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We can learn a lot from horses; I sure did. Before my wife got me interested in them, I couldn’t even spell hoarse; now I am learning from them while learning about them.
Today’s lesson was learned when Grace, our mare, found her way into the breezeway of the barn. The breezeway is the area where we humans walk when we feed or visit the horses, and also serves as a storage area for horse-related supplies. It runs alongside the two stalls, which are on the left as you walk in. (We get into the stalls from the breezeway, the horses enter and exit through doorways on the opposite side.) The breezeway is full of horsey temptations and dangers, including bags of food, treats, and medications that, if ingested in large quantities could make them seriously ill: think of it as a candy store for horses. A very narrow candy store for horses.
Grace got in there when I carelessly left a gate open that should have been closed. There she was, sniffing away and looking for goodies in a fairly confined space, considering she weighs in at about 1500 pounds.
Uh-oh! She can’t be in there! She could get sick or hurt! What should I do?!? I remembered being told once that when a horse is in a dangerous situation, you must remain calm. After all, what do you think she would have done had I run in there yelling at her? She would have bolted, perhaps further into the breezeway, perhaps towards me trying to get out. Neither option was particularly appealing to me. Getting run over by an upset horse is not my idea of a good time. Who knows what she would have bumped into, broken, stepped on, or . . . ? Causing her to panic could have easily caused 10 times more damage than I was trying to prevent.
So, I stopped to think. I made sure she had a clear route to where I wanted her to go. And then I walked in there and said in a firm, but quiet and somewhat disgusted voice, “Grace! You know you’re not supposed to be in here!” She slowly looked up at me, turned around, and casually walked out with a look that said, “Gee, dad, you’re no fun!” She went where I wanted her to go, I closed the gate behind her, and that was that.