A while back, Daisy decided to move Barbie to a barn better suited to their changing needs. At least that’s what she said. I told her she couldn’t get rid of me that easily. I’m kind of a barnacle in friendships. You have to scrape me off.
Our barn is strictly functional and solidly basic. No fancy flourishes. Best food money can buy, and lots of eagle eyes. Good fencing. Rubber mats. Painted annually in a color that doesn’t show dirt easily. A couple of dressage trainers in residence, and a breed-specific English equitation trainer. No jumps, except the kind you can set up with “ice cubes” and a couple of ground poles.
Daisy and Barbie are starting the exciting road to show jumping. Time to move! Bigger, fancier barn: jumps and trainer, with full service available. Perfect.
The road trip was uneventful. (This should have tipped us off.) We drove to the new barn without detour or incident, and unloaded a completely relaxed Barbie. Daisy put Barbie in her new gorgeous personal turnout. In a squealing kick out at the gelding in the adjacent gorgeous personal turnout, Barbie got a rear hoof caught on top of the kick-proof-height fencing. (6′?)
I can hear you all groaning in solidarity. Thankfully, nothing tore. She strained her stifle, and was mighty sore from back to rump. Then she was mighty sore from compensating. While I’m only an adequate catch rider, I’m a good (horse) masseuse. I was thinking Barbie was overdue for another treatment. I instant messaged Daisy.
J: I think it’s time to work on my niece? When is the vet coming?
J: You ready to fly? Bet she gets released.
D: You think?
J: If she made the same progress as between last vet visits, you’re gonna get cleared for sure.
D: I have Monday off.
J: We can do Monday.
We settle on a time. Micah opts to stay home, Lee Lee comes with me to see the new barn. We walk around the second barn to the second covered arena, where I see Daisy waving a whip, and a giant bay mare squealing and wheeling around.
“Good grief! She’s GROWN again?, I say.
“That’s exactly what the vet said”, Daisy says, ducking a fake kick from Barbie and then getting after her for unacceptable behavior.
Lee Lee’s eyes get big. Barbie looks like she grew a foot in the last three weeks.
Barbie can’t stay away from us, she is a total social queen. Mouthy too. She reaches over and takes a crop out of Daisy’s back pocket. Daisy doesn’t react.
“Uh…”, I say.
“I’m trying to teach her to ‘Fetch'”, Daisy says.
I look at her in skeptical surprise. Don’t open my mouth.
“Bella thinks it’s a really bad idea”, she says.
“We think it’s a good idea?”, I say.
“I could make her bring me stuff”, Daisy says.
She demonstrates. Walks away with a dandy brush. Barbie’s ears prick. Daisy holds up the dandy brush, bristles up, and says “Fetch!” Barbie ambles over and sinks her teeth into the bristles, taking the brush out of Daisy’s hand.
“See?”, Daisy says. “I can make her bring me her grooming supplies.”
Barbie is totally engrossed in the brush, flipping it up and down so it whaps her gently on the nose, then chin, then nose. It doesn’t scare her. This horse has been sacked out so thoroughly she could work in a burlap factory. Barbie starts chomping experimentally on the bristles.
“I can see what Bella means?”, I say, “There’s a fine line between retrieval and creating a monster?”
We both pause to remember this is the horse who dismantled 4 automatic waterers in a row, including those that came with 20-year horse-proof warranties.
“It would be cool”, I add, “If you can get her to bring stuff back.” I pause, thinking. “And never ask her to bring her saddle.”
“I think it would be good for her brain”, Daisy says.
I have to agree with her. Barbie’s natural tendency is to be nosily inquisitive . So far, this had let to an unnatural tendency to ‘reverse engineer’ all objects within reach.
Daisy reads my mind.
“You should see her fly sheet”, she says. She points to a shredded white thing on the rail that looks like a sail attacked by piranhas. “Second one this summer. Harnessing the power for good might be better than leaving her to her own…”, she glares at Barbie, “…destructive devices.”
Barbie ignores her. Drops the brush. Picks up the crop and rolls it around in her mouth.
“FETCH!”, says Daisy, to reinforce the behavior. We return to our conversation.
“What do you think?”, says Daisy.
“We’re conflicted?”, I say. “We think it has good potential with unforeseen consequences. Remember Gail’s dog? The one she taught to ring the bell to go in and out?”
Daisy groans. Gail set up a bell next to the door. She thought it would be cute if the dog learned to ring the bell to ask to go out. It is cute. Dog started ringing the bell to go in and out. Then for scratches. Food. Just to see her owner run. Bell rang all the time. Dog started going in the house, because no one knew when she really had to go out.
“What if we ask on the blog?”, Daisy says.
“We think this is a great idea!”, I say.
Many brains are much better than the three that include a) one horse bored out of her mind by layup, b) one owner worried about her horse getting hurt again through boredom, c) one friend who can see the logic in all of this.
This is a very young, very athletically inclined, super smart horse who can’t do anything but hand walk. For the last two months. (Remember, short hand walking only, so ground work and physical tricks or time consuming stuff nixed by vet)
Your opinions, please?