Search This Blog

Follow by Email

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Case of Unrequited Donkey Love

Poor Donkey. He is in love, with the two beautiful blondes from Belgium. He just stands there beside the fence all day long, gazing adoringly at our new horses. He must think they are the most gorgeous Amazon women he has ever seen. He just stands there staring and looking stunned; I almost hit him with the gate when we were leading the horses through the yard. But unfortunately for Donkey, the feeling isn’t mutual.
The first week the horses were at the farm, Donkey kept his distance. I think he was a bit intimidated by the girls’ size (and perhaps their beauty too).
The second week, Donkey was in their stable every chance he could get, sniffing at them through their fencing.
As we near the end of our third week as horse owners, Donkey has taken up the habit of loitering outside the stable doors and following the horses at close range as we lead them across the barnyard in the morning and at night. This can be quite distracting to the horses, as they are trying to pick their way over frozen tractor ruts and rocks while someone jangles his chains behind them.
Occasionally, he will have his equipment on display while he is lurking around near the horses. This does not have the effect that Donkey is hoping for. If he gets too close to Ashley, she will reel around and pretend to bite him. He’s lucky she hasn’t kicked at him yet. I would hate to see one of those dinner-plate hoofs flying in his direction.
Once safely separated by the locked gate, the girls sometimes come up to the fence and sniff Donkey as he watches from the other side. Then they snort at him, turn tail and run, tossing their manes in the air as if they are laughing at him. You can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
We are still leading Ashley & Misty across the barnyard every morning, and they are getting much better at stopping when we tell them to. I was told that a high-pitched voice (like the one I used with my children when they were small) is not comforting or motivating to a horse. They like a strong, deep voice from their trainer. So I am trying to say “WHOA” in a way that means business.
Terry Olmstead, who owns a set of attractive Canadiens on French Settlement Road, explained that we must try to be calm and confident around the horses. “We are the predators, because our eyes are in the front of our heads,” she explained. “If the predator is nervous, the horses think they should be nervous too.” Makes sense to me.
Lately we have been noticing that the horses are eating a lot more than they did the first week. I guess they were homesick the first few days, as I’m sure they miss their previous owner, Ron. Well, their appetites came back with a vengeance, so we are trying to get them to come into the barn to eat during the day. They have access to the rear hay storage, where we have also filled a tub with fresh water. They will go in there when we lead them, with a little coaxing, but they don’t go in on their own yet. I think the cats in the loft spook them a little.
At the end of the day, the horses are so anxious to get back into their tie stalls (where a pile of fresh hay and a bowl of corn mix is waiting) that they practically drag us on the end of their leads, all the way across the barnyard. In the morning, we have to wait until they are finished their breakfast or they don’t want to leave the stable.
We load the stall feeders up with hay before we go to bed each night, so that the horses are not quite so ravenous in the morning. Unfortunately, Misty likes her salad tossed. Literally. She throws it around so much; most of it ends up on the floor where she can’t reach it. We may have to put up a backstop net or something.
It feels as though spring will arrive on time this weekend. Soon the lambs, who have all but given up their milk bottles, will be out on the front field with the horses. I wonder what Ashley and Misty will think of all those fat, fluffy white things running and jumping around beside them. It should make for a nice photo.
I don’t think they will mind sharing their pasture with the other animals, as long as Donkey stays on his side of the fence.


No comments: