The cleaning equipment comes out every morning, always in the same configuration - I tuck the muck fork and muck tub inside the wheelbarrow and haul it out to the paddock to pick piles. I clean while the horses are bucket feeding. I am close by, so they know to come find me when they are finished and I remove the bucket for them.
This morning Berlin and then Zig came to me while I was picking manure, so I pulled their buckets and laid them in the wheelbarrow next to the muck tub. No big deal really, except that I don't normally do that. Usually, I remove the bucket and leave it standing on the ground. That way, any horse who is finished can inspect the bucket of someone else who is finished. This little ritual brings contentment to the herd. They move in a musical chairs game where only they can hear the melody. Everyone stops at a bucket. It is thoroughly inspected and then they scramble to move on to the next one. They seem fascinated by what someone else had to eat and they lick and fuss and maneuver those empty buckets for 15 minutes or more. I enjoy their fascination.
When Compa wandered over, I removed his bucket and added it to the others. He was concerned with this new arrangement and began exploring the whole deal with his mouth. At first he rubbed his upper lip on the rim of the muck tub. Smeared with manure, he raised his upper lip and popped it while he pulled his eyes back. Thankfully, he didn't stick his tongue out and lick the mess he created.
Back inside the wheelbarrow, Compa played with everything. He took the muck rake out and swung it around and then dropped it in the sand. He pushed one of the buckets out of the wheelbarrow and chased it as it rolled down the incline. He captured it between his front feet and picked it up by the rope and swung it about. Good fun there!
Leaving that mess behind, he came back to the wheelbarrow and bit down on the next bucket. He flung it up into the sky and chased it, too. Back once again to the wheelbarrow, Compa decided to grab one of the handles and work it over with his teeth. He carved away at that handle causing me some concern over splinters and wood chips in his belly. I left him alone when I saw him spit out the wood chunks and dive right back into his new job. I debated about whether or not to stop him when I saw that I would be pulling double duty.
Yep, he dumped the wheelbarrow over and wandered off. All the fun finished for one morning.
Life would be incomplete if I was unable to watch the horses explore their world with their mouths.