AWOL Equines

Yesterday morning, as I went about getting ready to go to work, I thought I saw Junior, our young black mule, out on the road. I didn’t pay it much mind, as I thought I saw the other mules inside the pasture, and figured he was just really close to the fence. Running a bit late as usual, I jumped into my truck and pulled out of the driveway. Thirty seconds later, I was calling work to tell them I was going to be a wee bit late, as I had a small herd of mules and horses out on the road where they didn’t belong. I drove slowly up the fence line to our neighbor’s driveway, looking to see where they had gotten out. I didn’t see anything obvious, so hoped they would go back in the way they came if I just started them in the right direction. Turning around, I drove down to where they were hanging out at an open gate, and walked up to the two that were in the pasture. I asked them what they heck they thought they were doing. Of course, all they did was look at me with their big brown eyes, not offering any words. I shooed the two out of the pasture and back out to the road, then walked to the others who were lounging by a small tree, and got them moving in the right direction. I was a bit concerned about what they would do, as they don’t normally herd like cows do, but the one mare knew where she was going, and she led them back up road to the driveway, and walked back up to the house. Junior and Otis, our two young john mules, had thought we were going for a nice walk, and had started heading down the road, but I guessed, correctly, that they would follow the rest of them if I just let them be.

Now, the question was how to get them back into the field? I saw where they had somehow knocked over the decorative log fencing, and maybe got out that way, but the fence was lying inside the pasture, not out, so I’m not sure if that’s how they got out or not. I called Chris to see where he wanted me to put them while they nonchalantly sampled the lawn and flowers. They showed no interest in walking over the fence post logs, but kept heading towards the rear corner, so I opened that gate, and they all went in. I had to go find Ruby Jean, our huge mule, and shoo her over to the gate, as she was busy munching on their dead flowers. They all went back in willingly enough, and I got the gate closed with no loose horses or mules still out.

Now the challenge was to patch up the fence where Chris had taken it down this last weekend to start building a new one, and coax the mules and horses to go back over to our pasture until we got a chance to fix the fence at the neighbors. I left EmmaLee in the house, changed my boots so I wouldn’t get too wet, as there’s still irrigation water running, and took Tucker with me to see what we could do. Sage opted to stay home, which was fine with me. I didn’t want to have to worry about her with the mules, as our mules will stomp on a dog. They’ll watch a coyote go by, have a conversation with them, like,”hey, how are the kids?” or, “catch any prairie dogs lately?”, but they’ll stomp my dogs. Yup, our mules. Gotta love ‘em! I pounded in a fence post, and propped the old fencing up so that they wouldn’t walk out that way, then we headed for the other pasture to bring them in.

We found the herd and I started pushing them quietly towards the gate that is between our two fields. Tucker was all ready to help push, but I was concerned that he might get kicked or bit by any one of the mules, so I kept him back with me as much as I could. He did work back and forth, but he listened to me tell him ‘easy’ and ‘stay back’ really well. They didn’t know for sure where I was trying to take them to, so they weren’t going anywhere in a hurry. They broke up into two groups, and Otis decided that he was going to just go off aways and see what was happening over yonder. Tucker and I maneuvered behind them and to the sides, trying not to get them running. They don’t have pressure points quite like cows do, and they don’t move as readily either. But we kept them going, slowly, in the right direction, only getting stuck with a pause once or twice. We were pretty much in line with the open gate, so I was hoping they would see it and just head on over to greener pastures, and I was right. The young dun mare, (don’t know if she has a name, we just inherited her from the neighbors when they left) saw the open gate and started picking up some speed, head facing the gate. They all followed her through the gate, and started spreading out.

Ok, that chore is done. I need to go back and get Paloma, the old grey mare that we also inherited from our neighbors. But she’s not going anywhere, so I can do that later. I’m impressed with Tucker, as he stayed back and did as I directed, without getting too close to the horses or mules heels. He was there, as a presence, but wasn’t pushy or barky. He’s an awesome dog, and I’m so glad I have him.

Chris or I will have to come back over and fix the fence as best we can. It doesn’t look good with the fence down like that, especially since they’re trying to sell the house. But again, that’ll wait for a day or two.


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