Last week, Rebel seemed to awaken from a relatively well behaved, summertime doze and realized that he hadn’t had any excitement in a while.
Or perhaps the migrating geese told him it was time to move south.
Who knows? Rebel is unlike any horse I’ve ever met. I think he’s dangerous and don’t go near him.
Two nights ago, as Jorge, the barn hand, was leading him in from his paddock for the night, Rebel decided he had no desire to stay in the barn. Jorge has already been hurt by Rebel at least once, and is, frankly, afraid of Rebel. Rebel knows it. As Jorge was ‘leading’ Rebel, the horse suddenly reared, striking at him. Iron shod hooves waving around one’s ears is enough to frighten the bravest of souls. Rebel ripped the lead rope out of Jorge’s hands. In one smooth move, Rebel spun and raced away-not back to his paddock, but towards the jumping pasture. There, he ran up and down the fence line, looking for a way out.
He found it. With Curtis and Jorge coming after him, Rebel stepped over the electric fence (not charged) and calmly pushed against one of the fence boards. It gave way and he stepped over it-into freedom.
Now he was in an unfenced field of about seventy acres. There’s a paved road on the eastern edge, and a blacktopped road on the south edge. The north and western edges of the area are fenced, one of which being the one he got through.
He trotted into the middle of it, dropped his head, and began to graze. The land is planted in grass hay, and is luxuriously thick, even after two cuttings. We’ve had a lot of rain in the last two weeks and the grass responded with luscious new growth.
Rebel had every intention of staying there. There’s a small creek that runs through it. Rebel could live there for weeks.
Let me be clear: nothing startled, hurt, or frightened Rebel. He’s incredibly intelligent and his owner, Julie, is incapable of making him do anything he doesn’t want to do. He toys with her at his leisure. He knows all our human buttons and seems always ready to take advantage of any lapse in attentiveness. He merely wanted to stay out and eat the fresh grass.
Does he know about the 18 wheelers that go down the road? Does he realize that we have plenty of teenaged/20something guys in fast cars that routinely break the speed limit on that straight, seldom policed stretch of road? He’s definitely seen and heard them. Of course, he’s a horse. It means nothing to him.
Once the horse folks of the stable realized the situation, they tried to get Rebel back. I wasn’t there for this part, so I’m paraphrasing. Everyone knew that Rebel will charge and try to hurt you. Despite that, everyone who could went out to try to chivvy him back through the fence.
Rebel wouldn’t cooperate. Anytime someone approached him, he ran off.
It was getting dark quickly, and some of the folks had to leave. It finally came down to Curtis, and Julie, who’d been phoned saying her horse had escaped. She, of course, blamed Jorge for the escape. The owner of the hayfield was called. He’s an old farmer, not a horseman, and was understandably concerned. Not so much for the grass Rebel was eating (although selling grass hay is a significant part of his meager income), but because of the liability that may be incurred should Rebel get hurt or hurt someone.
If you’re a horseman, you know as well as I do that you cannot chase down a horse.
The sheriff was called. By now it was dark. Rebel refused to come to Julie’s pleading, offers of carrots, treats, etc. Rattling his bucket full of grain merely made him prick his ears. He would allow Julie to come only so close, and then raced off, kicking.
It was decided that it was useless to chase him anymore that night. The sheriff put up warning signs on the road to alert drivers, and everyone went home. Julie was warned that should anything happen to someone due to Rebel, she would be held liable.
The next morning, Julie was there, bright and early. So was Rebel. He’d slept very well, and was up and grazing, unharmed.
The rest of the day was spent trying to catch him and keep him from running into the road.
Curtis pulled one of his horse trailers to the pasture, opened it, and rattled a grain bucket. Rebel ignored it.
They tried circling him, everyone with arms outstretched. No one could withstand his charges, though. He would merely run at someone who’d gotten too close and kick out as he passed them.
Several folks rode their horses close to him. Rae managed to maneuver her paint so closely that she was in reach of his halter. She made a grab for the lead rope-upon which Rebel immediately kicked her horse and raced away, leaving her with an injured hand and a sore horse.
She bowed out. The rest formed a line of horses and tried, unsuccessfully, to push Rebel towards the horse trailer or the fence.
Rebel would tolerate them only so close, and then head off in another direction.
A friend of Curtis’s arrived with his roping horse. The man can throw a loop, I can tell you. But he confessed that in all his years of roping, he’d never roped a horse. And everyone was mindful for the road. If Rebel bolted away from his captors and ran into the road, he’d be hit by a vehicle.
Rebel eyed the team-man and horse-approaching. The man was smart. He rode up gently, stopped his horse before he got close to Rebel-and threw the rope.
Rebel demonstrated that he knew about ropes. I suspect he’d done this crap before, and had learned that being roped meant the end of his freedom.
Rebel ducked the loop-and charged the roping horse. He smashed into the roper’s horse, almost knocking him down, and kept going. Only a passing truck made him stop.
What the hell, everyone thought. What the eff do we do now? Some of them were furious. Two hurt horses, two hurt riders, and an aggressive horse still loose. Between them all, they had two or three hundred years of experience with horses, and this mean SOB was showing them all up as fools.
They discussed using a dart gun. But no one knew anyone in the Fish and Wildlife department, and animal control had no intentions of shifting out of their comfortable office to come and help.
It didn’t help that Julie was alternately crying not to hurt him, and still spouting that “this was all Jorge’s fault, he needs to be deported, I told you to never let that man near my Rebel again.” Finally one of the folks told Julie to ‘stuff a sock in it.” Now Julie had three things to snivel about, this one being her feelings being hurt.
This is when I showed up. I’ve been laid up with a foot infection. I’m still in bandages and this was my first day off crutches, so I wasn’t in any shape to go chasing horses.
By now word had gotten around the neighborhood that a horse was loose and wasn’t allowing himself to be caught. Cars were pulling up to watch. Thank god the TV news guys didn’t get wind of it; otherwise it would have been an absolute circus.
As it was, the road, already narrow, was turning into a parking lot, and the idiots who speed on it didn’t seem to realize that there’s a reason it’s zoned at 35 mph, not 65. They would race past, screaming obscenities, honking their horns, and flipping the bird. It began to dawn on us that one car in particular, full of aggressive young punks, high on fast cars and testosterone, was purposefully going up and down the road, turning around to pass the crowd again. We think they were hoping to see a wreck.
It was then that Cynthia drove up and stopped. In her early sixties, she has a reputation for being reclusive. She doesn’t bother anyone, and I believe, lives by herself. I’m not even sure where she lives. She picks up her mail at the post office, then picks up a coffee at the espresso shack in the town. She gets the same coffee every time, always leaves a tip, and seldom says a word. That’s about the gist of what I know about her.
Rebel was contentedly grazing in the middle of the pasture.
Cynthia asked, to no one in particular, what was going on?
“That horse got loose and won’t let anybody catch him.”
“He’s going to get hit by a car. Can’t that cowboy throw a rope at him?”
“They tried that. He hurt the man’s horse.”
“Catch him with some sugar cubes.”
“I think they’ve tried everything.”
“Oh, for pity’s sake. This is ridiculous. Someone is going to get hurt.” she said, and she walked back to her car.
Her two brown and white dogs were in it.
In retrospect, why someone didn’t think of this earlier, I don’t know.
Cynthia’s dogs are a breed I’ve always felt sorry for. They look like furry footstools-lovely brown and white coats, alert, pointed ears, but shortchanged in the leg department. They have no tails. I always wonder how dogs without tails talk to other dogs.
“Let’s go, babies.” she said, opening the car door.
Out popped two Corgis.
She put leashes on them and led them through the crowd.
Someone smirked audibly.
“Yo, where their legs at? Those are some short little mutts” the someone said. His companion said,
“I know, those are dashuns.” (sic). (he meant ‘dachshunds’)
She whirled on her detractors.
“They’re purebred Welsh Corgis.” she snapped.
“What are you going to do, tell them to catch that horse?”
She ignored her heckler. She turned to Curtis. “Where do you want the horse?”
“What?” Curtis said, confused by the unexpected question.
“I asked you, where do you want the horse?”
“Ummmmmmm ummmmm in that horse trailer over there.”
She unleashed the dogs. They nosed busily about the grass, but the moment she put them on ‘sit and stay’, their gaze locked on the horse. Cynthia walked over to the opened horse trailer and called, loudly,
“Okay, babies, bring him to me.”
Four footed Sidewinder missiles, the two corgis rocketed towards Rebel. He lifted his head, still chewing. The dogs were almost invisible in the tall grass. Rebel ignored them. He didn’t fear dogs, especially small ones.
Suddenly he realized they were coming. For HIM.
They were on him in seconds.
Corgis, apparently, have never been told they aren’t wolves.
One corgi, barking excitedly, went for his heels. Rebel uncorked a lightning fast double barreled kick. The hooves went right over the dog’s head. He spun around, only to face the second dog, yelping in pure joy as he snapped at Rebel’s nose. His head shot up and he kicked at the first dog, who slithered through the gale of hooves with reptilian agility.
Julie started screaming, but everyone ignored her. We were cheering!
Rebel spun in the middle of a canine tornado. The heeler bit a hind leg and ducked the resulting kick. The second corgi got his nose. Rebel shook that one off and began to RUN. The corgis were right beside the flying hooves, barking triumphantly. Rebel tried to swerve from the trailer but fangs on either side of his head kept him flying straight and true. The corgis pushed him hard and fast, as neatly as if Rebel had been on railroad tracks.
He jumped in, his eyes rolling, terrified. The corgis barked derisively, daring him to get off and give them another go. Tonia got there first and slammed the trailer door shut. She reached in through the window and snapped a lead rope to Rebel’s halter.
Rebel was caught. In the space of perhaps three minutes, a pair of little dogs had done what four horsemen, a roper, and twenty horse folk had spent fruitless hours trying to do.
Everyone was laughing and yelling. The corgis did the canine version of a high five, laughing, deeply pleased with themselves. Cynthia told them they were GOOD boys, leashed them and led them away.
Julie at least had the courtesy to thank her. Cynthia was besieged by people, asking what ARE those dogs, I didn’t know corgis would herd horses, aren’t those the dogs the Queen of England has? How can they go so fast with such little legs? Did you train them to do that?
But she deflected them, hating the sudden fame, merely saying that “Yes, my corgis are wonderful stock dogs.” They leaped up into the back seat of her car, (still delighted with their little diversion) and she drove away.
“Damn it,” one of the horse folk said, slapping her forehead, “I’ve got two blue heelers that could have done that. Why didn’t I think of it? But didn’t those corgis put the moves on that shithead?”
A rather subdued Rebel has been relegated to a very small paddock, the smallest on the property. Two people handle him now, with two lead ropes. Julie is considering moving him.
There’s not much chance in that. Rebel has a well-deserved reputation for being unmanageable. He’s been ‘asked’ to leave several other stables.
I can’t find it in myself to encourage the loss of business it would mean to Curtis.
Nevertheless, we’d all be much happier-and safer-if Rebel were somewhere else but here.
But I’d love to see the corgis give him another lesson in deportment before he goes.