Twister is a black 3/4 Arab gelding who has been a boarder here for around 10 years (since he was a baby), and although broke to ride, he doesn’t do very much other than charm his owner (which he IS very good at). This year though, he’s actually got a job. I ponied him (rode King and led Twister) down to the Thoroughbred farm where I work, and he’s been babysitting Reno, the orphan foal for the last couple of months.
He’s got some quirks, Twister has. He’s easily the spookiest horse on an entire farm of racehorses. Reno is far braver than Twister, and has to lead the way every morning. Reno and I march along, with Reno happily surveying the world and looking forward to his day, while Twister snorts, bugs his eyes out at shadows, and generally makes Linda crazy as she tries to drag him along after Reno. He has to wear a grazing muzzle since he’s prone to grass founder, so he sounds like Darth Vader breathing through his mask… and looks a bit like him too.
I used to think of Twister as an easy keeper. And I guess that’s kind of true. But really, he’s just a pig. He eats twice as much hay as the nursing mares overnight. And if turned out on grass, he eats so fast that you’d swear he was about to start cramming more in with one hoof. The grass goes in faster than he can swallow and it starts falling out the sides. The boss calls him “that gluttonous little bastard”.
Twister looks like he ought to be sensitive, especially when you see the spookiness. But he is sort of thick actually. He hasn’t the slightest respect for anyone’s space. He’ll step on your feet, clock you with his head, ram you with his shoulder, and just generally behave like a big stupid oaf, despite being 14.3hh and rather dainty. Not to mention being smart as a whip, despite the stupid “huh? I’m standing on whose foot?” expression. Even if you give him a good thump (while he’s standing on said foot), he just looks back at you blandly as if to say “is that all you’ve got?”
Twister and Reno are turned out in the field with Bernice and her colt Al, and Exclusive and her filly Esmerelda (all three foals born the same day). Linda was a bit worried about Twister initially, especially since he doesn’t belong to the farm. She thought that Bernice would be very protective of Al, and maybe hurt Twister. But no. Twister just ignored Bernice. Even when Bernice spun around him, threatening to kill. He just kept eating. And once when he was trying to get a drink of water, and Al came to investigate, Bernice saw that, panicked and charged to get between Twister and Al. Twister, feeling that his space was being invaded, screamed and double barrelled her in the rib cage. Twice. Right. That was the end of any concern we had for Twister’s welfare.
But of course we still had some concerns about how he’d manage with Exclusive in the mix. She’s the boss mare and no one argues with her. But she’s home now, and Twister is just as bold and fearless with her as he was with Bernice. He drove her crazy the first day, marching up and staring her in the eye. I can’t say he intimidated her, since nothing intimidates Exclusive. But I suspect she sort of gave up chasing him away eventually. It’s just too much work. Turned out with the two broodmares, and with a field of younger mares in the next paddock, he looks rather smug…. if a bit comical being so small and with that big black muzzle on his face.
He sounds like a prince doesn’t he? Well… he is actually. Because he’s absolutely been a superstar with Reno. He’s never hurt Reno, even when the little devil jumps on him, pulls his tail, or bites his butt. Twister will occasionally hunch his rear a little as if he could kick or makes a bit of a face (when Reno is being truly horrid), but that’s it. Reno adores Twister. He seems just as attached to him as any foal would be to his mother. He grazes near him, sleeps near him. And runs back to him when anything worries him.
When Linda goes out with milk replacer for Reno, he comes running to the gate, whinnying (it’s extremely cute!). Unfortunately sometimes other horses come too. Which can be a bit chaotic and makes it difficult for Reno to eat. But Twister, bless his little soul, sighs and marches over, “Here now! Move along. The kid needs to eat.” Even with Al, who wants to play with Reno, Twister just gently suggests that he go see his mom. And Al goes. Then Twister goes back to eating grass… “Right, my work here is done”.