Wednesday, March 30, 2011

These Boots Ain't Made for Trottin'

If some of you have been reading my Facebook page, you will see that our farm has "rescued" two beautiful spotted draft horses. Further, you may have noticed that there has been discussion about whether the horses and llamas would be, ah.... "comfortable" together.

Camelids and equines aren't always, as the following will testify.

A few weeks after we had settled a half a dozen llamas onto our new Virginia farm, the children's horses, two sedate geldings, arrived from our former home in New York to share the barn and pasture with our new charges - six llamas: five females and an intact male who was kept separate. Thankfully, they all seemed agreeable with the arrangement.

One morning, I slipped my bare feet into my Tingleys - big molded rubber boots, good for mucking out stalls - and headed out to do barn chores.  Just as I got there, I noticed the usually serene stud llama was staring out his door window with an extremely intent expression. I followed his gaze and saw it was fixed on the two peacefully grazing horses.

I stood there in my Tingleys (that I had to shuffle in just to keep on) and watched as an increasingly lunatic look transformed into lunatic action.

He wedged his nose between the unlatched stall  door and the frame and with a quick  toss of his head slid the door wide open. One leap and he was in the center aisle. Three bounds and a lunge and he was under the guard bar at the rear barn door and into the paddock.

With his head held low and his teeth bared, he flew across the paddock, through an open gate and out into the pasture.

It took me a minute to understand he was actually in amorous pursuit of those poor benighted geldings.

Fortunately, it didn't take the horses that long to size up the situation. They took off at panic speed. The Morgan, white-eyed with fright, was in the lead. The Thoroughbred followed - turning to see if the llama was gaining. He was. The pace over the 10-acre field quickened.

While I vainly tried to make my Tingleys trot, my dogs joined the race. And there they all were. Six demented animals of disparate size, color, breed, species and genus - strung out across a pasture that probably had never seen anything more exciting than a snowfall.

By the time my shamble got me to the pasture gate, they all were heading back toward me. It was terror and my Tingleys that kept me rooted to the spot.

Since I couldn't move, they had to go through me or around me. Thankfully, they opted for the less disastrous path and that slowed them long enough for me to mindlessly reach out and grab two fistfuls of llama hair and hang on.

Finally, I was liberated from my Tingleys. They were stuck in the thick Virginia red clay and I was airborne.

My drag weight and the pace of the chase had cooled the llama's addled ardor and he stopped his forward motion. I fell over his back  and he kushed - nostrils flaring and flanks heaving.

The moral of the story: Be aware that humans don't have a corner on kinky behavior; remember to latch gates and doors that are designed to keep animals in; and, for heaven's sake, at least wear heavy socks inside your Tingleys.