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.|