Saturday, November 27, 2010

Having Horses - It's a Love/Hate Thing

For as long as I can remember, I have loved horses. In the years before I turned 9, we lived in the middle of a HUGE Quarter Horse Ranch outside of Salem, Oregon. The Gath Brothers has 100 broodmares, several stallions, a couple hundred head of Hereford cattle, turkeys, and pigs on a over 500 acres. We lived just off Gath Road, which was named for the family.

We lived on the corner of Witzel and Gath Roads. My grandparents lived up the hill, at the other end of the 15 acres that my grand-parents owned. There were broodmares in a huge pasture next to them. There were broodmare across the road from our house. On the north side of the property, there were broodmares. The stallion barn was across from my grand-parents house. They were all around me! And I loved them all!!

I was a wild child and was always disappearing over the fence made of no-climb with two strands of barbed wire on the top. It didn't even slow me down. I was small enough to climb the fences, squeeze through gates, or climb trees to get to the horses. More than once, one of the Gath Brothers arrived to check on the water and found me sound asleep, flat on my back, surrounded by sweet old broodies. I'm sure the first time he saw me laying there he about had a heart-attack. He would admonish me that the horses could hurt me, but none ever did and I wasn't afraid. More than once he dropped me off at home, late for dinner, in trouble, and then would call my folks to tell them where he'd found me.

I say "he" because they were both ancient (to my young eyes) and I could never tell them apart.

So here I am, some 40 years later, and I have horses of my own. I love every single one of them! I even have other peoples' horses here, and I love them too.

The hate part comes with some of the extras! I hate it when they come up to the barn with a new nick or cut that I have to doctor. Can't they just get along? Angel has a swollen back leg - from the hock to the pastern. I don't know why. No new mark. Hasn't done anything strenuous. No heat. Not lame. Just swollen. And I don't know what to do.

I hate that I provide NICE corner feeder for grain and one cribber decided to remove it from where lag bolts mounted it to the wall

I hate having skinny horses that I have to put blankets on. But the weather was so brutally cold, I had to. Perhaps tomorrow it'll warm up enough for me to pull them off, if not permanently, at least for most of the day.

I hate having a gorgeous, true-black mare with a darling blaze and 4 white socks I can't touch unless she's cornered in a stall. I would love to cuddle with her, or just brush her while she eats, but she will have no part of me. I can't even give her a parting pat and I drop her feed and head back to the barn. It hurts my feelings.

And I hate having a new 100 gallon water tank with a sinking heater that attracts a horse's butt.... to the point where she poops in it. I'm not sure if it's the water level, the water temperature, or the concentration of slobber that is the trigger, but roughly once a week, Foxy backs up to the tank and dumps the whole load in it.

This time, I found it after dark, with a dead battery in the flashlight. I got lucky... I had left the heater unplugged and I used the little fishnet to skim the top of the tank to see if there was any ice. Nope...just poop! So I had to drain it and refill. Again.

This love/hate thing is definitely more love, than hate.I wouldn't change a thing! (Except maybe the poop part!)

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