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Nov 04

Why horses suck: Reason #174

Ginger Rogers

This is my fat hunter, Ginger Rogers.

Before coming to Dreadful Acres, Ginger Rogers lived in boarding barns her whole life. She was incarcerated with no turnout and got fed according to the industry standard, two times a day. This funky situation, combined with her natural alpha-mare charm, encouraged her to develop food aggression. This is what her food aggression looks like.

Because of this somewhat impertinent attitude toward her barn-mates at chow time, it was not without a smidge of trepidation that I decided to spring Ginger Rogers from prison and bring her home to join the pet Arabians on 24-hour turnout in the communal paddock.

My Dread-O-Meter was working perfectly. It indeed turned out to be a huge disaster.

Pearl, the feisty little Arabian, and Ginger Rogers, the big, dumb warmblood cross, initiated without delay a bloody turf war. Squealing, shrieking, striking, rearing, kicking, biting, charging — upon this violent and relentless pursuit of dominance did I daily cast a jaundiced eye. Astonishingly, the wily Pearl always emerged from these skirmishes with nary a hair out of place, but occasionally poor old Stella would get caught in the crossfire and end up with a chunk taken out of her butt.

“Yo, Crone, why didn’t you just separate’em?” you ask.

Well I would have, if there had been anyplace to separate’em to. But Dreadful Acres was in its infancy as an equine facility back then (and by “back then” I mean “last year”). I had a 2-acre paddock and a 2-stall Preifert barn with one little porta-panel run, and that was it. This set-up worked well enough for two pet Arabians who basically get along, but turned out to be pretty insufficient with the introduction of a third mare of the burly/surly variety. The layout was designed by me during a fit of stupidity, so naturally the Preifert barn is right in the middle of the paddock (facing the north wind, I might add), with no way to prevent direct equine access to the stalls. If I put one horse inside, the other one would simply sidle up and recommence the combat through the grills.

The damnable Preifert barnThe Preifert barn, incidentally, is a flimsy piece of crap. It was designed exclusively to shelter frail animals between whom there exists a warm bond of friendship and good will. It clearly was not meant to contain robust adult horses who from time to time are moved to exhibit a bit of antipathy toward one another, unless the object of the exercise is to incur huge vet bills. The barn has never quite come crashing down, but whenever a horse so much as exhales on it, it rattles and groans and creaks like the Titanic sinking. When the awesome new barn is finished in 6 weeks or so, the first thing I’m gonna do, after wiping a tear of joy from the cronal eye, and after buying a sledge hammer, is to take a sledge hammer to that Priefert hunk of junk.

Meanwhile, a week or two into the experiment, the Pearl v. Ginger Rogers hostilities showed no sign of abating. I contemplated sending Ginger Rogers back out to live among strangers until I could revamp the infrastructure in a manner sufficient to address our issues. I cannot recall precisely the line of reasoning that led me to ditch that plan, but probably it had something to do with my aforementioned stupidity. And cheapness.

Work on a second paddock had begun, but alas, was not finished in time to prevent this.

Ginger Rogers vs. the fence

And this.

Ginger Rogers vs. the fence

Ginger Rogers, in an attempt to double-barrel the shit out of Pearl, had got both hind legs hooked over a fence rail, ripping them to shreds. I probably don’t need to describe the extraordinary degree of slack to which my jaw was subjected upon perceiving this gruesome tableau. I mean, one dreadful thing or another blows my mind around here practically every day, but when it’s horse legs cut to ribbons, the jaw-slackening is simply world class.

Ginger Rogers at the vetOff to the clinic, a 40-minute trailer ride away. The news was good: no tendons or ligaments or bones appeared to have been endreadfulized. So they shot her full of bute and antibiotics and wrapped her up tight (amusing side note: when you bandage a horse up to the stifle, her subsequent first steps resemble those of John Cleese from the Ministry of Silly Walks, thus ensuring that the bandage blows out at the hock). She was, however, discharged with instructions to, what else, incarcerate her again. Thus doth dreadfulness come full circle.

So all that was about six months ago. Mangling her legs seems to have given Ginger Rogers a new perspective. After she came off stall rest she was a different person. A kinder, gentler Ginger Rogers emerged. Nowadays all the mares are often turned out together, without incident. Sure, there’s the occasional pinned-ear wrinkle-nosed head-bob, but for the most part, the dispute appears to have been settled. Pearl and Ginger Rogers can often be seen dozing within a few feet of each other in the same loafing shed. Miraculously, Ginger Rogers is completely sound, but she will carry the hideous battle scars from this incident to her giant grave. As will I to mine.

Ginger Rogers' scar

10 comments

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  1. Tehomet

    Holy crap, that’s awful. I hope it’s all peace and love among the equines from now on.

  2. gingerest

    OW. I think it’s blackly humorous that your alpha-mare basically beat herself into submission.

  3. Carpenter

    I’m one of those city folks who knows nothing about horses, so I am stunned to find out that they actually try to dropkick each other with both back legs. I thought this was something only attempted by pissed of donkeys in cartoons.

  4. Imp

    Now that they’re mostly settled, who eventually ended up as alpha mare? I’m thinking it was Pearl…

  5. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    The alpha mare ended up being Ginger Rogers. She controls the herd with her ear position alone. It rankles Pearl, who has been successful in every other power struggle she’s engaged in, but Ginger Rogers is nearly twice her size and exudes a certain stolid authority with which she cannot argue. Unlike Pearl, who is excitable and moody, there are no depths to Ginger Rogers’ character. She’s all brawn.

    Pearl is still the boss of poor old Stella, though.

  6. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Carpenter:

    I am stunned to find out that they actually try to dropkick each other with both back legs. I thought this was something only attempted by pissed of donkeys in cartoons.

    Donkeys do it in real life, too. Ask me how I know!

  7. Pueblerina

    In her short life (not yet over, I hasten to add), my mare has: jumped into a field containing an alpha mare and her two colts (result: indelible horseshoe imprints on her hindquarters), been jumped on by a vile male donkey (result: large chunk bitten out of her neck) and been wooed by an errant stallion (result: stallion became entangled in a five bar gate to the extent that he broke his hip and the owner shot him). Horses are indeed crap.

    On a brighter note, a friend’s stallion once escaped from his field. The first my friend knew of it was when he heard the pitter patter of many hooves passing through the village in the dead of night. The stallion had gone up to the nearby hillside, rounded up a neighbour’s herd of 20+ mares and brought them home.

  8. buttercup

    Arabians were my first horsey love as a girl. Marguerite Henry and all that. The more fairs etc I attend, the more I’m drawn to draft horses, because of disposition and the fact that if I am ever going to ride again, it’s going to have to be a draft horse. I fell in love with an amazing Freisian at last year’s fair, but this year my eye was distracted by a gorgeous Percheron. Both as calm and easygoing as could be. The size of their hooves is a bit terrifying, though.

    While it infuriates me that anyone would dare aggress towards the lovely and gracious Maypearl, I am glad Ginger has recovered from her injuries.

  9. Ron Sullivan

    Our excursions to Chickenland (which I may discuss next month) put us in a house with a hot tub in a vineyard next to a horse ranch. Sunset light on a handful of chestnut horses is lovely; listening to various nickers and whuffles while soaking is interesting, as in: Cozy, but why the hell are those horses outside at night?

    The more I read of your adventures, the happier I am that I get to enjoy Somebody Else’s Horses, even from a distance.

  10. veggiegirl

    Elephants sound easier. At least female elephants.

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