If you follow the blog at all, are friends with me on FB or in real life, or post on COTH I’m sure that you’re all up to date on the saga that has been mine and Willow (Willow and I’s?) adjustment to life in KY. For being the horse capital of the world, I’ve found it seriously lacking… in everything. If it weren’t for the help of a wonderful friend (I owe you, Linda) I don’t think that I would have found the team that so wonderfully rehabbed Willow from her hock injury.
Since our move here, we’ve been through 3 barns, 2 vets, and 4 farriers before (finally) finding a pretty good situation for Willow. Talk about frustration on my part! Willow just kind of went along with everything, but has had her fair share of injuries. I’ve been really hard on myself throughout the saga, thinking that maybe it was my poor management of her. In reality I was doing the best I could and really they were a result of poor luck. When it came to treating them, I did what ever horse owner would do (including thanking my pony club background for my wrapping skillz) and helped her to the best of my ability. If I couldn’t handle it, I called a vet who could. Willow remained her usual grumpy, snarly self throughout the processes. She’s not an in your pocket, overly show affection type of horse.
In the boarding situation that Willow lives in right now, I get to go out at 7 at night, in the pitch dark (sometimes dragging an infant and a toddler along) and the freezing cold, to hike up a rather large hill in order to take care of Wills and her pasture buddy, Bella at night. I love it.
Willow is the very very very bottom of the pecking order, and it took almost a week for the other horses to even let her think about coming up to be part of the group. She still gets pushed around, but we’re in the process of building her her own run in and she really enjoys having 24/7 access to grass (hog). Feeding time is the worst still, as the two other mares (who have their own space, but share a fence line. It’s complicated) get fed at different times, so they snark at Willow over the fence constantly. Feed time usually consists of me standing next to Willow, growling at everybody to just back off. I also get mobbed since I have to go through their dry lot to get to Bella and Willow. I pretty much have put the fear of god into them though, so nobody tries to kick me anymore. 😉
Last night, though, I was doing my usual thing when my stupid knee went kaput! on me. It’s tricky like that, from an old injury, and will just randomly give out if I step wrong (usually when I’m out of shape). It takes some coaxing to go back to normal. The super fun part was that it did it when I was half way through the gate between dry lots, with an arm full of full feed buckets. The three horses were on me like white on rice. It’s really not a fun feeling sitting on your butt in the dark, in the middle of a three way mare food fight, and knowing you won’t be able to jump up and boogey out of there. Or even really hit any of them. I was fairly sure that I was about to get my brain kicked in.
Then comes Willow. All 17.2 hands of chicken shit that she is, waded right into the middle of the whole shebang to stand almost on top of me. She pinned her ears, squealed, did some tail swishing, and took the hits. In the meantime, there is her totally useless mother, underneath her feet, trying to scramble to the gate so I could slam it shut on the two worst offenders. Bella had the sense to back off into her run in and stare at the whole mess.
I finally managed to make it to the gate, which I managed to wing shut in their faces, but I still wasn’t really into the whole standing thing. I couldn’t reach the latch to secure the gate, and it has a tendency to open on it’s own. So I did some praying, put all my trust in my girl, and grabbed her hind leg to try to use as a cane to get myself standing. This is not a really standard horsemanship practice. Don’t try it at home, y’all. She stood like a rock, still making faces at the two mares who were rushing the gate to get to the feed on the ground, while I pulled and yanked on her leg and tail. I managed to get myself standing, used her ample bottom to drag myself around and latched the stupid gate.
I got my knee back working after a few minutes of massaging, bending, and flexing (still using Willow as a crutch). I refilled grain bins, beat the mares back a second time, and managed to get Bella and Willow fed without incident.
Willow is missing a few substantial patches of her winter fuzz and some skin off a foreleg, but is none the worse for wear. She will for sure be getting her favorite warm peppermint bran mash tonight.
Maybe she does like me a little bit after all? Either that or she figured if Mom was dead, nobody would be feeding her at night. Either way, I can honestly say that it makes the fact that I’ll be eating noodles for the next twelve years in order to afford her vet bills a little bit easier to stomach. 🙂