Friday, June 24, 2016

Things That Go Grunt in the Night

So far, our coyote hazing efforts have been working fairly well during the day.  Every time I have gone out front to shag them out of the hedge, they haven't been there.  However, they did move to the back yard, so I had to start the process all over there.  Now I'm having problems running into the coyotes at night.

I've learned to turn on the remote controlled flood light as soon as I am within range, and then look at Gabbrielle, because she always points out trespassers.  She clearly feels that it is her responsibility to be on the look out for trouble.  She's one of these horses who I can look at and immediately know exactly what she is thinking and feeling.

Two nights ago I knew something was up.  Something very subtle about the horses' demeanor told me that someone or something was nearby, but all the horses were looking at me, and not pointing in any other direction.  I came around the wall of the well on my way to the barn and jumped sideways in surprise to find a coyote puppy sniffing around.  The horses had been pointing it out to me, but it looked like they were looking at me because I was almost on top of it.

I said some things out loud to the pup, and it totally ignored me.  I thought maybe it was deaf, so I shined the flashlight on it, and it just sweetly looked up toward me, and then began slowly moving away, continuing to sniff for whatever had left a trail.  I realized that coyote puppies are not born with a fear of humans.  They develop that over time.  I saw a litter of coyote pups a couple of years ago, and they did not run from me until the mother herded them away and barked at me.

Then last night as I was heading down to the barn, I knew something was up again.  Gabbrielle was pointing toward the end of the arena.  I shined the flashlight around, but didn't see anything.  I let Lostine out of her stall, then Bombay, and that's when the grunting started.  That dang aggressive male coyote was at the end of the arena aping me again.  I paused to try to get a visual on it, and saw it moving around.  I said, "Oh no!  You don't do that to me.  This is my place.  Not yours."

I took off running out of the barn and across the arena, charging it with as much aggression as I had in me.  It took off running, but only went so far, and then turned and continued to ape me.  I bent over to pick up a rock to chuck at it, but it turned out to be dried up horse poop, so it was totally ineffective.  I continued running around looking for rocks with my flashlight, picking them up and chucking them in the direction of the coyote, but it would only move to a different location and keep grunting at me.  When I hit the arena fence, I couldn't go any further and had to turn away from it to go back to the gate in order to get out and chase it further, but I knew that turning and moving away from it would just encourage it to be more aggressive.  I had no other choice.  I'm too old and stiff to climb fences.

It grunted even louder as I walked back to the barn.  I decided to ignore it, because in order to chase it away on the outside of the arena, I'd have to run over large rocks and risk spraining an ankle.  I just let the remaining horses out of their stalls and went indoors, got my pots and pans, went back outside, banged them a bit, then went to bed.

The really interesting part of it is that some time later I realized that the entire time I was chasing the coyote, a horse was running right along side of me.  Then when I stopped and bent over to pick up rocks, the horse stood over me as if guarding me.  I was so focused on chasing that coyote off that I didn't pay any attention to the horse.  I think it was Bombay.

Whenever the boys play fight and start trying to rip each other's fly masks off, I holler at them from the porch, and then Gabbrielle charges them with her ears pinned back.  She runs right in between them and they scatter.  Whenever Gabbrielle is misbehaving and I yell her name, Lostine chases her off and bites her on the butt, so the mares have always been good about backing me up in disciplining the other horses.  This was the first time in a while that a gelding backed me up.  One time while riding Bombay, I asked him to help me chase off a coyote that was stalking someone's dog on the trails, and he was happy to oblige.  I praised him so much that the experience must have left an impression on him, and now he feels it is his job to help me chase off coyotes.

My hero


redhorse said...

You need to get a donkey.

TeresaA said...

yes a donkey! That's a great idea.

Jen said...

I've noticed our horses will do that too; Bella is my protector when she thinks I'm doing something dangerous (a.k.a. stupid ;o) like photographing the horses when they're running around playing. She runs interference and keeps everybody out of my zone. It's amazing the things they do. Rina is our Alpha mare and she is happy to chastise anybody who doesn't do what I ask quickly enough to suit her.

Sure hope you figure out a solution to those pesky coyotes soon!