Never work with children or animals’ said W.C. Fields – but what if, like our Penny, you happen to have children, and baby animals…
Whether the equine or human variety, nothing else can tug at your heartstrings in quite the same way. Or cause quite as much angst, stress and just plain terror, either.
Like the day I watched my (very valuable) six-month-old warmblood weanling jump out of her paddock. Over a 1.2m fence. From a casual jog trot. Onto the road. Of course, naturally!
She really couldn’t understand quite what all the fuss was about, both her human and horse mums racing around, sweating and panicking for no reason at all as far as she could see. Nevertheless, she was impressed with the supply of carrots and grain that served as bribery to get her back. She wasn’t so impressed however, with the 1.8m steel yard she was subsequently put into in order to keep her contained.
Then there was the morning I discovered her hanging out with the neighbour’s calves having taken herself through (or over I’ll never know) two fences to do it – including the barbed wire boundary fence. It was a thirty-minute walk to bring her back to our property via roads which were at the height of morning, work/school hour traffic. Oh the joy!
Too many occasions found me panicked, heart pounding with sweating palms as my blood started pumping terror-induced adrenalin through my veins when I realised I couldn’t see my little darling!
My eyes would dart quickly from the road, to the dam, to the car trying to determine where to start looking, when it would suddenly occur to me – the horses! A fan from the very beginning, my daughter was forever demanding that we “go pat the ‘orsies’” no matter the weather or time of day.
With a fondness for the broodmares – particularly the foals – she was drawn like a moth to a flame to the foaling paddock. On this particular occasion, the paddock was home to my old, forever faithful mare, who was heavily pregnant and known to get very cranky with intruders.
This thought didn’t bring much comfort when my eyes came to rest on the scene unfolding in front of me: the little arms wrapped tightly around a very large leg, a very large nose sniffing with interest at the little being so enthusiastically using the leg to keep her balance. Oh the fear!
Resisting the urge to run frantically into the paddock and grasp my little girl to safety, I walked slowly up to them gently saying things like: “Good girl, stay still, don’t move darling” (to the horse that is since I already knew I had no chance of convincing my daughter to come to me!).
To her total credit, the mare was a complete champion. To this day, I don’t know whether she understood the danger she presented to my little girl, or if some instinct told her not to move, but whatever it was, I was thankful for it it! And so is my daughter when I recount the story to her.
To this day she has a soft spot for old, heavily pregnant broodmares, and at least she comes up above their knees so she can rescue herself!