Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Boring Day in Heaven

"What do I write about now?" I find myself thinking. "It's been a boring week," I remark to myself, "all Argus does is eat and poop and wander the pasture. Who wants to hear about that?"

I've been thinking about this for the past few days, the sameness of it all, and how Argus' life has settled into a delicious and predictable routine: Exploring every inch of our six acres of pasture, with its grasses, herbs, and wildflowers, smelling every plant and clump of manure. Scratching his nose on a fence post, spooking at the vineyard workers, rolling in the loose dry dirt of Dancer's grave. Running from a swarm of insects, the evening routine of nosing his way around the strange concoction I place in his familiar black rubber feed tub, playing games with his friends Ridge, Half Pint, and Odie.

In the pasture, Argus ambles around in a happy daze, following Half Pint dutifully in the evening, when the overweight Half Pint is allowed a small window of grazing time. Argus loves Half Pint and trails him around the field, his nose in the draft horse's tail. Half Pint, the dominant gelding since Dancer's death, regards Argus with a kindness not always seen among dominant horses. He is patient with Argus. In turn, Argus quietly mourns Half Pint's return to the dry-lot part of the farm, where he spends most of his time now until the grass turns golden and the threat of founder has subsided. Argus stands outside the paddocks, next to Half Pint, enticing him to play games horses only seem to play over a fence, and calmly waits for morning.

Another day comes, with it the insistent banging of horses' hooves on the metal pipe gates, and the squeaky rolling of the battered green feed cart with its promise of breakfast. It's silly, because nobody is interested in hay ---- it's pasture they're after! It is turnout time for Ridge and Odie, who join Argus in an excited scramble to gallop to the far reaches of Jim's pasture. Odie gives a little mule kick, then runs in his odd way, head up, feet flying, doing what we call "the crazy mule run." Ridge streaks through the pasture at a hair-raising gallop, reminding everyone that he's still a racing Thoroughbred, and still FAST, even if he is 22. Argus follows them at a good-natured canter, not in any hurry, occasionally glancing over his shoulder guiltily at Half Pint, who gives a sad, high-pitched whinny from the confines of the "fatty paddock." Argus, you can tell, is torn between wanting to frolic and graze with Ridge and Odie, and sitting companionably with the benched Half Pint.

He chooses pasture, for now, loping out to meet his friends. They canter a few circles, heels flying, eyes merry, before suddenly settling down to graze seriously. After a while, Argus makes a feeble excuse to return to the waterer, close to where Half Pint stands. After a long drink, Argus stands again with Half Pint, as if to say "I'm sorry, good friend, but I must graze now," then slowly walks back out to the pasture. Half Pint takes a deep, resigned sigh, and settles down to his morning nap.

For most of the day, Argus eats and walks, eats and walks. He looks more and more at what is immediately in front of him, as a horse should do, and less and less at strange things in the distant hills. His head is down more, and up less. He looks more like a regular person than a wild-haired recluse, peering out between the window blinds at the bright world outside. He still swings in and out of his body, but that's okay. His ability to drift in and out of a sort of consciousness is what saved him, over the course of nearly 16 years, from going truly mad. I'll never expect him to be entirely "normal," but that's okay. It still amazes me that this horse can function at all, let alone as well as he does.

I imagine Argus covers some serious ground during the course of his days and nights in pasture. At least 20 times each day, Argus appears at opposite ends of the property. If I could attach a pedometer to his hoof, I like to imagine that he walks a good 3-5 miles every 24 hours. That pleases me and fills me with satisfaction. I watch him through the window and smile, knowing that here in my field, Argus is living what I view as a sedate, boring life as a retired pasture horse, while to Argus, each day is yet another incomparably rich adventure, full of hope and the sweet taste of freedom at long last.

25 comments:

FullCircleEquine said...

I look forward to your posts. It is never boring to read the beautiful words that you write about Argus and how his life is now truly that.
A life!

barrelracingmom said...

What we, and even some horses, would consider boring is like goint to the carnival everyday for Argus. I'm so glad he is observing his surroundings and becoming less 'dreamy', which isn't a bad thing, but he is learning to live in the here and now. I love hearing about him and thanks for thinking of us!

Faith said...

i always love reading your posts about Argus. Even the boring days aren't boring to me! :-) he must be so happy to just have a place where he can move around.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful words about Argus and your herd. What is boring to some, is very refreshing to those of us, who know what wonder and joy-running and grazing is to these beautiful beasts. I bet it breaks your heart to keep 1 horse "in" so he won't founder. I sure know how that feels, so I gave mine extra carrots at each meal to make up for the "unfairness" of it all!
Thank you again

Anonymous said...

I, too, look forward to all posts from you----not boring for someone who longs for a horse, but cannot have, so live vicariously thru the life you share with remarkable Argus!!

SOSHorses said...

I am like everyone else who reads this blog. We cherish every tidbit of Argus' life we get. It is such a wonderful thing to know that he at long last has the freedom to be a horse. I know that you are looking for him a forever home, but I somehow think he has found it. He is where he is supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

Yay an update :) I just love reading about Argus & his exciting days. I admire you for saving him :)

Argus' foster mom said...

I am happy you enjoy reading about Argus, and thank you for hanging in here with me! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. It really helps.

Seeing Argus living his new life really makes my heart feel full. I love sharing this with others. Please come and visit Argus if you are ever in Sonoma County.

Katie

Anonymous said...

I always loved Sonoma County. I lived in the bay area for 30 years but my favorite parts of the state were over there! I am an avid reader and thank you for posting even the boring days. Every day should be an adventure for us all like it is for Argus!

Lauren_MI_Eventer said...

"...Half Pint, who gives a sad, high-pitched whinny from the confines of the "fatty paddock."

This seriously made me snort and laugh out loud! I love your writing. Keep up the amazing work!

PaintedPromise said...

Katie, your description of Argus' "boring" life has reduced me to tears. happy tears of course! what a wonderful thing you have done for him...

and give Half-Pint a kiss for me. tell him he is not alone, at our place it is Ozzie the mini who is food dominant that must be separated from the others, lest we have one butterball and several skeletons! (yikes i better say i am exaggerating to make my point - there are really no skeletons here! unless you ask Ozzie, he will say he is one since i am starving him lol)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for writing so thoroughly about Argus' "boring" days. I LOVE reading about him, and like so many others, have tears in my eyes as I type this. Keep the boring news coming......!

Bonnie S said...

Aww, that was a lovely post! It's so nice to hear that Argus is happy and contented.

Anonymous said...

Once again your beautiful, descriptive words leave me wanting more! Oh Argus, you get to do just what you want, where you want, and for as long as you want. What a serene live, and you are so deserving. Argus and the herd are your life Katie, and it shows with every word you write.
Blessing to you and your barn!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Katie, for taking time to write...you have lots of people reading and enjoying your thoughts and observations, and stories about your Argus. What a gift to him...to have such a 'boring' life. :)
Robin

Anonymous said...

Like everyone else I look forward to hearing about Argus. I wish I could take him but it wouldn't be fair to him. I know I could provide a good home for him and I know he would be loved very much by everyone here. I just don't think he would like it as much as he seems to like it with you and the herd. He sounds like he is very content with you and your herd. I know you said you were looking for a forever home for him but I truely think he is home. I know someone else said this but I have agreed with this from the beginning. I know you will do what is best for Argus you have always had his best interests in your heart. Whatever you feel is right for him I know you will do.

Please keep the updates coming no matter how "boring" you think they are. We look forward to hearing about his progress.

We are Argus junkies over here in Michigan.

Keep up the good works you do

Anonymous said...

Argie = <3

Anonymous said...

It may seem boring to us, but Argus has all those years to make up for. I think it is amazing that he was able to keep his sanity for that time. You have done a marvelous job of letting him come out of his shell at his own pace. Thanks to everyone who made this possible! Has any progress been made on getting the other horses out of that situation?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have tried this yet or not, but have you considered a grazing muzzle so Half Pint can join the herd during the day?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have tried this yet or not, but have you considered a grazing muzzle so Half Pint can join the herd during the day?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have tried this yet or not, but have you considered a grazing muzzle so Half Pint can join the herd during the day?

Anonymous said...

Hey,

Haven't heard anything from you guys in a while...hope all is well. :-)
cas
louisiana

Anonymous said...

This is such a beautiful site and you have done such amazing work. Argus must be a very special creature to have survived what he went through.
His story is so touching. I think Argus shows us how we should live. He went through 16 years of hell and came out the other end wanting to live. He doesn't dwell on the pain in his past but lives every day as it comes and seems to enjoy every moment to it's full potential. Maybe if we all lived like that our lives would be better for it.

Big congratulations and applause to all your hard work and effort.

Argus' foster mom said...

We DO have a grazing muzzle, and Half Pint has worn it, but this year (he's 7 now) it's too small. Does anyone know where to purchase a DRAFT horse size grazing muzzle?

Thank you for your continued support and inspiration!

Katie

Kyfarmgirl67 said...

I realize this is late but ou can find draft size and large horse size grazing muzzles at:

http://www.bestfriendequine.com/deluxe-grazing-muzzle.html

These are very nice quality. I have one for my large paint horse!