Saturday was absolutely gorgeous. I'd baked cookies the night before to drop by our new neighbors, T's cousins who had so nicely moved in/filled the stock tank for the ponies. Their place is up the road and around the corner on the next mile, and since it was such a beautiful day we decided to ride up.
Sunny and Rufus stepped out nicely, ears pricked but walking along smoothly. I could hear the whinnies from behind us. We'd made it about 3/4 of the way to the corner to the tune of whee-ee-ee. T kept saying, "They're fine, just keep going." Until I looked back to see two horses galloping up the road after us.
Of course, they didn't stop when they got to us - they kept going. I called, and we both headed back toward home, thinking that if they spotted Rufus and Sunny leaving them they'd turn, but no luck. So I headed on back to the house for halters, and T followed them down the road.
I've never been so grateful for the lack of traffic! Checking over my shoulder as I reached our driveway I was thrilled to see them dive into an open gate where another neighbor (yet another cousin) had just moved his cows out. Whew!! T stopped at the gate with Rufus, and I trucked on up the drive with Sunny crossing mental fingers that they'd stay put.
Unfortunately, by the time I'd collected halters and gotten myself pointed down the road again, the escapees had made a circuit of the filed, dived out the gate past T, and were high-stepping it the opposite direction. At the crossroad they headed west briefly, then spun back around and thundered off to the east out of sight down the hill. T stopped Rufus at the intersection to wait for me.
I could hear a car coming from the way the horses had headed, and thank God, I could hear it slow down. Then accelerate again. An old white SUV with a couple of orange-clad hunters appeared over the crest of the hill... trailed at a pretty good clip by our two runaways. The windows were down, and T said afterwards that he could hear the woman laughing and yelling from the passenger seat, "They're gaining on us, go faster!" as they passed him.
At the turn, the SUV went north and the horses turned south toward me. I stopped, broadsided Sunny in the road, stretched my arms out, and said, "Whoa-o," and this time it worked. As T brought Rufus up, slowly, so as not to send them flying down the road again, I haltered a puffing Thunder, handed him off to T, and then collared Amyra.
They were both sweaty and hot, but otherwise fine. We ponied them home, by which point they were pretty well done blowing and mostly dry. Then everybody got to stand tied while we checked the fence and made repairs. Next time they get to guard the trailer while we're gone.
The cousin - the one with the cow pasture the pair made their initial detour into - stopped by the next day. Apparently he has a game camera set up back by the trees so that he can a) check for deer, and b) keep track of anyone poaching on his property. The camera snapped three pictures: his son-in-law setting it up, him checking it, and right in the middle a very large, whiskery horse nose.
I'm sure one day I will look back and laugh... but probably not.