Do you remember the book, LORD OF THE FLIES, by William Golding? It was required reading at my grammar school.
At the time, I remember thinking that the reason those boys fell into savagery was because there were no girls around. I sort-of poo-poo’d the moral of the story because I knew it was fiction and because I knew that girls, like me, could never stoop that low.
Then I entered an all-girls high school and totally changed my mind about the savagery of girls…
Anyway, do you remember the book?
If not, here is a short synopsis: Young, English school boys are marooned on an island. After a while, they become savages.
Of course, there are many social parallels and implications but the simple answer is that these boys, without any adults around, become savages.
I wouldn’t say my horses are marooned on an island… but they are mostly without human supervision.
I have been so busy recently (and the horrible weather doesn’t help…) that I have basically done just the basics with my horses. Actually, that isn’t all true… I have been spending all my free time tending to Norma who is in the barn. But the others, well, they see me twice a day and that is about it.
Today, the weather was gorgeous so I decided to go out and play with them.
This is when I realized that I was living in THE LORD OF THE FLIES.
MAYHEM AND FOOLISHNESS
Now, the difference between my savages and the English boy savages from the book is that my horses were not trying to kill me. Or, at least I hope not… I mean, it isn’t in their core nature to want to kill (like us…). So, I think my savages reverted to a different kind of savage – the Mayhem and Foolishness Savages!
I should get them all t-shirts or hats with that logo.
HOW I FIRST NOTICED
I decided to let Finn and BG into the upper pasture which I call EDEN. I call it Eden because every horse that enters that field thinks they have died and gone to horsey heaven.
Anyway, I crawled through the rails and was walking up towards the Eden of all pastures to unlock it (imagine the sound of angels singing…). Finn and BG were at least 2 acres away when they heard me. I just happened to be looking at them when they spotted me.
FINN and BG: OMG! She’s in our pasture!! She’s here!! She’s here!! And, OMG… she is heading towards EDEN!! Quick, QUICK get there before she changes her mind!!! Run over to her! RUNNNNNNN!
I think you can imagine what happened here… Tiny me standing there in front of Eden, waving my tiny arms.
FINN: It has been soooooo looong! Wahoo! Great to see you in our pasture!! Look at my new KICKY move! I’ve perfected it! Look, I’ll do it really close to your face so you don’t miss any of it!
BG: Hi! Have you seen Finn’s new KICKY move? I can kinda do it… Are you ready to watch me?! I’m going to stand right next to you and tremble until you move and then I’ll jump up in the air with all fours and RUN AWAY spraying dirt in your face!
Me: Ummmm. You guys are severely starved for attention. I can see that. How about on your next flightpath by me, you run into Eden and I shut the door behind you.
BODHI AND REMI
These two became the two paranoid savages. I let them out to eat green grass in the front lawn which is right in front of their pasture… and you’d think I let them into the Abyss. It was as if they didn’t know where they were except for probably next to the Fire Swamp. Every two minutes their necks would bolt upright and they’d go running, only to skid to a stop and rip up the very moist lawn.
Hubby loved that part (not).
I had decided to let the ponies into Bodhi and Remi’s pasture because Bodhi has become a real beast and is pushing Remi around (another LORD OF THE FLIES thing…). So, I was switching pastures with the ponies. Bodhi was going into solitary confinement (not really) in the smallest pasture and the ponies would get to be with Remi.
This was all fine and good except the ponies went WILD! Their hair was flying every which way as they bucked and flew around the new digs. On one flyby, they noticed the redecorating Remi had done to the fence (I wrote about this earlier – this is where she chewed the rail away so I could feel her through it). The ponies stopped so suddenly that their teeth flew forward for a second. As soon as they saw that hole, they both got their heads stuck as they both entered the area at the same time.
If I wasn’t laughing so hard, I would have been worried. Sniggering, I jogged over and pushed their heads back in like a cop pushes a perp into the squad car.
They were definitely out of control! Both of them!
I moved Wrigley into the largest pasture because I wanted him to get to know Finn and BG over the fence so that maybe I could put Wrigley in there with them so he could get some comeuppance.
As soon as I let go of his halter, Wrigley became jet-propelled.
Tail up – check.
Head up really, really high – check
All four feet up – check
Scream on – check
He was insane as he traveled the 5 acres at Warp speed. He sent all the ducks, geese and turkeys into a squawking bunch of feathers as they jet-packed themselves straight up.
When I entered his pasture to give my all powerful WHOA (which didn’t work at all), he whizzed by me and then stopped, backed up and hooked his neck right over my shoulder to drop sweat on my cheek.
It was a bit intimidating… It was as if he was De Niro, “You talkin’ to me? YOU talkin’ to ME?”
Me: Yes, I am. If you don’t whoa and behave right now, Mama is going to put you in with big, mean Finn right away…
(That’s me resorting to letting the bigger gelding do my training for me…)
Wrigley (pouting): “I don’t like it in here! I want to be in there! If you don’t let me, I’m gonna push you forward with my sweaty chest.
Me: Oy. I hate this stage… (as I stop briefly to give him a “back up” lesson… which was more like a “back up, now baaaaack up, backupbackupbackup, BACK UP!)
In the middle of all of this mayhem, Norma escaped from the barn… I left the barn gate only half latched and she decided that today was the day to disobey. She was gone in a flash!
Now, she cannot be on green grass. So, you have a ‘finally free after 2 months in the barn and still a bit lame’ donkey with me running after her. Truly, I have never, ever seen Norma do the “I’m free” donkey dance before! It was awesome! I cannot imagine how adept it would be if she wasn’t still sore.
But, besides her dance, she WAS NOT going back into the barn. She became a donkey savage.
It took 5 of us to herd her back to the barn. She had donkey moves that would rival Michael Jackson. I have NEVER seen her so agile.
Amidst all of this donkey insanity, someone opened the barn gate in anticipation of running Norma inside, and Sam sauntered out.
The wild horse was taking all this in stride. She didn’t sound a peep. She didn’t move faster than a saunter and she behaved beautifully.
MY CONCLUSION – the Homer Simpson/Eddie Haskell/Alfalfa Theory
My conclusion is that although my horses really could never revert to savages aka LORD OF THE FLIES, they can revert to the Homer Simpsons, Eddie Haskells and Alfalfas of the horse world.
Let me explain through a human example – myself. You see, it is kinda natural, (or at least for me) to let things go a bit if no one is watching… I mean, I know that I might skip my exercising for a day or two when Hubby is out of town. I certainly don’t shave when he’s out of town and I rarely cook anything if there is no once else here… Do you see where I’m going with this? I could easily, probably, turn into my down deep nature similar to Peppermint Patty, if no one was around to make me think twice.
I think it is the same with the horses. Without regular schooling, they revert to their individual, deep down, true natures.
Finn is totally Homer Simpson and Bart Simpson combined. He forgets himself and does very offensive and hilarious things when he hasn’t had enough Mom time. Poor BG is in his paddock so he kinda rubs off on her. I think she is really more like Lisa Simpson who occasionally ends up as an innocent bystander with Homer and Bart even though she didn’t mean to.
A horse like Wrigley, for example, showed me today that down deep, he’s Alfalfa from the old OUR GANG series. He’s all “awwww shucks” when you work with him every day… but when you leave him alone for a few months, he turns into the rascally kid Alfalfa (duckbill hair and all!).
Without intense supervision, Bodhi turns into Eddie Haskell. When I’m around, he’s all love and nickers. When he isn’t being schooled regularly, he turns into a real pill with his equine companions. A total, drafthorse Eddie Haskell.
So, my conclusion is: You get out what you put in. If you quit working with your horses for a while, they quit remembering who they need to be with you.
Except Sam, the untouchable wild horse… She hadn’t reverted at all. She wasn’t more anti-social. In fact, she was an angel today. Huh?
And then I realized that even though I hadn’t worked with Sam in any of the usual ways, I had moved her to the paddock outside the barn so she could see me daily and become accustomed to the daily goings-ons in the barn. I would let her into the barn and slowly do my chores with her locked in with me. I’d talk to her and sometimes ask if I could pet her. She’d agree in exchange for a treat. That was our arrangement.
Basically, for the last couple of months, she has been getting concentrated training on an emotional level. And today, when the rest of the ranch resembled LORD OF THE FLIES, she was Steady Eddie.
You get out, what you put in… for sure.
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JANUARY DROP IN THE BUCKET FUND: THE PIUTE ORPHAN FOALS
To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate the the ‘Saved from Slaughter Orphan Foals’, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)