Sunday, August 30, 2009

Grass-bound behavior and interesting observations

I visited Panama on Friday for the first time in a week. Between getting ready for my friend's deadlines, trips to the doctor's office, and work deadlines, I just hadn't had much time to visit.

When I arrived, all of the horses were out on the yard on the second property, the one that has been foreclosed on (the barn owner has to be out in about another month):

grazing horses

The barn owner said they'd only been out there for about 15 minutes, so I decided to give Panama a little while longer to graze. I sat down near him and he walked over to say hi. His breath smelled like fresh grass — I love horsey smells!

I offered him a treat, and he was quite happy to stop grazing long enough to accept it:

horse treat

hand-feeding horse treats

Got any more, Mom?

horse muzzles are so cute!

After another 15 minutes or so, I haltered Panama and led him back to the front pasture so I could tie and brush him. I was surprised at how anxious he was about leaving: He kept stopping and trying to look or go back, and while I was grooming him he kept whinnying and moving restlessly back and forth. He's rarely ever exhibited signs of being this herd-bound, so I think it's the fact that the other horses were grazing without him. He's grass-bound, not herd-bound!

Eventually he did settle down a bit and let me finish grooming him without incident. When I was finished, I took him out on the field across the street and hand-grazed him on the wild alfalfa that grows there. I hadn't been planning on riding, since my friend's wedding was the next day, and I didn't want to tempt fate too much — and seeing Panama's behavior only cemented by resolve not to ride.

When I brought Panama back into the pasture and released him, he ran away from me for the first time ever, cantering to get back to the grass. I supposed I should have done something about it, but I wasn't sure what, so I didn't bother fetching him and giving him a lesson on proper turning out etiquette. I think it was the situation, and also my fault for not taking him back to the grass before releasing him.

Anyway, as always seems to happen when I've been away from my horse for a while, I was more observant than usual, and noticed several things:

1) When I lead him, we walk in time with one another. He steps with his front feet at the same time as I take a step, and then his back foot follows between my steps.

2) He loves alfalfa (which I already knew) but he also likes to alternate with a little crab grass every few bites. (I'm not sure what the real name for that kind of grass is, but my mom always calls it crab grass. It's the same fat-bladed, super-green grass that the cats and dogs really like to chew on.)

3) He especially likes the alfalfa that grows close to the road. Quite a few cars passed us while he was grazing on this, and he was pretty calm about it. The only things that seem to get to him are the big, rattling Fed Ex trucks, and the cars that wait until they are halfway past us to gas it. (I guess they think that since he doesn't seem bothered, it's okay to accelerate when they are right next to him?)

They may not seem like ground-breaking revelations to you, but I love noticing anything that adds to my understanding of my horse and my relationship with him!

I also did some long-awaited tack shopping on Friday, and brought home my saddle to be cleaned — stay tuned for pictures!

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