Ben has been mysteriously breaking into some grass, leaving Rosie forlorn on the track.
We could not understand how he did it. When my daughter went out last week to give them their breakfast buckets he came down from the grass and she noticed that the top line of tape was sagging where he had been, so she tightened it and came back into the house, forgetting to plug in the electric charge to the fence. We looked out of the kitchen window and he was back in that section of grass.
She went out again and rattled a bucket in front of the fence. Ben came over to investigate, decided he wanted what was in that bucket and waited by the fence. She decided to wait him out to see how he coped with the fence. Ben looked at where the tape was fastened, looked at her and looked back at the tape again, saying quite clearly “aren’t you going to open this?” So she did and this time turned on the electricity. So he remained outside on the track.
We have been having debates as to how he could have got in. Jumped? I could not imagine Ben putting himself to such effort. He would jump if running from something (as he did from our farrier the first time he came to shoe: pinging over section after section of tape recognising in that leather apron and determined stance someone who was Not Good News). I could, however, imagine Ben stepping over the tape.
Well this morning I caught him at it. From the kitchen window I saw that he, and he alone, was in that same section of grass. Come school pick-up time a neighbour comes up the drive to collect the girls and frequently coincides with breakfast buckets. So when she arrived I watched from the kitchen window. Ben rubbed against the tape, swaying his chest from left to right, and I could see the tape sag lower and then he stepped over. When I came out he was waiting in the yard for his breakfast.
Daughter and husband interrupted this post. My husband had extra to add from this morning. When I was at work he spotted Ben leaning and pressing against the tape guarding the Strictly Forbidden middle-section, lush, laminitis-flaring grass. He sneakily plugged in the electricity, Ben jumped and herded Rosie agitatedly around the track. Husband then went out to tighten up that section of the fence, Rosie took advantage of the fence being momentarily lowered and went in followed by Ben, and my poor husband had to chase them both out, tighten the fence and turn on the charge again.
How green it is, and how careless I was last week to allow the ponies unrestricted access to grass for two days while we went away for a night. This was to make life easy for the person coming to feed them in my absence, and I thought they were sufficiently used to grass now for it to be safe.
Well, when we came back, Ben looked bloated and Rosie seemed a bit footy. Not lame, but going carefully on her front legs. While there was no heat in her hooves I took them both off the grass and back to the track and hay. They were not impressed.
To mix it up I thought I would take advantage of the dry weather and try spreading hay on the ground in small piles to encourage them to eat and move.
Both ignored the hay. Ben found other sources of food:
And Rosie parked herself in front of some grass and looked pathetic.
Fortunately, she is moving well again. A few years ago, when I took Mali out of livery to bring her home for the summer, I got very good advice from the livery yard owner on how to manage the grass. Mali, like Ben, was a good doer and one sniff at early summer grass was enough to blow her up to an alarming degree. Back then, I did not have a track system. He suggested fencing off one area for Mali which would contain her food and water and allow her onto all the grass for 2-3 hours each day. I am roughly following this advice for Ben and Rosie, giving grass in the evening and also sometimes at night and instead of a small area for the rest of the time of course they have the track.
This evening someone was shooting behind our paddock. Both Ben and Rosie were on the track looking anxious, Ben especially so. They came up for their tea but between bites Ben kept looking up in the direction of the shooting.
By the time he was finished the shooting had stopped, but he stood looking in its direction. I joined him. He moved off to investigate. I moved too and as I did so, Ben hung back and let me go in front. I walked to the back gate and checked. There was no sign of anyone and shooting had stopped. I came back to report to Ben. He stayed with his head up, listening. I breathed out, sighed and relaxed my body. He dropped his head and did considerable licking and chewing. Worry over.
Ben’s worried face:
My eldest daughter and I spent a chunk of this morning pulling ragwort. There is more where this came from: