Friday, December 21, 2012

Hay Dunkers

I can't remember exactly when Suki started dunking her hay, but at this point in our relationship (9 years) it seems like she has always done it. Before I purchased her Suki was living the life of a baby horse in a pasture in Canada. She was handled daily, fed, had her feet trimmed, etc, but did not live in a stall at all, although she did have a run-in shed in her field. I agree with those who believe that this is best for the young horse. So there were probably not many opportunities to dunk hay into a water bucket even though pasture was supplemented with hay during the winter months.

With water dunking comes some bizarre habits. Location of the bucket and placement of hay are key. Location of the hay is easily addressed by Suki. She will move nearly half a bale of hay to the preferred location. Poor bucket location can ruin her day. That sounds melodramatic, but it is true. Suki is a diva and can be VERY melodramatic. Part of the problem is that Suki is very social (nosy). Not that I find this to be a problem. In fact, it is one of her most entertaining qualities. However, this nosiness can lead to temper tantrums in Suki's stall. At one barn, the automatic waterer was small, and located in the back of the stall. This water situation was unacceptable to Suki because the bowl portion was too small to accomodate dunking and the location did not allow for observation of barn activity. Ultimately I had to add a water bucket to the front of the stall for dunking. Problem solved.

Suki also usually has two water buckets any way due to high volume water intake. This set up has enabled Suki to use one bucket for dunking, the other for drinking. The non-dunking bucket is kept pristinely clean, while the dunking bucket always contains mouthfuls of water-saturated hay. In our current boarding situation, the water buckets are on the shared wall with the stall next to it and in front of the door opening. Hay is placed near the feed tub in the opposite corner, which means that Suki moves the entire pile in front of the buckets causing me to trip over it as I enter her stall. Location of the water buckets have another interesting effect.... when I first bought Nikki I moved her and Suki (fresh from the rehab barn) to the same location. Their stalls were side-by-side. Prior to her arrival Nikki was not a hay dunker. Less than one week later Nikki was an obsessed hay dunker. She is to this day. But Nikki's dunking does not have the same fastidious requirements that Suki's habit does. Her hay moving is not as neat either. The hay is sort of strewn across the whole front of the stall, and she will dunk in both buckets at will. But this is the same horse who uses a manure pile as a pillow, leaving me to peel dried poop from the tips of her ears. Must be love!

Second time around Nikki is not in the stall next to Suki's. Suki and Banker have shared that wall for over a year. Banker, the formerly non-dunker...yep...he's a dunker! Another boarder whose horse would occasionally stay in was also never a dunker...yep! he is a convert as well! My logic...there are worse habits for your horse to adopt from watching others, so I think it is all in good fun, and a tribute to Suki's dominant spirit!

So now finally at the end of a crazy busy week at work, and the husband travelling for three of those days I finally got to spend some quality time with my girls. I was out on Monday for full grooming and spa, quick check in on Tuesday, Deb took care of the girls Wednesday, quick check on Thursday, and now today. Last night during my quick check I noticed the extremely muddy state of Suki. I gave her a candy cane, some kisses, and tried to overcome the guilt associated with her dirty coat and her very clear annoyance over my absence. Diva! : ) Baby Nikki was less muddy, sucked in her candy cane and pressed her forehead into mine. Sweet baby. I love that my girls have such distinct personalities.

So tonight both received a huge amount of grooming and attention, then were tucked in for the night wearing heavy blankets for the plummeting temperatures and wind headed our way. So at the end of the busy week spending time with my girls relaxes me body and soul. The healing power of horses.


  1. I am so like you! I don't own horses, but so wish I had one as I love them. I own two dogs. I was out of town last week and my grandson watched my dogs and when I got home I could not wait to get home and see them. When I'm away I miss them so much. I am boarding them over Christmas for three days and it is going to be hard I usally end up calling to make sure that they are OK. The place that they go to are great and they get boarded together. They are just like my children, well I should rephrase that they are my children, as I Love My Dogs, as you Love Your Horse! Have A Great Christmas Suki and Nikki and Mom. Love Mitzi

    1. It is always so hard to leave them, isn't it? We have 2 cats and a dog and when I travel for work it is always so exciting to see them when I get home. They are a part of our families. That is great that your dogs get to be together when you board them. I'll bet that helps them adjust. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy New Year!

      Love, Fran

  2. I so love reading about your girls and it cracked me up to hear you tell of their "dunking" habits. Also loved to hear about how diva-like and particular Suki is. She's an amazing girl, that's for sure!

    Titusville, PA

    1. Hi Debi. Thank you....yes, Suki is amazing! I am certain that her diva personality helped her survival and recovery!
      Where is Titusville?