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The Whitehurst Diaries: The Rampage of an Elderly Horse
Pebbles the Old Horse has always been a biddable horse, always coming to Jim Whitehurst's whistle. But inside her, there beats the heart of a senior delinquent: She's an escape artist, an issue the Whitehursts are now confronting, no longer indulging a farm favorite by blaming misdeeds on innocent deer. Pebbles, the old horse, remains in protective custody at this time, and for the nonce, Sharon Whitehurst reports, 'She's returned to her old docility.' (Me too, Old Horse. Me, too. Hope things don't get too interesting today. I like 'docility' as well, and would run six miles to stay out of a good controversy as I'm sure you, Pebbles, really mean to do. ED)
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By Sharon Whitehurst
Pebbles sometimes escapes from her fenced area. We blame the deer if the fence is toppled.
When Pebs went walk-about early last week, the fence was upright, no post knocked over, no wire sagging. She has always been a biddable horse, meekly coming to Jim's whistle and following where he leads.
As week progressed, the stealthy exits became a routine
We were surprised to see her strolling in the back lot only a few hours after Jim had returned her to her enclosure. As the week progressed, the stealthy exits from her pasture became a routine. During most of the year there is no charge on the electric fence, as Pebbles respects it.
After the second day of rounding up a straying horse, Jim lugged over a battery and set the fence charger to ticking. Finding Pebbles 'out' again within the hour, he began to be irritated. By this time, she had wandered into the field of winter oats and was chomping greedily.
Jim thought Pebbles was jumping the fence - an improbable feat
"She has to be jumping the fence," Jim declared testily. Thinking of her stiff and often hobbling gait this winter I protested that she couldn't possibly.
I went round the fence again. Jim raised the electric wire several inches. The wretched horse got out yet again--but we never caught her in the act of 'getting out.'
Pebbles has had issues in the past with foundering--one of the reasons that J. keeps her in a relatively small grazing area. All the fresh green grass and tasty oats couldn't be good for her.
Escape after new charger installed took all of 15 minutes
By Friday the situation was aggravating. Jim put a fresh battery on the fence charger. The third time that Pebbles escaped on Friday afternoon, Jim was out of patience. He had been back in the house less than 15 minutes when, looking out the north window I had to report, "Your horse is out--again!"
Pebbles resisted being caught. Jim strode after her. She walked faster.
He doesn't put a halter on her, merely loops a plaited lead rope around her neck. This time he shooed her into the stall area and roped off the entrance.. I got out her brush and curry comb, hoping that I could brush out some of her winter-tangled and muddy coat., perhaps calm her a bit.
We settled her in the stall where she stayed for the night, good hay and water provided.
On Saturday morning, things came to a head. Jim released Pebbles from her stall, checked to be sure the electric fence was ON. Grandson Devin drove in to share our breakfast.
We went out to admire the dried mud on his vehicle - evidence of his Friday night adventures with friends.
After breakfast, a visit to see Pebbles found her OUT
We discovered that Pebbles was OUT. Jim mounted the 4 wheeler and rounded her up. Hurrying her into the stall he dragged metal door panels across the opening and with a flourish, nailed them in place.
"There!" he said, with satisfaction. "See how you like that!"
Devin finished breakfast in several gulps and left us to linger over French toast with applesauce and maple syrup.
As I pushed the last bite of toast around my plate, soaking up the puddle of syrup I became aware of a drumming sound coming from the back yard. My first thought was that Devin had decided to clean the mud off his Tracker and had the water hose going full blast.
Jim looked up, his mouth full of toast and beef bacon.
Recognition dawned for both of us and we pushed back our chairs and made for the back door.
Pebbles was kicking the metal panels. I watched from the edge of the garden, astonished, as she managed to poke one leg around the edge of the panel, pushed, pawed, withdrew her leg and struck the panel another blow with her hoof.
Pebbles rampage frightened the barn cats
As we walked up the path to the barn, Pebbles continued to hammer the metal panels. She tossed her head, snorted, plunged. The dooryard rang with the clashing of her hooves against the metal. The cats who had followed us up the path, skittered away in fright. I was reminded of a naughty child who, sent to her room for 'time out,' pitches a fit! Jim hauled over a sturdy half-round beam and nailed it above the metal panel with heavy spikes. A second beam was positioned near the bottom of the panel, a substantial barricade.
I protested, "Its a beautiful day, the first one that's warm with sunshine. How can you make Pebbles stay in her dark stall?"
"She can stay there," J. announced, "until I can go to town and get a heavier fence charger! She can't roam the property and she's obviously not getting enough of a zap from the fence to impress her. This has gone on long enough!"
He made solicitous visits during the day, carrying fresh water in a bucket, fluffing up a helping of good hay.
Pebbles spent the night in her stall. Sunday morning, Jim checked the fence charger once more, prepared to drive to Tractor Supply on the other side of town and purchase a new one.
"I think that charger is working just fine," he pronounced. "I'm going to string a double fence."
For the moment, Pebbles is not resisting the super fence
When he had finished, he took down the barriers and let Pebbles walk out of her stall. She appeared to thoughtfully inspect the new fencing.
She didn't offer to put it to the test.
We worked outside in the mild warmth most of the day.
At times Pebbles retreated to her stall, munched hay, lounged in the shadows at the back of the stall. Sheer greediness would seem to have been the motivating factor in her determined escapes. She discovered she could get out, and she discovered the succulent young green oats.
Her tantrums, in retrospect, are amusing.
Her return to docility is appreciated! - Sharon Whitehurst
This story was posted on 2013-04-09 06:43:00
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