Sunday morning, I was enjoying the warm covers after husband had left to feed the critters, including the new kitten, when he came back to the room and called my name with the Something Has Happened voice. You have to understand, that for whatever reason, my husband rarely uses my name. When he does use my name, I usually do a doubletake and that’s in ordinary conversation.
I’ve written that our rental is across from a horseback riding trailhead entrance into the National Forest. Once I actually saw the rental, which is DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THIS ENTRANCE, I knew we would be called upon at some time due to an emergency. It was just a matter of time and Sunday proved to be the first.
Two horses, one with a (stupid) rope halter (overpriced Natural Horsemanship sheyat) on it’s face dragging a leadrope and the other bareheaded, were at the top of the road. They were trying to decide which direction to go when husband had rushed into the house to tell me.
First, order of business is don’t go rushing towards horses. That invokes the flight response. We were lucky that these two horses were not frightened but merely curious and that, at that moment, there were no cars on the road.
Provide a clear access area to where you want them to go. Do not block it with your body, with dogs, with buckets etc… and retreat from the access point. Husband opened the gate wide, and retreated, his back to the horses while I faced them at a distance.
Do not approach horses at this point. Approaching, before THEY approach is a super wrong move. I called out for him to get feed in a bucket and to come to me, shaking it loudly.
Do not approach horses with a feed bucket. Shake it loudly and wait for them to approach you. I can’t stress this enough. You have to wait until the horse decides to be committed to the action of approaching. The horses committed, crossed the street and stuck their head in the bucket I was holding.
While cats often come to the generic, “kitty, kitty” horses will often come to you with a generic, “Come’on!” holler that is so often used for the pastured horse to come up and be fed. The key is to shout it in a friendly, loud voice without any trace of fear or worry.
Wait until the horse is FULLY committed and inside before approaching the gate. You need them completely involved before you shut that exit area. To do that, I walked backwards, without a care in the world, and they both followed deeper into the property.
Next, when approaching the gate, do it casually. Don’t rush to close it. Move unhurriedly. Don’t move in a direction tangent that might seem to be that you are approaching the horse itself. Move in an arc away from the horse and then towards the gate.
After we locked them up in the dry lot paddock with a couple of flakes of hay, husband took the car down to the campsite and woke up the two cowboys to come get their horses. One of the guys mounted bareback, and leading the other, took it down the hill while the first drove his truck back.
We didn’t get to keep these two visitors, and their owner wouldn’t take a free kitten in the rescue deal. Obviously, fate gave us the kitten so husband would be on the front porch Sunday morning at 7 a.m. when we got our next set of visitors…