Tis the 'morn after Christmas, and all through the inn,
not a critter is stirring 'cause we're sleeping in.
When the phone by the bedside clanged with it's bell,
and I jumped from bed yelling "What in the...heck?"
The caller was Ida, boarding each and 'ery horse,
and if a problem arises, she calls us, of course.
"Some one driving the highway saw a horse out the fence"
Nita and I said to each other "Only Jesse's that dense."
So we jumped in our boots, and piled into the truck,
and drove down to the pasture to find the dumb...horse.
We found prints where a horse had jumped 'oer the gate,
and run down the road, but turned back none to late.
We hiked down the fence line following the horse track,
and found where it jumped to finally get back.
We trudged a bit further, and found our whole herd.
Ranger, Estes, young Washoe, and Jesse, the turd.
9:00 a.m. The phone rings.
B: “Hi Ida.” (Tone of voice changes) “Oh….we’re 15 minutes away. We’ll be right there.” (hangs up phone and turns to me)
B: “Ida said a neighbor called her. A gray horse was out on the road.”
Bill and I looked at each other – it could be none other than Jesse, who always had to prove she could get out of any fenced enclosure (even if it was 80 acres). We donned warm clothes, muck boots and pockets of horse treats, dashed for the truck (which already had their halters in it) and headed for Hwy 72 and the wayward horse. As we neared their pasture area, we watched for hoofprints in the snow, but saw nothing. We made a pass of the entire area and saw no sign of horses – inside or out. Hmmm.
We parked near the gate and walked in. OK, the top strand of barb wire on the gate was half missing, but it is cobbled together of many small pieces and one small section was knocked down. A horse had stepped out over it and followed our tracks from yesterday up the bank, across the road, trotted a short distance along that fence line and then returned to the road.
On Christmas day, we had brought four bales of hay for them. We saw them in the distance, but it was getting late in the afternoon and they weren’t coming when called. It was time for them to get back in the trees for the night; their normal routine when on their own.
This morning, it was obvious they had munched on the hay, but most of it was left. In my mind I am thinking that Jesse was just “tracking” us up the bank, and of course, lost our tracks when we climbed in the truck and drove away. At this point we weren’t even sure it was Jesse. If it was, she wouldn’t go far because she will NOT leave her herd behind, and Ranger will NOT cross barb wire, even if it is flat on the ground, without a person with him. Washoe, on the other hand, has become a real wanderer and will leave the herd to follow me somewhere, on a whim…and he has no fear of fences. He could just as easily stepped over the wire and just gone to play – but where?
We walked up and down the road both ways looking for more tracks, but a good deal of the road was melted down to asphalt, so unless the horse was walking in the snow on the side, there would be no prints. There were no prints going back into the pasture at this point, but since we didn’t know which way to go and we were sure the rest of the herd was still inside the fence, we started tracking the most recent tracks (we hoped; it’s not that easy to determine which direction a horse is going in fresh snow more than a foot deep, as the snow falls into the tracks as soon as the hoof leaves.) We came on one trail that looked quite recent and made sense – not just meandering through the trees and turning around to come back – that headed along the fence line from higher in the pasture and along a tree line.
As we hiked along we soon realized that one horse was staying very close to the fence and another set of tracks appeared on the other side of the fence. Ahaa! Progress! We followed that fence about .3 of a mile, noticing where the horse on the outside had gone ahead, then turned back at a heavily forested area, circled a pile of junk on the ground (which turned out to be a broken fence post and coiled barb wire), and jumped the fence back in. Now I was certain it was Jesse, and there were a few brown hairs on the wire, so obviously Ranger had been giving her grief for being outside the fence.
We hiked the rest of the way to a higher pasture, following a bunch of tracks now – running tracks. Someone was glad to be back with the herd! Soon we glimpsed them through the trees, and when called, they came right to us. Silly horses!
Jesse had a couple spots of blood on her lower front legs; it had to be barb wire punctures. I found three spots; each had bled a little and already closed up, so I opted to just leave them alone. I know it sounds lax, but our guys have such great immunities from being wild, that unless a wound needs vet attention, we pretty much just leave it alone. They were in lots of clean snow and the wet and cold is the best I could have done anyway.
We fed out all the treats we had, inspected everybody, played a bit, then turned back to hike out, leaving the horses sunning themselves on a quiet winter morning.
I’m always in awe of the power she has, because seeing the leap she had to make just proves what she can do, then later just popping over the fence from what had to be almost a stand-still. Wow!
|I know this bank doesn't LOOK steep, but it's about 12-15 ft. high (see the 4' fence posts at the top?). You can see how deep the snow was when she took off, drug her heels part way up and landed at the top.|
On our drive home, we pondered why she would leave all that hay to cross the gate and go up to the road. I have no idea; it’s just Jesse. I figure the wounds came from the downed barb wire because it was obvious that was her takeoff point for the jump and would explain two holes on her left front leg; one slightly above her knee and one on the back of her fetlock. The third wound was just above the fetlock on her right front hoof. There were no marks or white hair on the top wire where she jumped over.
Well, we had planned on seeing them for a hands-on today, so it was great seeing them. But I would rather it be our idea, not theirs.