Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's A Beautiful Night For A Walk....

Apologies for the dearth of posting, things have been pretty busy around here and the time I've had to sit around and goof off on the puter have been spent telling tall tales and trading friendly insults over at the Gunblogger Conspiracy chat, where I seem to have been adopted into the fold, and have made many new bloggy type friends.

Anywho, this last week was fairly busy, but one tale sticks out in my mind as just begging to be told, so I've finally found the time to share it with ya'll (and no, I haven't forgotten my leather care posts, I swear!)

Last Tuesday evening I received a call from the neighbor, letting me know the horses were out. Knowing that we had a missing post on the electric where Monkey and Etta and company are, I figured it must have been them. So, I head out to get the horses in and find some way to make a bluff out of the offending stretch of fence, right as the sun touched the horizon.

Of course, by the time I got there, I was working by the gentle glow of dusk, the sun having completed it's descent in record time, leaving me squinting into the gloom and calling out the window for my wayward children.

Around ten pm, I decided to call in reinforcements. At least Farmmom could drive while I hung out the window and stared into the dark looking for the flash of reflection from an eye.

Keep in mind that I'm looking for three sorrell (darkish red) horses, two bay (dark brown with black) horses, and a... black horse. Not exactly the easiest to spot in low light conditions.

What I am not looking for is a red roan (same color as sorrell except with white hairs mixed in) a buckskin/dun (creamy tan with black markings) and a white horse.

Which of course were the horses that were out. See those guys are our pasture decorations. They're what's left from when we bred, and we've never been able to bring ourselves to get rid of them, but not a one of them is even halter broke. Well, Muffin (the buckskin girl, my beautimous baby) is but she's so people shy she hides behind the other horses whenever people are near... even touching her really isn't an option.

So, Farmmom and I are driving around, contemplating giving up until morning, "They're not anywhere near the road, or we'd have spotted them already, and they're not dumb... well, Red is kinda, but he'll stay with the others," when out of nowhere a big tank of a white streak goes flying across the road in front of us, followed by a buckskin streak and a roan streak.

Mom pulled off to the side of the road and I bailed out with the grain bucket, that magical horse magnet, and got them to come up to me in spite of being wound up and ready to bolt at the slightest provocation.

Dusty, the big white boy, who is, oh so unfortunately, sterile, basically had the attitude of "oh good, she always knows what she's doing, and she has goodies, so we shall follow her."

Of course, Dusty is about half blind at this point, so he's fairly easy to lead around in the dark, it doesn't make all that much difference to him.

Muffin and Roanie, on the other hand, see fine, which means the dark is a scary, scary situation when you're moving around somewhere that you don't know every step.

Imagine, if you will, a skinny girl, all alone in the black of night, because there wasn't much moon at all and what illumination it did provide was routinely covered by clouds, carrying a bucket of grain, talking softly into the night to three horses, only one of which she can see. Sort of. In a "wow he looks like a ghost horse" kind of way.

And, of course, this skinny girl, well known for her ability to injure herself during the daylight, is hiking through a field of knee high grass, with all it's accompanying bumps, holes, matting, and just general klutz traps.

Some day I may know what I've done to earn the trust of those three horses, but they followed me for almost a mile. The girls got nervous about the dirt road under their hooves not far from where we had a gate open to get them into a pasture, any pasture, as long as it's ours.

So instead of leading three horses into the darkness, I was suddenly leading one. One large, studly, half blind white pony that was just sure that if he followed long enough I'd give him a treat. He was right, of course, but he didn't follow quite long enough.

When I realized the girls had abandoned ship, I stopped and squatted down in the road, shaking the grain bucket. Since the normal modus operandi for giving them grain is to pour little piles in a semi circle and squat down in the middle of them so that I can get a good look at legs/feet and catch any problems, this should have brought them on to me.

Instead, Muffin (I think it was Muffin, anyway) stomped a foot and Dusty started to turn back to his girlfriends, just as I shook the bucket hoping to attract the two girls.

You know those moments in the day time, when the clouds part, and suddenly a beam of sunshine illuminates something that you never would have noticed otherwise?

They can happen at night, too. And a damn good thing, because I had heard Dusty's feet shuffle on the road, and figured I'd lost him back to the girls. What I hadn't heard, was him kicking his back feet up as he spooked... right at my head.

If it hadn't been for a chance sliver of moonlight flashing on white hide, I'd have thought that pale blur was just him leaving. As it was I had time to dive to one side before he brained me, but not time to make it graceful.

As I heard him lope off into the night, whickering low for his lovely, lovely ladies, I said a lot of bad words to myself, and gave it up for a lost cause for the night.

I set off, gimping, towards the gate where I knew Farmmom was waiting, having opened it for me and the ponies.

And she scared the piss out of me about two hundred yards later by blatantly sneaking up on me on the crunchy gravel and speaking in a soft voice.

We shut the gate, and headed home, meanwhile I had a Brilliant Idea for the next day. Instead of traipsing my happy ass all over the county leading the kids back to their pasture, I would saddle Etta, who holds an understandable fascination for Dusty, since she is a girl, and he is a boy, and even though he's sterile he's never been cut.

Maybe if I just traipsed by on Etta, Dusty would come to see if he could make her another of his lady-loves and they'd all just follow her right into the pasture.


I hadn't counted on a cool morning, Etta's unusual pigheadedness, or the fact that grandpa's saddle (the handiest one) did not have the stirrups set for me.

As I battled with Miss Priss over whether or not she could turn her head in the direction I asked but still move in the direction she wanted to go, Farmmom and Mamaw headed off to see where, exactly, I needed to parade the bratty girl by.

And saw the three horseketeers right by a gate. Farmmom hopped out, shook the grain bucket twice, walked through the gate, and it was all done.

Meanwhile, I'm discussing things with Etta at a long trot, because she really didn't want to leave her friends, in spite of my assurances that we were going to see other friends. Back down the road come Farmmom and Mamaw, to gloat about the ease of their accomplishment.

And back to the corral go Etta and I. A trip out that took ten minutes (which was five minutes longer than it really should have) took thirty going back, as we made detours in a circular sort of shape along the side of the road. I'd get her loping easy in a circle and start heading back towards home, and she'd start pushing and fighting me, and we'd circle some more.

I won, eventually. She walked calmly into the lot, stood quietly, if not entirely calmly, for a full thirty seconds before I dismounted, and I got her tack stripped and her turned back out before she decided that people were just too much bother and she was leaving without me.

All's well that ends well, though, and more stories are forthcoming as I figure out exactly how to phrase Farmmom's recent adventure with a calf, her pickup windshield, and learning once again that hindsight is 20-20.