Monday, March 22, 2010

Handing over the Reins

Monday March 22, 2010
Over the past three weeks, it's been difficult to coax myself away from the horses and our idyllic setting long enough to get groceries, much less anything else.
But now, I've been forced out of my dream-state and back to the real world, at least temporarily. I have to be in Moncton for the week, and that means this is Dave's first real test as "stable manager".

Dave is great with the horses. Even before we bought this place, he would come out to the barn with me to help with Murray. Over the years, he learned how to brush him and tack him up. He even figured out how to put Murray's bridle on, despite Murray's best lock-jawed giraffe imitation.

Now, with the horses at home, Dave is in the barn more than I expected. If he's back from work in time, he throws on his barn jacket and lends a hand in the supper-time routine. While I handle Murray, Dave leads a ravenous Maggie from the pasture to her stall. He's quite comfortable with her, and even insists with frequent "whoa's" that she maintain her ladylike manners. Inside, he prepares, and feeds her her infinitesimal amount of grain (often grumbling that she deserves more). As Maggie plunges her massive head cheek-deep into her feed tub, Dave deftly manoeuvres his feet out of the way of her plate-like hooves. He's just like an old pro. It's the same thing in the evening. He again traipses to the barn with me (voluntarily), he fills their water buckets, and throws them hay, while I quickly muck the stalls. He pretty much has the routine down pat.

That said, he's never really worked with the horses by himself. So, I'm a little apprehensive about leaving them completely in his care for a full five days. After all, there have been days when Dave's been home with the dog all day and "forgotten" to put her out to "do her business". Even Dave joked that he's just waiting for the morning when he's halfway to work only to realize that he forgot to feed the horses-- not funny Dave!

But don't get me wrong. I'm pretty sure Dave will feed, water, clean-up-after, and turn-out the horses. I mean, I have left him detailed notes, and I intend to call frequently. I'm not even that worried that he'll spoil Maggie with extra grain-- he's heard all my horror stories about colicky horses. No, my larger worry is that the horses will sense that the "boss" is gone, and will take advantage of him-- kind of like school kids let loose on a substitute teacher.

I have visions of Murray, ostensibly distracted by some invisible monster, spooking, leaping sideways, and "inadvertently" knocking an unsuspecting Dave to the muddy ground. A chase would ensue, and hours later the local volunteer fire department would be called-in to round up a loose, moose-like animal roaming the nearby farmer's fields.

Then there's Maggie. Emboldened by Murray's distraction, she would orchestrate a feed-room break-in, using her large, flapping lips to lift the latch on the feed room door (as it is, we've had to put an extra clip on her stall door because she has mystified us by twice succeeding in opening it on her own). I can already picture her in a Winnie-the-Pooh-like pose, with her ample behind protruding from the narrow feed-room alley, her neck stretched to its fullest extent as she savours the forbidden contents of the various feed tubs.

In an effort to stem any such revolt, the horses will be separated and confined to the smaller pastures for the week. Since each pasture opens directly into each stall, Dave shouldn't have to lead them anywhere, and so long as he remembers to keep the barn doors closed, there "shouldn't" be anyway for them to escape. Horse people know though, that where there's a will, there's a way. I'm just hoping the horses are so confounded by the change in routine that they won't have a chance to muster the will to seek out the way-- at least not until the "principal" is back to keep them in line.

Part of me realizes that if the horses do conjur some sort of plot against Dave, it will provide me with fodder for the blog. But I think I'd prefer blank pages to a damaged horse or husband.

1 comment:

  1. You can do it, Dave. I believe in you.
    - Rawlsy.