|I swear, she does not mean me! (Photo taken before the demise of the right cross tie.)|
I trimmed Harley's feet today. I didn't take any pictures, because the lighting was poor, but his feet are looking very good. I cross-tie my horse when I groom him, tack up, or work on his feet. I know a couple horse people who prefer ground tying, but this is something that I have not taken the time to teach Harley. I am sure that he can learn just about anything, but I consider cross ties one of my chosen "conveniences". Thankfully, I have a horse who stands between the ties for as long as necessary. Even if he shifts around, he respects the ties.
Today, I went to attach the right cross-tie and I saw that the clip was broken. Apparently, one of the other horses spooked and busted the clip. The bailing twine tied at the top of the tie held sturdy, even though the metal clip snapped in half. Horses are strong.
I tied Harley's cotton, blue lead line to the hanging, lifeless cross-tie with a slip-knot. This made for a longer tie than usual, but it held fast and I could pull the slip to untie it quickly. As I was trimming his feet, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was Harley's muzzle sniffing the ground.
"Harley, How is your face on the ground?"
Since, he stayed still and seemed pretty content to stretch his neck down while I worked on his feet, I just let him be. Before long, I felt my jacket russling slightly. Harley's muzzle wiggled like the end of an elephant trunk as he nosed my back pocket. I kept working, ignoring him, but vigilant for any teeth or test nips. None came, but his nose did leave and return a few times once he realized that he had more freedom than usual in the long cross-tie. Hopefully, his gentle nosiness meant that he liked the grooming his feet were getting.
After his feet were finished, it was time to eat, and then time to go out for the night. I walked Harley in my left hand and his buddy in my right. Harley is a pretty big walker when his hay is waiting, but his equally food-motivated buddy, walks like a slug. Harley and I had to kind of drag him along. I gave him a couple looks that said, "What is your problem?"
Once at the paddock, we walked through the gate together and both horses turned to face me, which is polite horse manners. Harley made a motion to nip his buddy's chest. I corrected him and made him move over so that he could not pick on his buddy while I was taking his halter off. Harley is the alpha, but he is not a nasty alpha. I was wondering why he was so bitey toward his paddock mate as I removed his halter and then I understood why. His buddy committed a huge bad-horse behavior. He ran threw the gate. The gate that was right next to me. I am always mindful of where the gate is, because a swinging gate can be a dangerous weapon. Of course, this time I was not mindful of shutting the dangerous weapon behind me. I foolishly thought that the horses would be more interested in their hay. Harley was. My good boy did not follow his buddy. He turned and headed for the hay. "More for me!'
When I went to catch his buddy, he started to trot away from me, so I gave him a hard whack on the butt with my lead line, which had a leather popper on the end. He trotted off and headed for the barn as if he was about to receive his second dinner. This horse is allowed to run in from his paddock to his stall for dinner at night. Many other horses on the property are also granted this "privilege". I ask that Harley always be walked in, and this situation is a good example of why I do not approve of this practice. Since the horse is used to running through the gate, he looks for opportunities to do just that, even when dinner has already been served. A friend intercepted him in the barn and I took him back out. I was very annoyed. Not only was his behavior potentially dangerous, but the "habit" was not going away anytime soon.
I think Harley knew what the other horse was thinking, because he had been making to bite him on the chest, which would have sent the horse backwards. I stopped Harley's correction, only to the have the offending horse rudely run past me. I was reminded of another similar incident about a month ago. I was holding the same horse from Harley's back. Harley was fussing over his buddy and tossing his head at him. I made Harley quit, and then his buddy bit him on the neck! I think that I have learned my lesson this time. Harley knows his "nudgey" paddock buddy better than I do. If he feels that the horse needs a correction, I should just let him give it to him.
Oh yeah, and next time, close the gate!