Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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In the Heat of the Summer

August 12, 2005

Ginny called this morning to say that when she came down to feed, "Hartland Harlot" was on the wrong side of her fence, having evidently decided that she'd like to get closer to her neighbor, Justin, the new gelding at the barn. "Hartland Harlot" alliterates so nicely that I might have to change Allie's name, at least when she's in heat. In summer this is pretty much 24/7. (Allie's registered name, I should add, is Hartland All for the Best. You can learn more about her in the Photo Gallery.)

Justin arrived toward the end of July. He's a mild-mannered fellow, not the kind of studly gelding who throws mares into a prolonged tizzy. Emma, however, a Thoroughbred who has attained the remarkable equine age of 30, has been ballistic ever since he arrived. We arrange turnout so that she and Justin are never on opposite sides of the same fence. When they are, Emma squeals and pees (common sign of a mare in heat) continuously and, more important, she tries to whale the hell out of the fence with her hind legs. These days Emma isn't all that steady on her front legs, and we don't want her to hurt herself.

Last night just before 7 Allie, aka Hartland Harlot, and I came home from a lovely, almost mosquito-free trail ride. I untacked Allie, hosed her down, went to put her in her paddock -- and realized I had a problem. Emma was in Allie's paddock. I couldn't put Emma in her paddock because it shares a fence with the front pasture -- where Justin was. I could bring Justin in -- but where to put Allie in the meantime?

Aha. I closed the outside door of Emma's stall. I put Emma in her stall. I put Allie in her paddock. I brought Justin in through the front pasture's side gate and put him in his paddock. Then I opened Emma's outside door and let her go into her paddock. No one squealed; no one kicked the fence.

I have a hunch that there's a correlation between getting high scores on standardized tests and the ability to figure out stuff like this.


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