Wednesday 10 August 2016

Fun New Game

On Monday I played a game called “Let’s try giving our 3-year-old stud colt his first bath”.  I’d hosed him down before, but always outside, where he could see his friends, move around, and graze. A proper bath with soap and scrubbing in the wash stall was a new experience.  I had only 3 simple objectives:

1) Survival
2) Stay drier than the horse
3) Nice-to-have-but-not-critical objective: Horse winds up cleaner than he started

How did we do?

1) Everyone survived.  Some of us have bruises.
2) Uh, this one wasn’t that important anyway.
3) Amazingly, I think this one might have been achieved.

Silas loves water so much he must be part sea-horse so I wasn’t worried about that aspect, more about taking him away from his herd, into the other barn with horses he’d never met, and being required to stand still and behave in cross-ties in the dim, echoey wash stall.  He has the attention span of a gnat with ADD and he makes it very clear when he is bored and done being good - and 1,000 lbs of bored stallion can be, um, interesting in an enclosed space.

Trainer recruited a barn slave to observe the proceedings and be available to run get her if necessary.  The initial wetting down and soaping up went well.  He even stood still to let me scrub his mane and feathers.  I kinda let the tail slide as I didn’t want to press my luck.  I also didn’t try sheath cleaning — I don’t have a death wish.  Though I make a point to touch his sheath each time I groom him.  That is not nearly as kinky as it sounds.  He has to get used to people touching him there, and, so far, he doesn’t seem to object.  I recruited the barn slave to help with the soaping and scrubbing so she’d feel useful and not just slouch there in moody teenage fashion.  Her name was Pinkie, which makes her sound like a character out of "Grease”.  One immutable fact about barns:  There is no shortage of horse crazy girls hanging around eager to help groom or braid or cool out your horse for you after a ride.  I should know - I was one of them.

Trouble started with rinsing.  Despite his love of water, he was getting antsy in the wash stall, and he broke out of one of the cross-ties (they have an emergency release, so he didn’t break it).  I patiently tied him back in and finished rinsing.  He stood admirably still for the strigil — it was a new sensation and he loved it with his usual feline shameless hedonism.  Final task was rubbing conditioner in his mane and attempting to comb out the tangles.  More antsiness ensued and then someone brought a strange horse into the barn and that was it.  He busted out of both cross-ties and barrelled past me to greet the new arrival.  On the way there, a mare stuck her head over her stall in mild curiosity (more, “Hmm, who are you?” than “Hello, sailor!”) and, with his ADD-like distractibility, he stopped abruptly to sniff noses with her. That gave me a chance to clip his lead rope on and get him outside.

I was upset that he was so naughty at the end but trainer was not — she thought his excitement was just typical young horse behaviour (not stallion-like, no aggression at all) and that he’d done well for a first bath.  He does need to grasp the concept of standing still without complaint for as long as mom wants him to do so.

When I was hand-grazing him as he dried off, he took a piss, and did not stop grazing.  Yup, even as that pee hit the ground with force and splashed him on the chin, he didn't raise his head and stop eating even for a second.  Boys!

Clean horsie.  This lasted 5 seconds.

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