I got my horse nerve all agitated at Thanksgiving. My sister Mindy owns three horses and keeps them on her property north of Cincinnati. After eating our turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, we headed out to the barn for some trips around the ring with the kids.
What is it about the smell of a horse's neck that is so intoxicating? I think that the smell is one of those things that people either LOVE or don't have an opinion about one way or another. Is it genetic? Is there a marker on some gene somewhere when, if turned on, causes people to love everything about these large animals with sensitive eyes and big, fluttery nostrils? Their smell is sweet and warm. I always want to describe it as vegetarian--it reminds me of dried grasses and oats--what they eat. It is mixed with something else, though, something particularly horsey. There is nothing else in the world that smells like a horse. I think cows stink. Pigs really stink. I've never had the opportunity to smell goats or sheep.
Mindy's horses are kind and well mannered, attributes of horses that are loved and happy. She has been working towards "natural" horse care lately and it shows. I was musing about what kind of barn to build and she said that if she had to do it all over again, she'd build a run-in for the horses and a separate tack room and grooming aisle. She gave me some books on natural horse care, which includes keeping your horses barefoot. I was so excited to hear this. After building this house for three plus years, I am not ready to embark on another huge building project. Ever. The idea of a three sided run-in (with maybe a fourth half wall so that they have a corner to get into when the weather is really bad) sounds so easy and quick and less expensive. According to the books she gave me on barefooted horses (that means unshod), maintaining good hoof care includes letting horses be horses--giving them access 24/7 to the outdoors among other things. I'm devouring the books and dreaming of my future babies.
John picked up a "Farm and Dairy" monthly at the hardware store the other day. It is quite a publication! There are several columnists sprinkled throughout and they provide some entertaining reading. John browsed the auctions and I went straight to the livestock section. I will have no trouble finding my horses when the time comes next summer. Here's one in my price range (under $1,000): 8-year old bay Thoroughbred gelding, very friendly, 16 hands. And here's another: 6-year old reg. Quarter Horse gelding, very friendly, excellent ground manners, 14.3 hands. And this one might be interesting: APHA reg. (that's an American Paint Horse), 11-year old flashy sorrel and white mare, lightly ridden in the last 3 years, needs tuned up, excellent broodmare, 15 hands. Ooh, now that's got me dreaming!
Ah, it's gonna be a long winter...