Mud Dogs and Peppermints

Cold and wet it’s the mud dog time of the year in Kentucky.

I pull on my rubber boots and bundle up to take Aubrey my Bernese Mountain dog for a walk. He leaps in the air and pirouettes as I walk behind him as we leave the house. He loves our walks. Not the type of dog who cares much about a stick or ball to chase, he’s a breed most easily compared to a draft horse in personality and build. So he’ll go and fetch but it’s half-hearted and the ball or stick is easily forgotten. We make our way twice around the field as he runs up and down the sink hole in the field. It’s fun to watch him run too fast for his legs down the incline and then wind his way up to me as I walk around the perimeter.

My pockets are full of peppermint treats. Earlier in the week I bought some new- fangled treats at Tractor Supply. All the treats are loose in a bag. I figured I could give everyone their treats in a much more efficient method if I just grabbed a handful and dispensed them to the horses without unwrapping a pesky cellophane wrapper with gloved hands. So as Aubrey checks the smelly things in the paddocks, I begin my ritual of peppermint treats for the horses. Expectant, everyone falls into line for their portion. I pop one in my mouth since I too like peppermint. The peppermint part of the manufacturers claim was weak, they smelled faintly like peppermint but a whole lot more like ground up horse feed. Oh well, I remember well eating Omolene as a kid so I figured it wouldn’t kill me if I tried one. And maybe some cubed horse feed sprinkled with some peppermint oil might be  more economical.

Leo, my buckskin or dun as he would be called in Ireland Connemara is a treat finders keepers. The Hackney Roland is not, he just wants them, all of them. Princess, the High Class Saddlebred mare wants hers but is far too uppity to act like she wants one. I reach for her and she gingerly takes them from my hand. Never have I had a tooth touch my hand from this mare. Coco, my White Queen the Hanoverian is waiting for her turn. I walk down the fence line to make sure she gets a handful. She reaches to me and takes her treats trying to stay out of Roland’s menacing gaze. Reno the Rhino, the range bred Quarter Horse, tries to muscle his way into the line. I can’t reward his oafish behavior by giving him a treat. Once he stays in position and quits pushing his considerable bulk around he gets one. Now the littlest, Kudu, the five year old mini horse, is underfoot and waiting patiently for his treat. His proboscis reaches for my hand from the lower rung of the fence and snatches his treat from my hand.

This new “horse” to the crowd is 36” tall at his shoulder and when looking at him I can’t for the life of my figure out why Kudu qualifies as a “miniature horse” while another diminutive equines I’m familiar with are called a Hackney “pony”. If Kudu is a “miniature horse” then why aren’t the other equines  a “miniature” Hackney Horse? To me they both act like ponies, look like ponies but neither reflect any pony blood in their registry. On paper that is. Nor do they herald on their registration papers a certain high stepping Saddler who has been efficiently added to the bloodstock while the registry rules specifically states purebred to purebred makes a purebred. I was told by an old expert in the hackney world the diminutive result of the so called influence of the Welsh blood and the Arab blood through the Welsh isn’t actually true, the farmers in the British Isles called all small horses ponies whether or not they were a pony or actually a horse. I’ll never figure out the breed folks. I know the difference between a horse and a pony and it’s not just size it’s attitude. My herd had a pony in it before the additional “miniature” horse was added and with the addition of Kudu, the miniature horse, I declare they’re like peas in a pod. The wool isn’t so hard to see through if you trust your instincts.

Aubrey and I leave the horses to their place in their herd and make it back to the house along the one lane road. My old dog is sleeping in her bed where I left her. I’ll take her for a yard walk once it warms up a bit. Walks in the country are the best even in the mud with a taste of peppermint.