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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Swings Escapes

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In a moment of brutal reality that revealed the hazards of a lapse in attention, I failed on two counts while tending to the horses after their evening feeding last night. I stepped through the gates to pick up empty feed pans without closing multiple doors behind me. Then, I allowed my panicky reaction to overcome my attempts to calmly coax Swings back inside.

Sure, they look calm now, but just a few minutes before taking that picture, there was a lot of running, snorting, and neighing going on.

I noticed Swings start moving just as I was about to step back through the gates with an empty pan in my hands. I reached for the gate to keep her on the correct side of it but she moved uncharacteristically faster than I could react. Things then quickly went from bad to worse.

My response of, “No, no, no, no…” didn’t help much as I meant to implore her to stop but just as much was voicing my thoughts of really not wanting this to be happening. I was alone with them, as Cyndie had taken Delilah and a wheelbarrow to clean up after having pruned some raspberry bushes. The two big sliding doors of the barn were wide open.

I knew that if Swings stepped through the little half door I had not closed she would be able to choose whatever destination she wanted. Without hesitation, as I fumbled unsuccessfully from behind her to try altering her progress, she knocked over a fan to walk into the barn. As I feared, she then continued right outside through the big doors.

Instead of remaining calm and encouraging her to stay put, I simultaneously scrambled around to reach a lead rope, yell for Cyndie, try to type a text to Cyndie, whistle for Cyndie’s attention, and plead with Swings to stay put. I didn’t want my whistle to startle the horses, so it was barely effective at drawing Cyndie’s attention.

The other three horses in the paddock were getting riled up over Swings being on the outside and Swings kept changing her mind about where she wanted to go. It was beginning to feel rather like an episode of Keystone Cops. Horses running to and fro and me flailing around with a phone and a lead rope trying to position myself where I could steer Swings back toward the barn.

Luckily, Cyndie did pick up on my yells and attempts to [sort of] whistle for her attention and came to help. Swings decided to trot around the back of the barn. At least this took her farther into our property instead of the front side where she had an easy path over the hill and off our property.

Swings headed out of sight around the bend beyond the chicken coop but returned before we had a chance to head after her. She started up the trail past the compost piles but came back from that, too. I steered her away from going around the barn again and Cyndie prepared the closest gate back into the paddock, getting shocked by the electric fence in her haste.

Meanwhile, the horses in the paddock continued to freak out over the whole scene. By this point, Swings seemed ready to rejoin them and it just took the right circling around for her to arrive at the gate Cyndie was holding open.

Just like that, the whole adventure was over, and everyone returned to grazing. Shortly after, Mix came up to me at the gates under the overhang and I noticed her breathing still hadn’t settled all the way down to normal. I felt like she was commiserating with me over the drama we had just experienced.

I latched all the gates and securely closed the barn doors, freshly retrained about prudent management of access points at ALL times.

Lesson re-learned. Thanks for that, Swings.



Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

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