in an oversized Volleyball T-Shirt that I’ve used as a nightshirt for years and my knee-high rubber boots. (I just wanted you to enjoy my glamorous moment with me.) Beau spotted me immediately and managed to make me feel absolutely beautiful – he tossed his head at Sugar (my biggest competition for his attention) and did his cute Tennessee Walker jog over to where I stood. I stroked his huge face and stood on my tiptoes to give him a hug. This is how we start most of our days.
Beau followed me in the corral and made his way into the nearest stall. There he started his ritual of pushing his nose back and forth across the stall door, making the metal rails clang, just in case I had forgotten my part of the bargain. Beau is what is known as an “Easy Keeper” – a polite way to say he gains weight if he looks at food. In horses, being tubby can lead to serious hoof problems (among other things) so we have a routine with Beau to help monitor his intake.
He comes in during the day and we let him back out in the evening so he can graze when the grass sugars are not as high. His reward for being so cooperative is a cup of his favorite feed. (No, the irony of a huge horse being thrilled with one cup of feed is not lost on me.) In addition, he gets the comfort of a cushioned floor, a breeze from the fans, and enough hay to keep him busy. He usually takes a nap in the shavings, checks out all the stalls, plays with Gibbs the cat, and tosses his Kong toy around the corral.
Inevitably at some point during the day, at least one of the girls will come to the gate and ask to join him. Our old mares, Sugar and Bobbie, are always welcome but we let Beau decide if he wants to be bothered with the younger mares. They have such crushes on him! You could say he’s the Justin Bieber of the C4 Ranch. We truly believe that’s a big part of why he so willingly trades 50 acres of pasture for the solitude of the corral every day. It’s his personal man cave.
Beau remains calm and patient all day. If I walk through the barn, he meets me at a stall window and talks in his soft, deep voice. He closes his eyes when I rub his face and he leans his ears towards me so I’ll scratch them. But as soon as dusk hits, he starts pacing the fence. The mares show up at the corral gate like clockwork to join him. The neighing“chatter” is non-stop until we open the gate – and of course if we take too long, Derby gets busy on the latch. Once he’s free, he usually kicks up his heels and acts like the girls are annoying him as he trots into the back pasture. However, if you watch closely, you’ll see him looking back to make sure they are following…..and they ALWAYS are.
I delight in the fact that Beau knows that he can count on us to do what’s best for him. He never seems to question our intentions. Just now when I went out to check on him, I was inspired to say “thank you” to him which is what got me blogging today. I may be taking care of him by making sure that he eats right and gets the best care for his feet, but he’s the gentle giant showing me patience and kindness and trust. He makes the job of caretaker easy. Now if he’d just have a chat with his groupies.....