I really wasn't going to blog about the incident which took place yesterday. But this morning, while having coffee with Kessy, it was 35 degrees, and knowing as I sipped my Folgers and listened to her contented hay chomping it was going to reach 60 again today, I got really angry all over again. Yea, ol' Dutch gets downright ornery sometimes … and being a horse advocate first, I always take the horse's side, in any argument, discussion or situation. Just my way.
|Kessy & me|
You need some background first; I drive a hundred miles one way for Kessy's hay. She being Insulin Resistant, we of course need low sugar hay. Buying and testing after it is home has proven not to work, neither has testing before buying as by the time the test comes in, the hay can be all sold. So last year I learned of a great outfit up in Culpepper, VA who tests everything they bale, and give the results, and you know what you're getting from the get-go. It's a second generation outfit, and they REALLY take care of their customers. They farm over a thousand acres.
So every 3 or 4 months I fire up our geriatric Tahoe, hook up my relic of a 2 horse trailer, and take a delightful drive through some of the most beautiful horse country in our state. Usually Ravishin' Robbie goes along and we work in a fun lunch at a quaint eatery or do a little touristing along the way – But she was away and I had to go alone. Had she been with me, I doubt the incident would have happened.
Bright blue skies and a gorgeous sun saw me off, even if was only in the 30's. I sang along to George Strait, Willie Nelson, and ABBA. From the start, roadside bird watching was great, and I was in high spirits. I truly enjoy this drive.
Of course every pasture with horses, or cows, for that matter dragged my eyes off the road as I admired them. Most of the time I stay on the road. Ravishin' Robbie declares I'm a terrible driver. I'm not really, I just get distracted by beauty.
I couldn't help but notice how many horses had blankets on this fine sunny morning. Halfway to Culpepper it was already in the mid-forties … Sad, I thought. By now I was in the really neat horse country and just about every mile boasted a pretty pasture with horses enjoying the day. Many of them wrapped in blankets. Just as a side note, does anyone ever wonder why cows can be in the same field and not need blankets?
As I drove and saw horse after horse out in the sun dealing with the foolishness of being overdressed, my mood began to deteriorate. I felt so bad for the poor horses. Even ABBA failed to lift my spirits …
I got to my destination and we had a delightful visit as we always do, and loaded 55 bales in the trailer and 8 in the ol' Tahoe … I like to pack my rig full! The old girl squats down a bit, but she still has what it takes. And, for home we set out.
It was after noon when I started home, and 60 degrees. Of course I thought of the blanketed horses and told myself surely I'd see none still being so wrongly treated. Of course I knew better. Forgive me for this, but abuse comes in many different forms.
Not more than fifteen minutes from the hay outfit I saw blanketed horses. My heart sank, my mood soured, again. I couldn't help it.
As I traveled by the pretty farms I found myself searching for blanketed horses, and sadly there were plenty. Not as many as the trip up, but within half an hour of leaving the hay outfit, I'd counted over 20 horses standing in summer-like warmth, blanketed.
I drove by a bank whose sign said, 64 degrees, and within 5 minutes came upon a beautiful big boarding outfit with pretty board fenced pastures, a long lane back to the buildings and lots of horses turned out. As I drove slowly by, I counted 12 with blankets. I think my head almost exploded.
Unable to stop myself, I looked for a place to turn around, and went back. I knew I was out of line, but could not convince myself to mind my own business. Turning around all loaded down was, well interesting. Driving up the lane I counted 21 horses, 13 with blankets on. I noticed several folks riding, all with helmets on and thought, "Yup, you'll take care of yourself, but what of those poor horses out there in the sun cooking under the blankets."
I turned around before I stopped, wanted to be facing the exit in case they shot at me, and I got a lot of strange looks as I stepped out of my squatted down, paint worn Tahoe and rusty trailer. I remember thinking about that line in "We'll Have The Summer," when Sam is thinking how easy it was to spot his old rig among all the fancy deals at the fair. Well that about summed me up there yesterday.
Two young ladies riding by stopped at my signal. I asked, "Why do all the horses have blankets on?" They shrugged and rode away, I'm certain they thought me a cook. Probably they're correct.
I made another inquiry and was directed to women standing not far from my rig. She was the owner or manager or something. She approached me wearing a pleasant smile; I think my smile had stayed in the Tahoe.
We shook hands, and I pointed to the blanketed horses. "Why are all those horses blanketed?" I admit, I jumped right in, but by golly it had been building all day. I did ask gently though.
She looked at me with a combination of, who are you, I'm busy and it is none of your business.
Finally she told me they were boarders' horses and they want them blanketed.
"It's 65 degrees!" I blurted. "They're probably well over a hundred under those blankets, it's messing up their thermal regulation and it's going down to the thirties again tonight. Don't you think you should yank the blankets off?"
With a look meant to put me in my place she said, "That's up to the owners." And politely invited me to leave.
I wanted discuss this more, but I was just too angry to be certain I wouldn't get out of line, so I left.
As I drove out the long lane my heart ached for the horses, and I carried with me the sadness of knowing I'd let them down.
A recurring theme in the long life of the horse is, "It's up to the owner." – Why can't it be up to the horse more often?
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry