Walking the Horses with Yuki the Dog

Kris and Cosquilla.
Kris and Cosquilla.

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.

Yuki making sure that Sabba stays with the group.
Yuki making sure that Sabba stays with the group.

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.

Sometimes Sabba needs a little more encouragement, so she and Yuki both get a run.
Sometimes Sabba needs a little more encouragement, so she and Yuki both get a run.

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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5 thoughts on “Walking the Horses with Yuki the Dog”

  1. A little update: on the last few walks, Yuki has pretty much been doing his job in encouraging the horses to keep up. Unfortunately, the horses have been rather recalcitrant lately, and Yuki’s entreaties have frequently gone for naught. They seem to want to hang in a field and eat grass and are more than willing to tell the dog to f**k off instead of coming along with the rest of us. I’m going to have to work on this one. It seems a 12 kilo dog or an 80 kilo person is no match for a stubborn 400 kilo horse. (n.b. all weights are purely approximations, especially mine.)

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  2. Some people are really great with animals. Me on the other hand seem to be not good with them. The only pet I had was a cat which lasted for a couple of days until it was lost. I think my brother and my sister work better with animals. You’re lucky that you found someone who is great with animals.

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  3. Hi there,
    Great post! I love how eager Yuki is, and from your recent comment, I don’t know what seemed to have happened with the whole training thing. You might want to give the dog some time off ; I’m not so sure, but it might be mating season for the horses, and when a horse is in that kind of mood, not even a crane could move it! From the pictures, he seems to have been doing a good job, anyway. I think it’s all a matter of patience, if you ask me. Let us know how it goes!
    Alana

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  4. Yes, Alana, it’s certainly not for trying. Yuki’s doing his job, but all three horses seem to just be stubborn lately. Don’t know if it’s the fresh grass they’re getting along the way, or, as you say, their “season.” Either way, it’s a lot more of a struggle for all of us lately. Oh, and I mistyped in the last comment. Yuki is more like 28 kilos than 12. Of course, probably half of that is hair.

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