Monday, April 12, 2010
We might finally be drying out around here. When I went out to feed the girls this morning, I was happy to feel solid ground under my feet in both stalls and the corral. Siete’s side was the worst, and she’s been a very unhappy little horse. All the wood pellet bedding that I dumped into her stall to absorb the ground water that was coming up from underneath the barn has made the footing very deep. For a while, when the horses walked, their hoofprints would be filled with water oozing up. It was driving me crazy because I couldn’t compact the material enough to soak up the moisture.
Siete was getting really surly about it. One evening last week, she absolutely refused to go back into her stall for dinner. I was rushing and her resistance to leave her mother’s side of the barn really aggravated me. I tried to force her to go, but she wouldn’t budge. In frustration, I walked back to the house, leaving her dinner in her stall and both doors open, in case she changed her mind. Then, I realized that if I were Siete, I wouldn’t want to go in there either.
I felt bad for her, but the problem was that with both horses in the same stall all night, Silk wouldn’t have room to lie down. She needs to get off her feet at night with her arthritis. Siete didn’t want to lie down either, and as a result, off and on these past two weeks, I’ve been treating a hoof abscess in her back right foot. I couldn’t, in good conscience, force Siete to stay in her stall that night. When I went back after it got dark to check on her, she was still with her mom. As soon as they saw me, both horses ran into Siete’s stall and stood there together in solidarity. Nope, we’re not going to let you lock her in this place. I looked at their hoofprints in front of me, by the door, filling up with the ground water, and wanted to cry. There seemed to be no way to fix this problem. It was also starting to rain again. We had over 14 inches of rain in less than a week. As I left them, the girls headed back to Silk’s drier bedding on the other side of the barn.
The next night, Siete ran right into her stall as soon as I approached with the dinner buckets. I was glad I hadn’t forced the issue, and she seemed to accept that things were what they were. Even though I was doing the best that I could do, I felt so stressed out that I couldn’t fix the problem. I really believe that my horses are as calm and happy as they are because they have safe, comfortable stalls where they can get off their feet at night. Fortunately, the situation has been steadily improving now that we’ve had sunny warm weather for almost a week. Now, I know that we shouldn't anthropomorphisize our animals but... The strange thing was that every day, I’ve been telling Siete that she needs to lie down again to rest her feet. To my astonishment, when I fed her last night, she actually dropped down on her side and rolled around in her stall while I was standing there, as if to show me that it was okay again. That’s my girl.