HORSES AND THE FEAR FACTOR

Just when you start thinking you know all the things about horses, they pull a fast one on you. Like my beauty of a yearling gelding, last year.

Last year was a severe drought for many areas, mine included. The neighbors crop land bordering mine ended up being fenced in order to turn his cows out on the crop that had failed to grow. It never entered my mind that my yearling gelding had never seen a cow and might panic over them. The rest of my older horses had all worked cows at some time in their lives so no problem with them. But that yearling showed me what true fear in a horse can result in.

The neighbor opened the gate to the newly fenced field to the far north of my land. Cows being cows, they tore through the open gate and started running down the field, straight towards my place. The big, handsome colt was busy munching away in his corral when he happened to look up and spot 60 some head of strange beasts heading straight towards him. He was totally consumed by fear. He spun around and first hit the 5 and 1/2 foot high planks on the other side, busing two heavy planks in half like match sticks. He bounced back on his haunches, took another look at the savage cow beasts still coming across that field, and crammed his head through the steel gate, trying to get out. He popped the gate off the hinges and with the gate for a necklace, headed across the lawn. The steel gate smashed the electrical box off the power pole and took a chunk out of my vehicle before falling off his neck. He then crashed though the heavy wire of the first dog pen. Through the next wire into the second dog pen, the back through the first pen again. Snapping off two corner posts buried in cement, in effect, collapsing the entire side of the one 100 foot long dog pen.

He was back on the lawn now. Eyes wide and showing white with fear. He was literally making a never before screaming sound of fear, a sound I have never heard before or since from any horse. The cows had slowed their full out gallop to a fast trot and he stood frozen, watching them come. By now, I had grabbed a halter and lead and was inching my way up to him, talking nice and soft. I was almost within touching distance when one of those cows bellowed, calling her calf to her side. He spun so quick, he went right over top of me and I believe he never even saw me in his panic. Across the yard is a neatly fenced area which is essentially my garbage spot. All old broken boards, broken shovels and pitchforks, twisted wire goes in there until I have a truck full for the dump. Well he smashed those boards into splinters and stomped around in there before clearing the fence from a standstill into the mares pasture.

I breathed a sigh of relief, now that he was in with the old girls who couldn't care less about the advancing army of cows, surely he would settle down. NOT A CHANCE. When dark came he was still circling their pasture at high speed, soaked with sweat, instead of staying with them for protection. I couldn't get anywhere near him to see how badly he must be hurt with what he had just done to himself.

By morning, he was to exhausted to hardly move. The cows being out of sight helped a lot too. And not a mark on him. After all that and no cuts, tears, wounds, nothing. Hard to believe. Just one sorry looking colt.

It took 4 solid weeks for that colt to relax and eat his daily grain feedings if those cows were anywhere near my fence line. Another 2 weeks before he would approach a cow to stare at it and that was only if it was standing still and not looking back at him.

So this year I was as tense as a "Flea On A Dog About To Get Bathed", watching each day like a hawk to see those cows coming after the crop came off. After all, the colt himself had gone to a wonderful home, but his brother was now a yearling and to good of a colt to get hurt over a herd of innocent cows.

I turned this yearling gelding out with a couple of ancient mares and waited for the poop to hit the fan. And here come the cows, running again from the north!!!

And the colt ran full out................ Flat out.................Straight towards them to meet them............The cows came to a stop at my fence line.........The colt danced and pranced and reached away over the fence to smell noses with the curious calves and a couple of old crock cows who were checking him out too. One of the bulls approached, snorted and blew snot all over the colts chest. The bull is shaking his head and threatening to attack, and the colt licked the big bugger all over on his neck and shoulder...........Just licking that ornery bull, like it was his bestest friend in the whole world.

Tonight, a day later, the herd is bedded down next to the pasture fence line. The colt is not with the old mares, he is bedded down, sleeping beside his new best friends. I give up...............My horses are not normal.................

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