The first six weeks at our new farm were peaceful and Zen-like. Salem settled in right away and was the picture of tranquility, perfectly content to spend his days strolling around grazing like a fat little heifer.
And then one day, for no apparent reason, my horse morphed from Serene Salem to Ticking Timebomb of Insanity Salem.
It all started one day when I arrived at the farm and, instead of trotting up to his stall and greeting me with a throaty nicker, Salem remained in his paddock, staring towards the grove next door. I brushed it off as quirky Salem behavior and grabbed my wheelbarrow and pitchfork to clean his stall/paddock. As I passed through the stall, I saw that his hay-net was still stuffed to the brim, exactly as I had left it the night before--definitely not normal, but Salem is notoriously picky about hay (all the local feed store people know him as the Hay Princess, as in, "Make sure you grab a nice fluffy green bale for His Royal Highness the Hay Princess!"), so I didn't fret too much about it.
Out in the paddock, I noticed a wide churned-up track right next to the fence-line and thought, "Huh, that's weird--why would they bring the tractor in here to drag?" Very odd. Salem continued to ignore me, which was also odd; he usually follows me around and does silly things like try to steal the pitchfork or rub his itchy neck on me or any one of his other big goofball antics. And as I tramped around the whole paddock in search of manure and only found two piles instead of the usual dozen, I started to get that Something Is Very Much Not Right feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Back in the stall, I peered into Salem's feed bin--sure enough, his entire portion of evening grain was in there, totally untouched. This horse has never, in the almost two years that I have spent with him, left a single shred of grain. Even after over 30 hours by himself in a giant trailer followed by a night in a strange barn, he still licked up every last morsel of his breakfast. At that point, I was pulling my phone out and scrolling down my contacts to my vet's number.
That's when the BO's son sauntered over to me and said, "Oh, hey, my dad said to tell you that your horse didn't eat his breakfast this morning and has been pacing all day."
*Pause as at least seven blood vessels in my brain burst*
I have no idea what I said to BO's son, as I was simultaneously making a mental list of punishments suitable for a BO who doesn't call a horse owner to tell them their horse is possibly very sick (de-testical-ing with dull, rusty instruments was high on the list), preparing myself for the fact that my horse was definitely about to die, dragging Salem's halter on and pulling him out of his stall, and dialing my vet's number.
*To be continued...*