Tiny loves winter.
It’s the time of year humans come equipped with cup holders .
Last winter I helped feed the gang (30+) breakfast before hand walking Tiny, who was recovering from hoof abscesses. I enjoy this tremendously: Tiny is one of those unusual horses that never shuts up, and I like conversation. It’s a good match. So we stroll and talk. I have both hands jammed in my parka pockets, lead included, it’s FREEZING. Maybe I should put up my hood. We’re walking along the access road. Tiny is dawdling a bit behind me. Because it’s Tiny, I don’t care.
What the heck…?!? I am tilting backward. Tiny is rooting around in my hood, where apparently some loose alfalfa leaves had fallen when I was tossing breakfast over the rails. Great. I’m a moving feed bag. There is NO other horse on the planet I would let get away with this. I stop and let him polish off whatever hay he’s found in there. Contented, we finish our walk.
His owner takes care of him the next day.
Tiny is unusually happy to see me the following day. We get geared up for our walk and hit the access road. We’re strolling along, and when we get to the place he previously used me as a feed bag he stops, and starts rooting around in my hood. Nothing there. Tiny is disgruntled. He’s stops talking. This is rare. Tiny has commentary on everything. Clearly, he believed the food was going to be part of our morning ritual. He plants.
“Come ON, Tiny”, I say, tugging the to the side. This untracks him enough to get him moving. I resume walking. Tiny does it begrudgingly. One. Hoof. At. A. Time. I apologize. Yes, I know he can’t understand a word I’m saying, but I explain anyway: “It was this freak thing…no more food. Sorry.”
Ten minutes of non-communicative-but-normal walking later, I think; great, he’s finally giving it up.
In a flash, Tiny reaches over snags my hood with his teeth, and flips it up over my head. This is the horse equivalent of poking your sister after an argument. So there. This totally cracks me up, but I stay poker faced. I put the hood back down. He does nothing. We walk in silence. He’s still not speaking to me, even if I’m somewhat forgiven. I watch the wild turkeys burrow down into the manure pile. The steaming manure pile is the turkey equivalent of a natural hot spring.
We stop and stare at the turkeys. My hood suddenly flips back up over my head. When I turn to look at Tiny, he’s innocently watching the turkeys cook themselves. I don’t know what you’re talking about, you have some sort of problem?
Tiny would have made a GREAT police horse. He can pat you down for food faster than any cop on a drug bust. I say “pat you down for food” not “pat you down for treats or carrots” because frankly, Tiny doesn’t care what you have. Tiny thinks grapefruit is a treat. He tries to eat the peel.
The next day it’s clear all is forgiven. But we have a new phrase in our inter-species dialogue: I believe the closest translation would be “Neener-neener”.
We walk. We talk. We’re quiet. Suddenly, he throws my hood up over my head. I pretend not to care. A minute later, I shove him mildly on the shoulder. He pretends not to care. When he thinks I’ve forgotten, he reaches over and flips my hood up again. Our walking becomes a mutually amusing elbowing contest.
You’ve never seen a happier horse. It’s finally the RIGHT temperature for an XL, dark-coated draft-horse cross, parka pockets always have something potentially edible, and he gets to poke at me unmercifully.
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