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November 26, 2006

What makes my horse happy?

I wonder why I try so hard to find out what makes my horses happy. I know I’m not unique because most of my horse owner friends go out of their way to find their horses favorite itch spot, the best curry comb and their favorite treat. For some this search extends to finding the best fitting saddle, most comfortable bit or even best chiropractor or massage therapist.

The quest can be simple or complex, but for me on this day, I enjoyed giving a simple but pleasurable few moments to Buck; I let him roll in the mud.

It rained all day and I usually leave the horses in their separate pens when it’s rainy. This allows them the opportunity to choose shelter which they don’t have when they’re together in the pasture.

I went early for the evening feeding, thinking I could do some quick mucking while they were eating. I got the first two pens done quickly and headed for Buck. He was neatly tucked away in his shelter and couldn’t see me enter the pen. Since he was eating dinner it wasn’t hard to understand his willingness to ignore me completely even when he DID catch sight of me.

After mucking a few minutes I decided to see if Buck could be pried from his food to make the ultimate choice: eat or roll in the mud. As I said earlier, Buck really, really enjoys rolling in the mud, in fact I would go so far as to say that he might even rival a pig when it comes to the passion of mud wallowing.

Knowing this, and despite the obvious work it makes for me in the aftermath, I went over, opened the gate and guided him away from his food so he could SEE the open gate. From there the choice was his.

I had to laugh. When he saw the open gate I swear he grinned. He headed out at a canter, which he quickly revised when his feet encountered slippery mud. Although he looked like a kid in tennis shoes on ice, that didn’t deter him from his goal: finding the nicest, muddiest rolling spot.

He did it right too, first coating one side, then getting up and laying down again to coat the other side, then rolling from side to side, then getting back up to start the ritual again. He turned his buckskin coat to a nice dark bay and then trotted back, tail high, right into his pen to finish dinner. And I couldn’t have been more pleased, filled with a real warm joy at having been able to guess a way to make my horse happy.
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