Walter - A Horse, of Course
2008 New Year's Resolution
By Don Blazer
I was thinking about how fast time goes by, and that 2008 is just a few days away; so it must be time for new year resolutions.
And suddenly, there he was, dipping his hay in his water bucket.
“Hey,” I said with exasperation. “Why do you do that”?
“Hay,” he said. “I like it wet and soggy and dripping and messy. And it turns the water green. I like that.”
“You don’t like that,” I countered. “You just do it to irritate me.” At just that moment this bright idea hit me. “I want you to make a New Year’s resolution that you won’t soak your hay in your water bucket any more.”
“Why would I want anything to do with a revolution?” Walter questioned.
“Not revolution; a resolution. A resolution is a decision to a future action. Such as,” I explained, “resolving not to dunk your hay.”
I further explained that just before the New Year we all make resolutions along the lines of being a better person, or horse. “It’s a nice tradition,” I said. “We take a good look at ourselves and resolve to try to overcome our weaknesses and act in a more meaningful, considerate way.
“You should try it. It would be of benefit to everyone if you didn’t dunk your hay. Your bucket would contain nice, clean, fresh water, and you wouldn’t have that silly green slim all over your muzzle.”
“I’m not dunking my hay in my water,” Walter replied in his most indignant tone. “Observe closely,” he instructed. “I’m slopping water from my bucket onto the hay which I have carefully placed beneath the bucket. This is a very precise operation. It has a good deal of thought behind it, and it is most definitely a favor to you.”
I don’t know why I do some things I do, but I said, “Explain.”
Walter reported most of his friends have been complaining about the hay being too dry and very stemy, brittle and darn near unpalatable.
Dry and dusty hay, he explained, can increase the risk of respiratory problems and coughs, and stemy hay often has very little leaf so it is not very desirable to the average horse.
I felt a little twinge of shame.
“So,” Walter said, “wet it!”
He continued: re-hydrating dry hay softens it and improves its aroma, reduces leaf loss and decreases the dust content.
“Which means,” Walter said jubilantly, “horses will eat it.”
Walter told me the best way to re-hydrate hay is to wrap it in a porous bag—burlap is great. Soak the bag in water, and then shake out the excess water. Wrap the hay to be fed in the bag for 1 to 2 hours. (Never leave it longer than 8 hours) Feed the hay, but feed it in several portions so a greedy horse (you know who I’m talking about) won’t eat too much, too fast.
The extra moisture added to re-hydrated hay can also be of benefit to horses working in hot weather, Walter reminded me. “Re-hydrated hay during hot summer months is kind of like having a cool, refreshing salad for dinner.”
Just then the other horses started to whinny as if in applause.
“I apologize,” I said to Walter, and I gave him a hug around the neck. What else could I do; he was doing me a big favor.
I decided my New Year’s resolution would be not complaining about Walter’s idiosyncrasies for the whole year of 2008….well, a few months….a week?