Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Left Hanging and Needing a Translator

October 10, 02

While I was gone last week, Debra got a phone call from an acquaintance who owns and operates a boarding stable. Someone had purchased a wild mustang filly last spring for their daughter at the Bureau of Land Management Mustang and Burro Adoption. The parents had boarded it at the stable over the summer. Evidently the daughter messed with the mustang for only a few weeks, and found that it was not quite the appreciative, cooperative, cuddly horse that she had envisioned. So the parents decided to sell her (the horse) at auction, and if it went to the killer, so be it. The boarding facility owner thought that the filly had too much potential for that, so she called us and said that we could have it if we wanted it. Deb went to see it, fell in love, and agreed to pick it up.

Translation: "agreed to pick it up" -- get Graig to figure out how to load a young, wary, nearly wild mustang into a trailer, so that it can be hauled home.

First of all, the BLM does not allow any mustangs to be hauled in regular horse trailers because too often, they have gone totally nuts inside them and ended up hurting themselves and demolishing the trailer. Plain Jane open stock trailers are required, and the horse can't be tied during transport.

So Deb arranged with the owners of the horse to have them transport the horse in their stock trailer as long as I would volunteer to load it. They agreed.

Hmmm. So I was "volunteered". In the past I have had success with training our horses (over time) to load into our horse trailer without major battles, so Deb had every confidence in me. But, just in case, she had our sawyer friend come to help if I needed a hand.

The day came to load her up. Of course it was pouring rain, and the footing in the loading area was eight inches of mud, but the job had to be done. We got there plenty early to mess with the horse some so that its first moments with us would not be spent forcing it to move where it did not want to go. The horse had never been turned out to pasture for fear that it would not be caught, so it had been in its stall all summer. Our own horses act squirrely if we leave them in the stall for more than overnight. We were concerned over what this one would do when we tried to lead it out of the barn. But the filly seemed to be reasonably calm and allowed us to lead it up and down the barn lane while waiting for the trailer to arrive. All seemed to be going well, considering. I was beginning to think that this might be doable.

The woman arrived with her truck and trailer, and our sawyer backed it up to the loading gate for her. Now it was my turn to perform. I tied two lead ropes together so that I could connect it to the horse's halter, then wrap it around an inside post in the front of the trailer, and be able to hold the free end of the lead while standing at the back door of the trailer with the horse. That way I could try to pet and calm it so that it would walk right in. This strategy seemed to work when I trained our horses. I took my time.

At first the mustang led right up to the back of the trailer. It looked and sniffed around and actually swung a foot up into the trailer, but immediately withdrew it. Then the struggle ensued. She pulled backward, but couldn't go anywhere because of the way that I had her belayed. My strategy is to gently gain an inch of rope, relax the horse, and let it see that the best way to releave the pressure on her pole is to move forward. But no amount of cajoling would get her to relax. There was a good deal of struggling and bucking going on. Finally, I had Deb take the lead rope and called the sawyer over to link arms with me so that we could push the horse forward from the rear while position ourselves on each side to avoid being kicked. We moved her forward, but her front feet remained down. Then the boarding facility owner lifted one foreleg into the trailer, and the filly obliged by lifting the other into the trailer as well, but was still sitting back with stiff legs and would not move in. So the sawyer and I started lifting.

Our sawyer friend is about five feet tall in his boots, but is built like a tank, and we managed to lift the hind end of that horse up about four inches off the ground, but not high enough to get it into the trailer. And there we stood with the horse essentially sitting in our linked arms, feet suspended in mid air, but not high enough to move forward and up into the trailer.

I can't remember what exactly happened next, but everyone watching started to laugh at our suspended dilemma. I think that my partner and I gave each other a look and must have relaxed enough for the horse's feet to touch the ground. The new noise of crowd cackling must have been enough to scare the bejeebers out of the filly and make it jump right up into the trailer to get away. We quickly slammed the door. Now, at least, it was in with Deb, and she unhooked the lead from the halter. She then beat a hasty retreat as we cracked open the rear door.

The ride home was uneventful. The horse did not go wild, and it unloaded into our barn without problem.

Since then, she has proven to be a very mellow girl. Deb, in her usual imaginative way, named her Mustang Sally. Every night we let it out free in the arena to roam and explore, and she comes right up to us to be caught and led back into her stall. She doesn't even mind much when Bob, our Shitzu/Dachshund pup, barks its fool head off at it.

I sure wish that I knew what Bob was saying to that horse. Someday I am going to learn Japanese and find out.

Why Japanese?

No. Not because Shitzu's speak Japanese.

It's because the Japanese have invented a translation machine for dogs. No fooling. It is called the Bowlingual Translator. It is a small transmitter that links to the collar of the dog. When the dog barks, a signal is sent to a hand held translator that interrprets the message. It then shows Japanese language phrases to fit the emotional state, such as "I am sad." "I want to play." "I am super angry, and I am going to explode!" By golly, I'd pop for that one if I only knew how to read Japanese.

What's that? You don't believe me...................again?

Check it out:

My sources say that it is selling through the woof!


  1. Your writing and life amuses me. Nice story.

  2. I have just come across to your blog via a comment you left on The Writer Today. I too am a medical writer (completed my PhD in respiratory physiology in 2005). I work from home but when I am not writing abstracts, papers or IB's etc, I blog (www.thewritinginstinct.blogspot.com) to gauge how my writing is received. I have also started writing my first novel.

    Graig, you are a terrific story teller and I hope to read more of your work.

    Best wishes,

  3. I stopped by to say thank you for visiting and following my blog. I am glad I did, what a great story. I have a horse that doesn't always like to load in a trailer so I can relate! Love the picture at the top of your blog, it is very cute!

  4. Graig-I also wanted to say hi and thanks for following my blog. My posts are not nearly as fun as yours--you are a great story teller. Its good to talk to a fellow cheesehead-we are in the Wausau area.

  5. Our Dutch Shepherd Jazzmine had addison's disease along with a thyroid condition and an irregular heartbeat. She lived almost 12 years. She was a lap dog along with being a true member of the family. I wish we had the translator for the times she hid her pain. You have a nice blog and I will visit often.