The first indication of animal mischief on my way to the barn this morning was an uprooted recently planted blackberry shrub. Once it was set back in its hole, I walked on to the barn and there I found a fairly large pile of horse poop right in the middle of the aisle way, that had not been there on my last visit to the barn yesterday afternoon. A stall door was ominously open to the aisle way and so was the other stall door open to the pasture. Then a big white face peered around the corner just outside the back of the barn. It was Sunset, the wonder horse, standing , waiting patiently for me to come get her and put her back in her stall. Kitty, my other mare was a couple of yards behind her and she made her way over to us, also ready to be put back in her stall as well.
They both had a very tired, sheepish, and not feeling so hot look about them. I locked their gates to their stalls and more clues of their activities began to expose themselves as I went about feeding the other horses. As I feared, on this outing the two ladies had found the feed can and had obviously had quite a feast on it. Grain was scattered about and the diminished quantity left in the can meant that one or both of them had put away some food. The hay pile also showed signs of another gorging. Several bales had been opened and partially eaten and then pooped on. Counting piles of the droppings in the area around the feed room area back of the barn made me guess the girls had been there for several hours, just eating, then pooping, and eating again, etc.
As I continued my routine of getting the others fed more clues to the nocturnal activities of these two showed that there had been quite a bit of scooting around the fencing of the pastures of the other horses. Deep foot prints and slide marks showed they had done some serious dancing and playing on this little walk about. Fortunately they had steered clear of the tractor and its implements and the two didn't have any outer signs of injury. My concern here now was their sheepish moods and whether a bit of colic and or founder is in their future from this overeating binge.
I left them in their stalls for an hour or so to see if an impaction was likely. They both passed on a good sample of a previous meal so I let them out into their paddock. They then lethargically meandered over to the water tank and took long drinks, ears drooping and eyes tired and half closed. Clearly these girls were feeling the effect of all that over eating and running around. I will continue to keep an eye on them and if no soon improvement is made to their mood I will call the vet.
Horses are really such hard animals to keep safe and sound. They can tear up anything, open locked gates, eat until they hurt themselves, and even manage to step on sticks the wrong way and puncture the soles of their feet. The possibilities for injury and damage to themselves and property is unlimited. I ride by fields of cows laying right next to piles of sheet metal and barbed wire and ask why is it they can stay next to such stuff and not jump in and get hurt the way a horse would? It amazing horses make it to retirement age at all. Some days I wonder if it is worth the effort to try to keep them at all.
Yesterday I did manage to ride all three that I am presently training, these two working girls and the gelding, Atlas. Great rides on all three and warmer weather brought a good bit of better spirits to me. Ice is finally beginning to melt in the pond and the water tanks and the stress level it has caused on the farm is melting with it. Today my plans for getting inside projects done will be tempered with a few trips to the barn to see how my ill feeling over eaters are doing and keep fingers crossed that they ride thru this escape from their stalls with no effects.
I will also put extra snaps on their stall gates, and oh yes, the silly beasts are still worth it.