Candy is a funny little horse. She’s very sensible- if she sees something that’s a little scary, her response to to freeze and stare. After a brief assessment, she usually decides the scary thing isn’t really that bad and moves on with her life.
Except for blankets.
See, Candy had a Traumatic Blanket Incident last year, and since then, she’s been pretty certain that blankets equal impending death.
Back in early December, Oklahoma had one of those days where it was very, very cold and windy in the morning, but warmed up to a reasonable 50ish by early afternoon. Since Candy has the saddest winter coat EVER, she wears a blanket when temperatures are below 35 or so. On this particular day, I turned her out still wearing her blanket before heading to work, since my neighbor had told me she’d be happy to remove it once the weather warmed up.
Later that day, I got a text from my neighbor: “Candy’s blanket is now dead.”
Turns out my neighbor had sent one of the barn rats out to remove the blanket; the kid, who’s used to dealing with dead-broke lesson horses, started removing the blanket while Candy was loose in the field. The blanket slipped a little, scaring Candy, who bolted, trailing the blanket behind her like the scariest superhero cape in the world. Candy whizzed around the field until she was finally free of the blanket, which the kid retrieved and place in a heap in my barn. The poor kid was possibly more scared than Candy was.
When I heard this story, I couldn’t stop laughing at my mental image of a horse galloping around with a cape and a petrified youngster trying to figure out what to do. I know, I know- Candy could have really hurt herself, it’s not nice to laugh at children, etc. But it was an honest mistake, and no one came to any harm; well, except for the poor blanket, which was a shredded heap of nylon fabric and tufts of polyester fill far beyond the skill of even the best blanket repair person.
Right after the Traumatic Blanket Incident, even the sight of a blanket would cause Candy to tremble. After a few days, she would allow herself to be blanketed, but would stand completely still unless led somewhere. Eventually, she seemed to put the TBI behind her and was happy to let me blanket and unblanket her while she ate.
However, I’m afraid we’ve had a TBI relapse. Yesterday morning, I was unclipping the leg straps of Candy’s blanket while she ate. She shifted, causing the blanket to move. Candy flung her head up, scooted backwards, and paced around her stall in a panic. I escaped out the front door to avoid being kicked or trampled and watched her nervously circle her stall until the blanket slid off and she stood shaking and staring at it. I reentered the stall, picked it up, and hung it on the blanket bar while she crept toward her feed tub to finish breakfast.
She was basically fine when I put it back on last night and took it off this morning, so I don’t think the mental damage is too great. Sigh. Poor Candy. Those blankets are surely out to get her!