The Things You Do for Horses
I long have wondered what it is, precisely, that compels me to do the things I do all for the love of a horse.
I once had a nonhorse person ask me in reference to my decision to build a huntbox and to live right over my horses, "Don't you think it's kind of ridiculous to center your life around an animal that goes through life pooping in its bed?" Hmmm. Yes, well -- to an "outsider" I'm sure this inquiry seems to be quite a valid question, although I dare say its premise is rather an oversimplification.
Still, nonetheless, there are times of tremendous inconvenience and substantial sacrifice, not to mention those of downright discomfort, when I have to ask myself that very same question.
Take the other day, for example. I, along with everyone else, awaken to pouring rain. Before going downstairs to feed, I do a quick trip to check out different views to make sure everything outside is holding up. Fence rails up, no trees down, the pond has not escaped its banks, so my out-take drain must still be clear and functioning. A-OK!
But then I see the bedding bin and my heart sinks. Its tarp is now supporting a huge puddle of water whose heavy weight is poised precariously to rip out its grommet reinforced sides currently secured by an army of overly strained bungee cords, and soak my newly delivered load of bedding. The supports must have slipped.
I tear down the stairs with my little dog barking and running after me. As I don wet weather gear that includes a canvas duck outback coat that becomes so heavy after 10 minutes of rain exposure you think you've just slugged it out for 10 hours in the trenches of WWI, I explain to him that we'll go for a walk "in a minute." (Of course, I talk to my animals -- don't you?)
As I hurry down the aisle to the back doors, I feel the piercingly accusing stares of my horses. "Breakfast in a sec, guys," I call over my shoulder as I head out into the downpour and over to the bedding bin.
Yup, the wedged PVC pipes have slipped, creating trapped low spots on the tarp. Gosh -- for a warmish day, this rain sure is cold ... OK ... so how to drain what now looks like Lake Michigan without getting soaked and, more important, without soaking the bedding?
A release down the long, low side of the bin seems to be my best bet. While straining to hold up the water-laden tarp, I release the front bungee cords so that I can swing open the gates. Should be okay to release the water at this angle -- Splassssh -- not quite quick enough.
I'm soaked, but at least the bedding is dry -- for now.
I look with dismay as I discover the released water is puddling and ready to back up into the base of the bedding because the drains across the front of the bin are clogged: The dump truck must have done it.
Back I go to the barn to get a shovel to retrench the area. Geeez!
Even though it's November, it's still warm enough for snakes to be running on the driveway. Beat it, redbelly, I am so not in the mood for you this morning.
I return with the shovel. I retrench and clear the drains, but then I notice a new low spot has changed the nuance of the tarp, thereby creating a new, even heavier puddle. I drain it and set about releasing different side-anchored bungees so that I can reach under the tarp with the shovel and my glove-soaked hands to rearrange the bedding. Gotta get it so that the tarp will enjoy a constant path of drain.
All right, so I'm not an engineer, but didn't we all do this sort of thing at the beach as kids? Don't need a river's flow, just a small steady one. Piece of cake.
Forty minutes later, I've got it. Now all I have to do is lap an extra piece of plastic at the bottom in the front to protect the base against the run-off and make like that little Dutch boy and stuff some heavy duty trash bags (don't get mad get Glad) in the seams of the bowed boards at the back of the bin where the dump truck has kissed them once too often, and I'm done.
Oh gosh -- the dog. My little on-steroids-for-his-allergies dog is going to have a water crisis of his own if I don't get him out. Then I can feed, muck, mix the dinner set-ups and maybe even see a glimmer of breakfast for me.
So why do I go through all this, not to mention countless other similar episodes, just to be greeted by that low, soft nicker and warm liquid velvet eye? Why do I adore the sound of them munching their hay in a quiet barn?
Is it simply a passion so compelling it now largely dictates lifestyle?
But then again I am reminded by what a friend recently said to me upon cautioning me about accepting a boarder.
"Even a good boarder is going to be difficult," she said. "After all, horse people ... are crazy."
And there you have it.
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