A word problem for horse owners:

You have three horses in a pasture. You would like to put hay out so each horse has his own pile. How many piles of hay do you need to put out?

Correct answer – at least 10.

My horses can’t share to save their lives. When it was just Prize and Spirit she used to stand between the two piles so he couldn’t have anything. She didn’t get to eat either because she was so busy guarding the piles.

Last year was particularly bad because the herd dynamics kept changing. Rosie moved in in December. By the time Rosie and Spirit worked things out Prize came back from the trainer and they had to fight over food all over again. Usually in the fights Spirit comes out the loser. I have mixed feelings about that. Back in the day he was very mean to other horses and wouldn’t share his food or shelter or water or anything. But now he’s old and smaller than the younger horses. So I go back and forth between “payback’s a bitch, Spirit” and “Don’t you dare pick on my pony!” Most of the time I make sure he gets his own pile by throwing myself between him and (usually) Rosie and making her back off. The other problem I’ve been having is that Prize has been running up to him when he is rolling and biting him while he’s on the ground.

Yesterday they all got their teeth floated. That means filing off the sharp points. This is a problem with Spirit because we have to balance the fact that he is 30 and theoretically in delicate health requiring just the mildest of sedation to be safe with the fact that he is bad and really needs to get knocked on his butt to work in his mouth. We went with light sedation so he knew enough about what was going on to get really pissed off. His ears were pinned back, he was shooting hateful looks at everyone, and he kept backing up so we had to chase him.

He’s still mad today. I turned them all out and he’s taking it out on the girls. Prize was rolling and he ran over and bit her while she was on the ground. I told him that I wasn’t going to protect him from her if he was the one starting it. Then I put out three piles of hay. He was hesitant to go to the center pile since it was a bit close to both Rosie’s and Prize’s hind legs. I picked up that pile and took it to him a safe distance away. I murmured, “There you go, baby. Now you can eat.” He took one bite and then ran over and took at bite out of each of the other piles right under the other horses’ noses. He had the sense to take off after each stolen bite or I think they would have pounded him. I gave up and came inside. I told him that if he was going to antagonize horses 20-some years younger than him I didn’t want to be out there to see the consequences.