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Proactive Pony

Published: 1/26/2011
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

This winter has been a season of discontent for my dear pony, Peppermint.
Like the rest of the crew, she’s bored, restless, cold, and hungry.

But unlike the others, she does not settle for hanging out 'til my next appearance with more hay and grain.

No. Peppermint is a pro-active pony. And even if her actions do not yield results, she seems to say, “Hey, it was fun trying!”

Such was illustrated by a 4 am call one day last week. It was my kind, 88-year old neighbor.
“Good Morning, Maddy!” he said cheerfully. “Your horses are over here. I thought you should know.”
Out into the subzero cold, I stumbled in my jammies, coveralls, and boots.
For this most recent escape, Peppermint had to first break the chain and push open the nine-foot gate going into the larger pasture.
Then, she had to break through wood rails and hop or squeeze under the electric tape.
That noise you hear is my teeth grinding.

Do tell, Peppermint, what was the point of this most recent escapade?

Thankfully, Shea took a pass on the midnight run. She was running the fence line under the moonlight, calling for her girls.
I yelled for them, too. Across the field, I could see them trotting down the neighbor’s long driveway to the road. [I prayed for no traffic: please no cars. please no cars. please no cars.]
They broke into a gallop for the quarter mile stretch of road. Then, they whipped into my driveway and raced toward me. I opened the gate and they trotted right in, happy to see fresh hay in their stalls.

All’s well that ends well.

But why, Peppermint?

What inspired you to work SO hard to get out and have a rip around the cold, windy, grassless, and potentially perilous neighborhood.
As an addendum, another, more distant neighbor called to report hoofprints around his property and even on his deck (yikes!).

Why, oh, why?

The answer, I’m afraid, is written all over her face: Because I can.

My friend and I fortified and repaired the fence with beefier rails. (Thanks, Dave!)
I let Peppermint out and laughed as we headed to the kitchen for a cup of tea, “that’ll teach her not to mess with me.”
The joke, of course, was on me.
Peppermint got out (by busting through one of those brand new, beefy rails) a few minutes later.
Because she can.

Well, Peppermint, you’re in the jailhouse, I mean, round pen now. And for the foreseeable future, too. Or until spring comes and I reinstall the electric fence with a stronger setup.
Because I can.

It ain’t over.
Stay tuned. Spring’s coming and then there will be a real reason to get out!

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1/27/2011 Nancy Lee
Where do they think they are going?!?! I feel your pain, Maddy! Ida just judges how fast she has to RUN so when she breaks THROUGH the electric fence, it won't hurt so much. Huh????
1/27/2011 Hannah Judson
Maddy! What a well written and funny story, but maybe not so funny at 4am. Gemma read it with me. She is still angling for a pony.
1/28/2011 Julie
So funny...especially when it's all over. That is one of the reasons I use all corral pipe fencing for the horses in the wintertime. But, Peanut, my pony likes to play games too. She comes to the gate when it's time to come in, but she doesn't want her halter on, she really wants to do a runabout the farm for the fun of it...I can see it in her eyes and posture, and I know her so well. So instead, she bowls thru the other horses who are patiently waiting and gets them running around...she'll rear, squeal, buck, run, spin, and herd....and yes, I realize, it is just for the fun of it!!!
1/28/2011 Lisa
Oh my! Is she part cat? Just as mischevious and curious! LOL! My heart stopped when you mentioned the road! About two years ago my husband and I were living in the Houston area and were on our way home from a friends home. It was late and pretty cold for a January in Texas. As we were driving, we passed a pony walking down the middle of the road. Stunned, we started to pull over to get him out of the road when it happened. The pony was struck by a huge pick up truck. Up over the hood he went. Stunned and badly hurt he started to walk down the road again. I ran after him, trying not to scare him but not wanting him to get hit again. I managed to lead him to a small field and with the help of on lookers, we assesed his injuries and set out to get him some medical attention. The collision had removed most of the flesh and muscle from his right side, exposing his ribs and a gaping hole in his lung. I don't know how, but that little pony and I stood in the freezing cold (40 degrees in Houston is COLD-especially with sandals, t-shirt, and no coat on!)for two and a half hours while the sherriff's office rounded up a trailer and an emergency vet. I begged them to put him down there and then, he was in such horrible shape! So much of him was missing!! They couldn't put him down because he was someone elses property. Really??!! If he was mine, and that happened, I would have thanked them for not letting him suffer! My husband and I had made a makeshift pressure bandage using a garbage bag and a new set of sheets I had just bought. The pony had a sucking chest wound and we were trying to seal it off to make him more comfortable. I held his head and tried to comfort him and keep him standing while we waited those long hours. When the trailer finally arrived, he followed me on to it without hesitation. Such a beautiful little boy! I cried the whole way home and could not believe the sight of me when I looked in the mirror. I was covered in blood from head to toe. I don't know how he kept standing all those hours! I spent the next few days on the phone calling all the local equine vets I could find as well as the sherriff's office to try and find out what happened to that little guy. I never found out his fate. I hope by the grace of God, that they were able to end his suffering one way or another. I hope to never witness anything like this again. I keep a halter and lead rope in the trunk of my car and whenever we are out and about, I am always looking at fences and gates to make sure that no one can escape. I wish you luck with your mischevious babies. I hope that they find greener pastures on the other side of their own pasture instead of on the other side of the fence.
1/28/2011 Kathie
Oh how I love to hear I'm not the only one! Loved the Jail,LOL! I still love watching that video of her , GOTTA RUN, Makes me laugh every time!
2/2/2011 Meris
Very entertaining pony and story, Maddy. But I get so freaked when I think about horses and traffic - no good can come of that interaction! Not for drivers and certainly not for horses/ponies, et al. That Peppermint is a real adolescent rascal! Does she remind you of anyone from your own past - like you? : ) There is a reason the two of you are together - well, most of the time, anyway! lol

"Practice sharpens, but overschooling blunts the edge. If your horse isn't doing right, the first place to look is yourself" - Joe Heim