Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Monday, September 30, 2013

Circus Pony?

This evening, I'm in the middle of a major clean on the house (you know, the moving-of-furniture kind) and there is a knock on the door.  The lady from across the street, E, who owns the property Rhio is living on (until tomorrow - when he moves to his new boarding place), is standing there and tells me Rhio has crossed the footbridge and won't go back.

There is an irrigation ditch running between the house/garage/driveway area of the property and the pasture.  The pasture fence runs along the near side of it and there is a lovely stout and generously wide bridge with big gates for access to the pasture.  There is also a small footbridge, about three feet wide and without any sides or railing, which extends from the backyard to the horse side, for access to the water tank.  The hose from the house can be easily taken across the bridge to fill the tank.  There is a cute wooden gate on the backyard side of the footbridge, but the horse side has no gate or rail or anything.  It is just a three foot opening in the fence.  The water tank is there, but about four or five feet away from the opening.

Can you guess what happened?  Rhio followed E right across the bridge when she took the hose back to the house.  E didn't know what to do, after she called him and he didn't come back to her and go back across the bridge.  Of course, he was happily munching the lawn grass in the backyard.  I'm not quite sure why it didn't occur to her to halter him, or throw a lead rope around his neck, and simply lead him back into the pasture through the normal horse gate.  But, it didn't.  So I went over with his nightly beet pulp mash (it was feeding time anyway - probably why he was hanging around the gate area in the first place) and he came right out of the backyard, via a small sidewalk between two stone pillars, to have his dinner. 

I wish I had pictures to illustrate this story, and while it is kind of cute and funny, I actually think the flip side is that Rhio is hungry.  Even with the recent rain, and therefore new flush of green grass, it is getting chilly at night  (requiring more calories to stay warm) and the pasture has been pretty sparse for a bit anyway.  He gets fed every evening, and I hand graze him in the front yard and along the driveway, but really he needs hay.  I have no interest in feeding the other 5 horses in the pasture my hay, and so without any way to augment his diet besides his beet pulp mashes, I have been  watching him like a hawk for adequate roundness of his belly (indicating that there is grass in there being digested and fermented as it should be) and using my weight tape to estimate his weight and watch for changes (none yet, he weight tapes at 916 pounds every week). Tonight is his last night there; tomorrow he will be tucked in with plenty of good hay (although minimal pasture turn out, unfortunately) and I will have something else to worry about (because of course I can't not worry about him!). 

E was amazed that a horse would cross that bridge.  I am not amazed that Rhio crossed that bridge. I am very glad the bridge was strong enough to support him, however!  He is a smart and brave horse, and a good bridge crosser.  I'm sure it seemed completely normal to him, given the green lawn grass enticing him on the other side.  We also practiced crossing flat bridges with no sides or railings yesterday on our ride (story to come!).  So perhaps circus pony or trick pony is his next career?

Gratuitous Rhio pic - looking a bit dramatic during yesterday's ride. Can you see this boy deciding to take it upon himself to cross a human-sized footbridge?  Yup.

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's All Thanks to the Donkey!

Both before and since Rhio's very short-lived (thankfully!) bout with conjunctivitis, he's been spending his days outfitted with a fly mask.  A week ago I bought him a brand-spanking new fly mask, because I couldn't find his older-than-the-hills-but-still-completely-functional one, which was lost somewhere in the 16 acres he shares with 6 other horses.  He's been losing the new one regularly (almost every day), but so far I've been able to find it. 

Sporting the new fly mask.

Not so a day ago - despite my best efforts, I couldn't locate either fly mask.  Argh.  And thus, I embarked on the great fly mask hunt.  Fellow horse owners will know what this means: a systematic search throughout the entire field for a dirt-color piece of screen hidden away in an inconspicuous place.  I count myself lucky that Rhio, as a rule, doesn't rip, tear, explode, or otherwise destroy his fly masks.  He just loses them in inconvenient places.  This usually happens when he rolls.  He considers his head to be the ultimate in itchy body parts, and thus enthusiastically rubs it along the ground when he rolls.  If the mask doesn't just slide off in the midst of this maneuver, it plops to the ground as soon as he stands and gives his whole body shake-off.  He then wanders nonchalantly away, without a backward glance at his now-abandoned fly mask.  You scoff, but I've watched him do it!

I did find his new fly mask last night, brought it home to wash, and outfitted him in it again this morning.  In my extensive search, there was still no sign of the old fly mask.  I knew that there was one major area of the field I hadn't covered yet, but as he can only wear one mask at a time, I called off the search for the other upon locating the new one. 

Tonight, as I went over with his nightly chow, all the horses were standing pressed up against the eastern fenceline staring into the neighboring pasture.  There are two horses that live there, and as far as I can tell, they are amiable cross-fence buddies.  Rhio turned to look when I called, but his attention was held fast by something, and he did not turn to walk up for his food as he usually does.  I tramped my way out to them to see what was up - and discovered a small black donkey in the adjoining field.  Ah!  Hence our herd's fascination.  I do not know why horses are so fascinated by donkeys, but unless the horses live with donkeys, they are either too scary to contemplate or utterly absorbing.  This little guy was clearly of the utterly absorbing persuasion.  Rhio has actually lived with a mini donkey in the past (albeit a white-and-brown spotted one, entirely different from a black one, clearly), but he was still crowded along the fenceline with his herdmates.  I do wonder how long they've been standing there staring at the little guy - who is, of course, completely oblivious to their presence. 
The adorable donkey ignores me and the horses.

Rhio decides the prospect of dinner is, in fact, more interesting than the donkey.

Rhio turned to follow me back to eat as soon as I was within about 20 feet of him, and what do I spy on the return journey?  YES!!!!  The old fly mask!  Intact and unharmed. 
It lies there so innocently, just waiting to be found.

So, temporarily at least, I now have both fly masks and am armed and ready for the continued onslaught of face flies and hot sunny weather (has anyone mentioned to Colorado that September usually means fall??). 
A happy sight.