Free at last! Little Eddy Royal and his misbehaving mother, Missy, have been turned out to pasture, so to speak. Eddy turns one-month old in a couple of days and for the first two weeks of his life he, Missy, and Uncle Brumbie were free to roam the 200-acre east meadow. Then, for health reasons, I put the three of them in the 2-acre paddock to limit Missy’s feed. And of course we all know that led in Eddy’s losing battle with the barbed wire fence resulting in he deep chest laceration when he and his mom inexplicably ended up on opposite sides of the fence.
So after that one week in the big paddock they were downsized into the very small corral that Bob and I hastily constructed from stock panels. These were set up around the stall that is part of the hay barn so the mare and foal shared a space for the past week that is about 24 feet by 48 feet. We’ve had to feed hay every day and Bob’s been packing water to them from the river. And we’ve taken turns shoveling horse poop and soiled straw from their limited confines, twice a day.
I’ve been visiting Eddy and Missy every morning and evening. I spend at least an hour with them each trip. I clean and doctor Eddy’s wound, clean the corral, flake out hay, and let Eddy out of the corral for a spell to practice feeding on green grass, and to work on his lessons. He is a very smart horse, quick to learn. At 3-weeks he is completely halter broken and will walk, trot and stop at my side when I ask him to. He’s been learning to back up the last few days and yesterday I introduced him to being tied up. I tied him to a firmly set post, snubbed up tight, then let him figure out that he wasn’t stronger than the post. I had to train him to stand while tied because with Bob gone, I need to doctor him by myself. We’ve even been going on some little walk-about. I lead him, or he leads me, into the nearby trees or behind the barn. But Missy, who remains in the corral, gets awful panicky, then Eddy wants to rush the 100 yards or so back to her. At least once a day, sometimes twice if I have time, I let him loose to gallop and hop and kick and cavort all through the tall, green grass. Then he grazes for a bit but quickly gets bored and runs some more, then asks to be let back in the pen with mom.
His wound is doing well and it doesn’t really need the homeopathic spray I’ve been using to heal any more. Since yesterday I’ve been having a strong inclination to let them back into the wide-open spaces of the east field so Eddy isn’t so bored. And I feel like he is not as muscular as he once was and needs more exercise. I’m sure I could list half a dozen reasons why it might be better for him to be running free, and an equal number for why he should stay corralled. But, my intuition has been strongly in favor of turning them loose so tonight, after an extra long schooling session, I took off his halter like usual for a romp, but then let Missy out too. It was somewhat anti-climactic for a while as they grazed their way over to Brumbie and the three of them mostly just ate. I hung out with the herd and pet Eddy as much as I could so he won’t snub me in the future when I try to love on him in the wild.
After about 20 minutes Missy seemed to figure out she was free and started grazing further and further away from the barn. Eddy seemed to think this was exciting so he started to run and romp and buck his way far out into the meadow with Missy and Brumbie moseying along. I guess Eddy’s antics finally got the best of the grown ups who started trotting after him, shaking their heads and acting playful. This encouraged Eddy to go nuts and he tore around the big field running as fast as the wind. I watched and smiled and waved good-bye as they raced a half-mile off toward the forest. When I got back to the cabin I found Eddy through the binoculars and he was still galloping and rearing and generally just tearing it up. He’s gotten more exercise tonight than in the entire past week of confinement. That just has to be good for him.