Friday, November 13, 2009

Peeling Like an Onion

Not even a week in his new home, and I think of the nameless one as an onion. You know, the kind you keep in the pantry, rolling around in a red net bag. That paper thin, outer skin cracks and loosens. Under it is another very thin, clear skin that will slough off with time, and under that, a layer of green flesh you might remove before chopping the onion into a salad or slow-cooking soup. He's shed the outermost skin now, left it behind in bits and pieces in his paddock. The second deworming seems to have cleaned him out; a bright energy is plain in his face. Suddenly he's anxious to be with the other horses, any one of them. He presses himself, head high, against the top rail of the fence. Old Molly, still girlish in her Thoroughbred, high-metabolism figure, wants nothing to do with him. JR, over 25 years old, has seen it all and could care less. Little 22-year-old Gambler, bombproof super Arab, noses up to the rail for a look, then turns back to browsing his hay. Sam, the Appendix quarter horse, is new to the barn too; he doesn't have time to make friends yet.

That leaves Keely. This Sunday, we'll turn them out together. My youngster will more than meet his match with her. A bright bay, Keely is big for an Arab. She's a bitch who will assign him his rank in the herd. And honestly, I'm pulling for a low rank. I don't need another alpha boss who can't handle being separated from the herd they run. But it's not that simple, either. The horses are paired by diet. My boy needs to gain weight -- I can still skip my knuckles over his ribs. Keely is fat. She doesn't need the same ten-dollar, all-you-can-eat buffet that he needs. But one smackdown from her is all it should take to teach him the farm's code of conduct. I'll take my camera.

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