I bought 174 small bales – 75-85 pounds – for the winter. Piled them up fourteen feet high and twelve feet across. I’ve learned to keep the stack covered with tarps because the barn, being metal, warms up enough in the sun to drop tons of condensation on the hay, which can get down inside and rot the bale out.

Everybody’s doing fine. Sophie and Hickory are on the thin side – and, of course, the aging Jetta Moon, but the boys are fat and sassy. Mostly sassy. I worry about their hooves being in the muck of the stalls, which I cannot keep dry or clean. Somebody has started using them as an outhouse. I’ve seen Hickory doing it, but I suspect there’s also a herd of something like elephants that comes in the night and mucks everything up. That, mixed with the hay stalks, should actually have more or less cemented in the floors of the stalls. No such luck though. I don’t want thrush again this year. But it’s so darn cold and muddy, I don’t want to get down with those feet. And even if I got them cleaned out, the feet go straight back down into the muck again, so what’s the point?

I love to be with them, though. I love playing the mind games and hearing their requests and demands. When you spend enough time around horses, you can hear them very clearly, even though the communication is all in the look in the eyes, the tilt of the head. Tonight, Dustin had his head over the stall gate, and I nuzzled him over and over, nickering, and he never moved away. He smelled so warm and horsie, I just couldn’t stop doing it.

Hickory-Tiger-Baby is HUGE. And getting pretty darned cocky. He will actually come up and nip Zion’s flanks now. Zion is not much of a fighter, so he simply moves off – but it looks like he’s allowing himself to be driven, ears pinned back. Obviously, he finds the whole thing deeply annoying. But we’ve also seen Hickory take on Dustin, and the biting goes back and forth there. I am hoping that, by spring, I don’t have a real sass-bucket on my hands for training.

I talked to Sarah Christopherson from the barn down the road the other day. She was riding out on her arab mare, coming down the shoulder of the road in the freezing cold, and we had a good talk, very pleasant, about nothing.

It’s almost too icy under the snow for me to take the car down the drive to the barn. Got a huge truck load of squeegee today, though. And hope to put it into the stalls soon, just to life the horses out of the thaw.

Nobody reads this blog but me. But still – it amazes me that I own horses. Like holding magic in my hand.

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