There is a WHAT in the barn???

Tonight, as usual, I was running late. A little work with the VLC swiftly determined that he was in a pissy, antsy, impatient mood. So I decided to torture him.

“Aha,” I said, “This is a great night for a patience lesson!” I proceeded to double-halter him – one regular, one rope and tie him very carefully and solidly to a beam in the middle of the arena. “You, young man, can stand here and just deal with it while I ride the Lust of Your Life.” I figured he’d paw and scream and have a hissy, and it’d be just as good for her – since I’d never ridden her with another horse in the arena and we’re going to a show in less than a month – as it would be for him.

I brought Honey in and, surprisingly, after a few screams, he realized he wasn’t breeding anything and he decided to stand quietly, cock a back leg and go to sleep. Wow. Okay, clearly this wasn’t as big of a challenge for him as I was thinking. I groomed her and tacked her up and was about to get on when I noticed he had come awake and was staring intently at the parking lot. He hadn’t moved. He hadn’t made a noise. But he was clearly on the alert.

A second later, Honey saw whatever he did – or smelled it. Her reaction was a bit different. You Thoroughbred people will know exactly what I am talking about when I refer to the Great Thoroughbred Freak-Out. Every muscle in her body tensed at once. Her tail and head shot up, her neck arched. She snorted loud enough to be heard in Malaysia.

I stared at the parking lot but saw nothing.

“Come on, you silly mare. Let’s just walk down there and look at whatever is so terrifying.” I tugged on the reins. Nothing. She was planted. And then, she exploded – the complete, my-brains-have-fallen-out-my-ears Thoroughbred Freak-Out. She basically ran around me at the end of the reins at Mach 10, terrified out of her wits. In following her, I got to where I could see the corridor to the barn – and what was freaking her out.

It was a cow. Well, I later learned it was actually a bull but what did register is that it was black and fucking huge and would NOT shut the fuck up. It was doing that agitated cow noise that they do when they get separated from the other cows and are too damn stupid to find their way back.

“Moo! Moo! Moo!” went the cow.


I am a vegetarian, but at this moment, I understood completely why Mugwump feels their highest and best use is as a steak. I would certainly have sent this one on its way to becoming a steak without the slightest pang of guilt, if only I’d had a gun on me.

I now had a dilemma. I wanted to go chase the Bad Cow away from the barn. But I had a stallion tied in the arena and a mare who clearly could not be trusted to be tied up while I went cow chasing. Nor could I take her with me, as it required most of my attention to ensure I did not have a 15.3 hand mare in my lap. I will say that she quieted somewhat when I had my hand on her neck talking to her. She does trust humans not to steer her wrong. Well, to a point…

So I tried to call for help. I called my roommate Josie.

“Hello?” said Josie.

“Josie? OMG there is this BIG FUCKING BLACK COW loose down here in the barn and Honey is freaking out and I can’t leave her. Can you come out and help me?”

Turned out Josie and my other roomie were in town having Thai food. They did however promise to call my landlord, the probable owner of said cow – but he wasn’t home. Meanwhile the Bad Cow had moved to the barn aisle where it continued to moo. If you’ve never heard the sounds of very upset cow echoing off a very old aluminum sided barn, all I can say is that Honey was probably somewhat justified in her belief that it was a Thoroughbred Eating Demon.

I tried to keep her calm and hoped it would go away, which it finally did. When she had settled down, I tied her to the twine and went out to check on the status of the Bad Cow. I saw it heading down the neighbor’s driveway. OK the coast was probably clear to proceed, and while there’s nothing more that this chickenshit middle aged re-rider wanted to do more than untack both horses, go into the house and lay on the couch, I kicked myself in the ass and determined that I was going to at least ride the mare.

The Bad Cow was gone, but she knew it was somewhere. Honey has, except for the very first ride, always been very sensible with me. She’s not a spooky horse but tonight? She was a freakin’ idiot. I got on and we could not get past the opening to the corridor where Bad Cow had been standing. No way. She does, however, have a lovely rollback. Now I knew I was alone at home and I didn’t want to get into a war, so we finally compromised that we would work in half of the arena but we would work. She was actually quite good, and at the end of our ride, Josie returned and managed to stand in the doorway and lure her back over. It took a while, but we got it done. I turned her and Clover out in the arena for the evening so hopefully by morning it will be the same old arena again and not the scary, scary place where a Bad Cow was.

By now I was beat so I longed the VLC, cleaned my stalls, filled my waters and trudged my half-dead ass into the house to write this post.

So here’s what we learned tonight:

1. Thank you, VLC. I was almost on that mare when you noticed something was wrong outside. I appreciate the warning and you rock, even if you do have pissy, antsy three year old moments.

2. Karen, if you do not already possess a cow, please buy or borrow one. You are going to have to cow-break this mare or she’s never going to be safe to trail ride. I’m not sure if it’s all cows or just bulls, but boy, nobody would enjoy being on her the way she reacted! Maybe you can turn her out with a small, non-threatening steer or something.

3. Honey, I do appreciate that you tried really hard to get your brain back upon request even though you were very, very scared.

4. If there are any cows at the SAFE show, I am going to die.

5. The bull, I have learned “went missing” from the neighbors several days ago and my landlord saw it eating under his apple tree today. Farmers are an odd bunch. A reasonable person would tell everybody else that there was a 2,000 pound animal on the loose, walking, you know, in the middle of the fucking road where we drive. But no, never occurred to anyone to forewarn the rest of us…sheesh. I mean, I know we can’t put up a Bad Cow Alert like we do the Amber Alerts, but pick up the darn phone already…

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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