My heart always flutters in my chest when I get a call or a text from the barn at a strange hour. Most of the time it’s a picture message of Reggie doing something silly, like rolling in the mud or of that strange bird that likes to sit on his back as he grazes. But sometimes it’s early in the morning to report that Reggie has tore apart his blanket in the night. Annoying and costly as it can be, I’d much prefer a ripped up blanket call over the most recent one I got any day.
My day job keeps me chained to my cubicle at varying hours of the day, depending on the assignments and tasks I have to complete that week. So when I saw that Holly, the owner of the farm where I board my little brown Hanoverian, was calling while I was still typing furiously away, I hit ignore and waited for her to leave a voicemail. Her voice was calm and collected on the machine, as always, but she stumbled, as she rarely did, to try to put “your horse just destroyed the metal gate to the pasture and is running rampant around the property” into words.
Hearing this, I of course panicked. But let’s back up a minute and explain to you just how Reggie, the troublemaker, got himself into this sticky situation.
Reggie is a young (six years old) gelding and is the most curious and playful creature I’ve ever met. He dances in circles in his stall and likes to kick out the stall boards. He chews on everything, including his automatic water bowl, which he’s destroyed and ultimately flooded the barn with once before, but that’s another story. Not to mention he can be a handful to lead from the barn to pasture or vice versa, when the 1,000-plus-pound furry beast is in the mood to play tag or hide and seek with his humans.
Holly is saint and treats my crazy pony so well. We are fortunate that she is so patient. But even her patience only goes so far.
When it is unusually warm here in the winter, (who am I kidding, it’s always warm in Florida,) we leave the horses turned out at night. Reggie seemed to enjoy the extra time to stretch his legs and had gone several weeks without ripping apart a halter or coming in with mysterious bumps or scratches.
But somehow on this very night, the big lump was able to wiggle the gate to his pasture lose, (probably by scratching his big butt against the cool metal panels,) and decided to take a midnight stroll in the small, fenced-in area that runs from the barn to the pastures.
The rest of the story is just speculation, because who knows what goes on in my horse’s thick head. But we think that Reggie panicked when he realized he was alone in the dark outside of his pasture and had trouble finding his way back to the mares who didn’t bother to follow him. So he galloped around in this hallway-like area until he came up with the bright idea to try to leap over the fence to get back to the pasture.
There is not nearly enough room for even the most scopey jumpers to clear the fence line here, (and Reggie is definitely an amateur in that department,) so it was no surprise that instead of clearing another metal gate that lead to the backyard of Holly’s home, Reggie just plowed through it. He managed to get up and gallop away with just a large gaping scratch down the side of his leg and hip, and tear across the parking lot snorting like a dragon in his moment of utter bewilderment. Holly and her family awoke to what they described sounding like “a car crash,” which was really just the sound of Reggie’s weight twisting and crushing the metal that was sandwiched between him and the hard ground.
It took some time to get Reggie to calm down enough to let anyone come near him. He wasn’t lame and the adrenaline coursing through his veins kept him from even flinching at the wounds he had just opened up. I am lucky that my crazy horse is OK and will live another day to break some more stuff. But I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I realized he was in trouble. Reggie isn’t just a pet or a teammate in this sport that I love, he is my partner, whom I will always love no matter what kind of trouble he gets us into.
Reggie working under saddle. The only time he’s (sometimes) not a goof.
Read Justine and Reggie’s other stories here.