|"The Escape Route" (there's a gate at the bottom of the hill)|
Sunday afternoon I was in my backyard looking over the flowerbeds and seeing what needed to be done when the weather starts cooperating. That’s when a man walked in. Since I didn’t know him I said, “Hello, can I help you?”
He says, “Yeah, your four horses are running all over my property and tearing the grass up.”
“ Oh no, are they okay?”
“Just get over there and get them.”
“Where do you live?”
He points across our farm, the hayfield, and down the empty road and says, “Over there.”
Um, ok. “Over there where?”
“The white house.” All the houses down that way are white. But, no problem. We'd use our expert tracking skills and follow the horse tracks, piles of manure, neighs, and the grumbles of angry neighbors to locate the runaway herd. How hard could it be?
He turns and stomps off.
I call my daughter and let her know the situation; we grab four halters and lead ropes from the barn. I can’t even see the white house from the barn, but she knows where it is and whose property it is. So we proceed up the road, which, by the way, is uphill (BOTH ways), and in my guesstimation is about a half a mile from us.)
The first thing I notice when we get to their driveway is that the front gates are wide open. Wouldn’t you shut the gates so the horses couldn’t run out on the road again? The next thing I notice is that their white house isn't even visible from the end of the driveway, much less a half mile away at my house where this guy was pointing. But never mind. After that I notice our four horses bunched up and jostling each other in a panic while this guy is leaping back and forth, flapping his arms (I think I saw some jazz-hands, too), and shrieking at them like a demented bird. When he saw my daughter approaching, he threw up his hands, climbed on his tractor, and drove away from the scene, shaking his head with a, "Good luck!" as he passed her. With them sufficiently warmed up for us, we had our work cut out for us.
We dove into the middle of this thrashing mass of horseflesh, threw lead ropes over necks and wrestled halters onto bobbing heads. One in each hand, my daughter starts down the driveway with Grady and Nate. I’ve got Blue and Mellon. The "farmer's wife" is in one of the paddocks with her two miniature donkeys, just watching all this go down and feeding them treats. Blue, at this point, hasn't seen enough of the donkeys, so is being a total jerk pulling and trampling me to get to the paddock for a closer look. I’ve never seen him so uncontrollable. We swapped Blue to my daughter and Grady to me. She put the rope over Blue’s nose and it helped. We seemed to have them under control.
Now, as we’re walking down the driveway with four very excited horses this guy decides it’s a good time to drive his tractor down the driveway, too, apparently just so he can shake his head at us at close range. Come on buddy! Give us a break! Of course, we apologized profusely for their inconvenience and the damage to their grass. But I’m thinking this whole time that maybe they could have just opened a gate to one of their empty paddocks and let them in there to be safe. Maybe I'm crazy, but that’s what I would have done. The wife did say to us, “It’s a good thing they didn’t fall in the pool.” Um, ya think so…?
No one likes their Sunday interrupted by a herd of runaway horses (ok, I might, but nobody normal...) and I'm sure nobody appreciates their grass being mildly torn up by hooves. But there's an unwritten code among horsemen that we help one another--and help the horses in particular--in times of need. Not only did we not get a helping hand that day, I'm pretty sure we got the finger. And this after my daughter has helped these particular neighbors out of some sticky spots, given them diesel for their vehicles, and been generally friendly. The whole experience was an eye-opener.
So now the horses are prancing along nervously again down the driveway and out onto the road. We're hanging on for dear life. I didn't look back, but I have to assume someone pooped in their driveway. We walked them down the road and home. Blue lost a shoe somewhere along this little adventure and had a gushing scrape on the back of his pastern. Mellon tore off a heel bulb. Nate and Grady were very stiff behind, with their shivers acting up. Mellon who is 28 years old was the one least affected of them all. He's amazing. When we got back and put them in their stalls to chill out, we also brought Donnie and Sami in.
We got in the RTV and went out to see where they escaped. Apparently, someone opened a gate in the back pasture that leads to the hay field next door and didn’t close it. My guess is it’s one of the hunters who don’t have permission to hunt our property but do it anyway at night. Some of our neighbors have been hunting coyote at night recently. My daughter has heard them shooting near the back of the property late at night.
I’ve learned from past experience that if there is a gate open Blue will find it and leave, taking whoever is willing to follow with him. Nate will go just because he can. Mellon will go because he’s the herd leader and feels it’s his duty to watch out for them. And Grady probably succumbed to peer pressure. I have no idea why Donnie and Sami didn’t leave, but that didn’t stop them from running the fence up towards the barn neighing and generally carrying on until their buddies came back.
So it was an eventful day and we were lucky no one was hurt badly. Nate is still very sore and lame today and for some reason Grady is mesmerized and still looking over the fence to where he was. I think he’s never seen a donkey before and is looking for them. He’s probably having nightmares about those strange little hobbit horses.
Quote for Today
How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot.
- British Cavalry joke -