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Copyright 2009 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

Dog Hair & Mule Sweat

with Natalie Riehl

editor@rockymountainrider.com

 

May 2009 Issue

 

      We’re having a spring with seriously vacillating weather. A couple of days of snow flurries are followed by a couple of days of clear skies and warmth. Then it’s back to cold.

      Last week, on one such chilly day — wind from the north, then the south, it was having a heck of a time making up its mind — I noticed my two mares had their ears perked forward and their attention on an intruder in their pasture.

      It was a black plastic bag, inflated with the breeze, and was beginning a waltz-and-tumble across the short grass. It took it’s time. To the horses’ credit, they didn’t spook and tear up to the barn like the devil was on their tail.

      No, they carefully approached the floating-then-resting bag. It moved north fifty feet, then south fifty feet, six inches above the ground. The horses followed it and circled it until it finally drifted under the fence.

      I will credit the de-spooking tarps I hung over the corral fence. It’s a kind of auto-sack-out method. The horses must pull the tarps off the fence and play with them, shaking them all over, because they are often in a pile.

      On our way out the driveway that morning, my little dog started her low warning woof. Turns out the bag, still inflated, was caught on a weed in the neighbor’s yard, and my dog thought we were witnessing the “Return of Molly,” a black-and-tan Australian Shepherd that always chased our truck.

      A year ago, when we visited the Ninemile Ranger Station & Remount Center , I was impressed by the method they used to give their pack horses and mules a “spring trim.” The animals were worked through a chute, and it was easy for the guy with the clippers to stand on a rail and shave manes and bridle paths.

     Okay, now contrast this efficient method with my annual labors. First I had to disconnect the extension cord from the tank heater. (This means I had to pull it through the thirty feet of one-inch black plastic pipe and remember to pull some baling twine through, so I could hook it up easily next November when an icy storm is bearing down on me.)

     I attempted to place the bale of hay I stand on to reach the mules’ necks on the upwind side, but remember the variable wind? Of course! Whatever side I was clipping on, it blew those bits of hair right into my face. All over my shirt. Stuck to my bare arms on the first day of T-shirt weather.

      I can’t believe how fast my clippers dull up. I only roach a couple of mules a couple of times a year. I am lucky if the blades last a season. I’d like to hear from some of you folks who are showing and clipping lots of horses all the time how long your blades last. Am I the only one who has this problem? When I was a kid, it seemed clipper blades stayed sharp for years!

      The grasses are growing vigorously in the pasture, and we’re looking forward to the day we see water creeping along our lateral ditch. The main ditches are already up and running.

      We’ve purchased more seeds than we could possibly plant in one garden. It’s tempting to try a couple of varieties of carrots or beans or salad greens. Somehow, I always think I will compare, pick the one I prefer, and remember to write it down for next year. Does that ever happen? Heck, I’m lucky if I remember what we planted by next year, let alone what variety it was!!

      I hope you’re enjoying the spring weather while you get your irrigation going, your lawn mower running, your tack cleaned, and your horses shod!

Copyright 2009 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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