Well, summer has finally hit–along with the mosquitoes. And worrying about founder. Dove has seemed off the past couple of days, so I’ve been putting them “in” at night (although there are still lots of edibles around the arena fence they can get to). The bugs have been so bad, though, that I think it’s nearly impossible for them to relax. They all get stressed during our first bad “bloom” of bugs. Dicey is so sensitive she’ll actually break off the end of her tail from swatting it all day. Poor mares.
I will do things like glop Bag Balm on their udders and ignore the directions on the flyspray (every 14 days, my ass), but until we get some real heat up here they will have to suffer through. I even put more Bt out in the ditch this year, but what we really need is some good hot weather and a couple of really windy days.
Dove’s feet are cool, and we went for a lead on the gravel road and she moved out fine. I’ll check her again this afternoon when I go out to put them in. Let’s hope it’s the bugs and not something worse.
And speaking of my big Walker galoot, I’ve started getting on her back more often this summer. I had a typical horse-owner-raised-this-horse-from-birth fantasy that I would be the first one to get on Friday…(see below), but I also knew I didn’t have the kind of relationship with her that I needed to have. I have been on her back since she went to be ridden for a couple of months by a trainer–once she sort of tolerated, and once where she seemed a lot more “okay” with it. The more I learn about horses, the more my relationship with this complicated little mare improves.
Lately, I’ve just been looping the lead line through Dove’s halter and sitting up there. She backs on command and yields her head, but moving forward has proved interesting (how do people teach their horses to move forward with heel bumps, anyway? Can’t exactly duplicate that while driving). Guess I need to teach her a voice command for forward.
One of the first times I got on Dove this spring, my husband had the lead line and we walked around the arena. When I said something to Phil, I could see her head jerk a little to the side, and I knew she was surprised. I had to laugh, but I thought, OK, you big galoot, do you not remember I’m up on your back? Now that is a green, greeeeeeen horse. And a horse that has difficulty paying attention to several different things at once...(Okay, husband-man is leading me across the arena! He never does this! What is that funny weight on my back, anyway? Why is it moving around? Now I hear HER voice, but it’s above me, and she’s not standing by my head! What the hell is going on…? I have a fly on my udder! It itches! And why is the old mare nickering to me and following us around like this is some kind of parade?)
Watching Dicey has been an education in itself. Sometimes I feel a deep sense of shame when I realize how little I used to “see” what horses are capable of understanding. I swear this mare even will help position Dove along the fence when she sees I’m trying to climb on. Any time one of the younger horses is upset or afraid, she materializes and stands with them. Every time when I’ve been on one of the fillies, she will quietly follow us around. Sometimes I have to wonder who really needs the moral support–me or the fillies.
It makes me want to cry sometimes when I am reminded about how dedicated and helpful Dicey really is. It is so incredibly easy for humans to forget what kind of awareness horses have of their surroundings.
One of my favorite lines from Sense and Senseability is Colonel Brandon’s line regarding Willoughby and Marianne. “May he endeavor to deserve her,” he says.
That is my prayer, every day. May I endeavor to deserve my horses.