The Haunted Dinner Hour

Yesterday, I did something truly adventurous. I rode at feeding time.

Now, I do not allow routine on the farm. Routine is boring and, in my opinion, leads to nervous habits, diva disorders, and even colic. I feed in the morning and in the evening. That’s as close to a routine as I can get. Life goes on, whether you have horses or not, and I do not set my alarm for six a.m. to feed a bunch of broodmares a half scoop of grain!

(Disclaimer: I can get away with this because all of my horses live out, with constant access to timothy-alfalfa mix hay. The grain is like a nice bonus.)

Even without set feeding times, horses know that it is getting towards nightfall and that means that the yummy yums should be forthcoming. They gather around the gate, hanging out, watching the house hopefully, listening to my footsteps – oh I see you guys out there, spying at me through the dining room window! It’s actually spooky to watch them and see how closely they’re listening to the goings-on in the house.

Darn no pics of him being bad..

Anyway, when I went trudging out to the paddock at five o’clock, the entire equine population of Polk City could be excused if they thought it meant the dinner hour was nigh. Final Call came quite cheerfully to meet me, and looked remarkably crestfallen when instead of producing a magic bucket full of anise-scented pellets, I pulled his halter over his ears and took him back to the barn.

So I already had a dozen horses watching me expectantly, looking for a dinner that was not materializing. I had the Disappointed Horse (like the Little Britain sketch!) tied to the washrack, looking disconsolate at the loss of his evening. I also had – and I was actually not counting on this – the very sharp shadows of a spring evening.

(Especially, I might add, in the ECoD.)

For the purposes of describing grip, I’ll share that I was wearing jeans under my half-chaps, not my sticky Kerrits breeches.

A reminder, kids, that stubby legs are your friends, as Final Call walked gracefully around the paddock, turned into a giraffe in the ECoD, and finally bolted, hit my hands (sorry!) threw his head up, and gross I ended up with his ear in my mouth. Which is significantly better than breaking my nose, or whacking me in the forehead with his poll and knocking me out (that wasa memory from a very special and unnattractive Appaloosa mare. My first unconscious episode, how lovely.) All this and, as you may have seen from my Facebook status, I did not fall off.

Sorry to disappoint you.

Despite all this death-defying fun, we ended up on a positive note. It turns out that it wasn’t his fault, after all. As this little interlude came to its bouncy and entertaining conclusion, I noticed my terrible Black Dog (yes, she has a name  -she’s Black Dog when she’s in trouble) had come bounding out of the darkness of the shadowed bushes in the glare of the evening sunlight, and that was what sent Final Call round the bend. Hard to fault him on that. Plus he was already depressed about dinner and all.

Lesson learned: dinner hour + scary shadows + Evil Corner of Death + the Black Dog = hang on bloody tight and spit out the hair in your mouth afterwards.

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11 Comments

Filed under Final Call, Training Diary

11 responses to “The Haunted Dinner Hour

  1. Barb Fulbright

    I ride at various times during the week, which usually involves separating the guy from his gelding friends at Happy Hour, which spans from after lunch to feeding time. Instead of Disconsolate Guy, I get Yawning Man, the one of “Whew, man, what a hard day! There’s no way I have enough energy for a ride, but I might be able to shuffle back out to my buds or possibly manage to choke down a bite or two in the stall.” The yawning is repetitive until the saddle goes on- quite an amusing production…

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Awww he’s a yawner! I actually am a little surprised Final Call is not. That seems to fit that goofy personality type. How cute. Pictures please.

      Doesn’t barn happy hour remind you of water cooler/coffee maker time in an office?

      • Barb Fulbright

        Yawner Extradorinaire, please, complete with the eyes rolling back in the head each time! Picture in the works. And barn happy hour always makes me feel like the angry wife or girlfriend just coming to fetch him home right after the guys have just gotten a new pitcher of beer delivered to the table!

  2. Laurie

    Food is very important to Trooper. And sleep. I know that I baby him but he was in such horrible condition when I got him that I am always trying to make him realize that there are good and kind humans too. Hence his ridiculous schedule and the incredulous look on the new barn staff’s faces when I explain that he likes a morning nap before being turned out for the day. And don’t forget the bedtime snack. So no we have not even attempted a dinner time ride. lol.

    • Barb Fulbright

      No wonder he loves you so much! 🙂

      • Natalie Keller Reinert

        LOL Laurie you have your priorities straight! Coddle the horse, harass the barn staff. You are the reason why I no longer work in the boarding business 😉

  3. Your feeding schedule sounds like mine! “Oh, it’s getting dark, I’d best feed, eh?” Keeping them a tad on their toes makes being able to go out in the evening or grabbing the occasional extra hour of sleep on weekends easier when I don’t have to worry they are going to colic themselves with worry. Mine are like yours…always out and always have hay in front of them any way.

    Final Call was probably pretty surprised to find his ear in your mouth. 😛 My mom used to yell at me about riding with my mouth open, her favorite admonishment? “I am NOT going to help you dig through the dirt for your tongue if you bit it off! CLOSE YOUR MOUTH!”

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      The thing I never understood about racing is, why do they make the top race on the card right at dusk. RIGHT when you can’t wait another minute and you HAVE to feed or you’ll be out there with a flashlight after the trophy presentation is over.

      Yes, if you keep them at home you have to live without a schedule or you’ll never be free. The best feeding was one a.m. after a U2 concert… remember the scene in All Creatures Great and Small (or one of Herriot’s books) where he goes to the big party for Tricki Woo and then gets called afterwards to a filthy pig barn in the middle of the night. “The last bubbles of champagne popped.” That’s pretty how much how that feeding felt, out trudging around in the mud with a flashlight, and the annoyed horses (who would have been better off left unfed) gave me all the trouble they could muster.

  4. Admirable equation, grasshopper.

    Don’t hit me, but why not a loose standing, for those face/head moments you’d prefer to avoid? I like where he is, so light and ready to fire Up into the atmosphere. I wouldn’t want to change that. I see jumper.
    I know, tsk, tsk.
    Maybe he needs an anchor?

    I’ve changed my mind, just keep going forward. He’s still greener than the grass I don’t have yet. Just be careful of yer darned beak!

    Old gadgeteer out.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Can’t you wait for a new post before spilling the beans? Honestly.

      Gadgetry makes entrance in 3-2-….

  5. Having taken the poll of a flippy-headed Arab in the nose (which is probably the cause of, ten years later, my doctor asking after a sinus CT scan, “Oh, and when did you break your nose?”) ear in the mouth is better than a smash in the face.

    And dogs are SCARY.

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