Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Watch that first step - can be a doozy!

I kid you not, just today I was thinking to myself that I needed to pick up keeping my diary again, to record all the things that have happened to me for the first time in my life - all in the past week. I have a diary for about 4 months with all the details of the ups and downs we encountered trying to buy our new ranch: Sun Pony Ranch..

There were a number of them, certainly! But once we'd closed on the property and had to wait 6 weeks before we could occupy it, the motivation waned considerably. Anyways - we moved in last weekend, 9 days ago, and not much has stopped since.

Tonight, however, was the hum dinger. So much so I couldn't put off posting this tonight.

Today was the first day we turned the horses out to the pasture. We'd delayed for a few reasons - not the least of which was that we weren't sure we'd be able to catch them again once loose. So we've spent this week trying to establish a regular dinner routine to make them want to come in, and hand grazing the horses to both prepare their intestinal systems and to show them the boundaries of the pasture.

Today, we didn't want to avoid it any longer, so we took them down and turned them loose about 3:00. They were a beautiful pair - galloping down to the far side of the pasture, Shoshoni following Jordan.

I of course cringed when Jordan charged right for the fence and seemingly turned aside to stop at the very last moment. But he was having the time of his life. He hasn't had the opportunity to run in pasture, nor have I had the opportunity to watch him run, in the 3 years I've owned him. He is beautiful when he runs - a true blue Thoroughbred he stretches out and raises his tail - the whole 9 yards.

But they quickly settled down to grazing. We walked down and Jordan let me approach and pet him, though Shoni kept a wary eye on us. They spent the next few hours alternately running and grazing. Dave and Ginger took off to go to the store, promising to be back by the time we had to go catch them. I came in to work on the never ending task of unpacking, looking out at the horses from time to time.

I was working on getting the computers to talk to eachother again, and the dogs started going crazy barking at the door. I figured Dave and Ginger had returned -- but then the door bell rang. Some man I didn't recognize was standing out there when I went out to talk to him. He asked for the man we'd bought the property from because he was a friend. I explained that the sellers had left a week ago and that we owned the place now. "Oh really?" was his reply. "Well, there is a horse in the creek."

Did I mention there is a pond/creek that forms one boundary of the pasture? (Duh - see above) Someone had asked if we'd walked the fencing to make sure there was no holes - but since the seller had had a herd of 15 horses out there just a week ago we figured it was solid. Aparently his horses knew not to get into trouble!

I asked the guy - "Which horse? Brown or White?". Brown, he said - meaning Jordan. I asked him what do I do - could he help me? No, he said, he was off to do something. He suggested I could call the fire department. He also mentioned that he'd "seen the horse 30 minutes ago". Thinking back I didn't know whether he meant saw him in the water 30 minutes ago or saw him grazing 30 minutes ago. I fear it was the former.

I ran into the house to grab my jeans, boots, and cell phone. I have to admit I pretty much ignored his questions about where the seller had moved to - I kind of had other things on my mind. Actually I don't know if I even thanked him...

I decided not to call 911 until I'd seen what the situation was - just then Dave called - he and Ginger had just returned and saw Jordan in the water. He said he looked OK for now, so I got a few of my wits back. I ran to the barn to grab the longe line (sturdy nylon line 30 feet long), stopped to grab the halters and lead ropes on the way to the pasture - and I hate to admit it, but had to give up running. I learned, it's a long way across our property! Besides, by now I could see Dave on the shore and he looked calm so I slowed down to a rapid walk.

I arrived and Jordan was shoulder and hip deep in water about 5 feet from "shore". (Jordan is 17 hands, putting the top of his withers at 5'8".) He was seemingly very calm; the reality being he was probably already exhausted. But I knew as long as we could keep his head up out of water we would be able to wait for a rescue if that were necessary.

Dave, the good man that he is, splashed in and got Jordan's halter on, then scouted out the shore line. Just 10 feet or so in front of where Jordan was standing was a thick rush of cat tails, so we figured that was the soundest shore we'd find. Dave led him over - and from the lunging Jordan had to do to move we could tell he was probably knee deep in mud. He made it over, but failed to get out on the first try. It was a good thing, actually, becuase in the process of pulling, Dave encountered a T-Post just stuck there in the midst of the cat tails we were trying to come through! I really shudder to think what would have happened had Jordan lunged into the end of that.

Thank goodness for a friend's misfortune. I certainly wouldn't wish it on anyone, but a friend had a similar thing happen to her horse - on a trail ride no less. They'd stopped for lunch, she'd tied up her horse to a tree, he stepped 3 feet to one side and ended up elbow deep in a bog! Who'd a thunk they had bogs in Colorado! They worked for some time to free him - and in the end were successful. But one of the techniques they used was to put a line around his haunches and pull. It was Hildy and Rio that I was thinking of when I'd stopped to get the longe line.
Dave forged back into the water and wrapped the line around Jordan's haunches. Coming back out, he found that Jordan's front left leg was angled way out to the side of his body - nearly tripping Dave. Ouch!

Dave got out and we just pulled and yelled for all we were worth. First time Jordan nearly trampled Dave, but didn't make it onto shore far enough. Three more lunges, though, and he was standing wet, shaking and all adrenalized beside us. This was about the time that Ginger arrived - having gone back to the barn to retrieve gloves from my cell phone request. All told I think it only took about 10 or 15 minutes from the time I got down there to get him out - but there is no question that the longe line made all the difference.

So then we had to walk him home the long way - because where we got out was actually on the neighbor's side of the fence. But we made it back to the barn with no signs of lameness and Ginger manged to catch Shoni to boot. I spoke with my vet and put Jordan to bed.

Goodness - we could have done without that little escapade!



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