This winter has been odd; both winter and spring off and on since November. We go from frozen ground to mud every other week. The horses go from wearing sheets to heavy blankets back to sheets again within 24 hours. And faithful stable hands go from being bundled up to having the barn doors open in the sunshine and working in only shirt sleeves. I’m told this isn’t a typical Nebraska winter; but then I was told this past summer wasn’t typical either, usually not that hot…I’m beginning to suspect that Nebraska doesn’t have typical weather, ever! 🙂
It was on one of our spring-like days, when the ground was more mud than frozen, that the escape was going down. It had been planned down to the last detail and today was to be the day. With Kal-el, Karma and Wynonna not joining the turn out the other yearlings adapted the plot. Xena and Diva were going to take one for the team per se and be the decoys to keep one of the hands busy while Xavier took charge of the weanlings.
The hands usually brought the youngsters into the barn in two groups. With three of the yearlings already in their stalls only two hands came to bring in the rest. The perfect scenario; one hand was experienced and the other was a brand new rookie to handling the babies. Yearlings, Xena and Diva did their part and were caught and brought out through the gate that was hard to maneuver due to the mud. They stood there with the experienced hand while the newbie put lead ropes on two others. The yearling, Xavier had had the kids help him out of his halter and buried in the mud by the round bale of hay in the paddock; this way he would be harder to catch when he lead the charge. Webley and Vandross had on lead ropes but Webley refused to walk forward through the gate, and if Webley wasn’t going Vandross sure wasn’t going; he always does what Webley does! At this moment Xavier begins pushing his way through the two weanlings and the hand against the gate. Xena and Diva do their part to dance around and keep their handler distracted. The new girl gets a lead rope around his neck but he’s a big boy on a mission and he continues to push on past her. For a moment there is pure confusion; the weanlings not knowing what was happening or who to follow but with his encouragement Xavier convinces them to follow him. The girl holding Webley and Vandross has no choice but to let go as the others plow through the lead ropes she is holding. The experienced hand manages to keep a hold of Xena and Diva who I swear wink at one another as he leads them safely inside.
Just as the breakaway occurs, another assistant is walking out of the small barn and hears the commotion. Off she goes to help herd the young ones back to the big barn and all we others ready to help catch them. But they are having too much fun running free; when they see the herd in the pasture field and Xavier leads the way right through the wire fence to join the group.
With some swearing happening, the herd now running with the babies back and forth we devise a plan to separate them and catch the babies. The good news is the youngsters all stick together because they only know each other. With in a short time we manage to get the escapees away from the large herd and since several had lead ropes already on we were able to catch them easily and the others followed. I put a halter on Xavier and lead him out of the field into his stall. I could almost hear him chuckling! Success!
As the guys fixed the fence I checked all the naughty little ones for any damage. Thankfully no one was hurt. Now with my heart rate returning to normal I admit that I sure would have loved to be a mouse in a corner listening to all their tales that night!