Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bambi's Not a Hunter-Jumper

Sunday I made a quick trip with my Dad to Wichita and was back by early afternoon. Good thing, too, because when I got home, half my horses had themselves in quite a predicament.

When I drive up I usually glance over to make sure everyone looks ok, and they did on this particular afternoon. What I didn't know, though, was that although I could see everyone standing in the corner, that Bambi was actually on the other side of the fence--the wrong side of the fence--in the corner, and Fabian had several strands of wire wrapped around his back pastern.

I went inside and changed and came back out to let the horses out onto the grass. Since the bermuda has just started to grow I've been keeping the horses penned up off of it, but I let them out for a couple of hours at a time, so they still get to stretch their legs and graze. In the meantime, they get extra alfalfa to keep them occupied when in the dry lot.

So anyway, I come around the corner and immediately notice that Bambi is on the wrong side of the fence. Since I use that area to mostly ride in, or if I do have a horse in it, the gate is usually open to the dry lot, I have no water tank in there. My first concern was to get Bambi to where she could get water, and that was her idea, too. I opened the gate and she ran in and headed straight for the water tank. She must have been over the fence for while.

After Bambi ran in the other horses went out the gate, and as Fabian went through I noticed a wire on the ground. I bent over to pick it up and it moved. My eyes followed it up and saw that the end of it was wound tightly around Fabian's pastern, right below his fetlock. Crap.

Immediately I walked in front of Fabian and told him to "whoa." I ran my hand down his back leg and he reacted--not really a kick, but you could tell it was bothering him. I couldn't tell if the wire had gone into the skin. There was no blood, which was a good sign, but not an absolute sign that it wasn't in the skin. Plus, he was dragging the wire. If one of the other horses stepped on it, it could sever his foot. I was in a panic, but tried to work calmly and purposefully so as not to alert Fabian. He's a sensitive boy and reacts strongly to people's emotions, so I tried best to hide mine.

It didn't really work, though. The more I tried to get the wire off the more he moved and the more I paniced. I finally decided to take a chance that he'd be ok for a minute while I got a halter and some wire cutters. I ran to the garage for the wire cutters, then to the feedroom for a halter and lead and when I got back, Fabian was thankfully ok. However, Mr Sensitive knew something was up and wasn't really sure he wanted to be caught.

Let me take a moment to explain something about Fabian. He's a horse that can sense the slightest change in a person's behavior, tone of voice, level of stress--anything. There has only been twice, well, three times counting Sunday afternoon, that he has not let me catch him. The first time was when he first got here from Missouri and he just didn't trust me. The second time was after Paula and I had our worst ride ever. Neither time did I get upset. When Paula and I weren't doing well, I didn't even so much as raise my voice. I did tie her up for a while so we could both calm down, but even that didn't help, and I finally just searched for any good note, no matter how small to end on and we called it a day. Thankfully we've worked through those issues with the help of the clinic we went to, but that day that Paula and I had such a hard time, Fabian wanted no part of me. Although I wasn't showing it, he could just sense that things had not gone well. He's very insightful for a horse.

So, on this day, he knew I was paniced, and although I kept my body language and voice calm, it's almost like he could feel my heart racing clear across the pen. He ran into the dry lot and I closed the gate, and after a minute of walking after him he stopped and let me halter him. Thankfully he had not caught the wire he was dragging on anything, but every second of that chase was heart-stopping for me. I was frazzled.

I led him over to a safe place to tie him and then started working on the wire with the wire cutters. This time he kept perfectly still, almost seeming to finally realize that I was trying to help him and in two seconds: "snip!" The wire came right off and the skin wasn't even broke. Talk about a close call!

The wire had been a hot wire across the top of the panels to keep the horses off the fence. I'm so glad that worked so well.

Now that Fabian had been tended to I turned my attention back to Bambi. I feared what I would find--had she sliced her belly open? I looked her over and she only had a piece of skin missing off her back leg that was smaller than a dime. Surprisingly neither she, nor (less importantly) the fence had suffered any damage. It's almost a five foot tall fence and yet this little 15H, stocky mare had almost cleared it. What the heck had they been doing?

Bambi seems to fancy herself a hunter-jumper, but I wish she'd realize she doesn't have the build for it. It's sort of analogous to me trying to be an olympic gymnast.

Flying through the air with the greatest of ease,



smazourek said...

Thank goodness they're okay!

Those stocky little 15H mares need to get a little more credit. I watched mine clear 4ft one day. She had to do some mid-air acrobatics but she didn't touch the fence. A couple weeks ago she went right over a wheelbarrow. Jumping fool.

juliette said...

Scary story with a safe, happy ending. Good for you for breathing and remaining calm in a tight spot. Wire is horrible around legs. And...jumping Bambi! You just never know who is doing what!

Nicole said...

That was lucky! My dad's 2 geldings were on one side of our fence and the stud on the other and he wound up cutting off the back quarter of one of his front feet. The vets didn't think we'd save him but we did. They didn't think we'd be able to do anything but breed with him but we can. He's a trouper!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Well you certainly can't say she's not motivated. Just not as athletic as she thinks she is I guess. Poor Bambi.

That was pretty scary with Fabian though, good to keep your cool but they can still sense when something's wrong. Amazing sensitivity these horses of ours have. So glad it all worked out.

Annette said...

Talk about scary! Thank goodness neither of them were hurt.

Michelle said...

Oh! Glad it worked out ok, I can imagine the heart palpitations you must have been having! They like to keep us on our toes, don't they?