Rite of passage…
It’s been an interesting day here at the Farm. It was a day that we knew would come, but for some reason we thought it would be later rather than sooner. It started out quietly enough, being that it was a Sunday morning, and the sun was shining. The Man tended to the dogs and the birds, and I headed out to the Barn to give the horses their morning grain, hay, and buckets of fresh water. Alex greeted me with his usual foot stomping and snorting, which is his way of telling me to hurry up with his breakfast, and Diva was quiet and attentive, letting her barn mate do the talking. Her big brown eyes followed me around the barn, patiently waiting for her turn. When they both had received the attention they wanted, and had turned away from me to eat, I ambled back into the House. The Man handed me a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee, and I settled down in front of the computer. After an hour or so, when it was clear the coffee was not going to do it’s job, it occurred to me that there was nothing wrong with turning my usual Sunday afternoon nap into a mid-morning siesta. The Man tucked me in, and I promptly fell asleep with visions of clean stalls and full water buckets dancing in my head. I was awoken by a scream, and in my fogginess, I wondered what woman would be in my house, and why was she screaming? As soon as I heard the words “horses out”, I realized the high pitched screams of panic were coming not from a strange woman, but from the Man. I should make it quite clear that normally, the Man isn’t much of a screamer, and when he does, it’s usually quite masculine, so the level of stress in his voice alerted me to how serious the situation was. I was up, dressed, and out the door faster than I thought was humanly possible.
As I had hoped, the Man had gone out to the Barn to turn the horses out, and had cleaned the stalls and refilled the water buckets, and had even spent time out in the paddock brushing both horses. We have a gate on the back of the Barn that latches to keep the horses outside, and we always keep the huge door on the front closed in case they do manage their way in. He swears that he latched the back gate, and I believe him, as horses are well known for their ability to manipulate simple latches. This, however, is a pretty moot point, considering that the front door on the Barn had been left wide open.
We scrambled into the truck with harnesses and leads, and went off down the road to find them. It wasn’t long before we saw a flash of white running through the apple trees, followed closely by a blur of chestnut brown close behind. We abandoned the truck and headed into orchard, hoping that catching them would be easier than what we feared. Alex was doing his best to keep up with Diva, and considering how sick he had been three weeks ago, he was doing a pretty good job. Together, they wove in and out of the ancient apple trees, kicking up their heels as they squealed with delight at their new found freedom. The chase quickly grew into a game for them, and they doubled back and headed towards the Farm. By the time we got back out to the road, they were out of sight, and if it weren’t for a kindly elderly man who stopped his truck to tell us which direction they had headed, we would have been in sad shape. We didn’t argue with him when he excitedly told us to get in the back of his truck, thankful for the help and the chance to catch our breath. As we came over the crest of the hill beyond the Farm, we saw them in an open field, lazily munching on grass, as if this was where they always lived. I quietly walked up to Alex, and easily put his halter and lead on him, and turned towards home, leaving the Man to deal with Diva. Once she saw that I had Alex, she decided to give up the chase and trotted ahead of us up the road and towards the Farm, even turning into the drive by herself with no prompting from us. They quickly settled into their stalls, munching silently on their hay as if nothing had happened, and it was just another day.
Chasing the horses over the river and through the woods was not what I had planned for the day, but in the end, I can admit that it was a little fun, and a good learning experience for the Man. No harm, no foul, everyone safe and sound. The interesting part of the experience was how all of our neighbors reacted and pulled together to help us catch the horses. People from up and down the road were doing their part, from offering carrots to entice, or circling the horses to cut off escape routes. Some of the less spry neighbors watched from their porches and offered words of encouragement. When one smiled, waived, and said “You finally got your horses?”, I very nearly shouted out “No, these are our poodles!”. It was good to see a neighborhood come together like it did, even if some of the amusement was at our expense. I suppose that it’s a rite of passage of sorts, having your horses escape their barn and visit the neighbors, and I knew it would happen at some point. It always does, we were told. Hopefully it won’t happen again any time soon.