Cuddling a 1300 lb Big Dog


Owning livestock provides non-stop work. The chores of taking care of my small flock and horse are often the best part of my day. It is exhausting especially in weather extremes. This weekend we had a bit of snow which required an extra layer of clothing, trudging through drifts and constant attention to everyone’s needs.

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The one change in winter is that because of the short days Hatman is typically in his stall while I am picking it clean. I always make certain he has a few nice flakes of hay to munch on – typically hide a few apples in with the hay to keep him focused. But Hat knows that food will be there when I’m finished and often I end up with “assistance” in picking the stall.

Hat has always been a wee bit of attention monger. Yeah right – anyone who has ever met him knows this is a gross understatement. The “human focus” is a common characteristic in the Bashkir Curly breed, but it is surprising to those unfamiliar with the breed. So as I pick the stall, there is a nose deftly shoving aside collars and scarves to nuzzle at my neck. If I’m lucky, he has not taken a drink just prior to doing this; however, frequently there is icy cold water hitting my neck along with that velvety soft nose. From there, he snatches the stocking cap and tosses it outside the stall. Once that is out of his way the real snuzzling begins on my ears and hair. This always makes me laugh and I’m pretty certain this is Hat’s objective.

Thankfully I get a reprieve when I empty a muck bucket. Hat identified delaying the fill of these buckets gets him more snuzzle time. In an effort to hamper progress, he grabs the end of the pitch fork and drags it away from me. Thankfully he has not figured out how to toss that out of the stall, although he has tossed an empty muck bucket. If only I could teach him how to USE the pitch fork and muck bucket!

I have been told that in some Native American languages the word for horse is actually translated as “Big Dog.” Considering that the Bashkir Curly comes from mustang stock, I’m guessing those original Americans met some curly horses. Hatman also is blessed with curiosity and playfulness. He has “followed” me into the back of the astrovan, ran around the indoor arena with pink fuzzy slippers firmly gripped in his mouth, and led me on a chase through Kentucky State Horse Park. It’s impossible to have a bad day with Hatman, my big cuddle boy.

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