Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Porkies in the pasture, oh my!

Photo by Gary Beck

Poor Harley, like his stablemate Chey, met up with a porcupine some time yesterday morning. Last week Chey's curiosity got the better of her--yesterday it was Harley's turn. I approached him with carrots and once he sniffed my hand, he threw back his head like it was poison. That's when I noticed the spikes protruding from his chin! We couldn't safely halter him, so we used the lead rope around his head and neck and brought him into the barn. Wielding a pair of forceps, John calmly began plucking them out, while I held and stroked poor Harley. This proved to be quite difficult as he tossed his head up each time John got near his chin. Even with a towel over his eyes, he still threw his head around. After getting all but one out, we took a break and let Harley relax. I held his head, stroking his cheek, murmuring in his ear, until his eyes lost that wild look and he calmed.  I motioned to John to give me the forceps. I snaked in, out of his range of vision, and plucked the last one free. Harley still didn't trust me with carrots, so we led him out back to graze on some fresh grass.

Since he appeared to have no swelling and was happily eating carrots a half hour later, I decided to take him on an adventure. I'd tried to find John's mystery trail once, and failed. This time, thinking I knew where I'd erred, I beat around in the hemlocks,  but still without success. Harley willingly turned around, retracing his steps twice, without fussing until I gave up and said, "Let's find someplace else to go!" We explored a new trail that circled back onto a known route, hearing a barred owl in the forest, and then rode another loop so I could get in a little hop over the downed log. He was stellar! Harley had a new first on that ride too--he took a drink of water on the trail! He's discovered that water isn't dangerous, and sometimes, it just might be refreshing. Good boy, Harley. You're well on your way to being our super trail horse!

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