Seems I've failed to endear myself to one of my neighbors. I don't do this on purpose, it just happens sometimes! I wish I could blame it on the class clown, but really, I can't...
I don't feed on a schedule. I go out whenever I please and that's when the horses get fed. Of course, I don't skip any meals, but I refuse to set a schedule whereby my horses can complain if I'm not out at a certain time.
Anyway, tonight the bucket feeding was 30 minutes prior to dark. Ziggy finished up first and instead of coming to me for bucket removal, he meandered over to the gate, opened it (it wasn't chained) and walked out. He didn't catch me by surprise; I watched him make the decision. He looked back at me several times to test my reaction, but he knows better than to feel wrong about acting like the class clown. The way I figured it, if he wanted to go explore the property with a bucket strapped to his head... well, more power to him! I wasn't the least bit concerned.
In my world this was a teaching opportunity. Maybe Ziggy would teach me, maybe I would teach him. Regardless, I have to say that up until that point, I thought it was all kind of funny. Then I saw the neighbor girl riding bareback. She was headed my way and had no idea...
Berlin, Cruiser and Carli took off down the fence line to observe Ziggy's path to freedom. They wanted to be up close and personal and that required some heavy breathing into thick plastic. I wondered if breathing hard into those buckets was anything like ventilating into a brown paper bag. (???) Carli was all pig squeals, with grain dumping out of her bucket with every stride. Berlin went from near 18 hands to well over 20 as he displayed his best extended trot, while Cruiser demonstrated perfect airs above ground.
Oh boy. I could see the young girl wasn't paying attention, but her horse had taken notice.
I headed out the gate to see what I could do for her. If I got to Ziggy before she rode to the head of the driveway, then I could keep all the horses down by the barn and her ride would be less exciting. You see, she's ridden by many times, but not at bucket feeding time. My horses usually ignore all non-herd horses, but I had the strong feeling that tonight, they would run the fence line to greet her. I had no idea how her horse would handle the bucket brigade charging down on him.
A glance in her direction showed she just kept riding closer. I moved quite a bit faster. The problem was, I couldn't see Ziggy anywhere. He was hiding somewhere in the flower garden. Great!
As I moved in, Ziggy burst between the rubber plant and the azaleas, trampling as many spider lilies as he could. He made eye contact with me and came rushing over. Apparently his brilliant idea wasn't going so well for him. He came along quietly with me and we were almost to the gate, but not before I heard a very loud, "OH MY GOSH!" from the road.
Berlin, Carli and Cru were headed straight for that girl. They were showing off the entire distance down to the road - big leaps, bucks-on-the-move, spinning rears, and snorts that were magnified ten-fold by the buckets.
Oh dear! Ziggy and I rushed through the gate and ran to the middle of the pasture.
My horses come when I call, but I wasn't sure they'd hear me with all the commotion they were causing and they seemed to really enjoy showing their buckets to the bay horse who was dancing around in the road. I thought, hold on honey - this'll be better in two seconds, and I yelled at the top of my lungs.
Down the center of the pasture, three horses thundered toward me, delighting in their four-legged-ness and having a whale of a good time. Berlin and Carli stopped right in front of me, while Cruiser zoomed on past. Ziggy was with me and everyone was breathing heavily. I watched as the girl and her horse continued unscathed down the road. I was happy for that.
My horses lowered their heads for bucket removal. They each got a nice scratch and Ziggy received a good talking to, but he only pretended to act remorseful.