Just so there is no mistake, Kris does all the work when it comes to the horses. She hauls their hay from the big roll across the road from their shelter. She puts the hay in their feed bags. She fills their feed buckets from the barrel near the hay roll. She talks to them. She brushes them. She moves them from the upper to the lower pasture.
Now, I’ve helped a little. Very little. I’ve gone to the store (with her) to buy more grain and toted the 35kg bags and dumped them (with her help) into the barrel. I’ve filled the big wicker basket with hay on a few occasions and toted them over to the stable so she could give it to the horses. And, sometimes, I go out with her and talk to her while she’s shoveling the horse shit out of the stable. As she says, watching is helping.
But the only thing I actually like to do when it comes to the horses is walk them. Don’t get me wrong. Kris is the one that actually puts Cosquilla on the lead and walks down the path with her. Cosquilla is the oldest of the three and the stabilizing influence on the other two.
Sabba is still a filly and has the slim body and gamboling temperament of a youngster. She loves to raise her tail high in the air and take off whenever she feels like it. She also has no regard for the electric fence that surrounds normally surrounds her. Just another thing to jump over.
Sasha is the one Kris calls Sassy, which is a nice way of saying bitch. Sasha takes every opportunity to steal the other horses’ food, and to chase them off with bared teeth and flailing hooves whenever she feels annoyed, which is usually.
So, Kris hooks Cosquilla to the lead. Not because she needs to be tied. In fact, she’s the one who least needs to be tied. But, for some reason, the other two will follow Cosquilla’s general lead and at least stay in sight as they tear off into the adjoining sheep and cow pastures to snatch an extra meal from the thick still green grass.
But, I haven’t yet mentioned Yuki. Yuki is a dog, but he’s the first dog I’ve ever been associated with who earns his keep. He’s, we’re told, a mix of Catalan and Basque shepherd. And, he’s the smartest best behaved dog I’ve ever run across.
As we walk out into the mountain paths and pastures, Yuki is the one that keeps us all together. If Kris and Cosquilla get too far ahead, Yuki will run ahead of them and actually plant himself in their path to make them stop. Then he’ll tear ass after whichever horse is dawdling over a graze in the last field and push her bowed neck until she relents and trots up to join the rest of us.
When Sabba bounds into a field just to do a little running around like children will do, Yuki always joins her and runs with her and constantly tries to turn her back toward us. Sabba doesn’t always appreciate the correction and will nip at him with her teeth if he’s trying the neck pushing technique, or kick up her heels at his rear approach. Yuki seems to regard this as a game and just keeps coming (after he’s made a quick juke to get out of the way of the sharp hoof.)
Sometimes, Sasha will take the opportunity when Yuki and Sabba are playing to get even further out of the line, even going over a hill out of sight. All you have to do then is say, “Yuki, busca (look for) Sasha.” (He takes his commands in an odd combination of Spanish and the German he learned from the woodworkers who helped build the house we’re staying in.) At those words, his head goes up, he looks around for Sasha, and if he can’t see her he just follows his nose back to her. Two minutes and some sharp barking later, Sasha is running up the hill, chased by Yuki, to rejoin us.
God, I love dogs. If Yuki weren’t around, Kris would have to chase the damn horses.
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