Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holes


I made you a promise last year to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Things got truly ugly when I posted a photo of the enormous bruise Sandy deposited on my hip the day I was thrown. Today is not ugly so much as scary. Very, very scary.

I'd had so much fun working both horses in the arena that yesterday morning I decided to do it again. I loaded up Sandy, then returned to get Steve Holt!. Steve Holt!, however, had other ideas. He's been catching up and haltering so well that it took me by surprise to have him throw his head up in the air and refuse my attempts at getting the halter on. It was though we were back to square one...although he was allowing me inside his circle enough to touch or caress his face, the moment the halter was presented I had a wild horse again.

And as a wild horse would do, Steve Holt! bolted past me to the other end of his run, across the melting ice pack, in an effort to avoid capture. And as a mustang tamer would do, I decided to push him back and forth a couple of times in an effort to make him think about what we'd learned and get his focus back where it belonged...on me and not freedom.

But it was not to be. In one of his passes down the panels, Steve Holt! realized that I had not pushed the panel closed completely when I'd walked in. The direction of his gaze caused me to look in sheer terror towards the opening. Surely it wasn't large enough...surely he wasn't going to...

He did. The panel is attached to his stall at one end by chain, and it sometimes rocks and leans. With him bouncing against it a few minutes earlier, it had rocked, but I hadn't taken notice that created just enough space for him to lift himself through the opening at the other end. But it had, and in slow motion I saw a frightened horse jump through and scoot out into the yard, and back into the trees. Across his back was my long rope, and attached to that the lime green halter that I'd borrowed from Darling. And they, like he, were gone.

City Boy had just come out of the house Seeing my predicament, he ran back inside to grab his boots. I grabbed Sandy and we made our way across the creek. Did I mention the snow is melting? Melting snow means swollen creeks, and the water was splashing over the top of my muck boots. Sandy wasn't all too sure why I was rushing him through the raging, knee deep water, but he followed obediently.

Steve Holt! had dashed through the wood and crossed the creek. Last glimpse I had of him, he was in the neighbor's yard, undoubtedly confused by the excess water and unable to find the trail he and I took the day before, he let out a shrill whinny, a clear distress call. Freedom wasn't so grand now. An answering call came from across the road where another neighbor has two mares. This is where Sandy and I found him, trotting up and down their fence line and looking very relieved to see Sandy coming to get him.

City Boy showed up a moment later. He held onto Sandy while I tried to slip a lead rope around Steve Holt!'s neck. Happy as he was that we were there, he was too excited and aggitated to allow a full capture. "Touch my neck, stroke my muzzle, but don't try to put a rope on me!" I told City Boy to just start home with Sandy. He was doubtful, but I was certain Steve Holt! would leave the mares and follow his friend. And while it wasn't as smooth a return trip as I'd have liked, we did manage to get him home and back into his run.

I guess the open gate is a hole glaringly larger than a whoa, eh? Perhaps I need to work at filling in my holes as well as Steve Holt!'s. I got sloppy and didn't secure the gate behind me, feeling over confident in my horse. Thankfully he returned home safe and sound. Hopefully I've learned my lesson as quickly as my horses learn there's, and won't make this mistake again.

16 comments:

Andrea said...

Wow, scary. Glad you got him home and everyone was in one piece.

Shirley said...

Yikes! Glad there weren't any injuries. Sometimes there are two steps back for every step forward, and when things go so well, it can lull you into thinging you're farther ahead than you really are. But all in all, you really do have an awesome horse in Steve Holt! and those holes will go away in time.

Tracey said...

I'm very thankful we got home in one piece. It's helpful to live in a remote area!

Shirley, you're so right about the forward and back. It happens with each of my horses, and yesterday I was just plain sloppy. God was definitely with me!

Linda Reznicek said...

Holy Cow! I'm glad you tell the good, the bad, and the ugly! We've all been there---you can't possibly think of everything even when you try your hardest! But it usually turns out okay.

Beautiful made steps backward this month, too. I used to walk right in and halter her, now she runs from me--and though I work her and catch her--the weather isn't that great for doing it.

Keep up the good work!

froglander said...

Glad he made it back safely!

Lady Of Chaos said...

Escape are awful! At least you could get near him.

Rising Rainbow said...

oh Geez, Tracey, I'll bet that had your heart pumping! It's a good think he's become so attached to Sandy.

I'm so glad you all got home safe and sound. It could have been a real wreck.

Tracey said...

I think this is the quickest I've ever gotten so many replies, lol!

Yes, it could have been a disaster. I'm very thankful that I've been ponying him, even if only a couple times, with Sandy as he immediately joined up with him.

And while I know everyone has these little moments, it's still difficult to share them when it's your own moment. But...the good, the bad and the really, really scary is what it's all about here, and hopefully someone else will be more careful as a result of me spilling out my stupidity here on blogland :)

CTG Ponies said...

Glad everything turned out ok.

I had a similar moment with a friend's horse (actually the horse had my daughter's 4H project and I sold him to her). We had just started out with me giving her a lesson (she wasn't mounted yet) when Razzle figured out he could get under the tape fence of her ring. I chased him through a 60 acre soybean field at dusk, panicking the whole way. Luckily he realized what he was running through was edible and stopped.

Kara said...

Crazy adventure! Good thing he is bonded with Sandy! Thanks for sharing your experiences so we can all learn from them!

gtyyup said...

So very glad he's home safe. I too have been guilty of having too much confidence in them at that stage. And I agree on the backward thing, it's always happened to me too. But, stuff just happens and we learn from it don't we!?!

Jessie said...

Oh Tracey! How horrifying! I have dealt with loose horses before and it is no fun... I am so glad everything turned out okay.

Lea and her Mustangs said...

Wow, thank you Lord and thank you Sandy. That is what I was so afraid of when the horses all got out last weekend that they were going to let Rusty out too. She is not near as gentled as Steve Holt.

Tracey said...

Yes, thank you, Lord! Amen to that, Lea.

I've had horses get loose now and then over the years, and Steve Holt! didn't behave any worse than many a domestic born horse that felt good and wanted to play. It's just scarier when it's not your horse => That liability thing, I guess, eh?

Pony Girl said...

Oh goodness, I'm glad everything ended up okay! That is a scary situation, with a horse that is presenting challenges with being caught!
That is why my horse is wearing a breakaway halter right now, despite how I feel about it. Until I get him past his catching and haltering issues (sounds very similar to SH! except my boy was not a wild mustang, so he has no excuses!) I have to be sure that in case of emergency (injury, escape, natural disaster, God forbid) I can get a hold of him. I already know that despite pain from a hoof abscess, he still played the "you can't catch me game!"

Jeanette said...

AAhhhh! I hate that sick, panic-ey, out of control, when you know anything can happen (and vision it) feeling the pit of your stomach!
Thank goodness SH! is able to take most things in stride (and gather his wits quickly)...I get the impression he didn't like that same, out of control, panic-ey feeling either.
Oh, I'm glad everyone is safe!!!
BTW...*nodding head* Many times I've done things I wonder later "what I was thinking?!?"...don't beat yourself up over it :)