Monday, July 26, 2010

Watch Out! Strange Stallion! Chase It Away!

At least, Mr. Smith thought the "strange horse" in his field needed to be chased off.

Gnats bite Polly's underside so I rub Tea Tree oil salve on her belly midline and around her teats, where the little pests make raw spots. She loves having me scratch those areas and put salve on them. The other horses don't seem so attractive to flying insects. We use fly predators regularly and don't have many biting flies. In fact, Polly is the only one who wants a fly mask on... and the only one that gets flies feeding in the corners of her eyes when she doesn't wear one.

Today Polly seemed particularly itchy so I put a fly sheet on her to help protect her belly... the first fly sheet she's ever worn. Nightingale and Jessie Anne were fascinated by this new, white garment and tasted it as I dressed Polly. But Mr. Smith was out in the field and did not see her until she walked out there.

Too bad I didn't have my camera with me. Mr. Smith grew about six inches as he arched his neck and came strutting over like a stallion, prancing around Polly. He seemed to think this apparition that had appeared in his field was another "stallion" and he needed to put the intruder in his place... preferably clear off the place. Cautiously leaning closer to the apparent invader, Mr. Smith reached out and sniffed Polly's nose... but still did not recognize her.

Snorting, my gelding-who-thinks-he's-a-stallion began hazing 31-year-old Polly... running her around the field. Jessie Anne (Polly's daughter) and Night (Polly's granddaughter) immediately put themselves between Mr. Smith and Polly, racing between them and kicking at Mr. Smith whenever he got too close. It was quite a spectacle with all four horses tearing around the pasture, wheeling and spinning and kicking.

Eventually, Mr. Smith grew tired of running everyone and stopped. J.A. and Night backed off a bit and let him come closer to Polly. Then they put their heads down to graze and so did Polly. It looked just as though they were telling him, "It's okay. It's just Polly. It's not a threat." Mr. Smith put his head down but kept looking up at the white-robed "stranger". One or two more times he trotted over and the two younger mares ran interference again. But by then, Polly was tired of the attention and laid her ears back at Mr. Smith, something she has never done before. He backed off. Hooray for Polly!

Mr. Smith is a terrible bully to his aged pasture mate. She just adores him but he wants none of her. Maybe he will have a little more respect for her from now on. Maybe. But unfortunately, I don't think he ever figured out that the white stranger was Polly. This evening, when I put Mr. Smith in for the night with his food, he kept staring out at the white-robed horse just outside. He watched as I took her fly sheet off. Then acted amazed that the white stranger was suddenly gone and Polly had magically returned. He kept looking all around, apparently trying to find the white menace.

Having always thought Mr. Smith was a very smart horse, I was a bit disappointed in his denseness today. But I thought it noble and amazing the way the two younger mares protected their mom/grandmom from "the stallion"... just as grandma Polly and mother Jessie Anne had protected Nightingale from Mr. Smith when Night was a baby. No matter how many generations removed from the wild they are, horses still retain instincts that helped keep their ancestors alive. Beware the stallion!

Especially, Mr. Smith would say, if it's dressed in white.

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