Blades of Progress

At Exploratorium-style science museums, exhibits are full of buttons to push and levers to slide. Many of the displays work with optical illusions. Stare at the black dots on a white background until gray false dots appear in the interstices. A concave model of a face will appear convex. Lines misbehave. It’s all about the brain trying to adapt what it sees to what it thinks the world ought to be. Hold that thought.

Back when Previous Horse was alive but retired, we wanted to add a new competition horse for me. Given their rate of grass consumption, we would need to expand the pasture to accommodate three horses. Flash forward to Rodney and Mathilda. Even when they were out 24/7, they did not come anywhere near the same rate of grass processing. Apparently PH was a grazing machine.

The entire time we’ve had him, Rodney has preferred hay to grass. He grazes, but in a dilatory, doing-this-for-entertainment fashion. He was as likely be standing by the barn, just hanging out.

Until recently.

In the last few days, we have both noticed a new commitment in Rodney’s grazing. There is more vehemence to his attitude. He grazes farther away. He looks up less often. There are more violent, ripping sounds as grass is yanked up. He spends more time at grass and less by the barn. He is more focused. We think.

Right around the same time, we seem to be – maybe, possibly – making progress loosening the final stubborn fragments of his back scar. There is still more to go, but the area feels softer and the skin is moving better over the muscle. Then again, the progress is so incremental as to be hard to distinguish.

Could these two be related? He preferred hay because he didn’t have to rip off each bite? Try this. Clench your teeth and jerk your head to one side, as if you were ripping open a bag of chips. Can you feel the muscles down into your back? Freeing up his back makes him more comfortable with grazing? Therefore we can use changes in grazing to claim overall progress?

Or we have been staring at the dots for too long?


Post number: 600.
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Categories: Grazing, Horse Behavior, Horses, Physiology

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