Friday, November 26, 2010

Winter Chores and Pie Sucks His Tongue

Today was a full face mask, long-underwear kind of day - the windchill was 6F (or -14C), although the sun was shining brightly.  I was working at the barn this morning, so after giving hay I went from stall to stall and put on winter blankets.  I like the new Brookside medium weight turnout blankets that Dawn and Pie have - they fit well and are durable - with one exception: the manufacturer seems to think that rear leg straps sized for a pony, even when in the farthest out position,  will work on a full-size horse.  I've never had this problem with their blankets or sheets before - perhaps it was an assembly error.  Luckily I have lots of rear leg straps on other blankets to swap in, since no horse should have to endure a wedgie all day long, not to mention that the straps would rub and pull the blanket too far back.  Then there was wrestling with a frozen hose - I forgot to put it in the shower in the heated bathroom overnight when I fed last evening.

After turning out the horses, it was time for cleaning Dawn's and Pie's stalls, which I do every day.  We use pelleted wood bedding, which makes the job not too bad, and I enjoy the daily exercise.  Dawn is a slob - there are wet spots and manure strewn everywhere - but I keep her bedding pretty thin - she's happy with that - so the job isn't too bad, at least when she hasn't warmed her hind end on her heated bucket and left a deposit in her water (which she didn't do this morning).  Pie is very neat - he carefully deposits all his manure in one area against the wall of the stall.  There is the problem of the wet spot in the middle because he's a gelding, and since I bed his stall pretty deeply because of his hock sore (not that I'm really sure that's helping) there's some turning over of the bedding to do as the wet goes to the bottom. But one of the nice things when it's very cold is that the poo balls freeze, making them easy to pick out and pick up - they sound like rocks hitting the manure bucket.  I suppose it's amazing what things horse people find to be interesting or nice things!

* * * * * *
I once did a post on how each horse has a personal drinking style.  Pie is a delicate drinker - he sticks his head out and gently dips his chin and then quietly drinks.  Last night while I was in his stall, he did something new - he drank from his bucket and then left a bit of his tongue sticking out of his mouth and proceeded to suck on it for a moment, looking pensive and happy. Just the gentlest sucking noise - I wonder if it is comforting for a horse to do that?  I've never met but one other horse that was a tongue-sucker, and that horse did it a lot and not just when drinking.  I'll have to watch Pie and see if he does it again when drinking or at any other time.


  1. Brr - sounds kinda cold! At least doing chores keeps you from freezing into one spot!

    Rusty is a tongue sucker - he does it a bit when he drinks, but mostly after I've given him a treat of any kind. It is pretty cute...

  2. Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog about Chrome's lameness. I was leaning toward something in the back or pelvis too because of the short stride. Today he had a perfect one inch overstep on both rear legs which makes me wonder if that's normal for him or if he actually has a larger overstep (if so I'm impressed). The people on a conformation forum said he's slightly post legged in the rear so I don't know how much that effects his overstep. Anyway I'm rambling, but I will definitely call my trainer for contact info and prices for her chiropractor. And I will definitely check out that link you left me for the lameness tests. Thank you!!

  3. I understand what you're say about the blankets. I had a mare which literally would not move if her blanket was giving her a wedgie. Back then the horses were kept in the field. I went out to check on them and Ziggy was standing in the middle of the 2 acre field just watching me when I fed the others. Fearing the worst I walked out to her, and all around her, and could see nothing wrong. As I automatically adjusted her cover, for the want of something else to do, she exploded into a full gallop over to the food leaving me ducking clods of mud from her hooves. Problem solved. Huge relief!

    Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

  4. To me your chores sound so satisfying. For a year I helped a sick friend with his mares and foals, I love every second of it, shoveling poop or whatever, it was not work to me.
    The tongue sucking, like a baby would do for comfort, how sweet.

  5. I'm absolutely with you on the nuances of barn chores, Kate, despite low temps or high. I like the exercise too, but most of all I love the feeling of caring for the horses. I love knowing how each stall is unique to its occupant's habits and keeping that in mind when I'm cleaning. We have some basket weavers, as I call them, those who paddle their droppings until they are finely woven into just about all of the clean bedding, and others (my Scout) who are neat and routine as clockwork. Caring for horses also ends up caring for me!

  6. I always thought the "tongue sucking" was simply "sticking the tongue out so the water didn't fall out when the horse was still drinking." I mean, think about it--there is a long way from "mouth" to "swallower," and if the horse didn't put that tongue in place as a "stopper," all the water would be gone.

    My guy sucks his tongue too--I think the water warms up nicely in there when it's cold and quenches the thirst when it's hot. Of course, he also dips his face into the trough up to his eyeballs in the summer and blows bubbles.

    He's very inventive.

  7. It was chilly here in New Mexico - 22 degrees F, but there was no wind so once the sun came up it wasn't too bad. Even though we have stalls for the horses, they are open 24/7 and our horses choose to be outside more often than not.


  8. Cute little Pie. He is ever looking for ways to charm you. *S*

    I know what you mean about those stupid straps. I've had a number of blankets and sheets where they were just too short. Fortunately, I too have a supply of used straps in the barn and can swap them out.

    My Boys are pretty neat in their stalls, but with 24/7 turnout--their choice--I usually don't have a lot of heavy duty picking to do. But it always feels so good to see a nice clean stall for my Boys.

  9. That is very cute of Pie :)

    Don't envy you having to muck out a messy mare though!

  10. I love that story of Pie sucking his tongue. He is such a relaxed cutie "pie".
    I agree completely about the silly pleasures we find and observe while doing horse chores. I gave up stall cleaning when the boys went out 24/7 but now I am into "manure tossing". I am sure the cars that drive by think I am crazy, but I love it. Out in the pasture with the boys, winging manure this way and that. It keeps me so warm too!

  11. Funny about Pie and his tongue!
    And he is the first gelding i've heard of being organised with his poo and such! That always is nice when it comes to mucking!

    Pantz poos on top of the first poo she if you put one somewhere, she'l always go there.
    Wa, picks a spot, then goes there...but since the move to a MUCH smaller stall, I think it 10X12..coming from a 12 X 24 she's all messed up and they bed so gets pretty hard to clean.
    And Wa is a move the water sort of mare...a bigger water recepticle is what I have for her..she tosses the water back and forth...then drinks!

    Stay warm...stall work does help that!

  12. Our Reggie has an endearing tongue thing too - if I touch his lip, he'll stick his tongue out for me to touch/hold.

  13. Too cute re Pie and his tongue. I just noticed a quirk with my horse Rogo and drinking - he quickly dips his mouth in the bucket when he's eating hay. Just a quick in and out dunk, not a drink. Guess he likes his hay wet.
    You're lucky Pie keeps his stall so clean :)

  14. Very cute about Pie. Apache is very oral and licks, wags, sucks, and just lets her tongue hang out. One thing that cracks me up is when she sees me walking to the barn, she will yawn over and over and it looks like her tongue is vibrating inside her mouth up and down. Her tongue is always movin'! lol!

    When I first bought her I was worried because she would constantly dip her mouth into her water bucket and take in some water when she ate her hay. But after I got her horribly ovegrown teeth floated, that behavior stopped.

    I just saw Dan's comment about weather and had to laugh at the difference. We're only 45 minutes from each other. But Dan's below 4,000 ft elevation.

    Yesterday, in my area of New Mexico (7,000ft) we woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground, bitter winds and a windchill down to 12 degrees! Brrr!

    I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving,

  15. Our horses do that tongue sucking thing all the time. I wonder if sometimes the water tastes good (or bad). We had a mare once that stuck her whole nose in the water, past her nostrils to drink. She's the only one I've seen do that. I heard the Arab people think it's a good horse that can do that. It just freaks me out.

  16. We were just talking about the different ways animals drink - cats curl their tongues, dogs lap, but horses sip like we do.

    Pie is quite a character. And neat! Lily also like a neat stall and keeps her manure to one area. Horse equivalent to making her bed. :)

    We just got a blanket for Lily who just doesn't grow a coat. So far it's going well...

  17. Br. I guess I shouldn't really complain about 40 degree weather, but I'm obviously a wuss. :)

    Lena is like Pie, with the exception of the puddle in the middle. She only goes poo in one corner of her pen, on the mats, away from her food. Apparently, her dam taught all her foals to do that.

    Bar, on the other hand. Sigh. Wherever he is, that's where it lands.

    I don't clean Forrest's pen, but Katie commented that he pushed all his bedding to the sides of his shelter, then did all his business in the middle. And outside, it appears he goes all in one place, then lays down in it. Ick.

    Yes, horse owners notice and revel in strange things--though I hope to never have frozen poo balls. Brrrr.

  18. My AJ is a tongue sucker. He's 24 and has done it ever since I got him 20 years ago. He always sucks on it after eating something he loves (grain, carrots, any food really) but he also used to do it when he was bored. I remember what a pain it was trying to do showmanship with him because he'd keep trying to suck his tongue as the judge walked by. :)

  19. Hi, Love the stories! I had a gelding (38 yrs), who loved his stall so much, he had the ability to walk outside poop and pee in the pasture and walk back into his stall and hang out or eat hay, he knew I kept it spotless, bless his heart. ....................I NOW have a mare who delicately drinks with her tongue out just a little bit, she sips like 2 flower petals, pulls her head up, tongue out about 1/2" and enjoys the rest of the water on her tongue, she rides w/hackamore, dentist said there was no problem w/her mouth. She has one of those baby doll heads, reg. paint mare, just the cutest thing ever!!!


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