Looking A Horse In The Mouth

Title: Check Up
Time Period: May 26, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: When it's not a gift, it's expected.

With the seabreeze coming in off of the water, the sky a hazy blue, and the sun warming the streets, it is a delightful day to be outside, for whatever reason. Even the seabirds are tweaked for the day, flocking about fishing nets to pry loose the pieces and fish left from any hauls. Higher up into the town, the same goes; except that instead of nets, a few handfuls of rowdy birds seem keen to harass homeowners or pets. The clinic has lucked out so far, or perhaps it is the presence of the black barn owl sitting atop the rear wall that keeps them away. One of Sage's favorite pastimes is trolling other animals.

The rear of the clinic has a small paddock in the yard, and a modest bit of stable winging off the building. Enough for those that bring livestock or horses so that they can at least be boarded, or run around the paddock. There is a lone mule boarded there currently, and it is to him that Leonard attends until his next patient. The mule has bandages up one leg and over his shoulder, and the end of one ear has apparently been nocked off somehow, and that too is bandaged up.

"You'll have to find a new home if you can't get along with those damnable dogs. What kind of imbecile forgets to lock up hounds at night? Honestly." The mule's mouth is full of the carrot he is idly feeding it, leaning one elbow on the gate, ankles crossed. His vest seems too nice for being near a stable, and the ivory shirt's sleeves are rolled up quite neatly. "And hunting the mule? There was some training, utterly wasted."

The first sign of the young man at the gate is the heavy horse hooves on the dirt. Hooves that seem to be shoeless, by the sound of them. The black and white horse's mane has been left long, despite the warmth of the season setting in, hanging down in locks of black and white, even hanging into his face. The bridle and saddle are both present, with the a rider that the man likely recognizes.

Cas Blackburn isn't new to the community as he was a few seasons ago, and he works with animals. Even if he'd never owned one of his own.

"Glad to see I'm not the only one who talks to the animals— and that one looks like I feel still," he says with a smile, as he pulls the piebald to a stop, so that he can slide off the saddle— and hold onto the side when he does. His leg still doesn't like weight. "Got some time, horse doc?" Likely he was told his name once— but sometimes he forgets names.

"Hm?" Leonard's initial reaction to hooves and Cas' musing is a straightening spine and a carrot tugged out of the mule's teeth with a 'snip'. "Ah- well- yes- they don't say a thing back to me." His hands go out and up in a shrug, and he approaches the stablehand plus horse at an easy clip. "You're one of Edmund's boys, are you not?" The hand not still holding onto carrot is held out to initiate a shake. "Leonard Hightower. And yes, I do. My next appointment is later this afternoon, and I was just checking up on Bitte here."

"This is a lovely-" Leon wastes no breath when he dips himself at the waist to take a gander. "-stallion you have here." As promptly as before, the veterinarian offers the bicolored beast the rest of the carrot.

From where he leans with his hand holding onto the saddle, Cas doesn't make any move to keep the stallion away from said carrot. Even as his teeth get a little close to nipping at the doc's hand as he greedily reaches for the half eaten carrot. "He's real pretty, Doc Hightower," the young man says with a dimpled smile, having nodded in response to his identity. The tack also is Rowntree's, though one of the ones with more wear and age.

"The boss is letting me try my hand at training, and Eclipse here's coming along nicely— thanks in part to Colm's help too," he adds, as he limps forward, scratching at the stallion's cheek.

"I wanted to bring him by— just to make sure he's in good health. I check him over every chance I get, but— you're the expert. And I'm sure the boss'll want your verdict before he sets a price, and everything…"

Leonard keeps his palm out for when the horse gulps down the carrot and may want to look for more; it is moreso an effort to make sure the creature gets his scent down pat. If the stallion lets him, he'll give its muzzle a scratch before answering Cas.

"Colm is good with them, yes- are you friends? The boy certainly deserves more than he has." Which is to say, the last he checked, was potentially one- his brother- but do those count? Probably not. "Eclipse, hm? He seems to have a good weight on him… of course I can take a look. Are you to get him shoed soon? And have there been any issues? Aside from the usual things from intact males?" There is a little bit of a laugh and quirked brow from Leonard.

"That'll depend on who ends up owning him, I guess, the shoeing. I'm not planning to, though," Cas says, looking up at the horse's eyes— the white and black splashes on the stallion's face on both sides, meaning that one of his eyes is pale, while the other is dark. Ears shift around as he sniffs out the hand, blowing a bit, but not seeming aggressive. For an intact male, he seems more calm.

"Colm's a good kid— I even learned signs, though I'm not very good yet. He's helping me train him, though. Eclipse seems to like him." There's a smile on his face, even as he watches the doc.

"He's not aggressive, really but he's… wary around other males, even geldings. He wasn't dominant in the herd, so I think he was used to being submissive… and avoiding the stallion that was. Sometimes he nips, but— " There's a shift of the piebald's head, ears twitching. "Sorry, I'm talking about you, buddy— but it's true you do nip at me sometimes!" He looks back at the doc as he adds, "I think he just gets excited about the food, though— and he doesn't like me examining his teeth. If I had one concern though, I— guess it would be that he's quieter than I thought a stallion would be. He's alert enough, he just doesn't… make a lot of noise."

"There's something about a human that needs to use his senses more." As Colm does. Leonard shifts around to the horse's empty side, putting his hands down to rub the coat over neck and shoulder. "You know as well as I do that horses have personalities. Chances are, he is just quiet." He pats his pockets down, fishing into one of them and pulling free a crumbling lump of sugar. A stranger with treats in his pockets? You bloody bet.

"Being the submissive hopefully made him a quick study. Here you go, sir." Leon holds out the lump of sugar for the horse. If it's the quick way to make friends. Behind Cas, where the paddock fence stands, and in clear view for Eclipse as to not startle him- Sage swoops silently down from the roof and alights on the wood, charcoal and rust fluffing all around. She lets out a small croak of noise, studying the horse and men.

"Yeah, they do have personalities," Cas says with a smile, shifting away a bit, so he's not leaning on the stallion's saddle anymore, after wrapping the reins around the pommel. He's definitely favoring one leg, though. "I would've brough him unsaddled, but I can't walk very far yet," he explains, as he makes his way over to the fence, staying in the horse's sight as well—

But bringing him face to face with a day owl.

"Whoa, I thought owls mostly came out at night— and I've never seen one that looked like that, either," he says, tilting his head to the side. "You're almost as pretty as Eclipse." The almost is emphasized as he smiles back at the piebald— who greedily goes for the sugar. Much as the young man said, he's not loud as he does this— beyond some excited breaths. "Between you and Mariah he's going to be the most spoiled stallion in town."

Though for a few moments busy babying the horse, the vet turns his eye on Sage in between patting the stallion's neck and letting it lick the sugar from his palm. Letting it get used to his being there.

Sage watches Cas as he turns about to lean on the fence. His head tilts, and so does hers- except that her own is more cat-like than bird-like, or man-like. Her dark eyes scrutinize him in relative silence, though her feathers fluff again when he pays her the compliment. She even cranes her head back to preen at the feathers on her chest.

"If he likes me, all the easier on him. You be careful, she'll wring you for every last flattering word." Leonard must mean the owl, and the compliment paid.

There's a pause of confusion, as Cas looks at the doc, needing a few moments before he makes a silent 'oh' and nods, looking at the preening owl. "Well she deserves them for uniqueness," he says, with a smile back at the rather different owl, before he takes most his weight off his leg again, against the fence.

"What is your opinion on shoeing? My family didn't— but we were mule breeders, and I learned how to take care of hooves— but never really much about shoeing. And I never owned my own to really think about it. But I might get the chance to own Eclipse— if I can save up enough at least."

«I think I like him.» He'll hear the click of talons rather than the shifting of Sage's weight, as she sidles down the line of the fence closer to him. Inspecting.

"Working animals undoubtedly benefit from them the most, as it prevents excessive wear. Usually the feral horses have stronger hooves- it used to be that people bred horses for traits, not hoof strength- but natural selection takes over for the wild ones. It largely rides on how hard the animal is going to be worked. Like wearing heavier, thicker boots for when you know you will be doing hard labor." The explanation of his (lack of)opinion comes as Leonard runs his hand up to the horse's head, and along the face.

"You'd be lucky. He's quite a catch. Would you join the herdsmen? Or would he be more a companion than a work partner? Sage." The man cuts himself off abruptly, as the owl has gotten close enough to reach her neck out and tug on Cas' sleeve with the tip of her beak.

The words of the man kept Cas' attention long enough that he didn't quite notice until the tugging on his sleeve happens. Eyes widen in surprise, and while he scoots a little, he doesn't jerk away, or wave his arms around in defense. It's not his face, after all.

"Sage?" he says outloud in his southern accent — though not as south as some parts of England.

"I— uh— " he continues, with a cautious tone to his voice as he watches the owl. "I'll likely keep him as a companion— riding and maybe some work, but… not too much. I don't have any land for him to work. But I guess I could find him a lady-friend one day and breed him."

The owl plucks again at his sleeve. Trolling animals evidently translates to friendly strangers as well.

"You're going to make him scared of you, and then he'll never come back." He tells her, from the other side of Eclipse. He pokes his head around soon enough, and the rest follows as he goes about feeling up the stallion's front legs. "I apologize, she can be insufferable. And here I thought I was already divorced." Sage pulls an indignant rustle of wings, turning her back to Leonard- her face, however, is still on Cas, neck at a wide angle and dark eyes wide.

"I don't think you'll have to shoe him then- at least, not often."

"I think I'll come back— you're the best horse doc in town, right?" Cas says with a smile, even as he watches the bird. After a second, he digs around in his pocket to pull out a handkerchief wrapped arond some dried meat sticks, and he picks off a piece and holds it out— it's not something he could feed to a horse, but he likely figures owls eat mice, and meat sticks are better than mice.

"Is she your— I mean are you a— there seems to be a lot of mages in town and… I don't want to accuse or anything, I just don't see tame owls… often."

There's concern to his voice, as if he's exceptionally worried about insulting. A wary submissive stallion is a good match for him.

The stallion handles the attention well, head shifting to keep a half obscured eye on the man, ears alert, but not trying to walk away— only lifting legs when the motion might suggest it. The feathering covers his hooves quite a bit, white except for one dark leg, and it's clear he was feral until recently from the hooves— and that he's had a trim in the last few weeks.

Sage takes the dried meat in her beak and yanks it out of his hand, snapping on it for a few seconds, and then placing it under one foot so that she can pick at it, flaky bits better than attempting to swallow the whole thing.

"She is. I am." Leonard chuckles, having thought it was clear. The oddity of Cas thinking to ask earns a smile over his shoulder, as he goes about the business of examining the other legs, keeping his presence meek enough around the back end. "You said he doesn't like you looking in his mouth?" As Leon pats haunches.

«Hear that? He'll be back. How lovely.»

Relief comes across as Cas feeds the owl little meat bits, and watches her mage with the horse he one day would like to call his own… One day soon if he has anything to say about it. "Not really. I had to, to get a better estimate of his age, and his teeth and gums didn't look bad."

But that the stablehand chose to use a bitless bridle might be telling.

"He never actually bit me, though," he assures, as he looks at the horse, voice fluctating a little from the nervousness he'd had for a moment. His horse-talking voice is calmer and more confident.

"Well, let's have a look then." The vet's voice is practiced to be that calm and confident one with most creatures he handles. He is, however, calm(most of the time) and confident, unlike his visitor. Sage turns her head to watch Leonard as he moves back around to front, hand staying against the horse's side. She seems too interested in whether or not anything will happen, once he gets to the stallion's face, scratches his muzzle, and takes the chance to push back his lips without trying any fanfare. "Give me your best smile, sir."

Like the owl, Cas is watching the stallion and the vet more than anything else. A few pieces of the meat he'd been offering Sage fall out to the ground, likely to be eaten by something later. For a moment he even looks tempted to step away from the fence— and perhaps he had good reason to be tempted.

Eclipse takes a step back away from the doc, shaking his head and looking nervous for a moment.

"It's okay," the young man who's been training him says in a calmer voice, more calm than he probably feels. "He's not going to hurt you. He just wants to see you smile— like this." The smile the younger man gives is pretty wide, dimpling a cheek.

The stallion doesn't fight too much, blowing air out his nostrils more than crying out with his throat, but his lips do peel back enough to give the vet a look, and he doesn't step back anymore, ears twitching at the voice.

The stallion is obviously not comfortable from his stance. The front teeth are healthy and well worn and even— the molars also look to be normal, but between the two are small visible teeth, the rarely retained wolf teeth in horses, both at the top and bottom of the jaw. Which would explain an aversion to the bit.

Leonard uses the hand that was fishing around for sugar to hold the horse's lips open, and his other smoothes over the crest of muzzle above it. He didn't get anywhere as a caregiver if animals never learned to like him. Some more than others, some less. There are always the poor things that are scared witless about going to the vet for no reason at all.

"I see. Those didn't come out, did they?" The man's voice is calm as he takes stock under the lips and at the wear of the teeth. "Has he lost all of his caps then? Nice set of chompers you have." His prying fingers go back to scratching the horse's nose and cheek. "If he hasn't lost all his first teeth yet, he should finish soon. I find the big ones take their time. Big mouth to fill, I suppose."

Sage peers after the bits Cas has dusted to the ground, deciding that she is simply not desperate enough to go for them- and instead hangs about, keeping an eye on the horse.

"I thought he had," Cas says quietly, limping away from the fence now that the majority of the horse's discomfort is over. The stallion still doesn't like smiling, or opening his mouth for anything except food, but he doesn't look spooked after a few soothing motions.

"But I think he's about four years old, but if he hasn't lost all his teeth maybe he's younger— "

Reaching up, he pats the horse on the neck a little. "Don't worry, no one needs to stick metal in your mouth to ride you."

"Unless there's a record of his birth, we can only guess at it." Leonard chuckles, reaching up to cup at the horse's ears and make sure that they are clear, leaving the forelock pushed over one eye when he's finished; he pushes one hand down into the inside pocket of his vest, wresting out the stethoscope he tends to keep there. "He's at least old enough to be full grown on the outside." This is perhaps a joke, as Leonard can't actually see all of Cas past the horse.

One can presume that he is putting the instrument in his ears and having a listen, as he falls quite silent- even Sage pauses in her shuffling down the fence.

Tilting his head to the side, Cas watches Leonard work, perhaps not quite thinking about how loud things might be while he's listening cause he speaks up and not quietly either, "I don't know my birthday either, so that's something we have in common, buddy." He's talking to the horse, who he scritches behind the ear a little now that he's close enough— But it's also a confession for the vet in a way.

Leonard flattens his mouth and waits for Cas's speech to get out of his ears before changing spots on the horse's torso, listening in and hoping that the young man doesn't jump in again. Hard enough with acoustics as they are.

"His lungs sound healthy, and his heart is steady. How is he running? Have you ever seen him have any breathing problems? Or problems in general? Otherwise, he seems quite fit. If you eventually plan to shoe him, but aren't quite sure if he'll like that, you can try a hoof-boot or sandal. Wouldn't hurt to braid or trim his hair to keep it nice." though this, it sounds like, is a personal complaint rather than one for the animal's health.

"He seems okay— his trot is steady, though I don't try to run him too fast. He's not really built to be a race horse," Cas admits, patting him down. The feathered foot horses rarely are built that way, but the feathering can explain some of his quietly gentleness— The more feathering on the hoof, the gentler the horse— or so some traditions used to say.

"I haven't noticed anything bad really, and he's taken to training well, if slower than some people might have tried. I'm not exactly… a fast worker when it comes to that. And I still have to do all my chores."

Even with his bum leg.

With his hand digging around in his pockets, he pulls out a stamped leather strip that he's gotten for labor to hold out to the man.

With what Leonard has been able to take into account, even if there is a chance that Cas has been told to pull on strings- Leon has a magnanimous nature that he can't often deny, for better or worse. Add it all up, and when the older man sidles around the horse to meet Cas there, he lifts a hand and closes the boy's fingers back over the strip of hide, smiling in what could be taken in a knowing way.

"You know as well as I do, that you've taken fine care of him. Render this when there's something amiss. I think that you may be needing it soon, anyway." Which could mean a few things- perhaps being that Dornie is a small town, not a big city, with its fair share of… er… hens. Or, perhaps, Leonard is simply a nice man- equally likely possibility. But in the end, the answer is not given away.

With a wide smile, Cas doesn't seem to need much more to put his payment away and look pleased about it. "I probably will need it soon, if I want to buy him from the boss," he says outloud as he puts it back where he got it. "Back into the 'get meself a horse' fund," he adds as he pats it, safe and secure in his pockets.

But he's tried not to be one to expect to get freebees— even from the many hens in the community.

"So everything's good? Except for a few baby-teeth."

"Maybe. If he starts itching his mouth, or seems like he won't chew, that's probably the last couple popping out. They'll come out on their own like the others. I'd say he's about five years if he has some coming out." It's more accurate than 'a few' years, and more accurate than 'several'. Leonard strolls over to put out his arm for the owl sitting on the fence, movements sprited. Sage hunkers and aims before hopping up onto his forearm, talons as careful as ever. Still, now that attention is there, Leonard does have a few marks from letting her climb all over his skin there.

"Clean bill of health, needs a hairdresser. Quite simple, for now."

"I kinda like his mane all long, but I'll see if I can get some help from one of the ladies in town on braiding— I've never been good at braiding. I brush his mane every couple of days, though." Cas says, smiling up at the horse as he puts his hand on the saddle to pull himself back up, reaching to pull a small piece of meat out of his pocket again to hold out to the owl as he moves Eclipse gently over.

"Nice to meet you, Sage," he says with a smile. "I'll try to remember to bring something for you to snack on when I visit." And he sounds genuine. "But hopefully that won't be too often," he adds, with a pat from Eclipse.

"Good, she is already too plump." Leonard's friendly jibe is answered with a low scraw of noise, and she puffs her feathers at him before accepting the outstretched offering. "That was for the other day." He narrows his eyes at her as she silently, even to him, gobbles down the bit.

She may be ignoring him now. Like an old married couple, right?

"Take care, now. Be gentle on that leg." Yes, he noticed. Doctor's(?) orders.