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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Annie and the Ego

In 2004 or 2005 we bred a Skipastar / Boston Mac mare that my parents had, to a paint stallion named Hot Majestic Man.  We got a really nice baby, but therein lay the story.

I went down to the barn, one early morning, in May of 2005 to check on Shady (the mare in question).  She was due and Felicia had me on mare watch (Hmmm…seems like this was a little one sided).  As I headed down in the dark, I could hear the mare heading to the barn and I could also hear little nickers.  So I called Felicia and had her and the girls come down to the barn to see the new baby.  The girls were so excited; this was the first baby that was “theirs”!

Immediately, I saw a problem.  The mare had left her baby in the pasture and was not acting like any other mare toward her baby.  I was pretty sure that the baby had not gotten any of the first momma’s milk.  So we stalled the mare and caught the baby.  To say the mare did not want her baby was an understatement.  She not only didn’t want the baby, she was trying to kill it.  We initially thought she must be sore, but we had milked her and got some cholosterum, so that couldn’t be it.  We even went as far as to give Shady some ace, in order to take the edge off, and scotched up a foot.  She was drugged to the point of falling down.  She still wanted to kill the baby every time it got near her.  So we called some friends of ours and they suggested we bring the baby over to their place in order to get her “adopted”.  The adoption went well and Annie (I wanted to call her Little Orphan Annie, but Felicia and the girls would not let me!) had a new momma by the end of the day.  Our friends had a mare that had just had a baby and she accepted Annie as her own.  We came to an agreement, so that our girls could play with the baby, that we would take the mare and two babies to our house until weaning time.  On Shady, we finally decided that since the baby was so big and it was Shady’s first foal, that Shady must have been hurt.  She just wanted to be as far away from the thing that hurt her as she possibly could!

To say that Annie was imprinted would be an understatement.  She was handled so much that she really thought she was a people (still does!).  So you would think any doctoring that went on would be fairly easy, after all…..she trusted us!

One afternoon several months later I came home and Annie had a big cut low down on her leg.  I mean clear to the bone, it was nasty.  So we got her to the vet and let the vet bills begin.  The vet was very hesitant because the bone had been exposed for a while and he was not sure if Annie would ever heal (sort of like the bone dried out, is what I understood).  But we would not be deterred; we had him doctor her and brought her home with instructions to change the wrap every other day.  That didn’t sound too hard, she was only a few months old….should be pretty simple to grab her and do the doctoring.   HA!

We kept the mare and two babies in the round pen for the first couple of days, just to be sure that the wrap would stay on.  So on the first day that we were going to change it, we went to the round pen.  Now Felicia had me doubting my ability to hold this 250 pound (give or take) baby, so my ego was out there.  I WAS going to hold this baby by myself.  She was calm and relaxed so catching her was easy, she came to us.  So I eased her up against the fence, stuck my arm under her neck, grabbed the fence, held her tail up so she couldn’t move and pressed her against the fence.  Easy breezy.  Both Felicia and her Dad were on the outside of the round pen, going to do the doctoring from there.  What a lack of confidence!   I GOT THIS!  Or so I thought….

When Felicia reached down and started to cut the old bandage off, Annie exploded.  I mean she shot up like she came out of a cannon!  At least that is what they told me.  It was all moving in slow motion for me. 

One minute, I’m standing there holding this calm relaxed baby and the next I’m holding a big horned sheep.  As she lunged straight up in the air, time seemed to stand still.  I remember having this conversation in my head with myself.

Me:  “are you sure you can hold her?”
Myself:  “she’s not that big, you can just hold onto her until she comes back down”. 

As she started to come back down, she was a little crooked so she started to fall. 

Me:  “she’s going to fall on you…can you hold her?” 
Myself:  “you got this; even if she falls on you….she’s not that big.”

As I started to fall over backward, with the filly in my arms, I was still conversing in my head.

Me:  “when I hit the ground, it’s going to knock the air out of me”
Myself:  “she’s not that big, you got this.  You can just hold her on the ground and let Felicia doctor her on the ground”

When we hit the ground, I heard this big whoosh.  The filly was still in my arms…lying on my chest. 

Me:  “what was that sound?  Why can’t I breathe!?!?!?”
Myself:  “Let her go, stupid.  I told you she is too big to hold like this.  She’s crushing your chest.  And by the way, that whoosh, was the sound of all the air going out of your lungs!”

As I lay there on the ground, with Felicia and my father-in-law bent over in laughter on the outside of the pen, I realized I was still trying to hold this 1000 pound mass of struggling horseflesh (OK, maybe she was a little smaller than that, but not by much).  I finally let her go and she immediately jumped up and looked at me like “what are you doing down there?”  I stared at her, lying there on my back, gasping for air, thinking that she would really look good skinned and put on the wall of my house!  From the time Felicia touched her leg to the time I got my breathe back was probably not more than 4 or 5 hours….OK maybe less than 30 seconds, but it seemed longer.

I guess the lesson learned is that all horses are powerful when they are scared and you shouldn’t let your ego drive you to do stupid things because you wanted to impress your wife!

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