Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another Little Story.........

While we're on the subject of horses and their jammies, I have another little story to tell. This one challenges the thinking that horses are dumb animals, incapable of independent thought. I'm pretty sure it's not behavior expected by even long time horse people....

On another particularly cold day, I put Storm out into the front paddock. Knowing he would probably pick the wettest, dirtiest spot in that enclosure to roll, I had changed the stallion's blanket from an indoor one to a turnout to keep him clean and assure he'd be dry enough to get his jammies back on when he came in.

Because this Arabian horse likes to play pretty vigorously when he's out, I selected a lighter weight cover so he wouldn't get all sweaty as he played.  Even with the cold temperatures Storm has the right garment to be plenty comfortable outside.

At the end of the day when it was time for the horse to go back into the barn, I was beyond my limits for the day. I did manage to get the horse to his stall but my abdomen was hurting too badly for me to lift blankets on and off over his head and no one was around to do it for me so his change to his blanket had to wait.

it was dinner time for the horses so I knew Storm would be fine wearing his turnout for a while. I decided I would go into the house and take some pain meds and rest.  By the time Storm was done with his meal, I hoped to be able to go back out and get the wardrobe change accomplished.

As I tried to exit the horse's stall, I remember having trouble closing the stall door. Storm's winter blanket was on the floor and somehow entangled with the roller for the door. I thought I'd pushed the blanket totally clear as I freed up the door enough to close it. Hurting too much to even bend over, I left Storm's winter blanket laying on the floor where it laid..

In the wintertime we usually feed four meals a day here. The last one at night is when we feed supplements and feeds that do best if digested in the upper digestive track. The schedule for that is two hours after the dinner time hay when the horses are full so less likely to wolf down that meal and then push it through their gut with a follow up of hay. It gives us one more trip to the barn before chores are done for the day but the horses utilize their feed better and it gives us the opportunity to follow up on things like Storm's blanket change without having to make an extra trip.

When it was time to feed that meal I was still having issues with pain. I asked whoever was feeding that late meal to make the change from turn out to winter blanket for Storm.

The next morning when I went to the barn, I spied Storm's winter blanket laying directly in front of his stall door. I looked around for the turnout but it was nowhere to be seen. It looked to me like the change had been forgotten but there was no explanation for the location of Storm's winter blanket. It definitely was not where I had left it and now it was blocking the door.

I immediately went over to put Storm's blanket on him. As I got close I could see the horse was clearly expressing his displeasure (just like his sire with ears flattened and head shaking) at being left in a light weight turnout in cold weather. I totally sympathized with him, it had been particularly cold over night.  I let him know I empathized with my voice but the horse wasn't letting me off the hook that easily.

With Storm continuing to shake his head at me and even doing some actual grumbling, I tried to open the stall door but it wouldn't budge.  A portion of his heavy blanket was wedged tightly underneath it. I tried pulling the blanket away from the door but it was pretty well stuck. The only way I could get the door to move at all was by smoothing out the portion of the blanket lodged underneath the door itself.

The way the blanket was wedged, I was only able to get the door open enough to make a small crack.  There was barely enough room to squeeze myself through that opening.  Imagine my surprise when I got inside and looked down to find a large portion of the blanket  at my feet.

While I don't know exactly how he did it, it was clear that Storm had managed to get a hold of some portion of the blanket and had tried pulling it into the stall. Even though the horse had been unable to get the entire blanket in, the front of the blanket laid stretched out with the neck opening on top. That part was tented a bit like the horse had been pulling at it,maybe even trying to stick his head through the hole.

As I pulled the turnout off of him, I wondered it it really could be possible that Storm had tried to put his blanket on. It was surprising enough that he had somehow managed to get a hold of it underneath the door to pull it into his stall. It was hard to imagine he had actually tried to put it on.

My question was answered when I managed to free the body of the thing from under the door. While I still struggled with a leg strap that had wrapped itself around the door's bracket, the horse began pulling his jammies searching for the neck hole. Before I could free the opening up, Storm already had his muzzle heading through. Granted he was putting it on inside out......but he was putting it on......again........like his dad........Go figure........

OK, I have to admit, the first time this happened I thought it was a fluke. All of my horses love their blankets and most of them try to assist in putting them on. .... nothing quite as dramatic as this but they try. However, this incident with Storm was different AND more importantly it has happened again.....and again.

If Storm's heavy blanket is left on the floor by his door, he mashed to reach it and pulls it under the door. It also ends up with the neck opening on top and looking a little tented......like he has specifically "worked" it.

 So far he hasn't figured our how to get the entire blanket under the door because those pesky leg straps keep catching on the bracket with the roller......and I suspect the horse has figured out that's the problem because he is still trying. I can assure you Storm is not a horse who will waste his time doing something he's learned doesn't work. On the other hand he's not a horse that will quit trying if he thinks there's any chance he can accomplish what he wants.......so me.......I believe the horse is definitely trying to put on his own jammies if he's cold.....but then, why not..........he takes them off if he's too warm.......


  1. What a character! Do let us know if he ever achieves it

  2. Hmmmm. Perhaps those times my horses ripped their blankets off the hooks at night, it wasn't because they were playing with them. Maybe they felt it was cold enough to wear them. They definitely will disrobe each other if I don't get the blankets off in time before they get too toasty. Sometimes my horses will insert their heads into the halter for me if they like where I'm taking them. I wish they'd do that more often. Wouldn't it be awesome if the horses could easily put on and remove their own blankets each night, and be trusted not to shred them or poop on them? It sounds like Storm is pretty close.

  3. Storm is definitely opinionated. If he ever does get it all the way in the stall I wonder if he could manage to "dress" himself for bed.

  4. I agree a complete character. Can't wait to hear more stories. I've missed them.

  5. That's funny! I know ours will help get their blankets on if they want them. Just hold them up by the back, holding them wide. The horses will duck their head, look for the hole, poke their muzzle through first and literally walk into them, stopping when the blanketis in place and wait while we do up the straps. Removal- just grab at the withers and pull forward. the horses will back out of them too. Silly, spoiled, smart ponys!

  6. What a gorgeous horse! All of your animals are amazing. I'm really sorry you are still in so much pain.

  7. Sometimes animals really do make me wonder. My parents have a kitty that runs over to the door and puts her paws around the doorknob when she wants outside. She knows what it's for, but lacks the ability to operate it herself. Sounds like your Storm is the same way. What a smart guy. It must be a blast just to watch his antics when he's left to his own devices.

  8. I have tears streaming down my face from laughing at father and son! Storm is such a smart and silly boy! I think he IS trying to put on his Jammies. Is he allowed to hang his head over the door? If yes perhaps having his jammies where he can pull them over the door, instead of under. lol