Friday, September 4, 2015

A Turn in Events

We managed to avoid surgery for Scrappy because his large, bloody tumor shrank down to a little nub with the help of some medications, and he's been behaving like he feels a lot better than a few weeks ago.  We were also able to successfully switch Midge off the $150 bottle of Humulin N to the $25 bottle of Novolin without a hitch, and I was beginning to think that perhaps good luck was going to grace me for a while.

Then IT happened.  I looked out the window and noticed that Gabbrielle was herding Rock into a stall.  Right before my eyes, she pinned him to a railing, turned her butt to him, and let her hind hooves fly.  I threw open the back door and ran out onto the porch screaming at her, and she bolted out of the barn.  Rock came limping out of the stall.

I had the intention of locking her up so that she could not have physical access to the other horses, but something happened to distract me from that train of thought.  I don't know what.  Maybe a poorly timed phone call, maybe a dog fight.  I don't remember.  All I know is that I instantly forgot about the incident, forgot to check on Rock's leg, and forgot to lock Gabbrielle up.  I'm convinced that this is why our creator makes women go through menopause.  If we had children after the age of 50, we'd forget to feed them.

A while later I was walking Stewie and Midge outside on leashes when Scrappy ran through the door under my feet.  Not good.  Scrappy is deaf, so I can't exactly call him back to me, and my hands were full with the other two dogs.  I decided to just let him go, and keep a close eye on him until my hands were free to catch him.

I looked over at the horses to see Gabbrielle herding Bombay into the corner of the paddock, pinning him against the fence, swinging her butt toward him, and while I was screaming at her, she nailed him repeatedly with her hind hooves.  I grabbed a rock and threw it at her while screaming hysterically.  That made her move off him.  Bombay came out of it with only two good legs to stand on.  He was limping on one front leg and the diagonal back leg.

I ran the two dogs on leashes into the house, ran back out to scoop up Scrappy, but stopped short to find him in the middle of taking a dump... the longest, most constipated dump in the world.  I was burying my head in my hands saying, "Please dog!  Pinch it off!  I've got an injured horse!"

I contemplated running down to the paddock to help Bombay, but I'd have to take my eyes off Scrappy and would probably lose him.  He has no qualms with chasing rabbits out into the desert.  Several minutes later, I was finally able to carry Scrappy back into the house, and I ran down to Bombay.

Bombay was in so much pain that he nearly collapsed several times.  I ran my hands over his legs, but there was no swelling and there were no obvious cuts or breaks.  Then I saw a hoof mark on the side of his belly and I thought she might have broken his rib or damaged an internal organ.  While I was examining him, Gabbrielle had the gumption to continue to try to push him around.  I got so furious that I grabbed the long whip and chased her off while screaming curses at her.

Of course, that caught the attention of my nosy neighbor, who promptly jumped into her car and drove over to park behind the tree in my back yard to spy on me.  I guess she decided that she was going to play the role of animal abuse police and call animal control on me for chasing my mare around with a whip.

Here's the deal.  I was not beating her with the whip.  I was shunning her from the herd.  That's what horses do to each other when they are being bad.  The offending horse is chased off and not allowed to return to the herd or into the herd's territory without permission.  I apologize to my neighbors for expressing my anger, but they would be pissed too if one PMSing little mare took out their two best trail horses in one day without provocation... and on the first week in several months when the temperatures finally cooled down enough for trail riding.  It was bad enough that my two geldings were limping in pain, but the timing of having two horses knocked out of commission couldn't have been worse for me.

Gabbrielle had pulled stunts like that in the past, but she only gave warning kicks.  That escalated into biting the geldings, and now she is just wailing on them.  So, I kept her locked in her stall that night to keep the other horses safe, and she ended up waking up everyone in the neighborhood by throwing a temper tantrum and violently banging her feed barrel around.  I went out there with a flashlight and moved her into a different stall where there was nothing she could kick or throw around with her teeth.

First thing in the morning, I relocated her to the round pen and served her breakfast there to keep her as physically removed from the herd as possible.  When she finished eating, I took her out into the desert for a Come to Jesus Meeting.  I knew there was probably no point in that, because she probably wouldn't make the connection that she was in trouble for something she did the night before, but it got too dark too fast for me to deal with her and I had to focus on Bombay right after the attack.

I basically gave her every opportunity to misbehave so that I could show her that I was going to have zero tolerance for any of her bossy behaviors.  She sensed my mood and was on her best behavior the entire time, so I let her return to the barn, but kept her locked in a stall.

Bombay survived the night and is getting better.  Rock is also showing signs of improvement in his limp.  I think either they just got bruises on their legs and Bombay may have injured the muscles in his shoulder.  He didn't have any swelling anywhere, including his belly, and I didn't feel any broken ribs.  He's notorious for exaggerating his injuries for sympathy, which is why I don't immediately call a vet whenever he's hurt.  Neither horse was kicked hard enough to draw blood, but I think that's just because the farrier did a good job of rounding and smoothing out the edges of their hooves recently.

I'm not sure if this is a behavior problem with Gabbrielle that will be transient in relation to her hormonal changes or what.  Obviously, I've kept her in this same herd for years and she's never been dangerous.  She's been bossy, but I trusted her to have the sense not to hurt the other horses.  Since that has changed, and since I can't be constantly relocating her between the exercise pen and the shade of a stall as the weather changes while keeping her separate from the other horses, I'm going to have to put her up for sale.

Quite frankly, I've been considering putting her up for sale for a while for a variety of reasons, and this incident just sealed the deal.  This past summer was the second hottest on record in our area, and it was a major struggle for me to take care of four horses, two of which are geriatric, and three dogs, two of which are old and need special medical care.  I'm not getting any younger myself, so I need special medical care too.  I obviously can't sell the two old horses, and I'm not willing to part with Rock, so that leaves Gabbrielle as being the only marketable horse I am willing to let someone else enjoy.  I don't mean to make it sound like I need to get rid of her, because I do think she'd be better off with someone else who isn't spread so thin.

As a result, I will probably be setting this blog to private while she is on the market.  I'll set it to public once I've found a good home for her.  I'm letting everyone know so that they won't worry that something happened to me while the blog is off the air.  I suspect you won't miss much of anything because I will just be spending the next few weeks or months trying to keep Gabbrielle's mane and tail clean and white and presentable.


Cheryl Ann said...

I hate to say it, but that probably IS a good decision. I know this isn't easy for you and I hope you find a good home for her. Please take care of yourself, too. We caretakers often are so busy taking care of others, that we don't take the time for ourselves.
~Cheryl Ann~

Water Girl said...

Just from reading this blog post, it sounds as though you made the right decision. It sounds like everyone (including Gabrielle) will be better off with her in a different home. It must have been so difficult to come to that realization, though. I know you love your animals and take incredible care of them. I hope the selling process is smooth and you find the perfect home for your girl. Good on you for making the decision that was beneficial to everybody, rather than the emotionally charged one that might have not been so good. I'll be thinking of you you. Please come back to writing when you are ready.

ellie k said...

It sounds like a good thing, you cannot keep spreading yourself so thin, the others will benifit also when you have a bit more time to work with them. I will miss your blog and some days the blogs I read keep me going.

Brenda said...

I'm glad she didn't hurt the boys more seriously. It's hard to say what caused her to turn on them in such a deliberate manner, but if it's tied in with her hormones and being in heat, it might not end up being an isolated incident and she's danger to the others as well as you. The decision to sell her can't be an easy one, but it might be the best one and I wish you luck with that. I will miss reading your blog during your "radio silence" but understand, mostly, the reason behind it and look forward to when you make it public again.

Camryn said...

Being spread to thin isn't doing anyone any favors. I've been there done that myself. Will send good vibes in finding her a great home. And hopes that doing so also buys you some relief. I'm going to miss your posts in the meantime.

Crystal said...

I think thats a good decision. Its a tough one, but for you probly a good one. Will give you more time for your other horses and she can go where she fits and gets lots of attention. Good luck, its not easy selling.

achieve1dream said...

From the things you've written before I'm really not surprised to see this. I'm very surprised she attacked them so violently though!!! I wonder what that's all about??

I think you're making the right decision though. Four horses is way too many for one person to try to take care of, train and ride. I don't know how you've done it this long. I hope you can find someone who will take really good care of her. :) I know she's not a bad horse, she just needs a lot of consistent work (kind of like Chrome needs haha).

Tina said...

I ended up getting rid of 2 of my horses for the same reason's...time and they were the big bullies of my bunch. Just as violent as Gabbrielle.