Independent Living — Good Even For A Horse

I remember when my mom moved into a place that offered three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and nursing-home care. It was her choice, and she moved into an apartment on the ground floor, proud of her status as “independent.” She made the move, however, for me and my brother, just in case she should begin failing and ever need the second (assisted) or third (nursing) levels of care. Fortunately she never did, though she did pass on within a couple of years of moving into this facility. I think maintaining her independence was paramount for her self respect and paid off in the long run.

Copper, at liberty outside my dining room window, telling everybody, "I rule!"

And so it is for Copper, my 32-year-old (coming on 33 now) Quarter Horse.

Copper has always been Mr. Man in our herd. Just about our favorite of all horses of all time, and for reasons too many to list here. But Copper has just recently gained a new lease on life. In fact a friend of mine, April, who has known him a long time and was helping me feed one evening this past week, asked: “Has our Copper gotten a little, ahem, attitude, recently?!”

Well, yeah. He has. Since the loss of our herd leader, Gabriel, and the addition of our new herd member, Lopeh, Copper is no longer at the bottom of the pecking order. And he keeps everyone reminded of that by putting Lopeh in her place whenever he feels like it. Mainly at feeding time, chasing her away from his new, private abode.

Which brings up the second reason he is feeling so full of himself. Copper now has, as mentioned above, a private area where he alone is fed. But the kicker is that this area has a gate that he, and only he, can manipulate to let himself in or out of. Complete with cow bells!  So he can be heard far and wide whenever he lets himself in, or out of, his private suite. Too cool!

Copper had such an area when we lived in Texas too (sans the cow bells, however), and he loved it there. It took me some time to figure out how to recreate the scenario here in New Mexico, mechanically speaking, but I finally struck on something I thought Copper could master. And master it he did, though it took him a few weeks.

So now Copper lets himself in and out of his private area any time he wants, and I can keep his feed bin full of hay and feed for him to eat any time he desires. Since he has hardly any teeth left in his head, eating all the time is a really good thing, and now no one has to worry that the two girls will scarf up his rations before he has a chance to even begin.

The best thing is that Copper has a new lease on life and is even sassier than he was before.

There really is something magic about being independent. If you don’t believe me, just ask Copper!

*****************************************************************

IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ MORE ABOUT COPPER:

How To Be Robert Redford

Out of the Mouths of Horses – Wise Words for us All

Copper is a Channel!

 

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