On Saturday I went out to Sound Equine Options (SEO) to muck stalls. There are seven residents at this barn (I know that SEO has about 50 horses in total in their care, but most are in foster homes) and I do half the stalls any given day.
When I enter the barn I love seeing the heads come out and a few of the horses know me well enough that I get a “food wicker” of greeting. I always walk down the line before beginning, giving alfalfa cubes to the crew.
My current favorite resident is an older mare named Lucy. She’s a 19-year-old chestnut quarter horse that reminds me of several of my past companions.
On Saturday, Lucy finished her term and was adopted. I didn’t know it was her pick-up day and so I cleaned her stall first. While I did that I let her in the arena where she rolled (always amusing). When she got up there was a chestnut “angel” from all her hair. I gave her a good groom, then back in her stall. Just a few minutes later Lucy’s new owner came to pick her up. I will really miss Lucy, but I’m glad she has her own person now and wish them the best.
Next I went to Secret’s stall. She’s a 7-year-old paint mare and we got off to a difficult start when I first started at SEO a few months ago. She seemed shy to me and didn’t take treats. but now, she’s among my favorites and does take treats (I confess I trained her to eat them using molasses.) Now when she seems me she gives me the “food look.” I’m a sucker for it.
Secret also got arena time and rolled, then a good groom. And many cookies, of course.
For my third stall, I choose a small little 5-year-old chestnut gelding named Jolly. Jolly came in just before Christmas as part of the “Christmas 6.” I’ve met three of this group in person and I can’t believe how small and starved they look. I hadn’t worked with him before and he seemed a little stand-offish, but he’s pretty cute.
So I went in his stall and he wanted nothing to do with me. I eventually haltered him, but I was worried enough about re-catching him that I put him in the round pen instead of the arena. He proceeded to call like he was abandoned.
I finished his stalls, then went over to play with him. When I offered him cookies, he looked interested, but clearly didn’t know what was up. So, I dripped molasses over them and tried that. He looked even more interested, but still unsure. So I grabbed a pan and worked with him that way. He liked the molasses part, but wasn’t sure about the rest. I’ll try to do more treat introduction when I see him next.
Since he was already in the round pen, I decided to work with him. I’ve never worked with a horse that green. We only did one exercise (rope over back) but it took him SO long to settle just on the withers. When I went to his off side, it took even longer. He didn’t understand leading on the off side and played “out” yo-yo, but not “in” very well. He’s clearly very sweet, but so green. I’m gonna try to spend a little time with him.
But I’ve spend the weekend worrying about little Jolly. A 5-year-old 14-hand chestnut gelding with a roman nose. Who would breed such an animal? What chance does he have at getting adopted?
While I know that helping and donating money does help, sometimes I really feel inadequate. Horses, dogs… humans. There seems to be so many lives out there to save.