Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Getting to know Higgins

After his day of exercise, Higgins needed a bit of time off. The poor fellow was so very tired, and needed to sleep and recover. It was something he did a good deal of, those first few days. The good vibe he’d given us when we first looked at him, showed over and over again that we’d chosen well. He simply loved attention of any kind. Whether a scratch to the withers or full-on grooming, he soaked it all in. Thankfully, he never repeated his great escape again, and remained very good with fences, right until his dying day. However, he did show us time and again, how very smart he really was.
On nice mornings, I rode my bicycle the mile from home, to the farm where Higgins was going to stay until we got to know him better. We parked the tandem, gravel truck I was driving there, as well, and I would be able to care for him, before I started my work day. The first morning after Higgins arrival, I left for the truck a half hour early. I needed extra time to see to his needs before heading off to work, plus I had to decide what to do, as far as letting him out of the barn went. I wasn’t at all keen on him having to stay in all day, as standing in one spot too long was physically hard on them. I didn’t want his legs to swell, or for him to get stiff and sore, yet I had other concerns. He’d jumped out once. What if he did so again? Something like that, would be a very bad thing. As future hubby and I, would both be at work. I fed and refreshed his water, quickly stripped the stall then with a pat to the warm neck, apologized, “Sorry buddy. I hate to do this to you, but you have to stay in for the day. I just can’t risk, you getting out again. You might try to go all the way back to the park again, and that wouldn’t be good at all. What if some crazy driver hit you? What then?”
I gave him a last scratch, and headed for the open door. A rather questioning, soft knicker of sound, drew me back to him.
“What’s up, Higgins … you need something?”

The second I was close enough to see, I realized, with instant concern, that he had a leg over the stall tie. How he’d managed to do so, without creating any sort of fuss I surely would’ve heard, was beyond my comprehension. I kept my head about me, as rushing in to assist a horse that was tangled or caught up in anything at all, was a foolhardy endeavour. It was important to quickly assess the situation, devise a sensible plan, then act. If I was to try to lift his leg off the tie, the weight of which was already pulling his head down, he could and likely would, pull back, and we both could be injured. I seriously doubted that I would be able to get him to lower his head, or lift his leg high enough, to release the snap anyway. The possibility of him throwing a fit and causing injury was also high in that scenario. As there was no one to place a hand on his rump and encourage him forward, I decided on what I figured was the best course of action. After hurrying to close the barn door, all the while talking sweet nonsense to Higgins, I went back to the attentive gelding and eased into the big tie-stall beside him.

“There’s a good boy,” I crooned, in the hope it would help him to remain calm, even as he appeared curiously interested in everything I was doing, “let’s get you out of this mess you’ve gotten yourself into, silly fellow,” I sweetly said, while carefully unbuckling the halter. There was still the risk he could pull back, but at least he wouldn’t have anything restraining him to panic over. The second he was freed, he simply put his head against me for scratches and rubs.
“That’s a good boy,” I softly said as I did just that, “Aren’t you a sensible fellow. Now, let’s get you tied back up again, eh? I really have to get to work. I’m going to be late because of you, silly guy.”
He obligingly lowered his head into the halter, patiently stood while it was buckled back up, then with a last pat, I was ready to go … again. Running my hand along his back then over his rump as I left the stall, I glanced back at him, then stood and stared in utter disbelief. He had a leg over the tie again!
“What in the world,” I said to myself, as I went back to his head, “How did you manage to do this again? I mean, you barely moved, you silly horse you. And that tie can’t be any shorter, or you won’t be able to move at all.”
I never left horses tied too long, because if you gave a horse enough rope to hang itself with, it likely would. Short and comfortably high was my policy. How he had managed to get a leg over it like this again was beyond ridiculous. Again, I undid the halter and released his head. Again, I fussed over him, then tied him back up again.

“Now, don’t do that again,” I gently scolded, “You’re going to make me worry about you all day, silly horse.”
Backing out of the stall, I kept an eye on him, but he only stood there. His head slightly turned, as he watched me leave. I went to the barn door, still watching for a possible repeat. He simply stood there, his head now as high as it could go, as he watched me as closely, as I was him. Looking away for the very briefest of moments, to push the big, sliding door open, I looked back and was dumbstruck.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I muttered out loud with amused frustration, even as I pulled the door shut again. “How Higgins? How and why? You have seriously got to stop doing this. I’m already so late for work, darn it anyway.”
This time, after releasing him from his self-imposed predicament, I took him from the barn and out into the early morning sunshine.
“You’d better be good with calves, buddy boy,” I warned, while he rubbed his head against me, “and electric fences, too. Clearly, I can’t trust you in a tie-stall. You’d better be nice to the calves.”
Setting him loose, I watched closely as he walked to where the calves were contentedly munching on hay. Higgins simply walked over and joined them, as if this was home and routine. They looked with curiousity at him for a moment or two, then went back to eating. As I threw out more hay to keep them all busy, I had to shake my head. Higgins had obviously lifted his leg and placed it over the tie on purpose. I was sure, he’d done so for the attention.
I was already late, and figured a little while longer wasn’t going to make a difference at this point of the day. Leaning against the barn, I quietly stood and watched for a while. As I stood there, I was struck by the thought, or idea of a thought, that Higgins would be okay. He was content with his new bovine buddies. There would be no more silly nonsense out of him this day. As if to prove my thought correct, Higgins eased to the ground then with a huge groan and sigh of contentment, stretched out to snooze in the warmth of the rising sun. Clearly, all was now right in his world. Clearly, it was time to finally head for work, and with an amusing story to tell future hubby about his new horse, too. Obviously, Higgins knew how to get attention, the silly boy.


  1. Smart Higgins! Horses are indeed much smarter than we give them credit for sometimes. And each one has his/her own personality and learned and new behaviours. Which only makes getting to know a new horse so very interesting.

  2. I bet he was thinking, how many times do I have to do this lady?

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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