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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Lords of the Winter Hay Stomp

On blustery winter days, turn out involves leading horses to the pastures while trudging our heavy insulated boots through deep tundra like snow, defrosting frozen lead rope snaps by exhaling warm air onto them and frequently fixing wind blown blankets (not unlike folding multiple flags in a wind tunnel). As the last remnants of the sleeping autumn grass hides under layers of frozen water (aka snow), we have to lug hay to the pastures via the kids old red plastic sleds.

There is a wild dance of sorts involved with the turn out this time of year. We scatter flakes of hay around the pastures and then walk each horse out one by one. Shane stomps out first and has his only temporary choice of the vast universe of hay piles. Evelyn dances out next and despite a variety of unoccupied piles will, with little variation, go for the dried timothy pile that Shane is munching on ... who quickly is forced to move to one of the other hay piles on a safer side of the pasture.

Bobbie is then turned out next which disrupts the temporary equine equilibrium. With ears pinned way back, he immediately goes for the pile occupied by Evelyn, forcing her to the flakes being munched on by Shane, forcing Shane to yet another still unoccupied flake pile.

Periodically, Bobbie, with a strand of timothy dangling from the side of his muzzle, like a tango dancer with a rose, will inexplicably and suddenly change his hay preference and begin the tango once again forcing Evelyn then Shane to rotate around the pasture like an uneasy violent tango.

Dion and Monte have their own pasture and there own variation of the dance. Monte heads into the pasture first and will gallop quickly around the hay, bucking with all four feet off the ground. Monte then find the deepest snow drift he can find and drops and spin like a break dancer (see photo of break dancing Dion and Monte-- which doesn't do it justice) until he's properly floured into prehistoric sized powdered donut. Seemingly shaken by the sudden coldness on his body, he jumps up, bucks and dances around until he too settles on a pile of hay.

When it's Dion's turn, he will tow whoever dares lead him out to the pasture, with the strength of a Budweiser Clydesdale (it's similar to snow skiing tied to a pack of elephants). When he quickly is let loose in the pasture, Dion will breeze around like the former race horse he was, whipping Monte and the hay piles into a frosty tornado until the storm dance abruptly stops and heads drop to the hay carnage strewn about the pasture.

If anyone of the equine Arthur Millers misses a step or stumbles, not to worry, they'll get another chance to perfect their craft tomorrow.


  1. Several years ago, I used an unfortunate turn of phrase involving the word "trudging" in my blog. A friend of my from Arizona, to this day, gives me grief about how he NEVER needs to trudge in Arizona. I feel for you buddy...

  2. I probably overstated a bit ... trudging to the pastures in the snow. In so many ways I love the snow and the beautiful changing of the seasons we have. Bill, from what I've seen of your blog I'm guessing you have a similarly incredible seasonal changes and you also live in an amazing area of the country. Of course... then again ... there are those days ... that are just too unbelievably cold and snowy for either of us to believe.

  3. I can see trudging if there's any kind of depth. I'm glad that you can trudge. Here it is icy and treacherous so my horses are seeing no turnout time. They be likely to do the splits before we got anywhere near a field. It is just too unsafe so I can hardly wait for the opportunity to do turnouts here.