Friday, 6 July 2012
"Tell me Clarice.....have the lambs stopped screaming?"
I shouldn't joke, but Wolfie's grazing muzzle bears more than a passing resemblance to the mask worn by Hannibal Lector in the film Silence of the lambs. Even looking at a photograph of Wolfie wearing the muzzle makes me feel really sad. I understand grazing muzzles have their uses and many people have great success in managing their horses weight using them, but I am struggling with the whole concept of it. It is completely restricting their natural behaviours and ok they can still eat and drink, but they can't nip whilst playing or groom each other and it must be so frustrating for them. I bought the muzzle last year and never used it. Last year Wolfie was kept in a fenced off part of one of the fields on restricted grazing on his own. This was initially due to him being in isolation with his virus and then it continued to try and get some weight off him. I completely disagree with keeping any horse on its own, and by the end of his time in isolation, he was pretty miserable. As Wolfie is kept at a livery yard, I have little control over where he grazes and how much access to fresh grass he has. His weight is actually very good at the moment, I would like him to lose another few kilos, or certainly not put any weight on. We are having completely different weather conditions from last year and all the rain we are having is washing a lot of the goodness out of the grass. The downside of that is that the fields are waterlogged and boggy. I've been considering once again putting the grazing muzzle on. I've been trying it on him for 5 to 10 minutes at a time to try and get him used to it. The other day I put the muzzle on and took him down to the field. I stood with him for 20 minutes to make sure he was ok. He cantered around for a while tossing his head. I don't think he was so much distressed, more like furious. I thought I would walk up to the gate and watch to see if he settled. I must have taken only 4 or 5 steps when i turned around and the grazing muzzle was lying on the ground and Wolfie had a huge mouthful of grass. I couldn't work out how he had managed to get it off, as it was all still fastened and there was nothing nearby that he could have rubbed it on. I put the muzzle back on, sat down in the grass and waited. After about 5 minutes he lifted his left back foot up to his left ear and hauled the muzzle over his head and ears. He then wandered off leaving the muzzle dumped on the ground. The first time it might have been coincidence that he was scratching behind his ear and the muzzle came off. The second time when I saw him, he knew exactly what he was doing. I was already concerned about how tight the muzzle was, if I tightened it any, it would dig into him. So Wolfie has solved the dilemma over the grazing muzzle....if I put it on, he'll just take it off.
The idea that grass can at times be harmful to horses is difficult for most people to understand. After all, horses love lush green grass. But allowing some horses a large constant source of the green stuff can really be detrimental. Much of the grazing in the UK has been improved i.e. re-seeded with grass species chosen for maximum milk and meat production in sheep and cattle (animals that are not known for their athleticism, or expected to live a long and active life). Whereas horses evolved to thrive on forage that is sparse and low in nutrients. My dream would be to have my own grazing where I could set up a track system like paddock paradise.
Wolfie finished his Danilon on Monday and he's back being turned out overnight and brought into his stable during the day. He's been trotted up and looks sound. He's still been resting as the weather has been awful and the ground conditions are not suitable for doing anything. We've been working a little with the clicker, mainly just on touching targets, but it's good fun and Wolfie is a wonderful student, if not a little over enthusiastic at times! If the weather stays dry over the weekend, I will long rein him and see how he is.
And just randomly, this statue is part of Glasgow's culture. The rider always has a cone on his head. the police and council have stopped taking it off as a cone just gets put straight back on. I quite like it. I don't think I've ever seen it without a cone.