I spent both days last weekend at Heather & Nita's. Saturday I groomed and hand grazed the Boyz, both of whom were pissy about being stalled on such a gorgeous day. The pens that were dry enough held stallions, who needed the outdoor time more than my guys.
In addition to her own 2 stud muffins, Heather is boarding 2 other stallions, so the place is like Testosterone Central. One of the visitors is a little baby doll named Avalanche. The other, I've talked about before — O (Sugarbush Harleys Classic O). O is the last standing Sugarbush stallion. His sire, Sugarbush Harley Quinne, a magnificent leopard draft, was struck by lightning and killed. Sugarbush was a hitch company in Ohio that had its own stable, kind of like the Budweiser Clydesdales. Hard times befell them, and I noticed even their website is no longer active. Heather has four of the remaining Sugarbush horses.
The older gentleman who owns O has been in declining health for years. Let's just say O wasn't handled as much as he could have been in his formative years. This is a problem when you're talking about a 1700 lb. (I think that's what Heather said) Percheron stallion whose shoulders, let alone withers, are well over my head. Heather and Jason have worked patiently with O for 2 years. He's come a long way, but he still isn't where you'd want any horse that size to be, in terms of trust or manners.
When I arrived on Sunday, O was out, and I hung over the fence, gave him a couple cookies and some scritches. Never has he engaged with me like he did this day. I grabbed some tools and groomed him through and over the fence. I found his tickle spot (just behind his withers) and he actually rocked and swayed, head cocked, eyes closed, muzzle twitching.
I noticed his tail looked like a giant steel wool pad, a matted ball. No way could that thing be effective in swatting flies. It must have been akin to whacking himself on the butt with a cricket bat. Heather said O still wasn't okay with people messing around with his off side or rear end, and has a tendency to cow kick. I used the brush to scratch his butt and get him used to what it feels like to have someone mess with his tail. I gave him a couple flakes of hay, pulled up my big girl panties and went inside the fence. The only way I can explain the rush of bravery is that everything about O reminds me so much of Poco, I feel as though I understand him. Heather said, "If he even flinches, MOVE."
It took well over an hour — long enough to get sunburned in November — but he was a perfect gentleman as I untangled the bird's nest that was his tail. Occasionally, he'd bend his neck around as if to say, "You're still there?" I was even able to work on his off side. When I finished, he sure seemed darn proud of that tail, or at least in wonder of the fact that it now swishes flies the way it should. Heather noted it's the same color as my roaning hair.
Poco and Jaz (mostly you-know-who) complained loudly about the interloper getting attention from their person. And a stallion, no less — the shame and humiliation of it all! When I finally went in to visit, Poco was very lovey and kissy, even to Nita. The Boyz did their best to convince me they're miserable and starving, but I know better.
Mike picked up a fresh round bale, and we'll bring them home this weekend.