Wednesday, February 4, 2015

That little mare.

That little mare just earned my respect (and I’m pretty sure, a permanent home). This could be a long story, buckle up.

(I hang my head in shame as I share this story. I’ve had horses for years. I know better. We all know that if there’s something to get hurt on, horses will find it. So we all know their pastures/paddocks/stalls need to be bubble-wrapped (along with the horse). Ok, maybe let’s not be quite that extreme, but at least get anything potentially harmful out of the way.)

So I willingly tell this story, not for the tongue lashing I should get (and may), but to tell you about this little mare.

* * * * * * *

I trudged out through the snow this morning to feed my four horses; Megan the thirty year old who’s in a paddock by herself and the three “kids”; Gracie (the boss), Silver (her half brother and back up boss) and Dakota (youngest and lowest in the pecking order, although with an attitude all her own!). Megan gets fed first (her soaked cubes and complete feed) and Dakota is usually right up by the gate ready to lick out the empty bucket after I dump the cubes in Megan’s feeder. Although sometime Gracie will keep her back a ways while I wheel the hay into their pasture.

This morning, I made my way through the big gate and started doling out flakes of hay for the two “bosses”, but Dakota wasn’t nearby. I looked up and saw her standing clear in the back of the pasture (which was unusual for her). I shouted out to her, “What are you doing back there?” And then I saw it, the big roll of wire wrapped all around her legs!!

Panic seized my heart, but I tried to clear my brain and institute a plan. (Images of major wires cuts flooded my mind from a previous accident years earlier with another horse.) My first instinct was to go to her, but reality kicked in and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do anything for her without some help. I ran to the garage for wire cutters, and horse cookies, then into the house to wake my son to come help. I dashed back to the barn, grabbed a halter and headed back toward Dakota, snatching a flake of hay from my wheelbarrow on the way.

I slowed down a bit, forcing myself to calmly walk up to her, talking as I did. Dropping the flake of hay in front of her, I slipped the halter on and fed her a cookie while I assessed the situation. She crunched her cookie then calmly starting on the flake. There is was, that big roll of field fence (from the old round pen) stretched and twisted around both back legs. (Yes, I took a picture.)

Slowly, I slid my hand down her left hind leg, pulled the wire cutters out of my pocket and started snipping the wires encircling her leg. Snip, snip, snip, snip and that leg was free (although still encased with wire). I moved around to the other side just about the time my son appeared to help with another pair of cutters. We thought it best that he hold her while I did the cutting, but I was unable to get through the wire with my nippers. This leg was wrapped up much worse than the other. So he moved in closely to clip while I tried to guide his moves and hold the wire back from her leg. Finally the last wire was cut and I slowly tried to bend the sharp points back from her leg. My plan was to lift her leg out of the mess once I pulled everything back so as not to poke her. She had other ideas and suddenly pulled her leg up and out as I quickly lead her forward out of the mess. *deep sigh*

Do you know that little mare didn’t budge the whole time we were working on her. It could have been a disaster with us under her clipping away, if she had panicked or struggled. But she didn’t. She stood still and waited.

It made me think. When I’m in a predicament do I struggle and try to “fix” it, getting myself more wrapped up in my trouble? Or do I wait on the Lord, patiently, calmly knowing He has the best solution? “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee” Job 12:7. (I just read this verse the other day.) Thank God for using my horse to teach me things; and for keeping her safe.

I walked Dakota around, picked her feet up, looked over her legs and didn’t find one single wound. I did see a couple spots of blood in the snow, so she must have nicked herself somewhere, but not significantly enough for me to find it.

The wire that Dakota got tangled in was part of an old round pen we had once made. I know, field fence isn’t the best material for a round pen, but we needed one and that was what could afford at the time. After buying our commercially made pen, we took the old one down, rolled up the wire and there it sat. I have no idea why it never got moved out of the pasture. You can be sure it’s gone now! I, unfortunately learn things the hard way.
(What field fencing looks like nicely rolled up.)

(What field fencing looks like after your horse gets out done with it.)

Dakota is scheduled this spring to start her formal training. I’ve had her a couple years (she was a rescue and I wasn’t planning on keeping her; that’s another whole blog post). I have done some basics with her and she’s proven to have a pretty level head (most of the time). Oh, we’ve had our moments, she and I. She wasn’t halter broke when I got her and learning to tie was not her cup of tea. We had some major pulling back, thrashing sessions before she learned to give and release to pressure. But her first hoof trim (that we know of), went smoothly and calmly with a patient trimmer. Another time, I was working her in the round pen and thought I’d introduce her to a tarp. I was laying it down on the ground, spreading it out and then I was going to take her across it. Unbeknownst to me, she was following me around as I spread it out, walking all over it. Not a problem. She took the saddle the first time with not much hassle.  I had an old kiddie swimming pool, (you know those blue plastic ones?) and I left it in the horse pasture as part of my “obstacle” course. It eventually fell apart. But Dakota would walk over it; catching her foot on it, drawing it up under her and calming keep walking. My regular riding horse would have panicked. What I’m trying to say, is after years of riding a horse that spooks at stumps and butterflies, (but that’s another story) I think this little mare might be my calm, confidence building girl. Time and training will tell.

But for now, she’s got a home and she’s not going anywhere.


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