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A Buddy for Bob

Posted 4/5/2012 7:35am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

Thursday, April 5

It's been just over a year since we lost Bud very suddenly to a severe case of colic and in that time Roy has struggled with how practical it is for him to continue his dream of working with draft horses. Everthing that horses can do can be done quicker with a tractor or skid steer.  They complicate the already limited barn space.  To work them requires specialized equipment which takes up space in barn that could be used to store hay.  We had to admit that horses are an additional expense that we really could not justify economically. 

So we quit trying. While we tossed these questions around, Bob's presense became increasingly valuable to us. Without a horse companion, he'd seek attention and companionship while we were in the barn.  At first I responded to his large, loping head hanging over the gate out of guilt for his lonliness, but increasingly I realized how calming it is to stand next to such a powerful, gentle creature and doing barn chorse was not complete without a conversation with Bob. While I curried him, his big, soft lips nibbled at my head or shoulders.  He moved around his pen and barnyard to watch what we are doing and always walked to gate to get a goodbye rub before we left the barn. This past fall and winter, Roy cut logs shorter and put Bob back to work by himself.  Without much more discussion, it was clear that selling Bob was not an option. We simply are not done with our horse adventure yet.

Roy's been watching the papers, Craigslist, and all the draft horse websites for a teammate for Bob for nearly a year but there were not many horses out there that matched Bob in size or fit our budget.  He followed several leads in the fall, but experience and indecision about the horse dream made him cautious. Several months ago he found a listing near Pittsburgh that sounded like a good match. He had several conversaitons wtih the owner and in mid-March Roy and I took a trip to Pittsburgh to meet Buddy.

When we got to the farm Buddy was standing by the water tank with another horse. We were impressed by him immediately but he was apparently not impressed by us.  After a brief greeting he turned and walked very decisively over the hill and out of sight. When Lisa, his owner came out to bring him back, he was followed by his long-eared mule-buddy, Levi.  "He just wanted to hang out with Levi; they are always together."  While Rich put a harness on Buddy to hitch him up, the tall, slim figure of Levi looked on and Buddy kept looking around to see that Levi was there. Conversations between Shrek and Donkey kept popping up in my head as I watched the two of them relating.  Buddy's focus changed however when he was hitched to the forecart and taken for a drive.  We were hopeful that we had finally found a good teammate and companion for Bob. 

After few phone calls and negotiations, Buddy was delivered here last Friday. Bob and he have become fast friends, (although I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Levi comes trotting over the hill one of these days. Hopefully he's made other good friends among the horses and goats at his home.)  Buddy is more gregarious than Bob and immediately warmed up to us. He is first to come to the gate for attention while Bob, who is by nature more reserved, stands back and waits till Buddy has had his turn. I've witnessed very little of the 'power games' horses often play going on between them. No biting each other's hauch or head tossing; just calm acceptence of each other's presence.  It is a still early and we have yet to hitch them together.  No doubt we will have many more stories to share but at the moment it feels like we've managed to make a good addition to the farm.