ;)

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