My parents have these two older Quarter Horse geldings--Mouse and Hobbit. They are both in their early twenties and their daily ritual for the past several years has been to be taken from the barn in the morning and turned out to pasture all day to graze and then as dusk rolls around they are put back in the barn and fed goodies and hay. They have been living the life. Hobbit has earned this life--he was a world champion reiner way back (when I was in college and partying meant more to me than horses, um, I mean good grdaes--that was a brief blip in time, because as soon as I got out of school I started looking for my new horse). Mouse did not earn his retirement so much. Mouse sorta lucked out. Dad bought him as a colt and thought he'd be the next great reining champ. Well, Mouse decided he was a champ at eating and being lazy and so he was gelded, which did nothing for his energy level, although he is a gorgeous beast. Dad brought him home and thought he'd make a good trail horse and he would have but it was about that time that my father began to have some serious back problems and he lost his balance a few times on the horse--balance was something he'd always had. This scared him a lot and he stopped riding. We now know it was likely because he had developed Parkinson's Disease, which was not diagnosed for many years later. I was a mom of two little boys and a baby girl at the time and in all honesty if I was able to ride back then, I would have been jumping. So--lucky Mouse got to join his "brother" Hobbit out in the pasture.
That's been several years now (like I said) and the boys have had this same routine...until...three Thoroughbred fillies came to live amongst them. Yes, crazy me, brought home 3 yearlings last year. I couldn't help it. A man who owned a race horse breeding facility had passed away and his daughters were giving away the yearlings, weanlings and brood mares. I am not talking shoddy stock here. Even the ranch manager was in tears when Terrie and I pulled away. The next day she called to check on them and all she kept saying was, "Those girls have no idea what they have given away." The old boys at my parents' place would agree.
For several months the girls all lived in a pasture together. However, recently I decided that it was time for "manners class." I knew that Hobbit would be a great teacher. I didn't have the confidence in Old Mouse but I thought it was worth a try. I also kind of thought Hobbit (who is by far one of my most favorite animals in the entire world) was bored of the routine with his "brother." I was right. Hobbit has now taken on the role of King of the Hill. He has his herd and they listen to him. He lets them know the rules and takes no crap off of them, but at the same time he does it in a kind way. He's not nasty at all, but those fillies get that he is "the man." I have seen him gallop and buck and rear up and just have fun being the King of the Hill. He even herds them away from me when it is feeding time. He walks between them and me as if he is making sure I am okay. Maybe he is just wanting to be sure he gets the first bite of the pellets.
Then there is Mouse. Now Mouse has not completely dissapointed me. I put him in with my third filly--my shy one. He's not exactly "King of the Hill," but rather he is "Lover boy--totally enamored." Yes, poor Mouse has fallen in LOVE and Miss Bronte is clueless because she is just happy to be living in a pasture with a nice old guy (hmm...kinda creepy. I will now remove my head from the gutter). The most important thing in Mouse's world has always been food. That's what he believes humans are here for--to feed him. This is a horse who would never ever share a meal...until...he met this big TB filly (Bronte). That crazy old gelding shares his bucket AND let's her into the bucket first! Who knew? He plays with her, follows her around and you can just see it in his eyes that she is "his" girl. I think she could care less. She likes that he shares the bucket.
All I can say is that witnessing this horse behavior makes me feel so good. It's a reminder that youth or acting silly and youthful can be down right fun, and I for one, am having a helluva time watching these horses learn, play and just be. The reason I enjoy it so much is because of what I have learned by watching them. They remind me that sometimes (most of the time) it's the simple things that makes us feel the best inside.
Have a great weekend!