From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Need a Hunter


For two days now, the horses have hesitated to come up for feeding.  That has never ever happened before.  There is always a joyous race to the stables, usually a competitive race. There is nothing in the pastures,  so I am feeding twice a day, both complete feed, and a generous to go out and actually walk them in this morning, I knew something had to be wrong.  I examined all them; there were no wounds, no signs among them of illness, and as I  turned, all of them followed me very slowly, as close as they could get to me without stepping on me.  When we got to the stables they all seemed to want affection rather than to eat...  I had already put their portion of feed in the feeders, and thrown out four bales of hay.   Those girls love to eat,... really love to eat.

I started thinking, both yesterday and today they have been standing just beyond the tree line of the woods on the side where I have heard the night noises, and this morning they were unwilling to walk past the tree line without an escort.  The fields are so muddy, they can't move as fast as they usually can, or kick as freely without slipping in the mud.  Their only natural defense is slightly compromised in the thick, black mud, which is known around here as "black gumbo."

They have always come up at night and sheltered under the stalls for the night.  I had noticed they were staying way back at the back of the pasture for several nights now.  I didn't think much of it. There is a sense between the horses and I, a communication that doesn't include human sounds, nor horse sounds to be in the same language, we are both bi-lingual.  Once when I was really having a loneliness for my husband, who was deployed to Afghanistan, I went to the pasture for the comfort I knew they would bring.  I began to cry, and Three Chicks, the quarter horse responded, and she is the one most sensitive to my moods.  She came and hooked her head and neck over my shoulder, began her little sounds of affection, nibbled softly at my arm, and I just leaned into her, and let it flow.  It did not bring out distress in her, she just steadfastly murmured her comfort and understanding of my inner pain. They always know when something is wrong with me, and  I always know when something is wrong them, there is an edginess, which can display itself in different tones.

I can tell when there is a personality conflict among them, and they are all female except for one poor soul, good old Rocky.  Sometimes they act like a bunch of eight grade cheer-leaders and the haughty can catty comes out in them.  I am not tolerant of that.  If one of them is ailing, they will surround that one, and there is a certain edginess about that behavior that has its' own flavor.  I can tell when one them has their feelings hurt, and yes, they do get their feelings hurt. 

 Never have I encountered the mood in the horses that I did this morning, this edginess is caution, fear, mistrust, and I am afraid there is some experience that goes with this edginess.  Last night Patti made one fierce bark from the porch.  When I went to see  what it was, she began fiercely barking, right after she ran behind my long skirt.  She would peek around in the direction of the woods, and she became so agitated that she peed as she barked.  She hasn't done that in a since she matured past her puppyhood. I got the 410 shotgun, fired three rounds in succession in the air, as she shook in terror.  I thought it was coyotes, but then again, I began thinking... I haven't heard a thing out of the coyotes in the past few nights... There is definitely something out there in the woods... I can not harm an animal,  I need a hunter willing to stay up all night, before something really bad happens.