I have had my two Shetlands for over 16 years and until today, I never knew…
Sure, there were signs. Maybe I saw a hint or two here or there. But, I never understood that in reality, I only have 1 representative pony of the Shetland type. The other is a pony of great will and fierce determination. An impressive, height-challenged pony of menacing glares, gnashing teeth, snakey necks and mighty head butts. He is a Whirling Dirvish, a Snidely Whiplash, a Dastardly Dog, an Einstein Pony that I had never met – but have harbored for the last 16 years. All this time, when I thought I was housing a loving and skewbald shorty, I’ve actually been aiding and abetting a tiny and very hairy monster wearing a Shetland suit.
Unfortunately, last night, through a series of circumstances, I accidentally released the true Monster within.
THE CIRCUMSTANCE OF HIS COMING OUT
I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but around here, it has rained so much, the animals were building an ark. I swear, everyone was getting along just so that they’d have a tail to hang onto in case they were swept away in one of the brand new rapid waterways on the property.
I kid you not, I was drenched and I was inside. The storms have been epic. And, to top it off, the wind was beyond horror film. I swear I saw Dorothy and Toto swilling about outside. We must have had 50 turkeys roosting on the lower eve on the backside of the house, all leaning against the wind with their wings ruddering against the gales pressing their little beaks and cheek feathers against the window glass.
So, on one of these ‘just short of hurricane’ evenings, I had to feed, of course… Upon reaching the pony pasture, I wiped my entire head of hair from over my eyes and I noticed that both the ponies and Norma were soaking wet and Dodger was shivering. This was horrible to see, especially since we had just spent weeks (okay, an afternoon) remodeling their enclosure to fit their smaller statures more efficiently. Well, they didn’t like it. I did everything I could to get them inside of their shelter… I fed them there, I put their grain in there, I even hung really nice posters and added a flatscreen. But, no dice.
However, I didn’t fret because I figured that when the weather got really bad, they’d use it.
Wrong. Instead, they refused to put one muddy hoof inside the warm and cozy enclosure. The trio stood defiantly against Mother Nature (in the form of Zeus), thumbing their noses at our human fancy work.
I had to bring them in immediately.
So, I did.
As fast as I could move my muck boots, I sloggy ran to find a ponysized halter and lead. Dodger was first. His little shaking hips just destroyed me. Like the angel he is, he followed me into the barn and waited patiently as I toweled him down and put him in a nice, clean stall. I gave him his dinner, some fresh water and closed the window so he was totally buffered from the wind. He sighed and gave me a thumbs-up.
Since I was alone, I had to figure a way to get Norma (the donkey) into the barn. She won’t lead unless it is her idea… and since she had just spent the last two months cooped up in the barn while recovering from laminitis, I knew she would have no desire to go back into the barn. I was going to have to come up with a really good, donkeyproof plan (tough to do). Unfortunately for me, the only feeble idea my wind-blended brain could conjure was, “She will follow Slick”… I knew it was improbable but I went with it.
I haltered Slick and he practically dragged me to the barn, stopping abruptly every 10 feet to snag some grass along the way. I put him in a stall and went back to see where my wayward donkey may have landed while trotting blindly and horizontally to the wind. I found her buried in a tree clutch, head down grazing. Happy as a clam. Smart donkey.
But, she couldn’t be eating grass willy-nilly. I had to get her inside, too.
So, here’s me, herding my donkey towards the barn in the zig-zaggy line one creates while herding any animal that knows exactly where you want him to go but is trying really hard to outwit you. Luckily for me, I was just mad enough to be more fleet footed than usual and I corralled her, finally.
Yay! All in.
I bedded everyone and shut out the lights. Peace on earth, good will to everyone in the barn. I’m going inside to defrost myself and wring my body out to dry.
THE NEXT MORNING.
It was then that I saw him…
Perhaps the wind blew away his disguise and the rain wet his alien appetite. I’m not sure. But during the night, someone stole my Slick and replaced him with a monster.
Truth to tell, Slick has never been housed overnight in the barn. Usually, he runs in (if the gates are accidentally left open), grabs a mouthful of hay in about the time it takes me to discover the breach and chase him out. But never in his life has he had to spend an evening in the barn. For the entire 16 years, he had never been sick or needed to come in for any reason.
He was pissed. I saw a whole new side of him. And it wasn’t pretty.
As I approached the barn, instead of my cute, piebald pony, I found a fuzzy monster with eyes rolled back inside his skull and his entire head jutting through the front gate.
I unlocked the pony-proof latch (another pisser – I bet he worked on that for hours during the night…) and he came after me like a linebacker. I actually had to put my shoulder into him to keep him from bowling me over and running past me as fast as his stiff little pony legs could go. Ohhhhh, he was MAD! Snakey necking every which way and that… giving me the what-for with his indomitable pony attitude..
I looked about the barn and everything that could be disturbed, was. Brooms were scattered about, halters and leads were pulled off of their hooks, step stools scattered, poop flung, water buckets had been stood in/pawed in/dunked/tipped over, and most surprisingly, he had broken off the hooks to an ‘over the fence’ bucket. I don’t have any idea how he did that or where the plastic pieces were flung and I may never find them.
As I walked into Tess’ stall to groom her before I let her out (I brought her in, too), Slick lost his pony mind and stormed right in! Tess, being the lead mare and 5 times as large as Slick, turned her head, cocked her leg and gave the OHNOYOUDON’T marestare. My little monster snapped out of it for a moment and ran.
But, he had only departed for a minute or two before I heard the familiar sound of teeth raking against wood. Yup, he was outside the stall, sliding his teeth back and forth against the wood of Tess’ enclosure. Lovely.
I scolded him and then I proceeded into the tack room to get more tools for Tess. He followed me in (a big no-no) and kicked the grain barrel. Actually, I should say that he pawed it numerous times before I could grab his Denise the Menace white forelock to escort him out. He marched right back in and put his head up to the counter and cleared it with one swift and all encompassing pony head swipe. Every single thing went toppling to the ground. I screamed and as he ran out, he grabbed objects and crushed them with his angry pony jaws of death.
He was wearing me down. I was exhausted and he was winning.
It was then that I did the worst thing possible…
I needed to get things done so I gave him some pellets. Oops. Association. Since Slick is a quick study, he rapidly put two and two together. If he bangs on something or destroys something, Mom gives him grain. So, that’s what he did. He banged on the walls, the shower stall, the door to the hay barn, my foot stool, the feed buckets… He went around body slamming every single object, demanding my attention.
I was ready to hog-tie him, if he wasn’t so cute.
I GET IT
For years, I have always wondered why Moms will give a child a treat when they are being bad or screaming in Target (or wherever). And today, I got it. I understood.
I would have given this pony terrorist ANYTHING to just S-T-O-P.
So, I did. I couldn’t stand it anymore. His coat was totally dry, Dodger was dry… So, I let them back out into the horrible wind and rain to impersonate their pony forefathers of the Shetland Isles.
Except, I will never look at Slick the same way again because now I know.
I know that there must be an invisible zipper somewhere in his coat. And all it takes is a tiny hurricane and an overnight stay in barnprison to demolish his pony cover.
In the meantime, I’ll de-remodel their enclosure and keep the little monster out of the barn for good! ;)
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March Drop in the Bucket Fund: THE JUNKYARD 4.
These 4 sad horses were found in miserable condition, 2 pregnant, all starved – yet owned by a hay broker! To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate towards the care of The Junkyard 4, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)
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