Thursday, January 31, 2008

Charlie the Wonder Horse

Our ranch is currently the home of 9 equines. This post is about Charlie. Also known as Chuck, he is a 26 year old, graying bay, Arab gelding. He lives with us because we needed a mature, steady mount suitable for children and first-time trail riders. ( And because his prior owner needed a younger horse suitable for Yee-Hawing and popping wheelies and racing romantically down the beach.) We traded, and all sides have enjoyed the deal. As an added benefit, Tj found a willing recipient for her affectionate care... and we seldom are bothered with surplus carrots or leftover equine senior.
Until recently, that is; my sister gave us a yearling mule at Christmas, and the resultant fuss at the middle barn ( a clever name for the barn in the middle of the ranch!) drew the attention of our other free ranging horses and eventually Charlie just had to explore too! Giving up a life of leisure at our house, complete with daily petting, a huge dry barn to sleep in, the previously mentioned treats, and just plain hangin' out with us, he chose to sleep on the mud and quarrel with the herd for his lunch.

Nonsense! This calls for compassionate intervention! Yesterday afternoon the decision was made to separate Chuck from his gang/herd. We slogged cross-country through the snow, crossed a raging creek on a log, and sprung Charlie from the evil influences of those non-needy pals of his. Light was fading, and the longer but flatter road beckoned. We walked home, Tj glowing with purpose and compassion, Charlie meekly acquiescing to our plan. Reaching home, he received his treats and brushing and all was right with the world. ( cue the violins)

(shift to a minor key) This morning Tj discovered Charlie had disappeared! No note, no call, no thanks for everything. Just gone. While hauling some big bales to the cattle still in the snow, I noticed that all the outside horses were out foraging. (good honest behavior). But no Charlie! By mid-afternoon Tammie felt the need for another animal rescue. I declined. I DID keep my cell phone handy in case Charlie really needed me. Tj drove to the middle barn to confirm that he wasn't there, then back-tracked on the path of our hike... Eureka! A cold, wet, shivering and frantic Charlie. He had somehow forded the large creek (probably NOT on the log) yet couldn't make himself cross the last little tributary. She tried for some time to coax him and encourage him and embolden him.... by now she was as cold and frantic as the horse, so she left some hay to draw Charlie across the dreadful 6" deep, 4' wide ditch, and returned to the warmth of our wood stove. Once again warm and dry, she gathered a halter and lead-rope and resumed rescue mode. I went along for the entertainment. Yup, he was still there, looking pitiful and ashamed. Even with the halter, his fear trumped the normal gentleman inside, and he wouldn't budge. We took turns standing in the 6" water while the other pulled. Nuttin. Next, I shoved and Tj pulled. We were all lucky when, upon slipping in, he scrambled forward, and out of the creek!

At this point, I MAY have made a comment about the unlikelihood of a quad behaving in such an unpredictable manner. (not good timing!) Charlie the Wonder Horse beat us to the barn, where he waited politely for the other horses to eat their second helpings before contentedly munching his hay.


  1. I love Charlie. He is the only horse I will ride! Glad he's o.k.

  2. Somehow I CANNOT believe that he crossed the big creek! He must have flown.

  3. On angel's wings.... actually I think that he somehow slid down the steep trail to the big creek, couldn't go back up so he plunged in and had a very scary experience and then he stood on dry ground all night fearful to cross another creek. If only he knew it was only 6 inches deep! I really felt for him, because I have experienced paralyzing fear myself. Tj


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