A Horse Is An Accident Looking For A Place To Happen

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An old Marine Corps joke:

Question: “What happens if you lock a Marine in a padded cell with a bowling ball?”

Answer: “In twenty-four hours he will either lose it, break it, or (insert fine old Anglo-Saxon verb meaning to copulate) it.”

Horses remind me of that joke. Just before he left our place with lots, I mean lots, of our money in his hand, our vet responded to an anguished question from my bride by saying that if he were going to use a place to demonstrate the proper care of horses, in particular what kind of fencing is best, he would use our place.

You can already tell where this going.

Darleen woke me bright and surly Sunday morning, shortly before the break of dawn, to announce that her mare Rosie, had cut herself to ribbons. It was only a slight exaggeration. By the time I got my clothes on and made it down to the barn, Darleen had already rinsed the dirt out of the cuts with Betadine, but blood was still flowing out of two of the cuts, one fore, one aft, but what stunned me was that all four legs were cut to some extent. If you live with horses long enough, you’ll see everything, as well as some things that are technically impossible, so I’ve seen my fair share of leg cuts from horses that got themselves hung up in a fence, but all four legs? That high up?

It struck me as so odd that while we waited for the vet, I walked the fence line in the pasture where Rosie spent the night. I suspected it was a case of her getting hung up, but part of me honestly thought it might have been an attack by an animal—some moron’s dogs running loose, perhaps a starving and desperate mountain lion—because all four legs, and cuts that high up, struck me as out of the ordinary.

Nah. It was just routine, run of the mill, par-for-the-course horse behavior.

It took me a while to find the damage because the portion of the fence where she had gotten herself hung up (think “tangled) was the portion I was most proud of, the one part where I had managed to put up horse-wire (the safest equine fencing there is) and railroad ties over uneven ground, but keeping the horse-wire up high enough that even if a horse were dumb enough to lie down right in that particular spot, and even if she were able to compound her stupidity by rolling into the fence, there would always be enough space between the ground and the bottom wire that she couldn’t possibly get hung up.

(If you read the above sentence again, you’ll see an excellent example of human frailty and stupidity in anyone imagining he can ever come close to overestimating a horse’s ability to get itself into trouble.)

I have no idea how she did it.

The bad news is that the money Darleen and I had earmarked for our first vacation in over ten years is now in the hands of our vet. (Emergency call; ranch visit; Sunday morning; tranquilizers; pain-killers; surgical procedure; stitches; bandaging and vet-wrap supplies; tetanus booster; penicillin; bute (an oral pain-killer for horses); multiple and varied topical cleansers, antiseptics, and fly-repellents; and of course the special, dreaded getting-your-vet-out-of-bed-on-his-day-off-when-he-could-be-lingering-with-his-wife fee, a fee that has been known to cause stronger and richer men than I to burst into tears and curl up into the fetal position.

The good news is Miss Rosie will be fine. Her owners’ nerves are shot, their checking account depleted, their sleep-deficit quotient is on overload, and Pete the Boxer missed his morning walk, but she will be fine.

Now I have to go fix the (insert adjective form of fine old Anglo-Saxon word meaning to copulate) fence.

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