Friday, April 25, 2014

Ben Gets Blissful

It’s been a flat-out week, workwise; I’ve made it to the barn every day to give Ben his beet pulp mash, set up his overnight hay, and generally check on his welfare, but there’s been no time for anything more.

Today was different. Today I finished the last rush job by a little after 1:00, then headed over to spend some quality time with my old guy. He greeted me with his usual joyful bellow as I carried over the mash bucket. Then, while he gobbled the good stuff, I got to work on Ben, right there in his paddock.

First, a thorough currying, lifting mass quantities of fur-shed off his body. The wind blew a lot of it away for the birds to grab for nest-lining, but there was still plenty left for plastering on me. Then he got a thorough brushing, followed by a final going-over with the FURminator rake. The result was promising: still not wholly shed out, but suggestions of summer sleekness bloomed on his hide.

By that time the mash was gone, and Ben moved over to his lunch hay pile. I moved to his butt and began working on his tail: A tail that hadn’t seen a decent grooming since he went into winter blankets; long, dreadlocked, with a trail of dried crud on the underside left by his habit of not raising it high enough when there’s a blanket tail-flap over it. I picked out segment after segment and began teasing the knots and snarls and shavings out with a big wide-toothed plastic tail comb. It took a good half-hour of patient work – hand cramps towards the end, too – but at last it floated full and free and silky in the small breeze. Hilly told me she’d seen him step on his tail when backing up, so I banged off four or five inches.

Then it was time for the front end. I grabbed a wide-toothed plastic mane brush and began raking through his long forelock and even longer mane – it’s a good eight inches now, despite his last mane trim a month or so ago. I had to pick his head up off the hay to do it, but he didn’t resist – indeed, Ben by now was in a semi-trance, wallowing in the attention. We finished with me going over his face and ears slowly and gently with the soft brush, his nose tucked into my chest, his eyes at half-mast.

When I was done Ben didn’t go back to his hay till it was plain the lovefest was over; no, he stood and gazed mildly at me, willing me to come back and make much of him some more. He looked great (a state that will probably dissipate by the time I see him tomorrow), he was blissed out, and so was I.

I guess Ben likes me for more than the mash after all.

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