A Sweltering Summer

The summer months had unusually high temps and very thick humidity that hung heavy in the air.  I was half tempted to get a spoon and scoop it up, it was that thick.  Our small herd found themselves tucked into the dark recesses of the barn to get away from the swarms of horse flies and the oppressive heat.  Abi has never been able to stand having a horse fly on her.  But when she does have one on her, she runs to us, knowing we will take care of the horse fly that is tormenting her.  I have to admit that it’s a bit daunting to have 1400 pounds on 4 hooves come flying at me!  But she does stop in time and present the horse fly to us for easy removal.   We typically put a commercial fly spray on all of our horses in the summer.  But there was an unusually large amount of horse flies this summer.  Image learned very early on to come right to us so we could remove the vile offender from him.  He was very polite in his manner about this.  It took Ember a little longer to reach out for help with the nasty horse flies.  I saw one on her mane and quickly and quietly caught it in my hand.  I made sure it was dead before presenting it to her to see and smell.  That seemed to be all it took for her to come right to us with her horse fly woes.

We did not work on much training or games with the horses since it was so hot.  It didn’t take much effort to start perspiring heavily.  If we were miserable, we assumed the horses were too.  We still played plenty of ‘friendly’ games though.

I found that every time I went out to the pasture to hang out with the horses, that Ember would leave my side as soon as our herd alpha, Abi, came up to us.  I decided I needed to move Abi off so Ember would be more comfortable by my side.  I started to move Abi off with steady pressure on her fore-quarters.  Just as soon I moved her off, she came right back.  So we played this game over several days.  Each time we played this, Ember stayed a little closer to me each time.  And by about the 7th day of this dance, all I had to do was push the air around Abi for her to move off and stay at a polite distance from me and Ember.  Abi needed to realize that I am one of her leader’s.  And more importantly, Ember needed to see that Abi understood that too.  So I had to show Ember that I am the leader of all of them for her to be completely comfortable standing by my side when Abi is around.  I had plenty of opportunities to show this to Ember during the summer.  Since Ember has the lowest ranking in her herd, I ended up doing this with both Image and Lady Gray as well.

Even though Touchy, our 30+ year old, just wanted to be left alone from the other horses, we found that she was craving our attention.  As her vision in her remaining eye continues to plummet, she has lost a lot of her status among her herd.  In the barn yard, she shares the lowest ranking with Ember.  But out in the pasture, she can still hold her own.  It is impressive to see how Abi protects Touchy on a daily basis.  I see her putting herself between Touchy and the others quite frequently.  Touchy is much slower than the ‘young kids’, so Abi lingers behind to help Touchy find her way.  And I have watched her move off a stray dog that showed a little aggression toward Touchy in the pasture.  Her protective nature is really shining in her alpha status.

It was interesting to watch Image and Ember one afternoon as they crossed the creek to an area that has a little grazing and is landlocked by a neighbors fence.

Lady Gray wanted to follow them, but she is much more timid in randomly crossing the creek just ‘anywhere’.  She seems to want her footing a little more sure than what Image and Ember do.  But then Lady Gray was bred to race on a track, not to survive in a rugged Montana wilderness as Image and Ember were!  I watched as Lady Gray started to think through what she knew she had to do to get to the others.

She watched Image and Ember for a little while and then gathered her courage to cross the creek in an unknown area.  She inched toward the water and smelled it.

Then she took a tentative step in and found herself on the other side in no time!

That wasn’t so bad.  Once she was there, Image came over to see her and have a chat with her.  Image still has an interesting relationship with Lady Gray.  His infatuation with her turned to fascination and then to domination.  Or at least he tried…..  She will take his advances only so long before she lets him know just how she feels with those hooves of hers.  I am not sure why Image continues to try to rule over her, since he is the one who ends up wearing the evidence of their ‘bickering’.

As the summer months wore on, the rain continued to fall.

We were able to get all of our cuttings of hay in, but it was a bit difficult finding 4 days in a row of dry weather.

As the summer months wore on, the rain continued to fall.  There were times when I didn’t think that Image was really a palomino.  He resembled more of a dirty brown roan/appy cross.  If there is such a thing!