A few days ago, Mr. B and Annie took a ride up to visit the cows, while I stayed behind to get some work done at home. They’d been gone for about an hour, when I received a panicked phone call from Mr. B. Apparently, Annie had gotten loose and taken off toward our barn. It was my job to intercept her. Naturally, I joined Mr. B in a lovely state of panic.
See, the cow barn is about ¾ of a mile from the horse barn by road. When you cut through the woods and the field, as we do on horseback, it’s probably only about a half mile. We were confident that Annie was headed for the barn, because that was the direction she headed and that was where she knew she’d find her BFF, Sally. The problem was, before she would reach the barn, Annie would have to cross the road. A busy road. And, while it wasn’t her only option, it was very possible that she would cross at a dangerous blind curve in the road.
I abandoned my freshly-poured glass of wine (I’d intended to work hard, obviously) and ran out the door. I drove up to the curve in the road, hoping to stop Annie before she’d gotten that far, but I was too late. She’d already crossed – at the most hazardous point – and was sprinting through the hay field toward the barn. Relived that she had made it across the road without incident, I muttered something expletive-laced about how I’d kill her myself and did a quick u-turn.
When I reached her, she was standing in the barn yard, still donning her saddle and all of her gear, calmly grazing on the lawn. I threw the car in park, stomped toward her, and dragged her into her stall before going back to fetch a very winded and very angry Mr. B. When he stormed into the barn, she knew she was in trouble. He dragged her out of her stall, climbed on her back, and set off to teach her a lesson.
In order to re-establish his role as the boss, Mr. B took her to the round pen and made her run in circles. This exercise (where you don’t let the horse stop running when he or she wants to, but force them to keep moving until they are told to stop) shows the horse who is the leader in the relationship. And boy, did she learn her lesson.
By the time Mr. B took her back to the barn, she was clearly exhausted. I’m also happy to report that it worked beautifully. The next day, when Mr. B took her for a ride she didn’t even attempt to give him a hard time; she obeyed his every command.
I later learned how Annie got away from Mr. B, and was stunned at how much of a jerk she had been. I would have been pissed too, Mr. B…
She’d been tied up while he walked through the cow pasture, but somehow her lead rope came untied. When Mr. B closed the gate behind him as he returned to where she was, the noise spooked her and she took off running. That would have been almost understandable – she was scared, after all – if she hadn’t stopped a few yards away. She turned and looked directly at Mr. B, who was walking toward her and calmly telling her everything was alright. She looked back at the direction of her barn, then again at Mr. B, before she took off running again. Annie had stopped and contemplated her options, and chose to disobey Mr. B and leave him stranded. Which is why he was so very livid when he finally caught up to her at the barn.
But I think it’s a safe bet that she won’t be pulling another stunt like that any time soon. Lesson learned.