Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The smartest cookie in the jar

Ahh...the good old days, back when the ground was dry, the solar water tank was shiny and new, and the equines drank from it contentedly, saving me beaucoup bucks in electricity. All that came to an abrupt halt after the first snowstorm of the season. There was so much snow and wind that the float froze to the inside of the solar tank. No big deal. One whomp with my fist and the float came unstuck. But in preparation for the impending second snowstorm of the season, I did as the tank instructions suggested and sprayed the edges of the float with cooking spray. Sure enough, the float didn't stick to the tank and I was one happy rancher...until I realized that the equines weren't drinking any water. Yikes!

I quickly set up an electric water bucket so that everybody would stay happy and hydrated while I figured out why they would no longer drink from the solar tank. The mystery wasn't that hard to solve. It had to be the smell or residue of the cooking spray in the water. Ok, maybe I wasn't supposed to use butter-flavored cooking spray, but that was all I had! Still, these are the same equines that drink out of mud puddles and eat cholla cactus. What's the big deal over a little butter-flavored cooking spray in the water? Doesn't everybody like butter? Apparently not.

So for seven miserable sub-zero days, I refilled that 5-gallon electric bucket at least 100 times while the fresh, albeit slightly oily, water in the solar tank went untouched. When the temperature finally broke 35 on Sunday, I drained and scrubbed the solar tank to remove every last molecule of butter-flavored cooking spray.

But would they drink from it? Hell no. Here is George with 70 gallons of fresh water in a stock tank to his left, 
25 gallons of fresh water in the solar tank to his right, and he's licking on an iceberg. Maddening. Just maddening.

It was then that I realized I would have to convince everybody that the water 
in the newly scrubbed and refilled solar tank was worth drinking again. 
And the only way to do that would be to bribe them.

Witness the bribe – one very enticing, fragrant "Dobbin's Delights" horse cookie, placed on the edge of the float.

George sees the cookie. George wants the cookie. George can't figure out how to get the cookie.

Alan sees the cookie. Alan wants the cookie.
Lucy sees me and sticks her big snout in the picture.

Alan is the smart cookie and is on the correct side of the fence to grab it.

Me: No need to look guilty, Alan.

Me: It's not your fault that George is...how shall we say...a slow learner.

My heart leapt with joy as Alan went back to the solar tank, tipping the float and drinking the water 
in hopes that another cookie might appear.

Hank was the next to catch on to the cookie bribe, while George watched from the sidelines.

Lucy: I know if I stand here long enough you'll give me a cookie and I won't have to work for it and get my nose wet.
Me: I hate it when you're right.

Anyway, the cookie-training is starting to work. The water level in the solar tank went down a little bit on Monday, so somebody is drinking out of it. Still, I'm wondering what I could use to flavor the water to make it irresistible ... carrot juice? Apple juice? Anything except butter.


  1. I say it again, Alan is THE MAN!!

  2. Well I don't know about you, but I kind of never cared for butter flavored water either. :-))

  3. Those little brats!! I was thinking the same thing you mentioned the whole time I was reading this... they eat cactus type plants, would probably drink from the toilet bowl if they had one, so what's the big deal deal about a little butter?!! Too cute and too funny. I love all the eager cookie snout pictures.

  4. True vegans, your crew will have nothing to do with animal products! Imitation butter flavor included!

    And on the vegan note, I'll have to tell a story of one of my horses. Back when I was a teenager (yes, back in the ice age!), someone gave us one of those Hickory Farms baskets. It contained a large pepperoni sausage thing. It was gross and no one wanted to eat it. Long after the rest of the basket was consumed, the sausage was still hanging around. We lived rurally, so I decided I would chuck it in the woods to let the racoons/possoms/whoever eat it. I also carried out some snacks for the horses, so I go past the barnyard first. Well one of my geldings instantly grabs, not the horse snacks, but the giant pepperoni thing and woofs it down in one big gulp, barely even chewing. It was gone so fast I couldn't even react! I'd never seen a horse eat meat before and certainly not such a huge, seasoned, nitrate-laden mess. I was sure I had probably just killed the poor horse with a pending colic attack. I held my breath for a day or so, but he had no ill effects. I sure got lucky on that one!

  5. A horse hauler I know swears by strawberry koolaid in the water to keep horses drinking while on the road. Might be worth looking into...

  6. Your gang is just too silly for words ;p thx for the morning cookie break eh!

  7. I've never been a fan of cooking sprays myself, butter flavored or not. This just seals the deal for me to avoid them at all cost! I trust animal instincts and believe they know stuff we don't...clearly, there is something in the butter flavored cooking spray that is bad for you! :)

  8. I wonder if olive oil might server the same purpose - loose tank lid, but palatable to the equines...


  9. Mint?? Would that attract them?

    Actually, I second the call for Molasses.

  10. Apparently you can lead a burro to water, but you can't make him drink without cookies.

  11. I agree with Mona, very interesting.

    And I'd say YOU are the smart cookie!

  12. I wonder if you tested
    the critters out with olive oil/canola oil or a plant based oil. I guess you could put a little oil on a treat and see if they would eat it and then just use very little on the float just in case it freezes once again. I guess molasses was suggested however it is sugar and I'm not sure it wouldn't stick the float tight. Or you could mix molasses with oil and apply a light application.
    Let us know okay. I'm surprised Hank's tongue didn't stick to the fence the other day. Kids do that and they can't get their tongue off the fence. I've had the experience. Although not lately!
    Best always, Sandra

  13. I put Some apple cider Vinegar in Goldie's water tank, she seems to like it. try coconut oil for the tank.

  14. Your herd of cut ups are so very funny. And of course Alan figured the cookie thing out. I love the photo of the group think...hmmm did someone say cookies??????
    Spoiled fur babies at 7MSN and we love it.

  15. oh feather babies too....sorry girls...waving hi

  16. My farrier was suggesting gatorade, for the electrolights, but I didn't want to gamble it. I remember putting powdered electrolights in buckets, when I groomed on the hunter circuit--seemed to me they didn't like it one bit.

  17. I'd use flax oil for the float in future, if needed.

    Our deicer went haywire last year and was zapping the horses for a day or so...they were suspicious of the tank afterwards (understandably, I suppose), but a 2 liter can of apple juice in the 80 gallon tank fixed that right up. Now I use the same if I find they they are not drinking as much as I would like.

  18. Molasses in the water. We use it on long hauls because horses don't like the flavor of different waters. We get them used to drinking molasses water a few days before we go on a trip that way if we run out of water from home they don't notice new water.

  19. cherry kool aid. used to have to mix it with my horse's supplements daily and keep some in my tack trunk for when i need to give him some bute

  20. Oh my, they have such sophisticated palates!