The winter of 2010-11 is passing more swiftly than I would have believed possible, and, far from being ‘the winter of our discontent’, it is turning out to be pretty nice. The temperatures have hardly fallen below the freezing mark in the early morning hours, and the days have been pleasantly warm – though I guess that the proponents of the global warming theories would not like to hear this!
I am glad it’s not too cold, for more reasons than one. My own comfort is, of course, close to my heart, but there is also the comfort of that little bit of equine fluff that now resides in the horse corral, Princess Ayita. I say “princess” because in her own mind, at least, she is quite that. In the mind of her human handlers, that is Danny and me, there are several other names we could at times ascribe to her, the most charitable opinion being that we are happy we have begun halter breaking her on the day she was born.We often pause in this endeavor and congratulate ourselves that we didn’t leave it, as we had with some past babies, until she was several weeks, if not months, old. Ayita promises to be a good, strong horse, with a good, strong mind full of superior opinions about herself, and we know that had we waited, the rodeo would have been worse. As it is, we go out there twice daily, and each time, while the struggle is less, and the performance is improving, it is also evident that there is an intelligent mind in that little knobby head, coupled with a pretty strong will. We keep wistfully reminding ourselves of the fact that the stud is famously even tempered, and comfort ourselves with the fact that the mare, Isha, has turned out to be pretty amiable also, something which had not been evident in her prior life in the herd. Still, I have already made a note to self – this is not a horse that I will be itching to climb onto when she is 3 years old! She has at least doubled in weight since her birth, exactly a month ago today, and we can hardly believe that Danny carried her to the corral from the pasture where she was born. As most horses – and indeed, people – she is very amiable when she is not being asked to do something against her inclination (such as being led around in the hateful halter) and her favorite pastime is sucking on the end of my nose, in the vain hope that milk might come out of it. During the halter breaking I once scratched her back, and she found that very pleasing. It wasn’t long before she would back up, asking for a scratch, and I always obliged. However, it’s a pastime that can pall on one, so, one day, after a couple of good scratches, I quit. The little snippet looked around, backed up some more, didn’t get her scratch, so backed up again, pinned her ears and let fly with a good kick – take that, human, as punishment for not obeying!! It’s a lucky thing that I know horses and was able to get out of the way quick – and then administered a good whack on the royal bum! No more of that!! And there hasn’t been, but it has made Danny and me mindful of that little rump and its pointy hooves.
Talking of horses, I don’t think I shared this story with you before – I may have, but it’s worth telling twice, even if I did. Some time back Jimmy, whose house is close to the corrals, heard a noise in the middle of the night, some sort of banging. He got out of bed and opened his door – and the banging stopped. So he went back to bed … and the banging began again. It was coming from the corral which houses my special friend, Comanche and his buddy, Tequila, and which is adjacent to the goat pen. When the banging continued, Jimmy put on a jacket and went out. He came to the alleyway which leads through the building to the corral, and saw Comanche standing at the metal gate, rhythmically banging it with his foot. When he saw Jimmy, he stopped banging and walked off towards the back gate. Jimmy followed – and to his amazement, saw one of the goats caught, by his horns, in the gate! Who says horses don’t reason and don’t communicate!So recently I came home from somewhere, and, looking out my window, saw that the hanging bird feeder was on the ground, empty, and the open-bowl feeder, which in its heyday was a fountain, was not only empty, but licked clean. How odd, I thought – darn squirrels – and how did a squirrel get at the feeder hanging 4 ft. off the ground and knock it down, anyway?? And would a squirrel lick the bowl clean like that? I went to investigate and found tell tale hoof prints all around the house, where some equine presence had been very busy. It dawned on me that this was another proof of deductive reasoning on the part of Comanche. For some time he has been eyeing, across the yard wall, the bird seed put out in front of my window for the benefit of various winged friends, and he has come to the correct conclusion that it consists of stuff very tasty to a horse. The problem was that it is behind two gates, the first one leading to the tiled patio, and the other one out of it to the patch I fancifully call a lawn (when it rains), where the bird seed feeders are installed. Normally the front gate is closed – but on this day, lo and behold, not only the first, but the second gate was open! I could well visualize the scene – the work of a nano-second for a nifty horse to step through both and woof down the bird seed. At the price it is, that was a right royal repast!! By the time I came home, he was, of course, safely out of there and looking angelic someplace down the drive, eating grass. (Me?? What a thought!!) There never is a place that that horse can’t go once he takes a mind to go there. I remember one time when he jumped a 3 ft. stone wall in order to follow me into the bedroom – I recall he was rather frosted that he wasn’t allowed in, after all that effort! Another time, years ago, after I had left him wandering free around the yard, and he was nowhere to be seen when I came home about two hours later, I found him in the feed shed, dining royally on some 300 lbs of oats. To get in there, mind you, he had to open the latch on the door, swing it open, climb up three steps and get inside, turn around in a smallish space and then get to work at getting the feeder lid open. The feeder was an old freezer, so the lid was heavy, but hey, he is a stout horse, and he is no quitter. He kept at it until he got it high enough so that the spring for holding it open took over, and obligingly held the lid up while he dined.
That was an expensive Sunday, what with the veterinarian coming to administer a stomach oil drench, plus all the sedatives I had to take for the next two days watching for signs of founder and God knows what else! Not only that – while all this drama was going on, I had forgotten that I had let the goats out as well, and they had got into the backyard. So, after the vet left, I came home and collapsed on the sofa, just in time to see my little Saanen goat, Tinkerbelle, square up to the sliding glass door in order to kill the goat reflected in it. I leaped up and ran towards it….. too late! Crash – and another few hundred bucks hit the floor. An expensive Sunday, that one. So I guess I was lucky this time to get by with a few dollars’ worth of bird seed!
So I imagine that all the above allays your fears that I would be bored after Grapevine closed. Not so! In fact, I am so busy I can’t for the life of me see how I had the time to spend 14 hours a day at Grapevine …
So now I wish you all a happy 2012, lots of your wishes coming true, and do keep in touch! I read all your comments and enjoy hearing from you.