Walking up to the pasture this morning, I couldn't see the horses at first. They were in the back part of the pasture. My heart skipped a beat as I realized I was actually about to see them with my own eyes. Pictures are nice, but nothing can replace the real thing. My dad whistled and we stood and waited at the fence for a moment. I glanced around and noticed how wet the ground was. It had snowed about 4 inches on Monday night. The snow had since melted and turned our clay soil to slippery mud in places where there was heavy foot traffic, namely in the horse paddock. Up further on the hill where the round bale sat, the ground was firm and still had short grass on it. Then, from around the corner came Chico. He galloped down and slowed to a trot through the mud. I pulled out my camera and snapped a photo as Todd met him at the fence. I'm sure Chico knows us (horses aren't that stupid), but they don't have that same reaction as a dog does. Chico was looking for treats and hoping that Todd had one.
Then down came Cody, followed by Catlow who stood a ways back. My dad whistled and called to her a few times before she finally came down to the fence to get her treat. I was surprised by how hairy Catlow is! She didn't have hardly any winter coat at all in November, while Cody and Chico both had developed a thick coat. Now, Catlows coat is longer than either Cody's or Chico's! She looks like a yak! You can see how long the hair is on her face when you look at her blaze.
Cody's face in comparison is not nearly that hairy.
Look how hairy her body is! She was not nearly this hairy last year, but she also had a blanket last year.
All the horses had really long hooves, so I spent the day trimming each one, then taking them each for a short bareback ride around the place. I had trimmed them back in November right before I left, but they haven't been touched since. I was pleased to see that they had all stayed pretty balanced. Just the hoof walls grew out a lot. The soul has remained exfoliated. The two mustangs feet look great. They just needed the wall removed. Cody's feet are not looking so hot. She has a distinct strong ridge in the soul about 1/2 to 3/4 inch within the hoof wall line. I've read that this is characteristic of horses that have hoof wall separation, which can be caused by diet or mechanical factors (like overgrown hoof walls). Cody has had this ongoing for the last couple years. I think it is a diet thing. She is really sensitive to diet changes and it shows up in her feet. I worry about being able to fix her. Her diet won't be changing now that she's here (aside from when the pasture grows in), so hopefully we can solve this with corrective trimming.
The horses look great, body condition-wise. I thought that they maybe looked thin in pictures, but in reality, they have a nice insulating layer of fat (can't feel ribs on any of them), but they don't have hay bellies. How is that possible? I'm not sure, but I think I read somewhere that feeding higher quality forage will actually reduce the hay belly effect because they don't have to eat as much and it doesn't spend as much time fermenting in their bellies.
I am so pleased to see that Catlow is back to her relaxed self. Even when I rode her over the hill out of sight of the others, she was concerned, but not explosively so, like she was back in November. She has settled in here now, so all the sounds and smells are familiar and not cause for alarm. So she has settled back into calm responsive Catlow...a horse I really enjoy being around.
My parents are renting a place right next to a big patch of woods. Todd had fun exploring this evening with my neice. Here, they are checking out a big jack pine...a tree that Todd doesn't get to see all the time because it is not found in the west. Todd is a botanist/ecologist by trade. He loves trees. Apparently, so does Ella.