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By Pam Burke 

View from the North 40: Feed me, Seymour, feed me


It’s spring, so the annual harassment has begun about my fat horses.

It didn’t help that we went to see some friends over the weekend and all their horses looked trim and fit.

Apparently the difference between our horses’ physiques was glaring, but I came to our defense.

I was, like, “What are those faint ripples on their torsos between their shoulders and hips?”

And everyone was, like, “Ribs.”

So I was all, “Ribs? I’ve heard of them. Are you sure it’s not some trick of light and a weird hair day?”

But everyone just flat out said, “No, they’re ribs. A few of them show faintly when a horse is in shape.”

Is that so. Hmmm.

“Well, I’ve heard of them, of course,” I said. “I just thought they were a myth, having never seen them on my own horses — just like mine don’t have those unsightly bulges and creases, either.”

“You mean muscle definition?”

“Yeah, I suppose I do.” Hmmm. “But where is all their chub-chub and their flubber? What about their poochy padding and the early-onset equine cellulite? Huh? Apparently, those horses are lacking a few things, too, that’s all I’m saying.”

That was my strong finish.

Fine, I admit it. I know what they’re talking about. My horses are carrying a few extra percentages of body weight.

In my defense, though:

First of all, none of my horses are broke to ride or drive so, essentially, eating is the only job they are qualified for.

Sleeping, which is the other thing they do, is not a job. People are not paid to sleep. Some people are paid to sleep around, but that is another thing altogether. Sleeping itself? Not a job. Eating? That’s a job.

People are paid to taste test food, be restaurant critics and compete in all manner of eating contests. Sure, my horses don’t earn an eating paycheck or have eating sponsors, but they are serious amateurs, and I don’t want to discourage the pursuit of a true passion.

Second of all, I don’t know how other horses tolerate only being fed a regular portion of food at each feeding.

My horses look at me, like, “You expect this to last for the entire next 12 hours.”

“Yes, with appropriate water intake and nap breaks, and maybe a moment or two to come up for air and let things settle, that hay should do for the remainder of the day.”

I tell them that, but you know what happens?

If I’m outside after the hay runs out, I get nickered at. But before you get caught up in the aww-cute-ness of the moment, and think I cave to that equine sweet-talking, just remember that horses ain’t all Flicka and we rarely get the Disney storybook ending.

Shortly after the nickering, they start ferreting out the wisps of left-over hay, their big, soft lips flapping gently at the stray stems and leaves (which they should’ve done in the first place), but that’s when the trouble starts.

Someone of them gets the idea to lean into and over a fence, for a bit of hay or greenery on the other side, which starts a mad scramble for the best location. On a bad day something gets broken, loosened or crawled through. When the hay scraps and hope are gone, they start in on the wood, any precious wood will do — fence rails, posts, my tack shed, a tree or two. Pretty soon they start fighting over the spot where food should be, teeth bared, hooves flying.

I don’t know how those people get away with not having food in front of their horses 24/7. Thirty minutes into their “great hay shortage,” I end up with a whole herd of horses rioting, looting and kung fu fighting.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, I have a knack for putting weight on horses. It’s a gift, really. And I think everyone should honor their gifts by using them — to their fullest degree.

Those chubby horses? They are my merit badges.


I can also roll my tongue into a tube shape and use it like a straw. I honor that gift, as well — in public sometimes at http://www.facebook.com/viewfromthenorth40/.


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