Race horses do not go out in the pasture to frolic in the mud. If they are covered in muck, it is from running down a wet, filthy back-stretch of race track not from rolling in sludge. Race horses work and stand in stalls. Pretty much all they do, not much time is alloted to fun.
Sunday night after Ally and the kids went home, I headed to the barn to turn out Bruno and Kid for their nightly adventures. We had storms earlier but the pasture looked pretty dry. When I glanced at the arena, though, I saw pools of standing water. The boys usually go out in the arena and small paddock, it provides better footing, better fencing and more security than the other pasture.
I went and closed off the arena knowing Bruno could easily lose an expensive shoe in the south Texas sucking gumbo/sand/mud combo that occurs when it is wet. I noted the paddock was wet, but there were plenty of high, dry spots as well. I let the boys out of their stalls.
Kid proceeded over to the high, dry, gravel driveway and stood regally with the sun gleaming off his copper coat. Bruno tore out like his tail was on fire. He disappeared around the back of the barn where the paddock sits low and water accumulates. I could hear things (mud, water??) hitting the back of the barn. Then I saw Bruno blaze around the corner of the barn saturated with mud and dripping water.
Certainly at no time in my ownership of Bruno had he been allowed to wallow in the mud. Literally for months we kept him high and dry at all costs.
Mud is dangerous for many reasons to a horse. They can slip, tear a ligament, cut something, pull something, lose their shoes, and the big issue of getting them clean is always a consideration. A good horse owner does not allow their horses to run in the mud. Obviously, I failed yet another important test.
I couldn’t take it for very long. Bruno splish-splashed his way to the ever-widening mud hole, pawed with his giant feet, slowly lowered his big ol’body down into the muddy water, threw his legs over one side then the other, coating himself like a colossal shake-n-bake chicken and finally rose majestically (or as majestically as you can rise covered totally in mud) and ran back to the barn to show off his work to me.
I was actually pretty determined to just let him stay out having his mud hole fun. I figured he would calm down, the mud would dry providing a pretty good nighttime defense from mosquitoes and flies and Lauren could have a big surprise in the morning. But then after about the fourth dip in the fountain of mud, I saw blood running down his bad hoof. I guessed it was time to catch him and see what that was about.
I tied him up on the same, dry gravel road, Kid was still standing on, clean as a whistle. I really wanted a contrast picture between clean Kid and pig-pen Bruno but my photo assistant was not available. As I took the photo above, all I could think about was how nuts this picture was going to make my obsessively clean (anal) daughter. It was great!! I got Bruno tied up and started the hosing down process. His long mane, which I swore I would cut when we took our first ride, still hung over 15 inches long, looking like world-record length dread locks.
I had to take a sweat scraper (a flat edged tool) to actually scrape off the mud-like I had a trowel and was going to apply dry-wall mud. It came off in chunks, landing and splattering all over my hair, face and giant black sling. Although his foot looked like it was bleeding pretty bad, once I hosed it off, I found just a nick in the skin. Probably caused by his back shoe when he jumped out of the mud.
I truly believe it was the happiest ten minutes of Bruno’s whole life. He was doing everything a horse could want to do, running, bucking, rolling, splashing through mud and water. He was extremely quiet and content as I spent quite some time cleaning the big boy up. It took some serious effort to locate four white socks on his legs once again. I was keeping him tied in the sun, so he would be dry before returning him to his stall where he would inevitably roll again (although this time in clean shavings). At least if he is dry, the shavings do not stick to him.
I decided to get out the measuring stick and find out once and for all, how gigantic this guy really was. People have speculated that Bruno is over 18 hands, but I doubted it. Standing straight and tall, Bruno measured just shy of 17.2 hands high or about 69 inches but remember this is at his withers (the bottom of neck/ top of his back). His neck and head soar over me (over most of us). Today Bruno is 17.2 hh and 1360 pounds. That is a lot of horse by any standard. I guess if he wants to have a little fun every now and then, we can let him be a horse. He has certainly earned it.