This morning I fed the five horses in the upper barn. The northern door remained closed to keep out a cool breeze. This is the door that I use to take Hombre and Blue to either of the two paddocks north of the barn. Hombre is in the northern-most stall and Blue is beside him to the south.
Angel is at the southern-most stall. After feeding everyone she was the first to be turned out in her paddock. I took her south to the paddock 80 metres away to join Dora and Spring Song. I did this by exiting out the south door. I then took the two new horses, Standardbreds, out the south door and to their paddock to the west.
I returned and heard Hombre talking to me. I told him, “In a minute, I’ll take you outside after I get Blue organized.”
As I walked north in the barn I noticed that the bucket I bring from my house that has Blue’s feed in it was no longer sitting empty on the tack box outside the feed room. It was on its side, lying on the floor. The day before I observed a family of squirrels playing in the arena. The mom was schooling four youngsters. This session was highly entertaining. The four little ones had distinctly different personalities. One was incredibly bold. He easily walked headfirst down the kickboard. Another babe took one tiny step downwards and froze. He carefully balanced himself on the kickboard and he backed up. No going down that thing for him! Another squirrel was playing at the base of the kickboard, then came towards me. Mom started talking and he raced back to the kickboard, then scurried up the broom to join his siblings. Perhaps these critters had upset the empty food bucket.
Hombre continued to talk to me.
I headed to Blue’s stall and stopped DEAD! Blue was not in his stall. “Wow! How did THAT happen!” He certainly was not in the barn and I hadn’t seen him when I was outdoors to the south and west. He must have left his stall while I was outside. Strange that I didn’t see him!
I exited the barn out the south door, stopped and looked east, south and west. No Blue. I turned east, then headed north along the side of the barn. I got to the end of the barn and looked to the northeast at the field the boys usually get turned out in. About 100 metres away, on a slight hill, Blue was grazing, resplendent in his stable blanket. There are two gates to the paddock. One is for the tractor, the other is used to bring the horses in and out of the paddock. The large gate was chained shut and the small one was slightly open. The paddock to the west was where the boys were yesterday. That gate was wide open. Obviously Blue had preferred the paddock to the northeast and had no trouble nosing open the small gate.
I walked a few metres to the north door of the barn, opened it and fetched Blue’s bell boots. As I walked to Blue I marvelled at how he’d gone south through the barn, turned east, travelled to the edge of the barn, turned north, then pushed open a gate and walked into his paddock. The horses hadn’t been led along this route for many months.
I would have thought that some of the grass he passed might have slowed him down like the bucket in the barn did. But no, he was on a mission and wasn’t terribly interested in waiting for me to get around to turning him out in his paddock. Blue stood quietly while I removed his stable blanket and put on his bell boots.
I’m guessing that Blue left while I was taking Angel down to her paddock. That trip takes a few minutes. Turning out the Standardbreds is quick. Only Hombre mentioned that Blue was gone and even then, he wasn’t terribly worried about it.
I figure Blue got out of his stall as a result of what happened when I added his breakfast to the early morning snack Bill fed him. To do this I had to open his stall gate to reach his feed tub. I must not have latched it properly. I have noticed that when I’m in his stall if I don’t latch his gate he nudges it open. Hmmm…