There are many things that I do right with horses now, but I think it's only because I did so many things wrong previously. I am an authority on "What Not To Do". And, it seems, I add more wisdom to that list every day.
I thought about it yesterday, and I think, I have an infinite amount of these hard- learned lessons, so I've decided to test that theory by trying to come up with one every day. It's kind of like the "Small Stones" exercise, but a different theme. When I'm done, I'll organize them in one great collection--The Annals of What Not To do With Horses.
Here is #1: Never tie a horse to a rail that isn't secure.
I remember the day I learned this rule very well--almost like it was yesterday, though it was probably 23 years ago. I was boarding my two horses on a half acre piece of land near my parent's home in Idaho. I had an Appy and a Quarter horse.
One day, I was grooming my Appy, and as he was calm and relaxed and, as I figured it wouldn't take very long and I'd be there the whole time, I decided to tie him to the closest, easiest rail--a long, somewhat aged and rotten rail between two old posts.
Well, sometime during that short grooming session there was a loud bang from somewhere in the neighborhood. It's been so long ago, I can't remember what it was--but what I do remember is my Appy's head coming up like a cork out of a champagne bottle. I also remember how utterly POWERFUL he was and how utterly helpless I was in that second. He yanked that rail out of those two posts easier than he'd tear a piece of grass out of the ground with his teeth! It was effortless--just a yank and go--and there went my horse running all around the 1/2 acre with an 8 foot old rail post flying to his side and behind him.
Unluckily for me, I'd tied my knot real well and it didn't come loose of the rail no matter how much he ran. But luckily for me, though I envisioned it the whole time as I heard his feet knocking the wood rail as he ran, he did not break any of his legs.
At some point he stopped, stood--looked--and snorted, and snorted and snorted. The thing had stopped chasing him and was laying over to the side. I believe I'd been yelling for him to stop, but by then I was just saying, whoa boy, whoa boy, as I walked to his side, unbuckled his halter, and let it drop to the ground.
Since that day, I can't bear to watch anyone tie a horse to an insecure anything--not even for a second. Besides the obvious thing I learned, I also learned how amazingly strong and powerful these animals are, and how simple it is for them to do a great deal of damage so fast.
So, there's lesson #1 of What Never To Do--lesson #2 will follow shortly, as will another installment with TJ about Documenting Mustangs--a job I'd personally love to have, as would my daughter!
And Small Stones #7 (Haiku) and #8 (#8 comes with a movie)
Beautiful Girl runs
Rides wind, rain, mud, snort and steam
Looks toward the Butte.
Small Stone #8 goes with this little movie clip--Hanging with BG--
I will follow you.
You will rub my withers.
I will reach around
To itch yours with my teeth
But you don’t have withers,
And I’ve learned
Not to bite your face
So, we’ll stand together
And stare towards Beatty’s Butte.