July 24, 2008

My Boys

I had asked Malcolm before we got home....long before....if he would help me get my two colts in so I could work with them. I had not, however, expected it to be done the first day we were home. I had also not expected it to be an entire family endeavor....but it was....and so I offer once again my thanks to Malcolm's mom and dad, to Rachelle, and to Justine for sacrificing their evening on my behalf.

The horses were all up just north of his parents house on a piece of property that has an old house and some dilapidated corrals that have parts fallen down...thus the need for everyone to help. The job involved Malcolm's Dad driving in the herd with the four-wheeler, while the rest of us stood in holes or behind buildings and stepping out at strategic moments to change the horses minds about making a run for it through those spots. Finally confined to the corral by fences or wood and humans, the desired horses were cut and loaded into the trailer. We took my two yearling colts, Lajar and her new colt, and Justine wanted her mare, Misty, in with her colt as well.

We trailered them to the other house, and turned them out in the runway, herded them into another corral where Malcolm and his Dad proceeded to rope the two colts and halter them. I won't go into great detail, but lets just say its a somewhat violent process that was more distressing to me at Christmas when we did it the first time than it was this time.

I was surprised to see, that having only worked with them a few hours at Christmas, my two boys remembered. Once haltered they stood (fairly nicely) and led fairly well. I was surprised and pleased. The rest of the evening we spent petting Misty, who was worked with quite a bit as a colt and is friendly, watching Malcolm saddle and attempt to ride Lajar who has been free as a lark for the past 5 years (it didn't work well, but it did give me the chance to see her colt up close...the little devil kicked me!) and leading my two colts around.

Remember me telling you about them a few weeks ago, when I announced the arrival of Lajar's new colt? They've grown a lot since Christmas when I last had them in. And something else happened between then and now as well. My little red roan baby has recieved some kind of injury. Rachelle first noticed when we had them in the runway and were herding them to the corral that he walks funny. After further observation we saw that he indeed didn't walk quite right and that his front hooves looked like they had been cut up badly at some point. We attributed his strange gate to this. However, once he was roped and hatered, he proceeded to fight it, as the othe colt also did for a few minutes. However, this one proceeded to continually fall down everytime he tryed to pull away. A few days later we took them down to our place. In the process of getting them out of the trailer, my red roan colt fell. Because of his legs and the slippery surface of the trailer, he could not get back up. He repeatedly tryed to get his legs under him, only managing to fall again and again, cutting up his head and legs. Eventually he gave in and laye there out on his side, heaving, bleeding badly, and seriously looking like he would not live much longer. Malcolm had to leave and told me to stay out of the trailer because everytime he did try to get up, he thrashed around terribly. I stood outside the trailer, peering in at him, trying not to cry, and talking to him, begging him to get up. My blue roan boy stood at the gate of the little work area we had him in and called to his brother over and over, not understanding why he didnt' come. I opened the door to the trailer and stood there talking to my little beaten horse. Hearing his brother calling to him and seeing him just outside, he gave one last great effort and got his front feet under him. He sat there, looking rather commical, or it would have if he hadn't been so beaten and bruised, with his front legs straight out. could just reach his lead rope and I took the end of it and tugging gently, encouraged him to please stand. Just stand...you can do it. He gave a great heave, and he was up. Blood was dripping from his eye lid which he had split and his knee which he had cut on the trailer floor. I flagged Rachelle down as she drove by on the four-wheeler. Now that he was up, I hoped we could get him out of the trailer without him going down again.
By some miracle, we were able to coerce him from the trailer and get him in with his brother. He was very weak, staggering and stumbling around. It took three weeks for his eye to heal. He stumbles all the time, walks on stiff legs, and has little sense of balance it seems. My poor boy is so pathetic.

I spent the weeks playing with my colts, convincing them that I was a friend and trustworthy. By the time we left they would come to me, gradually, and my gray colt would eat grain from the bucket. The red roan, surprisingly, will take grain from my hand. I worked at leading the gray colt around in my work area, teaching him to let me touch him all over. He's still shy on his right side. I let the red one alone. There's no point in teaching him much, and so I just worked at getting him to trust me. He is very skittish, understandably so.

All that and I havn't properly introduced you. My appologies.

Its hard to get a picture of my red roan. He tends to stay behind the other colt. And when we loaded them to take them back to the north place before we left, there was rain coming so we hurried and I didn't get a picture of them up close like I had intended.

The is my red roan colt who I call Joe. He's the one standing behind the gray one. This was taken before the trailer accident.

The other colt, the blue roan, is a really handsome boy. I keep going back and forth about what to do with him. I'd love to keep him. However, I'm not confident in my ability to work with a young horse. I'd have someone break him for me, but I'm not there to keep him broke. However, I'm become rather attached. I'll probably keep him anyway, at least until he gets to be too much for me to handle. His little brother, who you'll meet in another blog, looks identical to him right down to the white sock on his rear foot.
He's a sweet horse and his curiosity always gets the best of him. I'd stand in the pasture and he'd pretend to ignore me, but it was only a matter of time before he was casually meandering over to me to see what I was doing.

I named him Reb, short for Rebel, as he is the gray color of the Confederate Army.

I had hoped to have a nice little visit with them on our last day together before I had to take them to the other place to turn them loose in bigger pastures. They were in their barn, which they come and go from at will. I had gone in and to see if I could get a hold of them. They don't catch easily, but once caught, they are both big puppy dogs that follow easily. Anyway, Reb shot out the door, but Joe, in his confusion, turned the wrong way and got cornered. I was inches away from having hold of his halter, when Reb stepped back in the door to see what was keeping Joe from following. This would not habe presented such a problem, except that he disturbe the peace of a rattle snake I had not noticed lounging just inside the barn door. Needless to say, I abandoned my efforts to snag hold of Joe, letting him leave the barn.

After a brief debate on what action to take, retreive the pistol from the jeep or get Malcolm from his shop, I opted for Malcolm. I'm better with a rifle and didn't want to miss. I generally and a "live and let live" kind of gal, but I don't really like rattle snakes living in such close proximity to me. So, I had Malcolm go dispose of my barn guest. Of course mutiplt gun shots did little to calm my two colts who were already worked up over being cornered in the barn by me. So I waited a couple hours and enlisted Rachelle to help me get them in. In trying to herd them into my work area, Joe took a dash for the fence, fell into and over the fence seperating them from my yard, and, having finally gotten his footing again, he dashed into my yard. Rachelle ran to the front to block the opening in my yard fence, while I cornered Reb and got a lead rope on him. From there it was easy, as Joe will follow Reb anywhere. I simply led Reb out to my yard, and Joe, relieved to see his brother after the long seperation, followed us back to the work pen. We put a lead rope on him. At that point Malcolm came with the trailer. They loaded surprisingly easily, with most of the hesitation on Joe's part...who can blame him. I wouldn't want to get back in either.

We were turning them out in the pasture around Malcolm's parents house so they would be easier to get back in. The other options were to turn them out with the geldings, but because my two boys arn't cut yet, they would have fought with the geldings to that really wasnt' an option after all. The other possibilty was to turn them back in with the mares, but there were two reasons not to do that. Mostly because we would have to go through the whole process of "hole blocking" in the corrals up there to get them in again, and also because the stud had been turned in that morning and wouldn't have appreciated two yearling stud colts showing up on the scene.

So we crept up to his parents house, me cringing at each bump and turn, just knowing that Joe was going to fall. I was relieved to see him on all fours when we reached their place. I opened the door and Reb cautiously came out and hopped down, taking off for a short distance at a trot before stopping and turning to see what was keeping Joe.

Joe, my poor sweet Joe, walked to the end of the trailer and looked down. It was one of those moments that you see before it happens and have no way to stop it. He tryed to step down and his front legs went out from under him. My poor Joe, instead of nimbly hopping down as his brother had, instead did a summersault out of the trailer, landing on his side. Never one to be beaten though, and not wanting to be left behind, scrambled to his feet and took off at an ackward trot to his pal, Reb. The two of them ambled off down the driveway nibbling at grass as they went. My last parting view of my boys was of the two of them contentedly standing under a lone tree, tails swishing flys for each other, and munching on lush green grass.

They seem so attached to each other, its hard to think of seperating them. And Joe is such a gentle sweet soul, its hard to think of letting him go. My much anticipated time with my boys was bitter-sweet. I found two friends that I love dearly. I found a beautiful potential saddle horse to maybe spend years with. And I found a gently loving soul that should probably be mercifully put down before he gets hurt. Its hard to know what to do. Part of me says just let him be mine and Reb's pal, and the other part of me says let him go before he gets hurt bad.

Anyway, those are my two boys, two of my treasures, two of my friends. I have a feeling they will teach me much more than I will ever teach them.

I'll introduce you to this years new babies in another blog. They were another day and another adventure.

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