Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Meet Weed, our Gentleman Boarder

I don’t know what they call equine social studies, but that’s what I’ve been a’studyin’ lately. Watching it all unfold in the pasture. The fireworks. The intrigue. The social ladder climbing. The pecking order emerges. The games they play. The love story.

A couple months ago I was riding my horse, Tess, on our neighbor’s ranch. (She’s been living at our place since July, since I discovered that her feet were so bad she couldn’t be ridden. Anyhow, after months of R&R she was ridable again and so there we were. Riding. Across the road!!!) She'd been living at our place with our mini-donkeys, Cassidy and Burrito, and she was L-O-N-E-L-Y. Bereft. She’d been living in a herd for years at our friend’s pack station. And then she lived at a barn down the road from us with her horse buddies all around for six months. And then I moved her home and it was just…lonely. No horses, just two sorry excuses (in her mind) for equines. They're short, they have long ears and man, can they be buttheads at times! (But oh so cute, at least, in my human opinion.)

So Tess and I are riding at Ken’s place and what do we discover but a gentleman by the name of Weed. Another chestnut quarter horse, these two look so much alike they could be bookends. There he was, living out his days in a pasture on the other side of the far edge of Ken’s property, with only a goat for company. A sorry excuse (in his mind), as you can imagine.

They immediately took to each other over the fences that separated them. Tess got all mare-y, tossing her head, flinging her mane, arching her neck, stomping a foot, and letting out a girlish "HEEEEeeeeeeee!" every time Weed sniffed at her. Weed was very interested, I tell you. And so was Tess. After our visit Weed stood at the edge of his pasture fence watching us go, whinnying for his new-found love. Hours later he was still standing there, waiting for his girl to return. It was love at first sight.

I spoke to Weed's owner the next day (after speaking to my wonderful, sweet and generous husband first, something along the lines of: “Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?”) and asked if Mr. Weed could come live with Tess at our house, so they'd not be lonely anymore. We'd been wanting another horse for that very reason, but didn’t want to swing the vet and food bills. Here was our chance! Weed’s mom said YES. A match made in heaven. Weed is an old guy. He’s 30 now and she had been concerned he wouldn't even survive this winter alone. So we gave it a try.

Weed came over around Halloween and the minute he entered our pasture the dynamics changed. Tess, who heretofore didn't give the donkeys the time of day, spent four days herding them and keeping them in a corner away from Weed who skulked around with a sorrowful look on his face. At any indication that he was going to get near the donkeys or they, god forbid, were going to go check him out, she'd let out a neigh, run up and herd them apart.

Eventually things calmed down, though, and the new pecking order emerged. Weed is now the top man. He holds his head high. He stands at the gate and bangs on it with his hoof. “Where’s my breakfast?!” At every feeding time he makes sure that Tess is nowhere near the wheelbarrow and he gets to taste the hay first. He runs at her with ears laid back and she turns and bucks at him. And everyone else hangs back a bit, too.

Weed seems to find the donkeys intriguing in a way that Tess, with her feminine disdain, cannot. The donkeys run, fight and play with each other constantly like little boys. Tess always acts like she just can’t figure out their game, nor has she any interest in it. Weed, on the other hand, watches them until he can’t bear it any longer and then gets into it with them, tossing his head, prancing and running off after them for a game of equine tag. “Hey, Wait for me!!!” But he also is attached to Tess. She is his girl, after all. And if I should ever take her out of the pasture to work with her or take her for a ride, Lord Have Mercy. Does he put up a fuss and start to holler! "Where's my girlfriend!? What are you doing with my girlfriend?!"

They clearly are happy together, donkeys, horses and all. Tess seems to have her Three Boys Farm, just as I do. Seems fitting.


Sandy said...

That's awesome! Love the description and the comparison of Tess to you (both having a 3-boys farm). Perfect! Thanks for the smiles.

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