Translation for the non-horsey: a horse that does not freak out when it’s dragging a rope, stepping on a rope, is accidentally whapped by a rope, or get it’s legs caught in a rope. The last being the most important: a horse that knows to stand completely still, not struggle when there is rope around its legs, and wait for you to bail him out.
Hudson is Rope Smart horse. He’s also an Out Smart (Jane) horse.
I tote Dinero’s grain up to the paddock: I take Hudson out (or he’d muscle Dinero away and eat his happy meal), feed Dinero, and go catch up with Hudson.
“Taking Hudson out” is a euphemism for “throw the lead over his neck, point him at the open gate, whack him on the butt, and lock the gate after him”. Hudson usually makes it at least 3/4 of the way through the open gate before diving into the grass. We average Jane standing behind Hudson with one hand on each butt cheek, shoving him forward (so she can close the gate) about 3 times a week.
Yesterday, he got all the way out of the gate, leaving it closable, before diving happily into the new green grass. I feed Dinero, and go to get Hudson, where he is greedily cropping grass.
Jane: Okay, H. Time to go.
Hudson: I’m eating.
Jane: I can tell. You are going to stop eating.
Hudson: Mumph. I can’t. I’m standing on my lead rope.
He’s standing with one forefoot on the lead. This leaves him a 12″ radius to mow. I have a feeling the 12″ radius would move infinitesimally, as long as I was standing nearby. He knows how to keep standing on his lead rope.
Jane: Back up. (To get his foot off lead rope)
Hudson: Can’t. Standing on lead. See?
He raises his head 3″ and tugs half-heartedly on the rope.
Hudson: I’m trapped. Try me in a couple of hours.
I bought a lead rope with a panic snap, because I’m a safety freak. Hudson hovers his head an inch above the ground as pitifully as possible, to prove his immobility, while speculatively scanning the broader grassy area near by. He’s not in the least concerned about only being able to raise his head 8 inches. Totally fine with him to spend the day like this.
Jane: (pulling panic snap open) Gotcha!
Hudson: How many times do I have to tell you (here he looks pointedly at his hoof standing on the now loose lead rope) I am stuck?
Jane: (Pulling up on his halter to make him lift his head) Sorry, H. Unstuck.
Hudson: Drat. (He pauses, and takes one last longing look at the lead rope still under his hoof. Maybe I’ll believe he can’t move as long as he leaves the hoof on the lead? Hey, it’s worth a shot!)
Hudson: I’m still standing on my lead?
Jane: It’s not attached to you anymore, it doesn’t matter, back up.
Hudson: (backing off lead rope) Is what we’re going to do really so important that it couldn’t wait a couple of hours?
Jane (Clipping lead back on) Listen buddy, 23 hours of the day belong to you. Hour 24? Mine.
Hudson: Whatever. Oh hey. Did you pick up some grain? You remembered I was out, right? You kinda smell like grain. (He stretches his nostrils into homing-pigeon sized scent detectors.) You definitely smell like my grain.
Jane: Picked up your grain, you can have it when we’re done.
Hudson: I feel weak. I might need a little nosh first. There’s a really strong scent of molasses coming from your right pocket. Can I check that out?
Rope Smart. He honestly thought I’d go for the “oh no, can’t move” grass eating trick…