HAY HERD! Sampson the Warhorse here and I would like to present my food girl, I mean rider, Kiva Fyrewulf a.k.a. Angela Lorio for today’s blog! Good morning, I write and speak for Sampson the Warhorse as he sounds in my head every single day. Hay! I heard that! You know my 8 inch dinner plate hooves and keyboards don’t play well together! Snickernicker! Hush you, go have some grass and get out of my space. I have to write this today about you, not with you! Snort, fine. The grass is greener over there anyway!
My day starts early. Sampson waits for me in the corner of the arena that provides him the best view of the kitchen door which will let him know the very moment the food girl is coming to bring him breakfast. It’s one of my favorite moments of the day as it also comes with a whinny, a nicker and a snort as he tells me to hurry my feet up as he is so totally starving clean to death. I try to tell her I am just all skin and bones and that I need to eat RIGHT NOW! Breakfast is a scoop (about a pound) of a pelleted feed that fits his dietary needs, a dash of salt to ensure that he stays hydrated all year round, and off course, a horse cookie.
Here’s where it’s fun. After he finishes a meal he tips his feed trough over with a very loud thump in protest that it’s empty again. I don’t flip it back. The game is “fix your food bowl”. He has to use his big head and nose to right the feed trough to get fed. Of course, I fix the food bowl! I want to eat! And I am smart, it didn’t take me long to learn how to get it back on its feet. Tipping it more fun! The feed bucket is followed by a handful of green alfalfa hay and a flake or two of coastal bahaia hay. After he polishes off all that food it’s out to the green grass pasture with his buddy Tiny Sam. Together they spend the day eating grass and indulging in a wide array of horseplay. We like to play chase! Tiny Sam rears under my nose, so I just lift my head and then try and nip him on the butt. He runs away and I give chase for a few steps. Then I go back and eat some more grass. I make sure they have plenty of fresh water, a mineral block, shade and as the seasons change good insect repellent. There are a few flies that give all of grief and sharp bites.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention manure management. Hay! Poop happens! Yes, it happens and it’s not small in quantities with such a big horse. I remove manure from the paddock and the stall areas every day and it gets composted and eventually makes it way to my flower gardens as great fertilizer. It’s not the worse job in the world, and honestly less smelly than the litter box of an indoor cat. A manure cart and rake are the simple tools that get that chore done.
Most days they get some grooming time before I feed them dinner. We have other days where we play horse games on the ground. We jump barrels, work on and off the ropes on our listening and trust skills. We work on some riding games in the arena to make sure that I am a relaxed and active rider as opposed to a sack of potatoes along for the ride. Sometimes I work on my balance with my hands on my hips or out to the side while we walk or trot in the arena usually without the saddle. I save the saddle for riding outside in the neighborhood around our home. Neighborhood rides are a lot of fun. We like to stop and visit with the other horses that are pastured around us. Sam likes to step into a really long reaching trot which truly covers some ground. He’s not keen on the canter, and I don’t see the need as his long trot is easy to ride and just as fast moving. I am lazy, the canter is too much work!
Different days, it’s trips to the farrier at Texas A&M in College Station, or it’s routine health care and checkups at Brazos Valley Equine in Navasota. I take care of the quarterly worming medication and monthly dietary supplements to prevent a gut ache, sand colic. Sandy soiled pastures, which I have, can cause sand to accumulate in the horses gut and make them ill, so the prevention is an absorbent fiber that binds and pulls the sand out of his gut. It’s a tasty orange supplement!
Dinner time looks like breakfast with the addition of several supplements that I purchase from SmartPak, these are designed to help keep his gut working and prevent colics and intestinal blockages which can be fatal.
In addition, dinner usually has a carrot or two thrown in the bucket. The very last chore of the day is when the chicken coop must be closed up, and I usually go and pet the big guy on the nose and tell him goodnight and how very blessed I am to be a partner to a really great horse. I nuzzle back and say, “Good night, Kiva, I love you.”