Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Building Trust

After a long, not so typically dry several months, we welcomed the rain. The ground needs it, as do all the plants and animals. Even the fence posts have become loose, the ground is that dry. One wouldn’t think it necessary to water the house basement during long, dry stretches, yet even it needs water. It’s not good for a foundation, if the ground is so dry, it’s pulled or dropped away. The stock and plants need rain, and so do houses … who knew?
The weather had been unseasonably dry, since before our blind, Lucky Jim came into our lives, and carried on for weeks and weeks. This is pretty wonderful for working with horses, and keeps the mosquito population down. Other than a very few, brief storms that didn’t amount to much, the precipitation we received was barely worth mentioning.
The first hints of the coming fall, were warning that the hot, dry days wouldn’t last forever. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, we had a rather cold night. Not the sort where you saw your breath hanging in the air, but darn close. Instead of my usual garb, of sleeveless tops and shorts, I actually had to find a pair of sweatpants, and a thicker, long-sleeved top to wear to do evening chores. I hated the thought, but summer was on its way out. Those vees of geese that were beginning to fly over, hadn’t been lying after all.
I should’ve gone out to do chores when I first woke the next morning at six, when it was certainly very cool, yet amazingly calm and bright out. Of course, I snuggled into my cozy bed a bit more instead. When the wind began to pick up an hour later, I should’ve taken it as my cue to get my sorry butt out of bed, but I didn’t. By eight, the sky had clouded and there was an ominous, dark rumbling that threatened of more to come. It was time to quit procrastinating and get a move on. With a little luck, I could be back in the house, before the rain hit.
In sweatpants and warmer top, I headed out to feed the horses. As always, they were hollering as soon as they heard the door shut behind me. How they could hear that over the sound of the wind through the trees, and somewhat distant rumblings of thunder, is rather amazing. I almost went back for a jacket of some kind, but of course, couldn’t be bothered. There wasn’t that much to do. I’d be back in the house, in no time at all.
As I hurried along, cold wind biting me right through my clothes, I was grateful for the fact that I had set out hay the evening before. All I had to do now was, throw it over the fence, at least to Ranger the stallion, and Cactus the temporary boarder. I had hay on the wheelbarrow, ready to go into the pen with Aurora and Jim. It had to go behind the shelter to prevent it from blowing away, and get the horses out of the weather. Not a simple task when Aurora thinks she’s starving and simply can’t wait another second longer. Oblivious to the wheelbarrow, she continuously cuts me off and blocks the way. In the meantime, poor Jim is confused. He can’t understand why the hay isn’t where it usually is. The wind makes it hard for him to tell where I am, and he’s becoming concerned.
“Come Jim,” I call out, even as I am continually talking rather loudly to Aurora in an effort to help him while reassuring him, “Aurora … get! Come Jim, come.”
When I duck behind the shelter, Jim loses track of us for a few moments, yet it can’t be helped. Poor Aurora and her delicate, Arab skin, had to get out of the wind, before she shivered right out of it. That cold wind was picking up by the second. Though I very much wanted to help Jim to his buddy and the hay, I also had to always be mindful of the fact that he was blind. I couldn’t leave a wheelbarrow sitting where he could inadvertently run into it. The few extra minutes spent setting it outside of the fence were a must do. Once it was safely out of the pen, I headed for an increasingly nervous Jim. As I approached, rain began to fall. Giant drops of liquid that hit the ground with little thuds and thumps of sound as they splattered against dry ground. Though no deluge or wall of water, the raindrops that were so widely spaced, must have sounded horrifying to a blind horse. Every wind driven drop must’ve amplified far louder to him, and he was as nervous as a wild cat. Keeping my voice loud enough to be heard over the rain, yet calm enough to be reassuring, I approached Jim to catch and guide him to the hay. His legs somewhat braced, it was plain as day that he was ready to react, and I was prepared for anything. I expected it.
Though I ran my fingers against his whiskers first, he still startled away from my touch. Over and over again as the rain increased and the wind blew, I kept at it. He could hear me, wanted me to help him, but couldn’t overcome his nervous fear. It didn’t help that Aurora would poke her head out to desperately bellow at him now and again either. I could touch Jim, but not without him swiftly backing away.
Fetching Aurora, I brought her out to him, let him touch her, know she was still there, then hoped he would follow. He started to, then shied away. I couldn’t keep her out in the elements like that, so released her and returned to my seemingly futile efforts.
I couldn’t leave him like that, nervously afraid, unable to discern different, familiar sounds from the noise raindrops were making all around. Keeping at it, I ignored the cold wind and soaked clothes that clung to me, and approached him in my usual way, “Come Jim. Good boy Jim. Stand still for a minute, just a minute, and I’ll help you. Don’t you want to go eat hay with Aurora?”
By now, the rain had begun in earnest. Those big drops had joined to become a waterfall, and maybe that’s what finally helped. He could now hear me, without the distraction of all those hard raindrops. I got a rope over his neck. He leapt away, but only an arm’s length. Maintaining my constant, one-sided conversation, I approached him again. This time, though he trembled at my touch, he allowed the rope to encircle his neck. I was finally able to take him to shelter, hay and Aurora.
Peeling out of sopping wet clothing in the house a bit later, I couldn’t help but think that we would have to take ages to regain his trust again. It was on my mind when I did the evening feeding, later that day. To my surprise and relief, it wasn’t so. He was more comfortable, more familiar with me than he’d ever been. He didn’t hesitate to take food from my hand, and followed closely. I’d actually earned, a little more trust.

  1. So glad that it worked out, and he trusts you more than ever.

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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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 Oakbank, MB