I decided to go riding for the hour that was left of daylight. Cali has been letting Babe out of the corral to eat hay out of her trailer, so she comes trotting out of the corral without a halter. We went riding, had a pretty normal ride, though I’m finding more and more that this is not a lazy horse, this is a fast horse.
I brought Babe home and ready to go back into the corral with Misty and Jade. Since Babe wasn’t wearing a halter, I didn’t have a lead rope in my hand and entirely forgot what a useful tool it was turning her out. She balked at the gate (pretty typical) and Misty pushed from inside and knocked the gate into me. Normally, I would have waved the lead rope at her and she would have shied back into the corral, followed by Babe. But not tonight. That would be too easy. And definitely not worth blogging about!
All three horses took off to Rusty’s, which is just across the street from the edge of Cali’s yard, but half a block from the entrance of the corral.
Thankfully, Rusty drove by and saw me trying to catch them. First, he asked if he should charge Cali for grazing her horses on his land. I told him Babe wouldn’t let me catch her and Cali wasn’t answering her phone. He said I’d be fine and pulled up to his house, but apparently kept watching. A few minutes later, he realized that Babe really was not going to be caught.
We managed to corner Babe and Rusty tried to wrap his arms around her neck to keep her from moving. Babe was having nothing of that. Instead of trying to go forward and drag him along, she went up. She didn’t actually rear, but she threw her head high enough to lose him.
By then, it was dark enough that we could really only see Babe, since the other two are black, Rusty he grabbed his truck to follow them with headlights. We decided to try tricking Babe into thinking we had grain because she’ll do anything for food. Rusty had some feed buckets in the back of his truck, so I scooped some rocks from the road into it and shook it, so it sounded like grain. Babe fell for it, but pulled away before I could get a rope around her neck. She fell for it two more times, the last time, getting caught. Once I got the lead rope around her neck, she wasn’t going to try to go anywhere.
I walked Babe home, yelling “come girls” over my shoulder the whole way. They followed to the driveway, but the neighbor’s dog barked and growled right under Misty’s feet, so she and Jade shot around Cali’s house and back to Rusty’s yard. They did that lap two or three times.
I’d called my mom’s phone for help, since I couldn’t get a hold of Cali, so my dad was there. He couldn’t really help much with catching the horses, but did eventually get a hold of Cali. She was at work in a town fifteen minutes away, but said she was able to leave long enough to catch her horses. I told Rusty that she was on her way, so he said he would just keep his headlights pointed at the girls to keep track of them and wait because there wasn’t much point in running them constantly until she got there.
Cali showed up, checked to make sure Babe and I were ok (she was more worried about injuries than the fact the horses were out), then walked toward Rusty calling “come girls”. Jade came trotting over and Cali told her to get her butt in the corral. She obeyed. Misty acted like a nut, refusing to go through the gate, but Cali chased her in and locked the gate.
Cali seemed to think the whole thing is pretty funny. She said it’s happened to her a lot over the years and horses will be goofy from time to time. She wasn’t sure from my dad’s call whether they’d broken the fence or gotten out through me and was glad to hear they’d just slipped through the gate and everyone was alright.
So, everyone is safe and (mostly) injury free. I got slammed with the gate, but it just knocked the wind out of me. Later, Babe stepped on my foot, but that’s nothing new to this horse person. The horses are back where they belong, ready to enjoy a restful night after a fun adventure. I’d love to hear the conversation when they get reunited with the rest of their herd, who’ve been living in a nearby pasture! I’m sure they have an even better story to tell than I do.
A lesson was also learned tonight. Well, a couple. I learned how to bring in a group of horses, thanks to Rusty’s help. And, most importantly, I learned… Drumroll, please! Never turn Babe loose after a ride without a lead rope in hand, even if I didn’t need one to get her out.
And, just for fun, a bonus video of Babe when we first got to the rodeo grounds. I always let go of her when I open the gate because she waits nicely, then walks herself through while I close it. Today, instead of stopping about ten feet into the arena, she kept walking. Apparently, she thought I was following her and looked pretty surprised when she turned around to see me waiting. I managed to get a few seconds of video of her after she’d turned toward me.