Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cold But Still

Decorations Down

I had a chiropractic appointment this morning. Then I did a bit of shopping, mostly to return a sweater I had as a Christmas gift.  I lost money on it because I had no receipt, but I would have given it away anyhow, so any money back was a plus.  I found a couple items on sale instead and got them, then headed home.

It was in the 20's all day, but there was no wind.  Remarkable, actually that with still air and late January sunshine, it was not totally intolerable outside.  So I took the opportunity to take down the outside decorations.  I still have to pack them up--left them on the front porch for now--but they are down.  The only things left are the garland, lights, and star on the barn and the floodlight buried in the snow on the front lawn.  I'll pack everything tomorrow and put things in the basement. Wading through the snow and just doing the basics was enough for one day, as I am still feeling the affects of being sick for so long.

The Boys were in and out all day.  The run in shed in the riding arena seems to be one of their favorite hang out spots this winter.  The afternoon sun seems to shine there and I guess it serves as a windbreak. It makes me happy to know I had it built.

Right now it seems all I do each day is feed the Boys.  Well, I feed the birds and the two stray cats too, but each day breaks up into three trips to the barn to feed the horses.

It's one of those tasks with unique rewards. The first is a nicker of welcome and impatience from Toby.  He's not very vocal, but that low murmur of welcome just makes me feel good.  Tucker tends to make his presence known by banging on the stall gate.  He's not bad, but definitely wants me to know he wants his food.  Chance is quiet and just kind of watches.

I keep the order of feeding the same.  As alpha horse, and the eldest, Toby always gets his feed first.  Then I serve Tucker, and Chance, and youngest and least dominant gets his last.  The only one who fusses is Tucker who has delusions of grandeur and the ambition of moving up in the herd hierarchy.  Since Toby is very "alpha" that will never happen, but Toby's laid back attitude about his feed and his bad habit of cribbing gives Tucker an opening to make his move.

Toby eats slowly and will often stop to crib.  Tucker gobbles his smaller meal down and then lurks at Toby's door for an opening.  When Toby stops to crib, Tucker pushes into the stall and goes for Toby's feed tub.

Surprisingly, this is a totally non-violent and rather quiet takeover. Depending on his determination to crib instead of eat, Toby will often let Tucker steal his feed for quite a few bites before shoving him back out of the way. Tucker then simply scurries out of the stall and waits for the next time to dive in.  There's no fight between the two of them, and all it takes is a stern glance from Toby to send Tucker back out.

If I'm there, I simply stand by Toby's outside stall door and shake my finger at Tucker to send him off.  I could close all the stall doors until they were all done eating, but I've gone off to do other errands when I've done that in the past and then forgotten, until a few hours later, that I'd left everyone locked in the barn.

The best combat for this is for me to add alfalfa cubes to Tucker's feed.  The big cubes slow him down in eating his own feed so Toby has time to finish his.

What I find most interesting is how tolerant Toby is of Tucker's intrusion.  He is clearly the boss, but for some reason just doesn't feel the need to defend his territory where feed is concerned.

I guess, in some ways, it's a tribute to the fact that he's well fed and just not too worried about where the next meal is coming from.


  1. Good to get the decorations down. I'm almost done, just waiting for the batteries in the window candles to die.

    Toby sounds like a very nice "alpha" horse. Our Mellon would never stand for anyone to take a bite of his food or water. He'll never give up his spot in the herd either and he's around 24.

    Working outside today wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In the morning and afternoon (it was 9) but once the sun went down my fingers and toes needed some warming up. Can't believe how cold it's been and going to be. Stay warm.

  2. Interesting that Tucker is able to respect Toby with little pressure. Hint hint That cheeky Tucker can be discipline if he respects the horse!

    Toby's nonchalance seems to be the mark of a real alpha.
    Sometimes the most agressive horses are lower in the hierarchy and they have to defend for themselves.

    Cold today, but perhaps we can see some sky .. instead of clouds.

  3. Anonymous6:56 AM

    I love feeding time too, and watching all the horse behaviors. We're still very cold here today, but I think we'll be warming up (in relative terms) sometime next week, so perhaps that will head your way.

  4. Tucker is such a riot! Talk about "personality plus".

    We still have the Christmas lights up. I'm hoping they'll just blow off in the wind. Then I can just go collect them out of the yard. *G*