I got a reasonable amount of studying done today, and my uncle told me that the horseflies were tormenting my horses, so I drove down to Como early this evening to see them. I stopped on the way and picked up a jar of Swat and a bag of oats. The oats were to keep the wild beasts placated as I smeared goo all over them.
(Oats – JESUS CHRIST – are up to $15 a bag at Tractor Supply. And “cheap” horse-n-cattle sweet feed is $8, up from $5-6 this time last year.)
They looked quite good, overall. They’re still shiny and in good weight. I swear I think Silky pulled something in her leg doing her Wild Horse Imitation when I got there. They were back in the back corner of their 40 acres, so I had to drive into the pasture, windows down, yelling for them. Of course the mares decided the truck was a monster come to kill them and they all galloped away. I drove alongside hollering til I got the boys’ attention. Poppy was finally like “oh hey HEY HEY IT’S THE FOOD LADY!” and once he came charging over they all came to me. Silly beasts. Anyway, Silky wasn’t remotely lame as she went flying away across the pasture but she limped coming up to get her oats. Sigh.
I got halters on everybody and checked them each over for ticks. Just a few small deer ticks on each, but I put on a new dose of that two-week fly/tick repellant just in case. Champ’s and Silky’s ears were just horrible, all crusted over with fly bites. The other two, oddly, were fine. I smeared Swat all over the bays’ ears. Champ rolled his eyes and tried to get away, but Silky was quite the lady about me messing with her ears. I think hers itched. She was quite sweet tonight – after everybody else wandered away, she hung out at the truck with me and begged for scritches. She’s so quiet and standoffish that it really delights me when she “asks” for scritches.
I checked everybody’s feet. They’re longish, but they seem to be self-trimming too. If I had any kind of amenities out there I’d rasp everybody, but tying a horse to a tree and trying to trim outdoors doesn’t sound like fun. If I need to, I’ll do it, but hopefully their feet will take care of themselves.
Quinn was ragingly in heat. Squatting and squealing and kicking at the boys. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and didn’t even try to ride her in that kind of mood.
I did ride Champ though. I saddled him up, then went to put the bridle on, and he pitched a HUGE hissy fit about it. His ears really are bothering him, poor guy. Well, if there’s one horse I can ride anywhere with a halter, it’s Champ, so I snapped some roping reins on his halter and we took off.
Riding through the other horses to get to the gate made me really nervous. Nobody kicks Champ (NOBODY puts Baby in a corner!) but like I said, Quinn was in heat and very kicky. I gave her a wide berth.
Champ was a perfect gentle-horse. He was polite about me getting off, leading him through gates, and re-hooking them. He listened to me as we rode! We rode through two empty fields and into a field of cows. I was planning on riding up to my uncle’s house, but when we got to the cow pasture Champ decided we’d gone plenty far and started trying to convince me to turn around. Then the cows got curious.
I don’t have a lot of cattle experience. I know they taste good, they’re herd animals, and they like to butt instead of kick. And momma cows are protective of their calves. And bulls are irritable bastards. My uncle has two bulls that run with his cows, and all the mommas have babies, ranging from one last little wee baby calf to half-grown adolescent cows.
One cow was all MRRROOOOOO and wandered toward us. I did what I usually do when a dog comes up to us – I spun Champ towards the cow and kicked him up to a canter for a second. The cow jumped and ran away a few feet. We stopped and the cow stopped and I remembered point #3 about cows. What if that bastard cow decided it wanted to headbutt us? Shit. Maybe charging it wasn’t such a good plan. But the cows in those cutting videos on Youtube never try to butt the cowhorses. What if that cow was one of the bulls? Bulls will chase you. Maybe I shouldn’t antagonize the cow.
We turned back around and headed over to the cow pond for Cersei to jump in and cool off. Then I made the executive decision to turn the expedition around, so we circled around the pond to head back the way we’d come.
All the cows were staring at me and the horse and the dog. And wandering toward us. And MRROOOOO-ing. It was a very tense moment. Where was the bull? Were the momma cows feeling like their babies were threatened? Had these cows ever seen a horse before, or did they think we were just a deformed cow? Did they expect me to pull a sack of Horse’n’Cattle out of my ass and offer it to them?
I pointed Champ to the left of the cow herd, hoped he wouldn’t get nervous too and bolt, and kicked him up to a trot. As we headed to pass the mass of MRRROOOOOO, I waved my arms and hollered for them to git. Amazingly enough, they did! We went left, the cows ambled right, and Cersei kept Champ between her and the cows. Whew.
I’ll need to go back this weekend and check the bays’ ears. Might be time to deworm everybody too – I need to check back and see when I did it last. With gas at $3.82 a gallon, it’s a $15 round trip. I need a job! I need to pass the bar and get a job and get a new place to live in Mississippi and move my horses back somewhere I can see them every day! Argh!