Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Phase Three: They're Here!!! (The First 24 Hours)

Third conditioning ride of 2017, bringing us up to about 20 miles so far!
Almost home: Rhio's shadow and Pete's tracks in front of us.
After a wonderful 9.5 mile conditioning ride around the local gravel roads at my friend J's house, where the horses have been living since November 2015, I loaded up the boys for the two hour trek north.  With the incredibly warm weather, it was a breeze to get the trailer out of its winter spot (thanks, J! I drove into the driveway and my trailer was already sitting in the middle of it, ready to hook up!).  The boys hopped right in, as they do - I love that trailering is just not an issue for them.  It *has* been an issue in the past, when they were younger.  But, since they both had to ride in many different trailers, with many different horses, over the years (I've only had my own trailer for 10 months), they've become pretty consistent loaders/haulers.  Except that Rhio never eats hay on the trailer, ever.  This is a big bummer, but I work around it.  Luckily, most of my hauling is relatively short trips, and he does great as long as he has a tummy full of hay, grass, or beet pulp before we leave.  I'm digressing...
Munching on their first meal at home.
We arrived home about an hour before full dark, and I let the dogs out before I unloaded the horses.  The dogs had been inside since lunchtime, when hubby came home from work to let them out.  Our four canines are not in the slightest habituated to horses.  So, this made for an "interesting" exercise in dual dog-and-horse management.  Red and Rhio are completely unfazed by dogs, luckily.  Birch, our 7 month old Golden Retriever puppy, was ... overwhelmed? overexcited? taken aback? half scared to death? immediately drawn to gulping down massive quantities of horse manure as fast as possible? I'm not sure quite what the right word or phrase is here, but he proved quite the challenge. 

While trying to lead both horses, Birch was underfoot, and/or jumping up on me in his "I'm scared to death, you must save me!" mode.  Somehow we managed to get all of us into the pasture successfully, though I was trying to get Birch *out* of the pasture the whole time! As soon as I'd released the horses, and they moved off in curiosity within their new space, Birch discovered that barking and bouncing seemed to make the big, scary mystery creatures run away!  Wow, this is fun! Ummm, no, Birch, this is NOT how we do things!  I resorted to putting Red's rope halter around his torso like a harness and using the lead rope as a leash.  It actually worked great! I kept puppy in tow while I got a few flakes of hay for the boys, then took the dogs inside and fed them.
Filling buckets by headlamp, at the back corner of the house.
After all the critters were fed, it was time to haul water for the horses.  For now, I have a 20-ish gallon small rubber tank that was in the barn.  The water source is on the far back corner of the house away from the barn.  Which is entirely inconvenient, and I have already vowed, after a single evening of hauling water, that my next barn will have a water source.  With a hose, and buckets hefted into the back of the truck, I successfully filled the tank.  Whew.  Guess I won't be needing the gym for my strength workouts!

While I was settling the horses, hubby made dinner, and so I came inside to a hot meal, then before bed, we went out together to do a bedtime check and give the boys a little more hay.  Oh, I am in love with this!

First morning at home!

Rhio doing 'crazy lips' for hay.
This morning, I put my insulated Carhartt overalls on over my pjs, and went out to give hay before the sun was even over our forested eastern hill.  I was greeted with nickers, and Rhio's 'crazy lips' - a gesture meaning that he's anticipating something he likes.  There was light ice on the water, and the heavy, wet, squishy snow of the night before had hardened into a very hard and crusty layer, which made it very difficult for the horses to move around.  Luckily, I knew it would be near or above 50 again today, and soon the frozen snow would soften once again.

I went back inside, content that they were doing well, and had my tea while their beet pulp was soaking.  I finished making their meals, and went back out to feed.  I'd accidentally make their mashes a bit too sloppy for Rhio's liking, and he's a slow eater, but I used the quiet time while they were eating to clean the barn.  There was one pile of manure in the center of each stall, and a few in the doorway to outside.  It looked like one of them had laid down in the west stall, and sure enough I found some shavings stuck to Rhio.  He does love to lay down and rest, so that was a sure sign that he was already comfortable in the new digs.  Also, I've been thinking of the west stall as Rhio's and the east stall as Red's, for some reason.  I guess he concurred!

I finished up my morning with the horses just as our little "valley" was finally lit up with full sunlight.  Or was that the sunlight shining out of me?

Doggies "helping" with chores: Smokey tests the water.

And Birch cleans out the feed buckets!

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