Thursday, April 07, 2016

Three-Handed Horse Game

I think I’ve mentioned here before how we have a new “yearling” on the farm -- that is, a horse who just turned one year old back in January, whom we’ve named Ruby.

She’s kind of hilarious to watch, acting very much like a young child the way she races around the pastures sometimes, then curls up on the ground as though taking a nap at others. Quite a contrast to our older horses Sammy, Maggie, and our friend’s horse Shakan (who boards with us).

That’s Ruby, Sammy, and Maggie pictured above, looking like a power trio on an album cover. Ruby is the one coming toward the camera, of course, being by far the most curious of the three.

I remember writing a post here before about the interesting dynamic caused by the several barn cats, noting how it resembled the kind of thing you might see at a poker table with multiple personalities playing off one another. There’s something similar going on with our three horses who share a big pasture while Shakan usually has a smaller one to himself.

The older horses are clearly running things, with Maggie the mare the captain and Sammy deferring to her rule. Ruby seems mostly accepting of the situation, although likes to take chances trying to see if she can get away with stealing from the other two horses’ feed. Usually they fend her off with a nip at her withers, like a player in the blinds three-betting to remind a late-position raiser who’s boss. But they get tired of that, too, letting her have their scraps occasionally.

It’s a lot of fun, and a lot to learn, too, actually, as you can’t be quite so free and easy with a young horse as you can with more relaxed older ones. In fact, Vera and I have had some help with training -- both of Ruby and ourselves -- which has been very enlightening for me as far as becoming better educated about how and why horses respond to things as they do.

So we’re learning, but Ruby is learning as well. It’s like she’s first started playing the game, and just can’t get enough of it.

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