One of the oldest sayings around is “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. I am proud to say that today I was able to prove that if your horse knows you well enough they will drink when you want them too!
Today was sunny and in the 50s during the day, but as the sun set it got windy and the temperatures were quickly dropping. I went to the barn right after work and was greeted by a my horse pretending yet again to be a giant mud ball. I swear I was so close to naming him pig pen after the Charlie Brown Character who walks around in a cloud of his own dust. If I have not been so superstitious and found his racing name I would have happily showed a pig pen! Anyway…
I could already feel the temps starting to drop. I don’t know if it is a wives-tale or not, but I have always been taught to be extra careful about colic when there is going to be a huge temperature drop in the day. I went over to check Gen’s water outside and saw that he polished off his bucket during the day. Normal people would think, “oh good, my horse has already had a bucket of water”, but not me. I was thinking “he needs more water ASAP”. I was just dumping out the last dregs at the bottom of the water bucket when Gen came up behind me and adorably decided to give me a few pony kisses.
I brought him in and put a few gallons of warm water in a bucket and placed it in front of Gen. He looked at it, looked at me, and then started to look at something else. Thinking maybe he didn’t want to drink off of the ground (because that would be more natural which would be silly) I picked up the bucket and held it for Gen to drink. He instead turned his head to stare at me. My plan to hydrate my horse was not going so well. He was very clearly not thirsty at all…so I did what every good horse Mom would do…I tried to force him.
I was very helpfully shoving the bucket of water in his face. Gen was getting annoyed at that point and he threw up his face in the air with a look telling me that I had clearly lost my mind. Not to be deterred I started to think about other ways to get Gen in to it. Knowing that my horse will do a lot to keep me happy I figured I would capataize on his good nature and trick him in to drinking.
I started off by letting him just sniff my hand. From there I would put my hand in the bucket and let him lick it afterwards. After several minutes Gen was willing to lap small amounts of water from my hand. It took another 10 minutes before I could lower my hand so that Gen would follow it all the way in to the bucket. Once he was drinking the water out of the bucket, but still with my hand in it I figured my work was done so I took my hand out. Gen immediately stopped pretending to drink and gave me a look that was clearly asking if I was stupid so I had to start the whole process again. This time though I told Gen that he had to drink. I would leave him alone if he just drank a gallon. He picked his head up to sigh, looked at me again and then went back and drank almost exactly a gallon!
I know that the only reason Gen drank was because he could tell I wanted him to do it for me. I might not be a horse whisper, but at least I know my horse will do just about anything to keep his Mommy happy.