I'm a bad, bad horse mommy. What's one of the first rules we teach our kids and other folks about horses when they are on the farm or at the barn? Close the gate behind you!
Yeah, I seem to have forgotten that one.
I was out cleaning Gabe's run-in today and generally puttering around with the horses because, yet again, it is too muddy and frozen to do anything with them. I was really hoping the ground would be at least a little better this weekend, but, no dice. And Gabe needs to be worked, big time. He is getting rather bored and when he becomes bored, he kind of turns into an ass. He wants to play, but he hasn't figured out yet that running at me and skidding to a stop so he can rear, squeal and wheel away while kicking out with those hinds is NOT okay. I chucked a few big frozen mud clumps at him because he was getting rather pushy and moving up into my space. Not okay. I don't think he's trying to hurt me, I just think he wants to rough house like he does with Calypso. I did go after him with the pitchfork (handle side, not the poky side!) when he got too close and tried to nip me. I put on my ugly boss mare hat and backed that booger all the way across the pasture. He was quite contrite, and much better mannered, after that.
Anyway. The gate.
So it's feeding time and I headed inside to get feed to haul out to the horses. I left Gabe's gate unchained but swung closed because I figured I'd just run inside, grab the buckets and be back out in less than two minutes. And he was in his run-in munching on hay.
I got sidetracked when I realized the goats were still out and those little trouble makers like to steal the grain out of the buckets and generally make huge pains of themselves during feeding time. So, I diverted to feed the goats and lock them up before dishing out dinner for the horses.
And Gabe moseyed on over to the gate to hang his head over it and wait for his dinner as he always does. And he pushed. And the gate opened. Like magic! He's free! Yay! FREEDOM!
I didn't notice his prison break right away because I again got diverted by the chickens who wanted into the coop so I opened the door and checked for eggs. And put some fresh straw into their nest boxes and checked their food and water.
Imagine my shock when I head back to finish feeding the horses and Gabe is happily munching away on dead grass in my yard. Happy as a clam. If I hadn't known he wouldn't run away and leave his herd behind, I probably would have panicked. He had no halter on and was already in a foul mood because we are all in a bored, foul mood this time of year.
Then he noticed the turkeys wandering around. He sidetracked to the pool filter and sniffed it and licked it (yes, he's weird), then headed to the kid's plastic swimming pool that serves as a duck pond. He stuck his nose in and was startled when he hit ice and it moved. He snorted at the ice and sniffed a rubber snake that Kayleigh left in the yard. He moved on from the snake and the pond to follow the big tom turkey in an attempt to sniff his tail feathers. The turkey was having NONE of that, thank you very much!
I asked Robert to run inside and bring me Gabe's halter and a treat.
All I have to say is thank goodness that horse is a peppermint pig! Crinkle crinkle crinkle the wrapper and his ears pop forward. He nearly drools in anticipation every time he hears the peppermint wrapper crinkle. He walked right up, I slid the halter over his head and rewarded that great big goof with his peppermint. What a good boy!
Thank goodness I spent so much time with him when he came home working on that catching thing. He was kind of a pain to catch when I first got him. He had no intention of being caught and he'd stay just out of reach. Imagine how a minor incident like a horse loose in my yard could have quickly become a full-blown emergency with a horse galloping through the fields and towards the road if I hadn't spent that time to teach him that it's GOOD to be caught!
The escapee was ensconced back into his paddock and everyone got their dinner. And my husband picked and picked and picked on me: "Honey? What's the chain on the gate for? Isn't it to keep the horse IN the paddock?"
I deserved the ribbing I received because I broke the number one farm rule: Close the freakin' gate!