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December 7, 2011: Scooping Poop

A fourth horse increases the manure load by ¼.  I did consider this when we agreed to purchase Signy; however, the prospect of increased workload did give me pause.  I wondered if I’d be able to keep up with the shoveling.  I figured out that if I could not, that someone would have to go, and that someone would probably be me.

Well, here we are, in the dead of winter. We’ve gotten a higher-than-average snowfall this year, and the temperatures have been fluctuating on a daily basis.  It’s been cold one day, and warm the next. Rain, snow, and rain/snow mix have become commonplace. I say, “blink and the weather will change.”

Mucking Tools
Mucking Tools

We got home from our trip in August, and I resumed scooping, pretty much doing what I did before we left, pen cleaning on a several-times-a-day basis.  I got a month’s reprieve because Tinni was in Soldotna until September.  Upon his return, the fun began. 

I’ve stuck to my tried and true routine.  I shovel in the morning, right before breakfast, in the early afternoon, right after lunch, in the late afternoon, right before dinner, in the early evening, right after dinner, and in the late evening, right after snack-time. I’m talking about the horses’ feeding schedule, though mine does seem to correspond.

I like this schedule—I would not have the patience, say, to spend a day-a-week pen cleaning.  This more broken-up routine also gives me time to think.  In the mornings, I plan my writing day. For example, this a.m. I began composing an editorial for the local paper about the gravel ordinance. The Mat Su Borough Assembly rubber stamped it last night, much to the great delight and joy of area contractors. Cronyism is rampant.  Kowtowing to developers, this is what elected officials do around here, all in the name of corporatization. 

At mid-day I think about who I’m going to ride, and in what order.  Today I elected to ride Siggy first, because he hasn’t been out much lately.  And I decided to pony Signy so that he would have company.  I’d then ride Tinni, and if there was time, work with Raudi on stand, using the clicker.

Prior to dinner I think about how it all went.  Today, I worked with Siggi’s penchant for veering to the left by doing rotations to the right. He’s responding well to this.  Tinni just keeps doing better and better. I first worked on my form, by doing some yoga stretches, then asked him to whoa and back.  He did well, so we next worked on serpentines, making sure to go straight for 10-15 steps in between.  Then we tolted.  I was also pleased with how Raudi did. I haven’t done clicker training in some time—she remembered though, and she immediately focused on the task at hand, which was to stand when I walked away. This was all we did, the operative phrase being Karen Pryor’s “one shape at a time.”

I do not know what I’ll think about this evening. By this time of day, my thought process is rather scattered and random.

I should add that I often listen to what the horses have to say. Icelandics are very stoic, and they usually keep what they’re thinking to themselves. Lately, Signy’s been hinting that she’d like to have access to a larger pasture, to which I’ve repeatedly been telling her “I’m working on it.”

Early mornings and late evenings, I use a headlight. I put the manure in buckets, and in the winter we haul it, using the sled, up behind the garden. We have a long, low, deep area there, and are filling it in. Two or three years from now, we’ll expand the garden and put in another raspberry patch. I set the buckets outside the far gate in the spring, summer, and fall. Area gardeners then come and get it, returning the buckets in a timely fashion. I compost some, but not all of the manure. I used to do more, but that was in my pre-riding days.

The horses will go when I’m physically and/or mentally incapable of dealing with the manure. It would not be fair to them, to have to spend their days standing in waste. I rue the day that this is to be. But at this point in time, I’m okay with this aspect of horse care.

Next: 8. 12/8/11: Older Horse, Older Rider