Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse and Puppy Tails

Our New Friend

Once a week, we go for farm fresh eggs. I would say free range, but of course there’s no such thing as free range, when the snow is several feet deep and bitter windchill, bites bare skin. Still, the eggs are produced by chickens that are fed a more considered diet, and as soon as spring rolls around and the weather warms, they’re out and about, picking at this, that and whatever strikes their fancy. This story isn’t about the chickens or the lovely eggs we get. It’s about the big, black friend, we’ve made across the road from them.
In line with the driveway of the farm where we go for our eggs, there live a couple of horses, a Paint and a Friesian. The Paint shows no interest in us, but over the weeks since he’s arrived, the Friesian has taken an interest in us. Being the horse fanatics that we are, we always stop before turning into the driveway to go for the eggs. The window gets rolled down and we talk to him.
“Hey guys, how’s it going? Hello.” or some such thing is cheerfully said. Whoever is on the window side, depending on whether the truck in going in or out, says whatever comes to mind. The Paint ignores us, if it’s even close to the road, but the Friesian is always interested. The first few times, he simply stared at us like we were some kind of crazy lunatics. Lately, he’s been showing more interest, as if he’s watching for us, as if he’s waiting for us. He’s waiting at the fence where it’s even with the driveway we enter, so it makes us wonder. I know that horses have incredible hearing, and can recognize the sounds of different vehicles as well as the difference in the sounds that are made by different walks. We’ve been made very aware of this by Lucky Jim. He clearly knows exactly who is walking where. There’s the girlchild with the toboggan and water, there’s gimpy bossy pants with the senior feed. Depending on what he wants, he’ll follow that person.
I wonder how far they can hear. They can see quite well, as I’ve caught the horses often watching vehicles that are a mile or two away. Beyond that might be of no interest to them, so I’m not sure if they can’t see further, or just don’t worry about it. Hearing though, is another thing altogether. I’ll bet they can hear really well. As prey animals, they have to be aware of things that might want to eat them, no matter how quiet and subtle.
When hubby and I first married, Hubby had Chap the Chinese Shar-pei. When I was home the last couple of months before the birth of our first child, I soon learned how good that dog’s hearing was. He could be fast asleep then suddenly spring to his paws, all alert and excited. He would immediately begin what I called the happy bark. Within a few minutes, the semi would roll into the yard, and hubby would be home from work. I began to pay attention to when it happened, and noticed that Chap’s ear would perk up a bit just before he erupted into joyful barking to let everyone know that his boss was coming home. When I called hubby to see where he was, it was almost always at the major intersection a couple of miles away as the crow flies. It became quiet the joke around our house. I told hubby that Chap was my warning to get my boyfriend out of the house and gone before he came home. I had at least five minutes, so plenty of time, thanks to Chap. If it was a clear day, Chap would recognize the sound of the semi at an even further distance, which is amazing as there is so much heavy truck traffic, just a few miles from us.
Our horses recognize our different vehicles and tractors, and they know which ones mean something to them. Some are driven by the people who feed and care for them, some aren’t. Some haul feed and hay, some don’t. It’s very interesting to observe just how much they know from listening to the sound of a particular engine. It’s actually rather impressive.
All of that makes me wonder if the big, black Friesian comes to the road to be talked to, because he recognizes the sound of the pickup truck. He’s very interested and watches us come up the road and is also watching when we come back out of the driveway to head home. Maybe he likes our little one-sided chats. Maybe it breaks up an otherwise boring day. Whatever the reason, the last few times we’ve gone for eggs, he’s in the same spot, simply waiting and watching, which really makes us think. I think, he knows the sound of the truck, and we’re something interesting in his day. I think he likes us, and you know what? We like him too. In fact, we’d quite happily take him home if we could. Well, some people collect stamps, so what’s another horse?

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB