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Bob's Back to Work

Posted 1/6/2012 7:15am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

Unemployment for a draft horse in his prime appears to affect him in ways similar to a capable young person who also cannot find suitable work.   In the past several months we struggled to know what exactly to do with our restless, moody fellow.   We do not want to and cannot afford to buy a horse that does not meet our needs just to give him companionship, nor can we afford to buy a horse that is guaranteed to be well-trained and match Bob's stature.  The right horse at the right price is out there, I'm sure, but when time and resources are at a premium, it requires some patience to find him or her.  

So... what about poor Bob?   He spent time with the steers on pasture, which he seemed to enjoy.   He found that galloping around them would create quite an entertaining circus; one solution to boredom is entertainment, after all. But these are the steers we are trying to fatten for market.  We don't want them to be fit and trim; they are supposed to get nice and pudgy as fast as they can.   Having a spunky horse rodeo-ing around them does not help put finish on a grassfed steer!

Roy recently had a day that allowed enough time to hitch Bob single to pull out some logs, however when he put on his collar it no longer fit.   Bob, at nearly seven years, is apparently still growing.   Luckily the next week Roy found a used collar for $50 at local Amish harness shop and shortly after hitched up Bob for a day in the woods.   

Most of our horse equipment is made for a team of horses but ground driving, walking behind the horse, is always an option.   Roy had several short logs that needed to be brought out of the woods and while one trip with the tractor or skid steer could have done it, it was definitely worth it to make several trips with Bob, for both Roy and the horse.   I'm not sure who was feeling worse about the situation, but getting the two of them back to work in the woods together was transformative.   Roy is now more patient with finding a suitable teammate for Bob knowing that working single is an option for the time being and Bob is so much more calm and social when we are in the barn.   It's as though he feels valued again; like he has a purpose on our farm.  

Yes, this is definitely an anthropomorphic interpretation of  Bob's demeanor.  Perhaps his muscles are just tired from working and he thinks that when he sees us he will get oats.   I can't say for certain.  But I know that working with some animals is incredibly satisfying because they seem to understand more than they can expressly communicate.   Horses and dogs especially communicate with their eyes, ears, and bodies what they want from their humans.  The mysteries of human / animal interaction gives me a lot of joy, but a mystery it will remain.   I am happy that Roy and Bob have found that they can work well together.  If Bob's contentment is only about oats, Roy's, I know for certain, is about collaborating with a massive animal on task that requires them working together and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done.