Saturday, August 9, 2008

Days Like This

Finally, things have settled down to a peaceful flow here. When I returned home, my sister-in-law was visiting with her 125 pound dog, Duke. He’s a good boy, but he’s got so much energy. He has also never seen a horse before.

Every time he ran into the back, he’d start barking and charge towards the corral. The horses were okay, putting their noses through the gate to sniff him. I insisted that he not bark and that he was not allowed to crawl into the corral or the pasture with them. My husband and sister-in-law kept telling me that I shouldn’t worry, and if we left them alone, the animals would work things out.

Work things out by Silk kicking Duke because she was once attacked by a dog? I don’t think so. Work things out by Siete getting excited if the dog ran into her space and twisting her leg, which she’s already limping and favoring? Not going to take that chance, thank you. I stood my ground. I made Duke sit and stop barking and stay about ten feet away from the horses. I had him lie down and not move while the humans stood around and chatted and the horses when back to grazing. Each time he ran to the corral, I stopped him and repeated the sit and stay and no barking. It took some vigilance on my part, but I knew that I had to keep order here. I owe it to my horses to protect them. It’s one of the reasons that they trust me. My barn, my rules.

For years, Silk was afraid of dogs because she had several bad experiences. Besides having a dog go after her on the trail, snarling and attacking, she was also plagued by Corgis. Before I bought her, when she was on the hot walker at the barn, the barn owners’ Corgis would run around between her legs and nip her heels. Silk couldn’t get away because she was attached to the metal poles being forced to walk in a circle for 30 minutes a day. That was her “exercise” most of the time. Obviously, all that changed when I came along. At long last, I’ve managed to help her realize that my dear old dog, Pepper, isn’t going to hurt her. It was a big deal that Silk was curious enough to stick her nose out to meet Duke. I didn’t want to jeopardize our progress.

Wednesday, Duke and his mommy went home. We had gigantic thunderstorms the next day that lasted for almost five hours, rolling in back to back. At one point, there was a tornado warning that made me nervous about the horses being in the barn. I left the doors to the stalls open into the corral. Silk kept sticking her head out to check on where dinner was. Finally, I ran out between cloudbursts to feed them. Then, yesterday, the Internet was not working all day, causing problems while I was trying to work, and we had another big thunderstorm.

Today, it’s quiet and normal. You all know how much I value days like this. I dumped my muck bucket on the compost pile next to the woods and stopped to enjoy the golden dappled light through the dense green of the jungle that lives behind my circle of land. When I’m at home, I always feel that the woods have put their arms around our shoulders. I thought about a Mary Oliver essay I was reading last night in her book, “Long Life”:

“Time seemed to vanish. Urgency vanished. I knew that I belonged to the world, and felt comfortably my own containment in the totality. I did not feel that I understood any mystery, not at all; rather that I could feel happy and blessed by the perplexity - the summer morning, its gentleness, the sense of the great work being done through the grass where I stood scarcely trembled. As I say. it was the most casual of moments, not mystical as the word is usually meant… And yet, it is a moment I have never forgotten, and upon which I have based many decisions in the years since.”
Mayr Oliver, "The Perfect Days"


the7msn said...

Your barn, your rules, and you're absolutely right. I would have done the same thing. I hope you have many perfect days in a row - you've earned them.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It seems I keep meeting Mary Oliver fans. Good for you for protecting your horses. It's just too bad you had to be the one training the dog.

Pony Girl said...

I like that you create your rules to keep your mares safe. It's also to keep the big dog safe! My sister's dog, when a puppy, ran barking along the fenceline chasing my horse (she still does this) and one time she ran under the gate and into the pasture, driectly in the line of fire. It was feeding time (bad idea, dog) and my horse freaked and turned and trampled her. She's lucky she had a minor leg wound requiring stitches and not broken legs or skull.
I liked the Mary Oliver quote!

billie said...

Glad things are peaceful and you're setting good limits... :)

Carolynn said...

You're right to stand your ground with regard to demanding appropriate behaviour in your and your girls' home. That's exactly why they love you so much and love you. The old adage applies "Better Safe Than Sorry." Good for you for sticking to your guns.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I guess it's always hard when it's a guest and a guest's dog to put your boot down. But it is your house and your horses. Better to stand your ground and make sure that no one gets hurt. Good for you for sticking to your guns.

Strawberry Lane said...

Glad that everyone left safe and sound ... thanks to your barn rules.

Nothing worse than an injured dog and frightened horses. And nothing better than a dog that learns horse rules.


Saddle Mountain Rider said...

I agree with you that "a dog who has never been around horses and a horse that has bad experiences with dogs", you just dont leave them alone to let them sort things out. How would your friend like it if her dog (or your horse) were seriously injured because you left them alone?

deejbrown said...

We would all like to believe "Everything will be okay, etc." because it isn't without vigilance and a good dose of horse sense.