It occurred to me recently that my horses have absolutely no natural instinct for self-preservation. I’m wondering what everyone else thinks about their horse’s personalities and whether or not their horses could survive if turned out in the wild.
The reason why this particular subject came to mind: I was about to drag the arena in the back field a few days ago, when I got out of the Kubota to open the gate, in the blink of an eye Nate had walked onto our chain harrow (luckily the tines were pointed down) and had to have all four hooves extricated; While extricating Nate and shooing him away, Grady thought the whole thing looked like a good idea and wedged both his front feet in the drag as well; Blue was standing in front of the hood staring me down and wouldn’t move even though I blew the horn at him; Donnie was checking out the bed in the back and had found an old halter and a rusty horseshoe with nails we had just picked up in the paddock to play with. I swear it’s like living with a bunch of five year olds.
As I thought back over the years, many more instances of recklessness or downright stupidity came to mind, these are by no means all of their antics just a few of my favorites:
- There was the time when Blue and Erik took a run across the half frozen pond on the way in from turnout. Hence, the fencing around the pond.
- When Lifeguard picked the lock on the gate and led the entire herd on a merry gallop across the road through the neighbor’s sod farm, and tore it up. Although he's no longer with us he still has the ability to conjure up fond memories.
- When we live on Long Island, my daughter used to take the horses on a short walk to Long Island Sound. Her friend one day came along and ponied her young OTTB Squiggy to the beach for the first time. Although he had never seen so much as a big puddle, he got loose and ran off, making a bee-line straight into the oncoming waves of the Sound and kept on going until he fell off a ledge some distance out and disappeared under the water entirely, only to emerge a while later, shaken and disoriented. But that didn’t stop him - he kept swimming out for a while until they rode further up the beach to lure him back. He eventually turned around and got himself out of the water, only to gallop past the other horses up the beach and off into the distance.
- Down by the Sound again, Erik spooked and dove into a swamp - presumably for cover? - got stuck and dumped my daughter in the reeds and mud. Luckily she didn’t let go of the reins and he dragged her for quite a ways, running next to him before she could stop him. Where did he think he was going? Or was he trying to outrun the horrifying “Swamp Thing” running beside him?
- Blue one day got loose and, of all the places he could have wandered, we found him standing happily in the dumpster atop a mountain of manure surveying his kingdom.
- Nate’s done so many off-the-wall things it’s hard to list them all , but my favorite would definitely have to be the time in Scotland when my daughter was taking a hotel group trail ride out. Nate saw giant red cows with horns and, fleeing for his life, forgot to look behind him and backed up so quickly he ran into a bank and fell over backwards.
Nate is the main reason why any improvement we do on the farm starts with the question, “how could Nate hurt himself with this and how can it be prevented”? Although, despite our best efforts, we’re convinced he could even hurt himself in a padded stall.... So I guess that our domesticated horses probably couldn’t take care of themselves if released into the wild and left to their own devices. How about yours?
Until next time
Quote for Today
Leave a horse's gate unfastened and he'll be knocking on your window in the night.