Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Rampages of an Elderly Horse

Pebbles sometimes escapes from her fenced area. We blame the deer if the fence is toppled.
When Pebs went walk-about early last week, the fence was upright, no post knocked over, no wire sagging. She has always been a biddable horse, meekly coming to J.'s whistle and
following where he leads.
We were surprised to see her strolling in the back lot only a few hours after J.
had returned her to her enclosure.
As the week progressed, the stealthy exits from her pasture became a routine.
During most of the year there is no charge on the electric fence, as Pebbles respects it.
After the second day of rounding up a straying horse, J. lugged over a battery and set the fence charger to ticking.  Finding Pebbles 'out' again within the hour, he began to be irritated.
By this time, she had wandered into the field of winter oats and was chomping greedily.

"She has to be jumping the fence," J. declared testily.
Thinking of her stiff and often hobbling gait this winter I protested that she couldn't possibly.
I went round the fence again.  J. raised the electric wire several inches.
The wretched horse got out yet again--but we never caught her in the act of 'getting out.'
Pebbles has had issues in the past with foundering--one of the reasons that J. keeps her in a relatively small grazing area.  All the fresh green grass and tasty oats couldn't be good for her.
By Friday the situation was aggravating.
J. put a fresh battery on the fence charger.
The third time that Pebbles escaped on Friday afternoon, J. was out of patience.
He had been back in the house less than 15 minutes when, looking out the north window I had to report, "Your horse is out--again!"

Pebbles resisted being caught. J. strode after her.  She walked faster.
He doesn't put a halter on her, merely loops a plaited lead rope around her neck.
This time he shooed her into the stall area and roped off the entrance..
I got out her brush and curry comb, hoping that I could brush out some of her
winter-tangled and muddy coat.
We settled her in the stall where she stayed for the night, good hay and water provided.

On Saturday morning, things came to a head.
J. released Pebs from her stall, checked to be sure the electric fence was ON.
Grandson D. drove in to share our breakfast.
We went out to admire the dried mud on his vehicle--evidence of his Friday night adventures with friends.

We discovered that Pebbles was OUT.
J. got on the 4 wheeler and rounded her up. Hurrying her into the stall he dragged metal door panels across the opening and with a flourish, nailed them in place.
"There!" he said, with satisfaction. "See how you like that!"
D. finished breakfast in several gulps and left us to linger over French toast with
applesauce and maple syrup.
As I pushed the last bite of toast around my plate, soaking up the puddle of syrup I became aware of a drumming sound coming from the back yard.  My first thought was that D. had decided to clean the mud off his Tracker and had the water hose going full blast.
J. looked up, his mouth full of toast and beef bacon.
Recognition dawned for both of us and we pushed back our chairs and made for the back door.

Pebbles was kicking the metal panels.
 I watched from the edge of the garden, astonished, as she managed to poke one leg around the edge of the panel, pushed, pawed, withdrew her leg and struck the panel another blow with her hoof.

As we walked up the path to the barn, Pebbles continued to hammer the metal panels.
She tossed her head, snorted, plunged.
The dooryard rang with the clashing of her hooves against the metal.
The cats who had followed us up the path, skittered away in fright.
I was reminded of a naughty child who, sent to her room for 'time out,' pitches a fit!

J. hauled over a sturdy half-round beam and nailed it above the metal panel with heavy spikes.
A second beam was positioned near the bottom of the panel, a substantial barricade.
I protested, "Its a beautiful day, the first one that's warm with sunshine.  How can you make Pebbles stay in her dark stall?"
"She can stay there," J. announced, "until I can go to town and get a heavier fence charger!  She can't roam the property and she's obviously not getting enough of a zap from the fence to impress her. This has gone on long enough!"
He made solicitous visits during the day, carrying fresh water in a bucket, fluffing up a helping of good hay.
Pebbles spent the night in her stall.

This morning, J. checked the fence charger once more, prepared to drive to Tractor Supply on the other side of town and purchase a new one.
"I think that charger is working just fine," he pronounced. "I'm going to string a double fence."
When he had finished, he took down the barriers and let Pebbles walk out of her stall.
She appeared to thoughtfully inspect the new fencing.
She didn't offer to put it to the test.
We have worked outside in the mild warmth most of the day.
Each time we glanced toward the horse pasture, Pebbles was calmly grazing, or standing still, looking meditatively out over the field of oats.
At times she retreated to her stall, munched hay, lounged in the shadows at the back of the stall.
Sheer greediness would seem to have been the motivating factor in her determined escapes. She discovered she could get out, and she discovered the succulent young green oats.
Her tantrums, in retropsect, are amusing.
Her return to docility is appreciated!


  1. I like that horse. She's got spunk.

  2. Oh Pebbles!! hat a naughty girl. Sorry for the neglect. Not quite back to blogging yet.

  3. What a wonderful tale ...she is obviously going through a second child hood ...tantrums and all xx

  4. I had to smile - Pebbles 7 or 8 - you and J nil! She did NOT look amused to be put in - talk about putting on her grumpy face : ) Glad you have a more respectful mare now you have a stronger charger. A friend has a real Houdini as part of her "herd" of 3, and they have to have the wire plugged into the mains but even then he can still get out on occasion (he jumps like a stag!)

  5. Great story with a happy ending. Thank you for sharing life on your farm.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  6. Not part mule is she? Glad she's finally settled down.

  7. what a funny story. Horses can be so determined can't they!

  8. I have to empathize with Pebbles - it's not easy being old and not being able to do what you want to do. I don't like to see her discontented, though. Hope she settles down to being her own lovable self again.

  9. Trigger has no respect for electric fences and just ducks under them. I've given up. Pebbles is a tinker!