Yes, you read that right! We had 3 runaway horses tonight...in the dark, mind you!
As many of you know, especially if you have horses, they are VERY dependent animals. Ours seem to be more so as we have a "dry" paddock which means we have no pasture (just mud in the winter) and it is necessary for us to provide everything they eat. This means twice a day (or more often) someone (usually/always an adult) must be available to trudge through the sticky, sloppy, mucky mess (well, the entire thing isn't that bad, just where they love to stand all day such as the water troughs, around the stalls and around the hay buckets) that our horses have created, with the help of rain, to clean up stalls and standing areas, feed and water and just give lots of attention. This is NOT my favorite thing about having horses. In fact, every day I whine to dear hubby about how much I dislike it and how if I was only working we could afford to have someone else do our job for us. Of course, I would miss the daily love and affection I get from all of them and truly have no intention of handing this job over.
So, it is my job to do it all in the morning and check on them again in the afternoon. It's bad enough that on several occasions I have stepped right out of my boot and barefoot in to the mud (my sock often slides down and off in to my boot leaving me barefoot) or been so stuck that my son has had to get the shovel to get my boot and foot out. On a few occasions I have even landed in the mud but thankfully missed burying my face. Really, I could share TONS of very funny stories concerning me and the mud. For those of you who know me and what a germ-a-phobe I am this would be even more amusing! Anyway, back to my job...in the evening, it is generally hubby's job to clean and feed and water and pick feet although he often talks me in to mucking the stalls while he gets everything else done. Tonight I did not help.
Now, we have one older Arab (Chazz), one old but lovable Icelandic pony (Champ) and two mischevious and sometimes wild baby American Indian Appaloosas (Hope and Running Deer). Chazz, Hope and Running Deer are all EXTREMELY creative and excellent problem solvers. As you can imagine, this makes things very interesting. They know how to open not only the feed room but every single grain bin so now there is a pallet to keep the door from opening much when pushed in and a lock on the handle so they can't open it in the first place. Now the door has a handle that must be lifted 90 degrees and then while held in that position slid open to the left and dropped and all have managed to pick that one up (hence the need for the lock). Thankfully we figured out how to stop them before anyone over indulged and died of colic (absolutely deadly in horses if untreated-for those who are not horse people). This creativity has also allowed them to figure out how to open the stall, untie ropes and string, undue bungy cords and they have been working on getting the gate open. Now, if we hooked the chain for the gate around a nail...they would get away for sure...if there was a push latch...again, goodbye horses...so, we have a heavy duty carabeener that is nearly impossible to open unless you have opposable thumbs...I'll state the obvious here...horses do not. Let's say, however, that it is completely ineffective if you don't lock it!
Dear hubby just threw the chain through the gate while he pulled the hay out of the shed and filled the buckets but had full intentions of going back in through the gate and therefore left it. BUT, he did NOT go back through and the gate stayed just like that. We are not sure if it was the wind or just curious horses (I said before they have been working on the gate) but they managed to get it wide open and off the three of them went in to la-la heaven...the land of fresh grass. Champ was not so lucky as he gets locked in a stall at meal time to prevent everyone else from stealing his prize meals of beet pulp and orchard grass hay pellets (he only has one back tooth after all). Thank heaven Champ remained at home!
Fast forward hours later and hubby goes out to let the pony out for the night and check on the ya-hoos and the gate is wide open! Of course, they didn't hang around, given they were now in the land of opportunity, but headed off in to fresh grass bliss. In a panic, hubby came charging through the door yelling for me to help. Frantically I through on my dirty jeans and in to the night we went.
Now, we are newbies in the horse thing. I assumed they had run for the hills to once again return to the land of the wild mustang where days are filled with frolicking, eating and more frolicking with their massive herds. No, they simply ran across the street to visit the neighboring horse herd. Now, we did not know this initially...we trudged back to the feed room for halters, lead ropes and the ever powerful bucket-o-grain to bribe them. We went to the front yard and began shaking the grain...then we heard the unmistakable holler of Chazz calling to Champ. Our neighbor, thank God we are surrounded by sensible horse people, had lured them in to his pasture (remember they wanted to see their "neigh"bors-too good to resist) and locked them up.
They were in a panic though as they could not figure out how to get home and part of their herd was still here. After reassuring them that we were there to help, not punish, everyone behaved and got their halters on and were led without incident back across the road and home to the safety and security of their very own mud pit.
Not the kind of excitement I enjoy late at night in the pouring down rain!