No matter what the groundhog says, warmer temperatures and springtime rains find their way to my pasture eventually. (Actually, I really resent groundhogs and their sense of superiority. I tend to chase them out of my field. Arrogance is so ugly.)
With spring rain comes one of my favorite features of the outdoors: mud.
Humans despise mud, but as with many things, I think they just fail to completely grasp the concept.
Each type of mud has its purpose in Human management and training, and it’s critical to know which type to use when. For this reason, I have created my own Mud Classification System based on the most common types of mud discovered in my central Kentucky environment. Feel free to tailor these to your regional needs.
- Post-rainstorm earth snot: I am not a huge fan of the slick, slimy mud that emerges right after an hours-long storm, but it has its place.
Some horses make the mistake of rolling in this monstrosity, which I find disgusting; I’ve also found, from experience, that this type of dirt slurry rinses off blankets and topcoats very well with the right hose nozzle, which really doesn’t burn many calories for the Human.
Instead, I prefer to restrict earth snot usage to coating lower legs and splashing onto hard-to-reach crevices inside hind legs. This both moisturizes the skin and ensures the slime will dry out enough to require serious currying when the half-blind little bat finds it a few days later.
- Two-day clay: A couple of days after a rainstorm, I’ve discovered the ground has dried enough to form a type of gummy clay material. This is my favorite stuff for Mudpack Mondays (and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, etc).
This clay has the advantage of crusting around the longer hairs of my winter coat into satisfying balls that absolutely won’t yield to curry combs, hard brushes, or even those awful shedding blades. No matter how many tools or times she tries, the Human is too dim-witted to figure this out and keeps changing tactics. As frustrating as it is to be reminded of her mental shortcomings, her insistence sure provides her a good arm workout.
- Kentucky quicksand: This is what happens when we get several days’ rain with a dry-out day in the middle. The difference is this produces deep, suction-filled quicksand.
If the Human puts bell boots on me (always a poor decision, as she usually chooses the wrong size and color), Kentucky Quicksand will suck those things right off. For my light-footed companions, quicksand also yanks shoes, providing us with a few days’ well-earned vacation while we wait to get on the Foolish Farrier’s schedule.
Humorously, I’ve also discovered that deep enough Kentucky Quicksand will pull off Human boots, which is possibly the funniest thing I have seen in my entire life. The Human lost the well-worn muck boot and began hopping around, arms flying, yelling for me to come lend her a shoulder to lean on.
It’s possible I walked in the other direction.
- Three- to four-day soft ground: Several days after a rainstorm, the ground is nice and sticky, the perfect consistency for smearing on bridle paths and blankets. This type of mud dries out quickly, so you can get a good layer or two applied and set before the Human comes out. In a climate with a fair amount of silt, this type of mud can easily be ground into those laughable “No-Rip” nylon shells on turnout blankets.
Also, the slight softness to the pasture makes this the perfect type of ground for the Human who needs a “gentle reminder” about the rudeness of spurs, the importance of a strong lower leg, or a good set of core muscles. Dropping the human on dry, packed ground should be reserved for more egregious errors like the arrogance of a running martingale application, or (Cookie Monster forbid) the use of a riding bat.
Of course, if the little Brat really gets mouthy, you can also try splashing her with Earth Snot on your way in from the field. After all, that makeup job isn’t doing her any favors.
|Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky.
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Photo by Dark Horse Photography.