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Critical Error 43

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“Paul, how long have you had horses?”

“I used to stable horses for awhile, then I got Britches over three years ago and Checkers and Showgirl, just over two.  My god, time flies.  That reminds me, I have to take them in for their yearly check-up.”

“How old are they?”

“Britches is four and Checkers and Showgirl are four and a half.”

“Does taking care of horses require a lot of work?” Theresa asked.

“Sometimes.  The most important to remember outside stabling, feeding, and regular exercise, horses are gregarious by nature.  They live in herds so they need love and attention as much as they need food.”

“Is it possible to over-feed a horse?” Brandon asked curiously.

“Yep, you can.  It’s far more dangerous than under feeding them.  If they’re grazing, they can eat an inordinate amount of food, but their stomach never gets over-loaded because it’s little bits, constantly.  However, whengrain fed, it’s real easy to over-do it.”

“I heard you never gallop a horse right after feeding it can give them belly cramps,” Andrew added knowingly.

“That’s right, the best way to exercise a horse is walking him and trotting him occasionally.”

“I didn’t know that.”  Eilea was inordinately pleased with Andrew’s interaction.

“Never approach a horse from behind; makes them real skittish cause they can’t see you.”

“I thought horses had full range of vision,”  Christina interrupted.

“Yes, on either side of their head.  They also have a blind spot immediately in front which is why horses often toss their head. If you stand right in front of him and try and stroke his face or nose, he can’t really see you or what you’re trying to do.”

“I guess the best way to come up to a horse then, is from the side.”  Brandon observed.

“Exactly.”

“How do you know what kind of horse to buy? I mean, is there a difference?” Andrew asked, re-entering the conversation.

“Basically, a good horse should have a small, clean-cut head, big intelligent eyes, wide sensitive nostrils.  The neck should be long in proportion to the head as well as slender-looking but firm and muscular, while the shoulders should be clean smooth and well sloped so there is good depth from chest to girth.  The legs should be clean with long forearm and short, well-boned cannons.”

Laughing he continued, “Sorry, I get carried away.  The words may be technical, but if you think in terms of any of my horses, you’ll understand what I’m saying.”

“Actually, I do,”  Christina said, surprising them all.

“It’s why some pictures of horses are so beautiful and others mediocre.  It’s the horse they choose to draw.  Sometimes I used to wonder why they bothered because there’s a discernable difference I could never explain.  They were nice horses, but just not as beautiful.“

“There is a lot to know about horses.  I couldn’t explain everything in a few short minutes, but simplified, the whole appearance depends on balance, proportion and on what you’re going to use the horse for.”

“The horse I just described is a good riding horse for example.  The draught horse  is altogether different.”

“So each horse has its own set of peculiarities.”

“Yes, Christina, my explanation is very basic, and just the beginning.”

“I’ll explain all the terms I used some time if you’re really interested.”

Andrew showed the most interest and was confirmed when he added, “I’d enjoy that.”

“Paul laughed, “Sorry, I could talk about horses forever, but we don’t have all day; I guess we ought to get busy if we’re going to leave on time.”

“Oh, right.  Mind if I take the first shower?”  Christina asked.

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