Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend Feed Fest

I hope you had a nice Memorial Day weekend. I had a nice weekend but it was mostly filled with heat, humidity and feeding horses! I was in charge of feeding 26 horses at the farm because the BO and BOH took their horses to a reining show. It was unusually hot and humid here, so I had to bring out my serious hot weather gear. I don’t know about you, but as I age, enduring the humidity all day gets harder and harder. So I gear up even more seriously to be able to take it. Here’s what I use: many bottles of water, Gatorade and tea, plus bottles of water frozen overnight, plenty of snacks, sweatbands, safari shirt, sunscreen, taking lots of breaks, and walking slower than normal. These things help me get through a long, hot, humid, sweaty day.

I arrived at the farm Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. I first looked in on the two oldest horses that were in stalls, and gave them their breakfasts. Then I distributed sweet feed into nine other stalls. There is a large herd of pasture horses which are brought into the barn for meals. They were, understandably, crowded at the gate. There is a particular order in which these horses are brought in, to let them in a few at a time. One horse, Rosie, is to be brought in first, and alone, with a halter. She doesn’t wear a halter when she is in the pasture, so I had to get a halter on her. I decided not to go into the group of excited horses at their main gate- too dangerous. So I grabbed her feeding halter and went in through a side gate, and quietly made my way through the herd to Rosie and put the halter on her. She is such a dear; she immediately thought I wanted to ride her or something and so she followed me eagerly, all the way over to the second gate. A few other horses followed her as well. I got out of the pasture, back through the barn and over to the main gate, where the horses were still hovering with breakfast excitement.

I looked at Rosie and the halter was hanging off of one ear and right down the middle of her face! She looked at me as if to say, This isn’t the way the halter goes. I grabbed another halter and slipped back into the herd and changed halters. Oh, no, this one was too big for her. I didn’t want another horse to try pulling it off of her or tugging on it, so I removed it and went looking for a smaller one. I found one, tried it on her, and it fit. Then I went outside the gate again, opened it a little, Rosie approached, I attached the lead line, brought her through the gate, closed the gate and walked her to her stall. I went back to the gate and the next three horses, in exact order, lined up. I opened the gate and let them run through. I closed the gate and went to their stalls and closed their stall doors. And so on, in particular order, that the horses know by heart, and got everyone into their stalls, munching away. Then I took the stallion’s feed and hay over to his pasture nearby, and then back to the main pasture with a wheelbarrow full of 1 ½ bales of hay, which I distributed into twelve piles. By then the pasture horses were finished eating and I let them, and the oldsters, out into their pasture for their hay. Whew. One barn down. As I walked to the next barn, I stopped and filled their water tubs. Somehow I had twisted my lower back and I could feel it starting to hurt. Oh, well, gotta keep going. Lots of horses to feed.

Next I went out to the barn where Buckshot and two other horses live (a few others were at the horse show). I fed them, gave them hay, filled up their waters, made the sweet feed dinners, added supplements, and was finished. Then on to barn 3. Six horses here. Again, I fed them, gave them piles of hay, filled up their water tubs, and made dinners. Then on to barn 4. Two horses here. Same routine. Then barn 5. Five horses got the same routine. It took me about two hours to make the rounds.

Then back to the main barn to make lunches for three older horses that need more feed. And putting fresh water in their stalls, plus fresh water in the stall for Buckshot for when I groom, tack and untack him. I then got my grooming tools and tack ready. Tired, I took a break, turned on the fans in the main barn, found a chair and relaxed. Later I got a horse ready for my sister who would come out to ride with Buckshot and I. Even as I write this, days later, rereading my descriptions, it is tiring me out! In the heat and humidity it’s harder to do all of the feeding, but I am glad to help out the BO when she is gone. And I really like feeding all the horses, knowing what each one eats, where they like their hay piles, who has to be in a stall, and who doesn’t, etc.

Well, I did the routine three more times – Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast and dinner. I had a short ride on Buckshot on Saturday but I learned the hard way that if your lower back hurts, riding a horse doesn’t feel good. So on Sunday I didn’t ride him, but instead did groundwork in the arena. By Sunday evening, when the BO returned, I was beat. I took Monday and just stayed in air conditioning and puttered around slowly, reading a book and sitting with the heating pad. Love the heating pad! Hope you had a good weekend!


Carol said...

What a weekend you had! Wow. That's a great accomplishment and a lot of work. Handling and feeding that many horses correctly is both mentally and physically taxing. Good job!
Glad you managed time for a ride and some ground work. Hope those aching muscles are all better now!

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's hard work taking care of an entire barn of horses. So much to do, I'm not surprised you were achy. Heating pads are our friends!

Glad you got to ride a little and work with Buckshot on the ground.