Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It’s Always Something



"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 -

31 comments:

  1. Thank goodness no one (including you) was hurt. Walking hyped up horses, no matter their age, isn't for the faint of heart. And your neighbor... what a jerk... If he didn't have donkeys I'd understand his attitude maybe but he has equines. Of course, the way you described him flapping his arms around makes me think he knows nothing about horses at all.

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    1. They used to have a pony too. But they really don't know anything about dealing with horses in my opinion. It was interesting walking the horses home. They are all big guys too, Grady-18hh, Nate-17-3,Mellon-16-2 and Blue the smallest at 15-3. I'm glad they behaved themselves on the road.

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  2. The hunters & the neighbours could all teach jerk lessons.

    Is it possible to put a lock on that gate? Keep the arseholes out & the ponies in?

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    1. A lock will be put on the gate along with no trespassing, no hunting signs put up.

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  3. Glad everyone's OK, those escapes can be scary. Sorry your neighbors were less than cooperative.

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    1. Thanks Kate. It was a little scary.

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  4. I'm so glad you were able to get them home without having anything else happening. One Sunday morning (over 2 decades ago) we had 6 or 7 horses break out of a newly installed electric fence and they went south in the middle of the road! The farmer up the hill from our farm stood in the road with both arms out and all the horses took a left hand turn and went behind our neighbors farms. Fortunately several of them assisted in getting them back. Like you said...it's always something. It's a good thing there was not a lot of traffic.

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    1. Hi Lori,
      It's a scary situation. Good to know you can count on your neighbors to help when help is needed. I was happy only two trucks passed us on the way home and knew enough to slow down.

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  5. What a jerk!!!!!!! That's downright rude and cruel of him. You could have been hurt...the horses were hurt. I've had escaped horses show up here. We catch them, secure them, find the owners. In one case, we had to doctor a horse and give pen shots because it had horrible barbed wire cuts. Usually, though, the owners have been aware of the escapes and actively looking. Our horses escaped once and the people were extremely nice. We drove the truck down and my husband and son sat on the tail gate with lead ropes as the horses trotted behind and I drove. It happens.

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    1. I agree! If horses show up on your property I think the best thing to do is secure them first and then look for the owners. One time my daughter encountered loose horses on her way to work on a busy road and stopped and got them into their pasture.(we always have a few lead ropes in the cars) and then found the owners to let them know. its not hard to do the right thing for the horses if you care.

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    2. Make sure you count that as one of your "days"! ...Or 2!

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    3. Ha! Good thinking. Although, it was probably a training lesson the horses gave me...

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  6. Holy Moly!! Kudos to you & your daughter for keeping your cool and bringing the herd (and yourselves) home safely!! Not for the faint of heart. Can only imagine the adrenaline/energy in the air. What a pinhead neighbor...some people just don't know any better, others are idiots on purpose. Have to say, you had me chuckling more then once. Good for you, for finding a little humor in a not funny at all situation. Truly hope the locks & signs help keep everyone safe!!

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    1. I have to give all the credit for cool and calm in a bad situation to my daughter. I've never seen anyone who can keep their head when all about are losing theirs like she can. I guess that's why she's such a good horseman and the horses gravitate to her for direction. Me too!

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  7. I'm so sorry for the chaos and am relieved nothing worse happened. I just put locks on the two gates that open to the not totally secure areas of our farm - thinking partly that at least then no one can wander in and leave a gate open. We have one set of neighbors whose animals of all kinds have been all over the neighborhood (once their 2-year old child was in the middle of the lane for 30 minutes crying and lost) - I have gotten their animals to safety so many times. The last time their entire herd got loose and ended up trying to kick my fence down on a Sunday morning I did not go out and get them but called and asked them to please get out of bed and come get their horses. Interestingly once they actually had to do that job themselves they repaired their fencing and gates and it hasn't happened since. Sigh. But generally I agree - get the horses safe first and find the owners second. Your writing is so fun to read! You really know how to tell a story!! (Hint hint writing retreat hint hint)

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  8. You're the kind of good neighbor to have in a crisis. It was nice of them to finally repair their fencing so you didn't have to keep returning their animals and children!

    We're going to put locks on all the gates now also. And I'd love to go to a writing retreat if I could think of anything interesting to write about! Thanks for the vote of confidence.

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  9. I feel like my husband and I utter that phrase"It’s Always Something" often since moving to our farm. I can't believe your neighbors were so unhelpful and rude about it -- they have animals they should understand!! Wow. Some people I just don't understand...

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    1. I agree, some people just don't get it.

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  10. What an ass...
    I'm happy to hear that the horses (or you two) weren't seriously hurt, or worse yet, hit by a car. Seriously, your neighbors are asses. Better put a chain on those gates.

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    1. The chain is already in place. And thanks, we were lucky it all turned out okay.

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  11. Enjoyed your story and the good ending. I'm dealing with this right now. A horse has decided the grass is greener. He has learned to put his head under the wire and break it. We are now trying electric fence. The difference in my story is a sweet neighbor who called me at 1 AM to tell me he was standing (black horse) in the middle of the road. By the time I ran down there another car had stopped because she almost hit him. I was so thankful.

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    1. Hope the electric fence solves the problem. Thank goodness for ice neighbors. Glad he got home safe and sound.

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  12. Considering those people have equines, you'd think they'd be a little more understanding/friendly about the whole deal. Personally, I'd have thought I'd died and gone to horsey-heaven if I'd found 4 horses in my garden! But safety first. I'm not a horse owner but even I know that. Yeesh!!
    And don't get started about people - trespassers no less! - not shutting gates behind them!!
    But I'm glad you and your daughter got the escapees home safe and I hope they all feel better soon.

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    1. Thanks Joy, I agree safety first. They all seem to be fine now after their little adventure. Still waiting for the farrier to put a shoe on Blue.

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  13. I'm glad the horses are home safely. Our escape artist actually goes a mile and a half down the road to my neighbor's place and he goes in a stall and awaits a treat from the neighbor. The nice neighbor then calls us and says that our errant pony is comfy and we can retrieve him when it is convenient.

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    1. Your escapee sounds like quite a character. Smart and amusing. Nice to have good neighbors.

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  14. Oh, how I hate escaped horse hunting. Spent all night once looking for my lost little herd. Glad everyone is OK, sort of. As for the neighbor guy, the less said the better. If they have donkeys and paddocks, it seems to me the temporary solution would have been obvious.

    As for the back gate? How about a padlock? Might be a good idea at this point--nuisance, but a good idea.

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    1. Hi Jean,
      The padlocks are already on all the gates and signs have been put up posting no hunting etc. Hope it keeps people out and the horses in!

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  15. Yikes!!! I would definitely padlock the gate! When we had the lease land at our old house there were two gates on the roads and I had them padlocked. I don't trust people to not let my horses out. I am so, so glad they are okay. If they had escaped on my property I definitely would have caught them or at least shut the gate... those neighbors were rude!

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