As of tomorrow afternoon Abe will be at Cairnorchies, so this is the last post here. From tomorrow, you’ll find his diary integrated with the Cairnorchies Chronicles.
Readers of Poppy and Dancer’s blog will know I’m referring to a horse, not a season.
Summer was put out with Abe and Henry yesterday and Henry promptly adopted her and grazed with her most of the day. Abe was with them both this morning and all seemed to be sweetness and light, so that’s a big relief! The old mare seems a gentle, lonely creature for all her grisly scarred eyesocket and if she can carry on going out with Henry when I move Abe to Cairnorchies on Thursday, that’s one less thing for me to feel guilty about.
I’ve agreed with Lynn that we’ll load up Poppy and Dancer first thing, as soon as everyone else is out, and that way we won’t have any time presssure to get Dancer loaded. Lynn will come over with me, in case I need a hand, and I’ll leave them in the barn for the day, with plenty of hay, water and room to move around.
Abe will come in as usual at 3pm and I’ll take him over to Cairnorchies then. He can have his feed when he gets there and will be able to talk to Poppy and Dancer (and vice versa) over the stable door through the night, so they should be getting used to each other nicely by the time it gets dark. In the morning they’ll go out in adjoining paddocks. On Saturday, hopefully, I can then take down the separation fence and they’ll have one paddock between them and get on with forming a nice happy herd together, after which Abe can join the girls in the barn at night.
I got to the yard this morning to hear that everything was frozen – water drinkers, troughs, taps, even the water bowser stored in the barn. Abe got his hoof trim first and then went out; he was a bit antsy while getting his hooves done, possibly because he was thirsty and late going out, but quite calm in the field. Once Poppy and Dancer had had their trims and gone out as well, I took the ragwort fork and went round all the troughs and water buckets out in the fields, breaking ice to let the horses reach the water in the troughs and lifting the ice out of the buckets so they could get at the unfrozen liquid underneath.
This was what I hauled out of Daniel’s bucket:
My glove’s there for scale – it’s about a three-inch thick chunk of ice.
Odette mentioned that she has something called trace heating for her water – which means the drinkers and troughs never freeze. She said it’s not expensive and her husband put it in himself, so it’s not too complicated to do (her words, not mine! I assume he’s not a plumber by trade, anyway).
I definitely want to know more!
We had a couple of inches of snow overnight, which meant it took me twice as long as usual to get to the stables today. Lynn didn’t make it in from Fraserburgh at all so Helen had to muck out stables. I actually did Abe’s stable because there’s a leak in the roof over where he likes to stand and snooze, bum to the door and close up against the wall (maybe he feels safer with something to lean on at need?) so I tossed all the clean straw over the wall into George’s former stable, left the dirty straw and muck piled up for removal and laid a fresh bed for Abe in George’s clean dry box instead. It’ll be Abe’s stable now until we get to the new place.
With the snow on the road, though, and the steep climb into the top car park, I decided it’s not sensible to try and get the car into the top car park to hook to the trailer, and I’m not loading horses into a trailer without the weight of the car attached to the front to hold them down! That means no trailer training for a while.
I’m sure he’ll remember where he’s at with it, though.
He’s getting on with Henry alright and seems to be surviving George’s absence without visible upset, thankfully. Henry tried to push Abe off a pile of hay this morning and got some teeth waved in his direction to remind him of his lowly status, but it was just a token tooth-wave, not a serious attempt to bite.
Instead of trailer work tonight, I gave Abe a nice groom, brushed out his mane and tail and left him head down in his feed bucket contentedly.
It was too perishing cold up here this morning to touch anything metal without gloves, so I didn’t ask the horses to go near the trailer. This evening it was a bit better (though still sub-zero) so all of them had a go.
Abe padded round to the trailer with just a small snort and ears pricked, lined himself up on the ramp nicely and followed me most of the way in, then allowed me to coax him the rest of the way and stood engulfing nuggets for a minute. I took a step back to give him more space and he followed, so I moved round towards the front ramp. He followed me again – and then kept walking, so I walked too!
Hh didn’t leap out of the trailer, just padded calmly down the ramp, and I gave him tons of praise and loads of nuggets, of course…. then he turned his head slightly and let out a huge snort, freezing in place. It took me a moment to spot what had caught his attention – there’s a sort of mini-portakabin by the school and the window was reflecting one of the wind turbines. Abe was locked in place, staring at it.
He did consent to unfreeze and walk round to the back of the trailer again after a moment, but he was clearly distracted and I didn’t want to end on a struggle when he’d been so good, so I patted him and told him he was an idiot, at which he let out a huge snort, and then I took him back to his stable and a bucket of grub.
It took a few up-and-down the ramp episodes as he’d come so far into the trailer, pause, think about it, eat some nuggets and then back delicately out again, but each time he came a bit further in, paused a little longer, and his final go got all four hooves in the trailer squarely and I fed him loads of nuggets while telling him what a fabulous horse he is – then asked him to back out before he got bored and took him off to his stable.
I got going on the trailer training again yesterday, having moved the trailer back into the top car park (didn’t want to risk taking the horses up and down hill on icy roads!) and Abe was on his way back to his stable with me after an excellent session (both front hooves firmly in the trailer for several calm minutes) when Geeg and Indie came in from the bottom field. He’s not met either before and I didn’t want them all milling about on the remaining ice in the gateway, so I asked him to halt and wait.
He did. Indie (7 years old) had a little scamper at the sight of him and Geeg (22+) had a bit of a conniption and refused to go in his stable, but Abe stood like a rock at my side, watching them calmly, then walked on when I indicated it, halted at the edge of the road, walked across politely and stepped daintily into his stable, all without so much as a twitch of his rope, just me speaking quietly and signalling with my free hand!