Sunday, April 3, 2011

Disappearing Horses

Sunday April 3rd We spend most of the day mending fences and cleaning up the "storage" stalls in the barn. By 4pm, we're finished most of our work and we decide to duck out to the corner store (on the corner 11kms way).

Before we leave, I toss the bored-looking horses a couple of flakes of hay. They're barred off from the large pastures to give the ground time to firm-up and the grass time to take root. They'll thank me for this when they're munching on an abundance of lush green grass in July; but right now, they're annoyed at being cooped up in the mud-hole which is currently their paddock.

A half hour later, we're on our way back from the store. Usually, as we crest the hill, I can see the horses meandering in their paddock. Not today. I press my nose to the window to catch a glimpse of the run-in shed. Murray spends many-a-day there, with just his head sticking out, his velvety muzzle breathing in the fresh spring air. He's usually easy to see since his red coat stands out against the painted-black shed, but today I don't see him.

The paddock disappears from view for a moment as we pull into the driveway. I wonder if maybe the three of them are hiding out behind the shed, perhaps gulping down some water from the large blue bucket in the corner. But no, they're not there either. This is odd. It is possible that they're in the shed, and I simply haven't seen them, but since we got Jaava, I've never seen all three of them in the shed. If she tries to enter, Murray usually chases her out, and leaves her to stand by whichever outer wall best blocks the wind. I mean really, the shed is only 10' x 20'. It's a bit cramped for three horses-- even if one of those horses is a pony.

Dave puts the car in park and I jump out, heading toward the paddock. Still no sign of the horses-- and Jaava always whinnies in greeting when we get home. The gate's closed, so it's unlikely that they're loose. Maybe someone stole them? But we've only been gone for half an hour-- and lets be honest, as much as I love my horses, they certainly aren't the sort horse-thieves would be after....if there even are horse-thieves anymore.

I walk toward the paddock. There are no heads peering out at gluttonous mares running to the fence in search of food. Finally, my boots squelching in the half-frozen grass, I reach the side of the fence and lean around so I can see inside the shed. I'm only about 10 feet away. "Hey guys", I yell, even though I still can't see any of them. Suddenly, there's the sound of a startled horse jumping in fright, and three fuzzy equines pop their heads out of the shed simultaneously. I can't believe it. All three of them have been standing there inside-- completely inside, without so much as a tail hair or a whisker poking out through the openings.

Now that they know I'm here, Murray and Maggie wade through the mud and jockey for position at the fence line, hoping that I might be there to dole out some kind of treat. Jaava hangs back warily. She knows by now that the other two will gang up on her and viciously chase her off if she tries to snatch her rightful share of anything I might have to offer. On the bright-side, it seems that as of today, even if "the big guys" aren't willing to share their food with her, they are willing to at least share their shelter. Score one for the pony.

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