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Copyright 2013 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

By  Natalie Riehl

 

May 2013 issue  

 

 

    Our spring weather has been dry and frequently cold. A twelve-degree night zapped all of Rick’s large, purple hyacinths, those blooms to which I paid homage every time I returned from the barn. I got down on my knees so I could breathe in their sugary fragrance.

     We are ten days out from the start of irrigation season. We’ve harrowed the pastures, and we’re hoping to get fertilizer on them this next week. We have broken the manure into soft fluff.

     The horses like to sunbathe on the harrowed manure; it must be extra warm. Plus it provides a way for them to scratch off their shedding hair, and leave distinct patches of their coat color where they were lying. The circle of hair is reminiscent of flattened grass where deer have bedded down. I’m always hoping that nesting birds pick up this hair, along with strands from manes and tails, and use it to build their nests.

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     In this issue, we focus on senior horses. Horses are living longer. This is due, in large part, to the better care we are able to offer those horses. We de-worm regularly, use senior horse feeds which are designed for horses with poor teeth, and use supplements which help keep equine joints and digestive tracts in good shape.

     Some may think it’s being oversentimental to keep a horse going past a time when you can really use it, but it’s a human trait to hang onto our emotional connections. I personally don’t see anything wrong with feeling emotion toward our animals. Life passes much too quickly for us to think we should always be hard-nosed and detached.

     And attachment to old animals is not just a “woman thing.” I know plenty of men who have soft spots for horses, dogs, and even their cattle. I’ve heard of those in the cavalry who were so attached to their assigned mount that when they got out of the Army, they shed tears for parting with their old friend. 

     A former outfitter I know, who on the surface may seem gruff, was very attached to the Appaloosa gelding that had reliably carried him over thousands of miles, up and down trails in rough terrain. The horse lived until the age of 38, and remained in good flesh. He only had to be put down when his arthritis prevented him from being able to get on his feet after he laid down.

     We have a 25-year-old mare in our pasture. She is not a horse we have had for most of her life, but one which gives us plenty of joy and laughs as we watch her antics as boss mare and successful treat beggar.

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     I hope you have enjoyed our “Growing Up With Horses” series which ran in the February and March issues, and now in this May issue (Page 30). People — young and old — have responded with their memories of horses. Some enjoyed rural life and their families owned horses. Others dreamed of owning horses, and yet contented themselves by riding at riding stables (note that riding stables of forty or fifty years ago are now almost non-existent).

     I hope you are enjoying any warm weather you get, and remember to stand upwind when you are using a shedding blade on your critter!

   

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Copyright 2013 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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