Thursday, August 31, 2006

[grumble grumble] horse [grumble] again

After last week's debacle, we decided that Sarah (the horse) would not be let out of her pen without a lead rope.

So on Tuesday, Mary took her out and let her graze. The dog annoyed her (the horse, not Mary), so we went to the middle pasture. Mary hurried to keep up with her. Then, much encouraged, Sarah started trotting. Mary had to let go of the lead. She watch Sarah trot across the 'North 40' (1/4 mile square property used as hunting property) and back into the corner, where she disappeared.

The boundary between the North 40 and a some private property behind it (a hay field with some trees and brush at the back) is half way between Raymond and Hawkins roads -- 1/4 mile from each.

So, we all piled into the van and headed down Hawkins road. Then, we checked around up and down Eight Mile road. Then, I replaced the batteries in the FRS radios (walkie-talkies), grabbed my super-duper Luxeon LED flashlight, and a pair of cheap 10X50 binoculars. Mary got the other radio. She went along the front of the property, and I headed straight back to where she disappeared. I saw a couple deer on my trek (where do they go during hunting season?), managed to get scratched by some brush, and almost got tripped by a strand of barb wire stretched between the properties.

Mary didn't find Sarah, so we went back and gathered the kids back together. I kept walking through and we agreed to meet on Hawkins road. It was getting dark, and it was kind of tough going. Next time I end up on a trek like that, I'm putting on some long pants. The Cold War vintage Army boots work fine, but they can't keep my shins from getting barked and scratched.

It was fully dark by the time I got to the nice easy-going hay field on the other side. As soon as I was in the open, I used the flashlight to check around the field. Then, I went straight north so that I could skirt the edge of the National Forest. I don't think the owners of the field (if they are around) would object to me looking for our horse, but they might like it better if I politely skirt the edge rather than trampling straight through. I saw the van when I was about half way across the field. I called Mary on the radio and asked her to stop at a little tree near the north edge of the field, then I used the flashlight to let her know where I was.

This is a real worrisome situation. A horse can go for miles, and we are right at the edge of the National Forest. If she went a couple miles, then got her lead rope stuck somewhere, someone might end up finding a pile of bones and a halter in several years. Not good. Not good at all.

Meanwhile, Mary was wondering out loud if we should just give this horse to a family that would really like to have her. Actually, she said "sell", and I'm sure that this family would do us justice.

But this brings us to some spiritual considerations. When you really seek to follow God, you have to ask yourself if you're doing the right thing -- or just pleasing ourselves and rationalizing about it. We have received quite a few blessings in the past few years, and I think that Sarah is one of them.

All too many people become 'Christian Fatalists'. Whenever they hit the hard times, they think that it is God trying to dissuade them from some dream or desire that they may have. More often, I think, it is Satan's attempt to derail us the track that God wants us to take. We try not to fall for that.

If we sell Sarah, Paul will miss out on a wonderful opportunity for growth through the 4H group that we found out about the last time this big critter got away. See how this can all fit together sometimes?

But anyhow, after praying for Sarah's safe return, we went to bed. I had already written some text for this blog, but I didn't get around to posting it until yesterday. Distractions, distractions...

That same day (Tuesday), I had taken the big Jeep in to have the O2 sensor replaced (thoroughly rusted in). That's why it wasn't there for our possible use in chasing that horse across the fields. It's also why it wasn't there yesterday when someone called us and told us that our horse was in their pasture.

The gentleman was going to pick me up in the county plow truck, I think, but his wife came here with her two daughters instead. We all went to their house, but the horse wasn't in the pasture. The pasture had been empty, so most of the gates were left open. When they saw the horse, they closed all but one gate. She felt bad about that.

She started to drive me over to the Reagan's place (everyone seems to know everyone else around here) when her husband blasted that big county truck horn. He had just gotten a call that she's up the road at another place. We went there, and there she was standing complacently as an older lady who is obviously familiar with horses was holding her lead.

I thanked her for taking care of Sarah, and led the horse out to the road. From there, we did the same trick we did last time. Sarah trotted nicely next to the van, except she stopped one time (maybe the van was going just a bit too fast). I yelled at her and hopped out. She just stood there complacently as I picked up the lead and got back in. Meanwhile, I noted that the pain on the middle finger of my left hand (not to mention the blood) was due to the fact that a nice chunk of the nail got ripped off. But hey, if that's the worst injury I get from these adventures, I'm doing OK.

We got Sarah home, and the kids got a chance to see the goats. I thanked that family by sending her home with a dozen and a half fresh free-range eggs, and a pint of apple/choke cherry jelly.

Not too long after I got her fed and back in the pen, Mary called. She was very happy to hear the good news.

After she got home, we went to eat at a local church dinner, then picked the Jeep up from the shop. It purrs like a kitten now.

Today, Sarah got seen by the vet. He says that she isn't pregnant. We are half disappointed and half relieved by that. He gave Sarah her fall shots. I took pictures because Mary wanted me to watch and find out where the injection sites are. She knows how to give shots to humans, but has never done a horse. In the spring, we'll just get some vaccine from the local feed mill and Mary will do the job. She also got a dose of wormer, so she should be in fine shape.

The vet says that she looks good, and that she's just fat enough to be healthy -- not overweight. He also said that she can carry me for a short distance, so I'm going to collect some information about riding and give it a shot. If nobody else around here has the confidence to ride her, I guess the task falls upon me. She wants to do some trotting, obviously. In fact, when I started to take her to the back yard, she started to trot. I didn't give her any rope or try to catch up, though. If I did that, she would probably do the same thing to me that she did to Mary.

With a horse, you have to maintain your dominance by using your brain. Trying to use your brawn is simply pitting your weakness against the horse's strength.

3 Comments:

Blogger Chickpea said...

I like your thoughts about Christian fatalists - I've come across people like that. It always strikes me as a form of superstition. Ask them whether Paul should have given up when he got flung in prison, or Job should have given up right at the start, or Christ should have given up when He got arrested?

4:29 AM  
Anonymous denise t said...

i think u could start to lunge the horse to exercise it first for awhile before you try riding anyway. lots of folks do that to tire the horse a lil bit so it wont start bucking hijinx with all its excitement when it gets ridden...but anyway, it would be a good way to get the horse in condition to be ridden again...a lunge line would be your long lead line i believe, and there's lots of info on it if u google for it i believe... another choice would be to try and lease her to a rider locally, so she would get some exercise and not look to get out and trot/run around...
what she probably wants is a place to really just be free to trot a bit, and socialize with other animals...cause shes a herd gal after all...

7:53 PM  
Blogger Nerd in the Country said...

I never thought of leasing her out. I don't know if anyone would want to lease her or not.

Anyhow, it's not like she's stabled all day. She has a run that's larger than most of the exercise areas that you see at fairs and horse shows. It's about time we learned to ride her, anyhow.

For companionship, she has her goat buddies. She has become quite attached to them. I understand that using goats for horse buddies is a fine old tradition. In fact, if you were devious enough and wanted a race horse to be a little 'off' for a race, you could steal its companion goat. This is where the expression "got your goat" comes from.

12:25 AM  

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