Surprises...today, while writing, I found out a couple of things I didn't see coming.
- Shelby's son, Luke (13), finally asks for a horse of his own, since Taco (the kids' horse) is a baby's horse and he's old enough to have one of his own. Shelby and Allie had already been talking about it, so she was ready to agree until he threw her a curveball and said that he wanted to adopt a BLM mustang from Canyon City's WHIP.
- Shelby's equine baby, Callie (short for Calypso) is preg checked on advice of the woman whose winter pasture the herd roams. One of her neighbors claimed to have seen some feral mustangs mingling with the herd. Turns out those ferals were potent, as all of the mares in the herd are pregnant.
“Heidi, Twila, stop for a second and take a few deep breaths. Turn your back on your horses and relax. They’re moving away from you now because they can sense you’re frustrated and angry and they can’t figure out what you want. They can tell the difference between confidence and anger.”
“But we’re not angry!” Heidi hollers back at me.
“Really? Because the tightness around your eyes and your tense body posture tells me otherwise. Your jaw is practically locked shut. If it looks like anger to me, it definitely looks like anger to the horse. Relax your jaw, take a deep breath and just release the tension.” I smile when I see Heidi do what I say and watch her horse take a tentative step toward her. “Great, do it again and then look behind you.”
She takes another deep breath and exhales. This time I can see her body release the rest of the tension and her horse takes another step toward her, stretching out her neck, almost close enough to touch her back as though asking ‘what’s wrong?’. Heidi looks over her shoulder at Raja, who is standing respectfully behind her, waiting to be caught. Heidi murmurs Raja’s name, loops the lead over her neck and halters her without any further drama. I smile when I see her give Raja an extra pat before leading her to the barn door.
Twila huffs and puffs a little bit before she calms down enough to try my way of catching Shy. As soon as the tension leaves Twila’s body, Shy turns to face her and takes a step in her direction. Resigned to the fact that I do actually know my herd, she tosses the lead rope over Shy’s neck and roughly halters him. Shy can’t figure out what the heck he did wrong and balks when Twila yanks on his lead rope to pull him toward the barn. I can see that she’s seething with anger and am at her side before she can swing the end of the lead rope at Shy, “You’d better think twice about hitting my horse. You’ve got a choice to make right here, Twila. Chill the fuck out or leave. Those are the only two choices you’ve got. What’s it going to be?”
“What do you mean chill the fuck out?” She screams in my face, yanking on Shy’s lead rope, “He wouldn’t let me catch him and now that I have, he won’t follow me to the barn! He needs to learn some goddamn manners!”
I put my hand on Shy’s neck and take the lead rope from her fisted hand, “Twila,” I start quietly, “I had high hopes for you, but your temper and my horses won’t mix. Please go back to the bunk house and pack your stuff. Allie will meet you there.”
“You’re sending me home! I’ve got the most experience here and you’re sending me home?” She screams.
I catch Angie’s eye and hand off Shy’s lead rope to her. Angie quietly leads him away from me and Twila, headed out to the dude rail.
“Yes, I’m sending you home. Please stop making a scene and go quietly,” I tell her calmly.
“You can’t fucking do this to me you bitch! Do you know how much work I put in for you? And this is the thanks I get? You’re sending the most experienced horse person home?” I stand my ground as she takes a step closer, really getting in my face and doing her best to intimidate me with her height. She does have a good few inches on my five foot four, but if I’m not intimidated by a herd of one thousand pound horses, I’m sure the hell not intimidated by her.
“Just because you’ve grown up with horses and riding does not make you a horse person. The people who will be staying are the ones who want to learn, not the ones who think they know it all. This is the last time I’m going to ask you nicely, please go to the bunk house and pack your stuff.” I refuse to get caught up in arguing with her or escalating my temper to meet hers.
She makes up her mind and brushes by me, trying to knock me off of my feet. I step to the side and let her stumble her way out of the pasture before heading to the barn to phone Allie. As I walk toward the barn I hear someone singing, “And another one down, and another one down, another one bites the dust. Hey, we’re gonna get you too, another one bites the dust.”