It's a little sad, Nala and Nickel's owner is putting Nickel up for sale. I'm not sure of all the reasons...I think she was looking for a horse that was not as hot so she could put other riders on, and maybe her barn on her new property has not gone up as quickly as expected and she has been paying to board two horses. Anyway, I've had a great time riding him. She offered him to me, but for me putting Amore "out to pasture" is not an option, I feel at her age she will need more watching and frequent checks rather than less. In my experience, as horses age they get more expensive, not less.
I was trying to think back to remember if Hero has learned more language and is more expressive now, or if I just could not read him as well. Today when I went to see him after being away for several days, he was giving me some very pleased facial expressions as I was scratching him. Either in the past he had not learned pleasant facial expressions, or he was always feeling grumpy, or I was unable to read them. But I think after all they have changed some, because I don't think I would have ever misinterpreted his face today, with ears flopping to the side, soft eyes and lips flapping and teeth chomping.
Even so, I have learned to differentiate between his variations of chomping his teeth. He will begin to present his head and act bitey when he is feeling playful, anxious/nervous/upset, angry, or happy and calm. It's one of his main ways of expressing himself. There is a difference, though, because if he is nervous and anxious his head bobs or swings and the chomping makes his teeth click. If he is angry he just looks tense with ears back, and bares the teeth, but doesn't click them. When he is goofy or playful, he'll also swing his head toward you and he opens his mouth like he's going to bite, but doesn't close it. And when he is just showing reciprocal affection he chomps or chews with his mouth mostly closed, and a happy face.
It's a different thing with Hero, because for a lot of horses you wouldn't want to reward or would reprimand an open mouth or chomping teeth, but he has learned he is not supposed to lay the teeth into a person, and sometimes he is being happy and playful, so I do scratch him and tell him pleasant things even when his chompers are showing.
I had an interesting trip down the coast this week. We are looking into some of the towns down south and visited one that did not seem very interesting but had a very nice horse boarding facility. The first impression was so great, it made me wonder if somehow I could ignore everything else that was negative about the area just because I'd like to board at a facility like that.
After we left, I thought more about it all and realized it probably would have turned out to be a terrible place to keep the horses. What was great: it was secluded, off a quiet rural road, then up a driveway that was about a half mile long. The entire 200 acres or so were fenced, and the driveway gated. Then each individual huge pasture was also fenced with 6 foot tall board fencing plus small mesh wire. Even small critters would have had a difficult time getting into the pastures.
The pastures only had 3 horses each, and the barn was immaculate. There were only 11 horses on the property. Every large stall had a large outdoor run. There was a huge indoor arena with great footing, and a huge outdoor arena with great footing, a round pen, and trails all around the property. It also was only about 5 miles from the beach and a person could actually ride over the mountain trails to the beach if they wished. They had top quality orchard grass hay.
Sounds great, right? Except I think it would not have been a relaxing place for me. Horses were not allowed to be turned loose in the indoor or outdoor arena, because they were not allowed to roll. I'm pretty sure that would be impossible for me to comply with, because you simply cannot stop Hero from rolling when he wants to. This rule was so important that they did not put a gate on the arenas, to ensure that horses were not loose. To me that seems a little extreme.
There were other signs that things had to be perfect. The barn aisles did not have any spots at all, which I can understand they were blown out and swept but it made me wonder if they actually washed them. Every halter was hung the same way, every blanket also. The arena footing was as smooth as glass, even to the edges. I like things nice and clean, but it made me wonder if boarders were allowed to actually use the place.
The other thing was that there were open pastures, and the horses were rotated around, so there was lush grass everywhere. Great, but also the horses were fed outdoors in feeders, flakes of that fine orchard hay twice daily. As you might have guessed, all the horses looked very fat, coming out of winter.
So in the end, I don't think I am missing out after all, not being able to board there...