Mornings always begin with barn chores. I have them down to a science. Every morning just like clockwork I get up, get dressed, brush my hair(sometimes), brush my teeth(always), and I am in the barn by 7:30. I feed and water horses in the barn and then feed and hay the horses in the fields. By 9am, water buckets have been emptied and filled with fresh water, horses are crunching a combination of grain and hay and I am sitting with my coffee(first cup of the day) turning on my computer. You see where this is going right…
When you have several horses in a pasture headcounts at the feed troughs are normal. One doesn’t even realize that one is counting, as the heads reach down into the trough eating their grain. I counted three times this morning. One, two, three, four… Where is five? Who is five? Paint, palomino, grey, black….the chestnut stallion is missing. You have to understand that a horse never misses a meal. When the food wagon is headed toward the troughs the horses are either already there standing and waiting or they are coming across the field (wide open) to get there. If a horse isn’t eating…call the vet because I promise you something is wrong. I have a mare that eats in between contractions while foaling (now that is dedication). My husband says, “anything that eats while we sleep isn’t a good investment”. Moral…a horse doesn’t miss a meal
Back to the chestnut stallion… I sling the buckets back in the workhorse, saving him a bucket, and begin the search. This was the last pasture to feed and although I don’t remember exactly, I know that I did a headcount at the last 5 troughs. I am certain that he wasn’t in the other pastures. Had I passed him in the fields? Remember, I haven’t had a cup of coffee YET and it is 8:55am. I am sure that I didn’t…ok pretty sure. The ride continues and I am searching everywhere. By this time, I am on the trails in the woods. I am a little nervous, but not yet hysterical. That will come if I don’t see him soon. “There he is”, yes I said it aloud even though I am the alone. Grazing at the far end of the field. He looked up as to say, where in the world have you been and isn’t it a beautiful morning. I stopped a few feet from him and had to sit a moment for my heart to return to reasonable pulse. At this point, I use an expurlative, (that I won’t post here) as I realize he could not possibly be any further away from his pasture gate and still be on our property. I give the bucket a shake and he begins trotting towards me. Remember a horse’s love of feed. I have come to the conclusion that the sound of grain in a bucket is the melodic tune of Hallalujah for horses. He reaches down and fills his mouth with the sweet grain and looks up at me again. “Thank you” his eyes say and I can no longer be mad.
I am so ready for a cup of coffee! I could clip the lead rope to his halter and walk him the quarter mile back to his gate or…I once again sling the now “his” bucket of feed in the back of the buggy. I run, literally run, and jump behind the steering wheel and floor it. “Lord, please let him follow the bucket”, I say aloud hoping that my plea is also heard by horse. He looks up and around for a few seconds, but then realizes that the gravy train is on the move and getting further away. I hear his hooves coming, beating the ground hard. I try not to slow down and pray that the bucket stays put. If the feed spills over and falls out making a buffet for him, I am screwed. It didn’t and the next stop was his pasture gate. I sigh with relief, nod my head, and smile. “Job well done”, I am realizing that I talk to myself (outloud) a lot. He pranced through the gate and whinnied as to say I’m home and I locked the gate behind him.
It is NOW 10:00 am and I am finally sitting down having my first cup of coffee.