As I passed a branch of one of the big Arab thoroughbred conglomerates (Arab referring to owners, not horses) on my way to my parents’ house tonight, I noticed something that didn’t look quite right. There was a big horse on one side of a double fence, and a little horse on the other side, looking like he wanted to be over on the side with the big horse. At first, I thought it might be a mare and foal. I figured out that wasn’t the case, and I wasn’t sure if the little horse really belonged over with the big horse. But it didn’t take much horse sense to figure out that, wherever he belonged, it definitely wasn’t where he was, with nothing between him and the road.
It’s a back road, without much traffic, and most people (present company excluded) travel it fairly slowly, and little horse looked like he was going to stay as close as possible to the fence and the big horse, so he wasn’t likely to cause an accident. This really wasn’t an emergency, it didn’t need to be my problem. But something inside of me wouldn’t let me just drive on and leave that situation.
I did a quick reconnaissance of the fence to see if there was any obvious place he had gotten out. And there wasn’t. The Denali folks don’t skimp on fences, and there were two stretches of well-maintained diamond-mesh between this guy and the other horses. It really looked unlikely that he had come from where they were, but I couldn’t figure out where he belonged. I’d also gotten close enough to the little guy to realize he wasn’t a foal, he was just a little horse.
As I was pondering the situation, I saw a truck pull into Denali’s entrance and punch in the code to open the security gate. I spun around and caught up, pulling in on his back bumper before the gate had time to close, leaning on the horn. But, for all of my Celica’s good points, its anemic horn is no match for the roar of a Cummins engine, and the truck continued on, oblivious of me behind him.
I finally caught up with him at the barn, and told him he had a horse out, a little paint. He shook his head and said they didn’t have a little paint, but he’d go look. I followed him back to the road, and he said it wasn’t their horse. He said his wife had heard a report on a police scanner earlier about a loose horse on this road, and we figured it was probably the same one. And he seemed to think getting him somewhere off the road was a pretty good idea.
I went across the road to see if anybody over there would claim him. I found someone who was sure he didn’t belong over there either, so I headed back to see what progress the Denali guy had made.
The little guy wasn’t very tame, and had no halter, so catching him was not going to be an easy task. He had run along Denali’s fence line to the end, and gone through a hole in the neighboring farm’s fence. With the Denali guy behind him, he was moving down a narrow lane between Denali’s fence and a run-down wire fence on the other farm. A couple of times, he turned around and thought about running back out, but the lane was narrow enough that a man with outstreched arms could farily well block that option.
When he got to the end of the lane, it looked like he was running out of room to run. He turned around and made one more dash towards the Denali man, who blocked him with his arms. Then the little guy darted towards the side of the lane with tall weeds and ratty wire fence, and I heard crashing, thrashing, and “Goddamit” (the first from the horse, the last from the man).
I couldn’t see exactly what had happened, but I had a pretty good guess. So I found a good place to step over the fence and approach from the other side, and found what I expected: the horse lying down on the ground with his back legs caught in the wire.
When I first saw the horse out by the road, it would have been easy to say he wasn’t my problem. I couldn’t say that now. I’d gotten this other guy involved, who had no more responsibility for the horse than I did; I couldn’t leave him to deal with a strange horse caught in a fence.
I held the horse’s head and tried to soothe him as much as possible while the other guy tried to free him from the fence. After some struggling, he got one foot free. But the fence was really twisted badly around the other, and after a while, we realized there was no way he was coming out of there without cutting the fence. And of course, neither of us was carrying wire cutters; somehow, when I dressed in a tshirt, shorts, and sandals, I neglected to stick a fencing tool in my pocket.
He headed off to the nearest barn in search of tools, while I stayed with the horse and kept him still. After a while, he emerged from the barn, empty-handed, and headed off towards another barn. After what seemed like eternity, I finally heard that sweet Cummins roar, and he returned with tools and a halter.
I slipped the halter onto the horse’s tiny little head, and we got the wire cut and got him loose. When we stood him up, it was comical seeing that full size halter hanging off that little head. But at least we had something to hold on to.
When I left, the little guy was safely ensconced in one of Denali’s stalls, and I assume they’ll contact the police and try to track down his owners.