Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Worm Turns

October 3, 02

I suppose everyone has their moments. This week it was Deb's turn. She's always planning and scheming and wanting to build something. In an attempt to save money, Deb swung a deal with the guy that runs the local sawmill to provide her with a bunch of rough cut construction lumber in exchange for two Clydesdale/Shire foals to be used as a hitch team. The sawyer has had his eye on Dolly (our Clydesdale mare) for years now, wanting to breed her to his neighbor's Shire stallion. Because Clydesdale stallions are few and far between (in fact, nonexistent) in the North Woods, I consented. So he loaded Dolly in the trailer and shipped her up to her neighbor's pasture. This was to be a natural, hands-off breeding. It was to be Dolly's first blind date.

We got a phone call about a week later, telling us that Dolly must have come into heat and the stallion took an aggressive interest. But before the match could be consummated, Dolly had kicked the stallion square in the head and split his face deep enough to require stitches. But the Shire owner agreed to keep her on for another cycle to give her another chance.

Then Monday night, up drives our sawyer friend pulling a stock trailer with Dolly in it. Evidently she had started jumping fences and wreaking more havoc. The sawyer and Shire owner decided that it was time for her to go.

She unloaded and walked with me on lead just as calm as could be and was happy to be home. She got pretty scratched and bit up in the experience, and I don't know whether she has been bred or not. Maybe she actually picked up on the verbal training that I used to give her while grooming her and messing with her. It was the same talk that I tried to drive home to my daughtrs about what they should do if a similar situation arose on any of their dates. I used to worry about Dolly because once in a while, a neighbor's quarter horse stallion would appear in our pasture. She behaved perrfectly.

Then Deb volunteered to take care of a little mini horse belonging to a neighbor because their daughter was sick and would be in the hospital for weeks. Our neighbor was supposed to lead the pony down to our place on Sunday, while my wife was working. I waited and waited. Finally, the neighbor drove up and said that she had just spent all morning trying to lead that horse down the road and she couldn't get it to budge. She was in tears and beside herself. She told me that I'd have to bring the trailer to get her.

Well, heck. That horse isn't much bigger than our Golden Retriever. So I took a long lead rope down, caught the pony, and led her home just fine and gently using a butt rope (a rope clipped to her halter, then wrapped around her hind end and up to her head again so that you pull her butt forward instead of tugging on her head).

I put her in with Baaabette and Baaaboo, the Pygmy goat Baaah Family, and she did just fine until my wife wanted to catch her and move her into a stall the next day. She would not be caught, though. So I was assigned the job. But she ran from me now, too.

I had to resort to the strategy that I used to use on a stubborn mule I had to catch one time. The trick is to get down on all fours and start grazing. Seeing you with your head down and hearing the sound of tearing grass seems to have an amazing calming effect on skittish hard-to-catch equines. I was able to move right up to her and eventually halter her without problem.

My only worry now is that the procedure previously outlined for removing grass stains from textiles will also work on teeth and gums. I wonder what banana oil tastes like.

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