Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stay Calm and Locate the Channel Locks

Stayed home sick from work yesterday, only the second one I've used since April of 2013.  I made it through morning chores with a splitting headache and one emergency run to the house for the bathroom, and decided crawling back into bed was the wisest course of action.  I hate being sick.  Divine providence at work, though. 

Because when I finally crawled out of bed at noon feeling much more human and less like body parts above my neck were going to fall off, I counted only three horses clustered together in the orchard.  Thunder, Sunny, and Rufus.  Hmmmm....  Not the normal trio (Sunny, Amyra, Thunder) plus one (Rufus) that's the usual make-up of the afternoon sun worshipers.  But the boys didn't look fussed so, I thought, she could be over eating hay at the feeder by herself, which has been known to happen.

About 1 o'clock I went out to hang a load of laundry and again counted the same three horses.  And there was whinnying, which I hadn't been able to hear from inside.  Okay, the whinnying was Sunny, who does whinny pretty much whenever the house door opens because, hey, there's a slim chance it means he's going to get fed.  But still.  And when I looked, Amyra wasn't by the feeder, and she wasn't drinking.   A quick survey of the orchard didn't turn her up; she wasn't hiding behind the pecan tree or dozing by the barn.

When I did finally spot her, my stomach flipped over.  She was up in a corner of the creek pasture, not that far from the barn geographically speaking, but definitely not somewhere she would stay of her own volition with the boys down in the orchard. And in that stationary horse position that screams, "I don't want to try to move, because I can't move."

All four feet were solidly on the ground, she was alert and looking my way, so my first thought was she'd somehow found a tangle of old wire to get stuck in.  (Despite my best efforts, every now and then one seems to roll magically out of nowhere.)  But no, it was better than that, at least marginally.  She'd managed - in that incredibly how the H-E-double-hockey-sticks??? fashion that horses do - to get one hind foot stuck in a loop of wire cable. You know, the thick kind that gets used to anchor power poles? Yep.  That kind.

Stapled to a big fence post just below dirt level, and why it was left on, I haven't the faintest.  I didn't see it when I walked the fences earlier this month (or last year, either, 'cause it surely didn't just now materialize) and Amyra caught her foot in the very end of a 15' stretch of it.  She must have stepped into it somehow, and then like a rabbit in a trap, pulled, and the twist that formed the loop tightened down until it wouldn't slide back down over her hoof.  And of course, right in the corner where two sections of barbwire meet.  Yes, I know, barbwire  + horses = bad news, but it's a COW pasture I keep being told.  Sigh. 

She wasn't panicked, thankfully, just ticked to be stuck.  And not best pleased at being deserted by the boys.  I ran back to the barn after a halter & lead, channel locks (because no way were bare hands or light pliers going to do the trick), and the wire cutters just in case she decided now was the right time to back into the fence, start kicking, and get tangled up in it, too.

Oh, and treats and the clicker.  And that proved to be the trick.  Once she determined that standing still while I untwisted the three-times-wound-around end, one twist at a time, with the channel locks so she could step out got her a clicker-reward, she was stationary.  No kicking, no fussing, just the occasional butt-sniff to see what I was up to.

Five minutes - that felt like 50, let me tell you - and she was loose.  I led her back, let her get a drink, tied her up and examined the damage - completely superficial, thank you, thank you, thank you! - and applied some topical wound spray to what basically amounted to a rub mark and one scrape on the opposite leg from the cable end.  Tolerating me poking and prodding got her some more clicks/treats, which she definitely didn't mind.  When I put her back in with the boys she had another drink and headed over to the feeder without any more fuss and no trace of soreness.
And THEN I spent the next five minutes sitting on the well house with my head between my knees until my stomach decided to behave.  So grateful I was home sick.  Not to mention that:
  1. We've done rope work, so she didn't freak out when her foot wouldn't come loose
  2. If she had to get stuck in something, the cable was nice and thick and left a few surface scrapes, but no worse damage
  3. We've apparently established enough of a rapport that even though every time I pried on the cable it dug into her, she tolerated it because she trusted that I was helping.  Well, that or she just really liked the treats...
Saying my Thanksgiving thank-yous a bit early this year, that's for sure!


Kellie said...

WOW definitely a good reason to be Thankful! Unbelievably lucky to have been home that day. Crazy to think what could have happened if you had been gone all day. Silly horses can sure find them selves in precarious positions without even trying I tell you.

SunnySD said...

I know, right? It's like they have radar.