I have noticed over the past several weeks that one of the barn cats has been using my horse's stall as a toilet. I find a neat little pile of "you know what" in the same corner, day after day. At some point, I stopped picking it up, hoping that the cat would abandon his bathroom if I stopped cleaning it.
The next day there were two piles side by side. Oh well.
I do not like to complain about too many things. As a boarder, I am a guest. A paying guest, but a guest, none the less, and what exactly is someone supposed to do to prevent the cat from using my horse's stall as his own personal outhouse? I groveled under my breath for a few weeks and gave the cat my best, evil-sideways-glance whenever I saw him sauntering across the farm yard. How can he be so smug? And he doesn't even have the class to cover his business.
I started to wonder, where had the cat been going to the bathroom before he starting using my stall? There has been at least one barn cat around for as long as I have kept my horse at the farm. Oddly, my horse seems to really like the cats. He will put his nose right up to a barn cat's belly and sniff so diligently that he nearly lifts the cat off the ground. He has never been scratched for this, so I assume they are friends. Maybe he invited the cat to use his stall.
"Sure! Come back anytime. I barely use my stall anyway."
I complained to my husband, because who else can you complain to when you are trying to "be cool" about something? However, this didn't resolve the issue. In an effort to help, he cleaned up the mess for me during his last barn visit. I do not think that I have seen him carry a manure fork before. It was a nice gesture.
Then one day, after lessons, late on Thursday, I went to clean a pile of horse poop from my horse's stall and noticed the cat's pile next to it. I was in mid-conversation with the barn owner and just decided on a whim to mention it.
"You know the cat keeps using my horse's stall as a bathroom."
There was a slight hesitation and then,
"It's not a cat."
Was a small child using my horse's stall as a bathroom? I was seriously confused.
"It's a skunk."
"WhhAaaTtt?!!?", my exclamation was drawn out, because I was presently holding a manure fork of skunk scat.
Apparently, a skunk had taken up residence nearby and was making himself at home. I unabashedly proceeded to freak out, vocally worrying if it could be a potentially-EPM-carrying opossum instead of a skunk and generally distraught that a wild animal was hanging around the barn. They carry diseases you know!
I was reassured that it was definitely a skunk, because one evening when my horse was being led into his stall for dinner, the skunk was in there doing his business.
"My horse could have been skunked!"
At this point, any attempt I may have made to "be cool" had completely failed and I now was in total boarder hysterics. I am sure that the barn owner was silently wishing that she had just let me continue to believe that it was the cat.
We have a local wild animal guru, who had already been contacted and she assured us that the skunk will not spray in a confined space, because he, himself, does not want to be skunked.
How is that for irony?
So long story short, the skunk is being humanely-trapped tomorrow and will be relocated. Until then, I have been keeping Harley's stall door shut and his bedding has remained free of "mystery presents".
Last Friday, my teacher came out for a lesson and happened to poke her head into another horse's stall.
After a few moments she commented,
"Hey, I think the cat is going in here."