Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tucker's Big Adventure

Tucker and I got invited to go on a trail ride with one of the boarders at the new farm today.  It was a beautiful fall day, warm and crisp and sunny.  The trees looked like stained glass windows with the light shining through their bright colored leaves.  Perfect day for a lovely quiet ride through the woods.

So off we go, on our merry way, and just as we are about to head onto the trail, I hear a horse whinny.  Must be someone else on the trail.  We come around the bend to a meadow where I see a horse grazing.  Tucker keeps walking toward him as though this is perfectly normal.  I start thinking of how to handle this situation without getting anyone killed.  I tell my friend (who is on a mare that wouldn't take kindly to being approached by a strange horse) to turn around and start walking, as the horse is making his way towards us.  I calmly turn Tucker around and the horse follows.  As he catches up to us and starts walking alongside of Tucker, I can now see that he's a pretty young draft cross, a black and white pinto, and seems fairly good natured.  He has burrs in his forelock that give him the look of a disheveled little kid.

I stop Tucker for a minute while we regroup and try to formulate a plan.  Tucker and the young draft horse start grooming each other like old friends.  The baby is happily licking Tucker's shoulder like a puppy; Tucker is sniffing and nuzzling the horse's forehead and gently blowing in his black and white mane.  I am, at this point, completely superfluous.  It's love at first sight.  [Note:  This story goes in the "don't try this at home" catagory, unless of course you have a Tucker at home, in which case you've just made your horse's day.] 

I figure we need to get this young fellow to his owners, so while Tucker and his new friend are full-on grooming each other's withers, I take off my belt, loop it through the buckle and around the base of the pinto's halter as a makeshift lead rope, and start ponying him.  Tucker's never ponied a horse before, but he took to it like a fish to water, surprise-surprise.

We start walking along toward the nearest farm with young draft horse in tow and Tucker starts in.  "Mom, puh-leeeeease can we keep him??  Please please please please please?  I'll be sooooo good.  I'll take care of him, I'll feed him, I'll walk him, he can stay in my room.  You won't even know he's there.  Pleeeeeeeease mommy?  I won't ask you for another thing as long as I live, I swearPuh-leeeeeeeeeeease????"  If you were the type of kid that was always bringing home a lost kitten/puppy/frog/bunny (and I suspect that most of you were), this should be starting to sound familiar. 

We walked along, making our way to the next farm down the road.  The young draft horse happily bumps along at Tucker's side, occasionally reaching up to groom his shoulder or sniff me, and Tucker and I continue to debate whether this horse could, in fact, be his.  I pointed out that he's wearing a halter and therefore probably belongs to somebody, and maybe has a family that's worried sick about where he's been.  Tucker responded that no one was out looking for him and he looked so lost, and if he ran away he probably wasn't all that happy there to begin with. 

We try Farm #1, no luck, but they think the horse belongs to the next farm just down the road.  Tucker is now CONVINCED this horse is homeless and if we don't take him home and feed him, he'll end up on the streets again, and we'll never be able to live with ourselves.  We mosey along through another field.  Tucker is acting like he does this every day.  Our new boarder friend is now just staring in disbelief.  Tucker has decided this is the greatest trail ride ev-er, he never wants to go anywhere without this young spotty draft at his side, and is now promising to forego allowance for the rest of his life, do all his chores plus his sister's, if only we can keep him.

We reach Farm #2, which has an empty barn full of stalls and a bunch of horses in turnout.  Our boarder friend dismounts, temporarily places her mare in an empty stall with her reins tied up, and then pries the pinto from our side.  Since there's no water in the stalls, we can't just leave him, so she walks up to the house to alert the owners.  Tucker and I stand outside the barn, and Tucker makes one last pitch for keeping his new horse.  He didn't see any children run up with open arms when we brought Max home (Tucker has already named his new friend) and the other horses didn't even seem that happy to see him.  He really needs us.  He worriedly stares into the barn, wondering how long it's going to be until he can be reunited with his instant BFF.

The owner comes out, gives us a nonchalant "yep, he's ours, the electric fence is down," and "yep, looks like he snuck out again."  Tucker is heartbroken, for about five seconds.  Then he sees the mini-donkey come trotting up the fence line.  His eyes grow large, his neck arches, he starts walking toward the mini donkey's paddock.  "Mommy please?  Can we get one?  Please please please please please?  I'll be soooooo good...."  Mini donkey pins his mini giant ears.  He's no one's pet.  (As an aside: I am totally with Tucker on this one.  I want a mini donk sooooo bad.)

We made our way down the farm's driveway and to the trails, and proceeded to have a blast (and Tucker forgot all about being heartbroken).  We crossed streams, trotted up and down hills, even had a nice little gallop or two around the edges of mowed hayfields.  By the end of the ride, we were calling my horse "Zen Master Tucker" due to the calming effect he so clearly had on our new friend's lovely little mare, who followed Tucker's lead and walked home on the buckle, calm as could be (which, from what I understand, is sometimes a challenge for her).  In case you were wondering, it isn't lost on me that I'm incredibly lucky to have a horse who is not only a competitive hunter and a really hard worker, but also an awesome trail pony, and apparently a search and rescue animal as well.

My darling Tucker, I promise you that one day I will get you a pony, or a mini donkey, or maybe a little spotted draft cross to play with.  Until then, you're going to have to go through what all good little children go through before they can have their first pet... and keep falling in love with every stray you see.

10 comments:

  1. You should quit this whole lawyer business and just write full time I've decided...Awesome story :)

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  2. What a lovely boy! I love the image of the two of them grooming right after discovery!

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  3. Awwwwwww.
    What a good boy Tucker is! To amiably pony is awesome b/c: 1. it's the first time and 2. It's On The TRAIL.
    And walking home on the buckle? Says to me you are doing all the right things to keep him happy, that he can feel relaxed while leaving, moving out, during, and returning! Can so see him wanting to keep his "pony". He's adorable.

    Um. Yeah. To the "Oh he snuck out again, gee the electric fence must be down" why do I think it's down more than up? :(

    The good news is Tucker got to meet his first stray!

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  4. that is the best story ever. Tucker you are so adorable. You make friends where ever you go!

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  5. Great story. Using your belt as a lead rope?? I think you have a little cowgirl in you! And, Tucker? Well, he's Tucker the Amazing!

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  6. Great story, you two are such a sweet pair.

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  7. Such a fantastic story. I can totally picture him falling head over hooves in love with this spotted horse, and I think from now on I will always wear a belt while riding just in case I come across a lost pony who needs help to get home.

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  8. Awww LOVED this! I can relate to Tucker as I would always bring home hurt raccoons, birds, etc.
    TUCKER is a lover :)
    What a good boy he is to pony a stranger, I mean, BFF, with no issues.

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  9. It is good to know that if Gen ever does another jail break on Wertzville Tucker can save the day! Tell Tucker that he has a black and white chew toy, I mean friend, down in Florida who will love him very much when she comes home. What a great story! And if you "Max" is from the farm I think he is I remember when he was a baby!

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