Sunday, December 2, 2012

I'm only happy when it raaaaaaains

Okay, maybe not, but I do like the rain, and I do like that Garbage song.

When it rains, I become an official nutty horseowner.  Even though I know these are animals made to live outside--they grow their OWN winter blanket fercryinoutloud!--I still worry about my poor big little pooping Poopsies being outside in the harsh, cruel, mild Southern California elements.

Of course, in the wild, horses aren't limited to 576 square feet of walking space.  Limiting that means the ground gets chewed up and regularly befouled, despite twice daily regular de-befouling.  Add a decent rainstorm, and you have a cesspool.

As we couldn't get the truckload of decomposed granite in before this serious of mild (but wet) storms, I worried about Tril being in that flooded muck, so I thought...hey!  the smaller stall was recently vacated, and it has an attached box stall.  Tril could have a nice cozy three-walled shelter from this horrible wet stuff falling from the sky, and the ground had not been churned up by horse feet in a while, so it'd be a better place for him to sit out the storm.  Anxiously I texted the guy who feeds in the morning, requesting he shift Tril over if his stall looks bad.  I was a worried mother hen most of the morning, distracted by my concern over Tril's living conditions while powering through my lesson on percentages.

I was relieved when I heard from him at break that he had, in fact, moved Tril.  Phew.  Okay, I determined--I'll swing by the feed store after work and get some shavings for his box stall, and he'll have a lovely, warm, comfy place to rest through this storm.  While I'm at it, I'll get him a rain sheet.  Though the horses don't necessarily mind, I  mind seeing my horse wet and muddy.  Worried mother hen feels better planning the nest, nonetheless making it.

Then I get to the barn, and Tril's borrowed stall looks like this:

Aw, crap.
That is a veritable lake by the gate, a good 6" deep--and there's another lake of equal depth over by the water bucket.  I'd forgotten--the filly who'd been in this stall before liked to splash and dig in puddles (intentionally turning her water bucket over for just that purpose).  This made the ground far from level.  In fact, there was a freakin' hole off screen to the right.  And, Tril was a little weirded out by the small box stall, so instead--as you see him doing here--he was pacing in the small area he could reach.  Aw, crap.  Forget this.

I haltered him and led him out of the stall--tricky, as he, like Ana, seems to have inherited the Arab "OMG WATER!  SHARKS LIVE IN WATER!" fear.
It all makes sense now.  Photo credit
Once out, I took Snorty McTwitchalot ("It's cold! It's wet! Nooooo!") to the hitching post so I could clean the layers of ICK off of him.  He settled as I groomed, and I was as thorough as I could be--as many of you know, a new sheet or blanket can't be returned once it's sullied and I needed to try on a sheet.  Like many in my family, he has a big chest, and that makes fitting a pain in the ass.

This is where I get all insecure newbie.  Years ago--perhaps within the first year of owning her--Ana got tangled up in an ill-fitting fly sheet.  I was such a noob I didn't realize how different sizing could be, or how a blanket should fit.  I put it on and figured, cool.  Next morning: not cool.  I got a call that she was tangled in it, panicking, and running into fences while kicking holes in the stall walls.  I was horrified.  Thankfully, saintly horse friends were able to get a hold of her and remove the sheet from her trembling body. Thankfully, she just had a big, red, ugly welt on a rear gaskin from where the blanket got entrapped and rubbed off a layer of skin.  Thankfully, medication and twice daily treatment--and time--did the trick.  However--my nerves took longer.  I was horrified my ignorance hurt her.

So, ever since then, blankets and sheets mean paranoia and asking knowledgeable, saintly horsey friends to help me check fit.  The fit doesn't have to be perfect, but I don't want my horse trying to run through pipe corral panels, either.
Mommmmmmm, this is embarrassing
So, here he is in his new pajamas (note tags still attached).  I enlisted those extra pair of knowledgeable eyes and loosened the top buckle one, and he's good.  Not perfect (fret fret fret), but good.

WTF is this crap?  I have mud to roll in.
So done with this.  I'm digging my escape route.
So, when uneasily comfortable he wasn't going to somehow kill himself due to my ignorance, I took the halter off and let him on the property to graze.  The wet, slippery property.

*sigh*  My thought was--he's wound up from being in that small stall all day and there's rain in the forecast for the next two days; I'd rather he get out and slip around a little then get nuts from being couped up.

Tril eats the green things just out of reach of his neighbor.  "HA ha!"
He was good, all things considered.  He trotted a bit, but most of the base of the property is arena sand (when they redid the rings, they brought a lot of the sand over to us for stalls; we also put it on the property so it wouldn't be a mudpit on rainy days) so it isn't as slippery as straight mud.  I felt good that he was moving around a bit and let Firefly--whose woolly mammoth winter coat means she has no need for any sort of sheet or blanket--join him. 

Frickin' fly has learned the older OTTB on the property likes her--which means she can reach her head right in and snack on his spilled alfalfa pellets.  She has no business eating such a thing, but thankfully, the pellets were mostly washed away so she grew bored trying to steal them and moved  on to the grass starting to sprout on the property.

"I'm still going to try, dammit.  Maybe I can lick the stall mat."
Tril did some trotting about, but it was all good.  It showed me he could move in his sheet comfortably.

Meanwhile, I opted to put shavings in the covered portion of his stall.  I know I was basically throwing money away putting the shavings there without resecuring the railroad ties and putting a tarp up --they'll get kicked about, soaked, and removed--but at least for a few days, he'll have something dry to stand on.

To think ,when I first got horses, I thought paying $40 a month for shavings was a ridiculous expense.  I just spent $20 on ones that likely won't last a week, and I'm okay with it.
The horses continued enjoying their mini-turnout, and the two of them trotted about happily.

Then, something got up Tril's ass and he bolted like leaving the starting gate at Churchill Downs.  I happened to take a picture of his liftoff--blurry as it may be due to the diminishing light:

I think it's a horse.  Or two.
Tril made it to near the front gate before his hind end slipped and he skidded to a stop, haunches down (roll eyes--the chiro will love me for that).  He got up and trotted away, snorting and blowing.  ("No one saw me do that.  And if you did, I meant to do that.  I'm AWESOME.")  I felt a bit like a fool, but also thought--you know, Tril is a smart boy, if all boy.  Learn your limitations from this, meathead.

Ooh, dry stuff!  And green stuff!  Sweet.
So, back in the stall he went, and I shook my head at his antics and questioned my wisdom at letting him out.

Marks left from Tril's skiing practice

But, when I let him out yesterday (when much had dried out--we're between storms; round 3 is coming this afternoon), he was much more sane--trotting and moving about, but not an idiot.  Perhaps he learned, perhaps he worked off some of the stupids yesterday; I'm not sure.   Regardless, all was good in our horsey-universe.

I enjoy the rainy weather and weirdly like being out in the elements, cleaning stalls and prepping the horses so they're taken care of.  It's almost a welcome break from the patterns of riding and turning out--I get to take care of my horses, but in a different way.  This is so cliche to say, but there is truth to it--I feel so alive being out in the weather and putting down shavings and fitting sheets and brushing coats.  I can hear the rhythmic rain just thinking about this; feel it; smell it; find comfort and tranquility in it.

Tril was happy, Firefly was happy, and I was happy.

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