Oh, how I wish I'd gotten pictures of this — or better yet, video — but it happened too fast, and it was in the dimly lit barn in any case. Too bad, because it was seriously the funniest thing I have ever seen!
But I should start at the beginning. It's been raining all day today, and though it's not supposed to get below 30 degrees, it is expected to turn to snow sometime tonight — and potentially not stop until sometime Saturday. Another wet spring snow for Colorado!
This evening around 9:30, I decided I had better go check on Panama. Since he is usually the first one in the barn in bad weather, I was surprised to find him standing outside
with his new girlfriend (who was blanketed and probably didn't mind the rain much), while the other two horses stood inside
. Whether he was outside because the alpha wouldn't let him in, or because he wanted to stand with his new girlfriend, I don't know — but when I went into the barn and made the alpha move back, Panama came right in.
His back, neck, and face were all soaked, and his backbone was all hunched up, he was so cold. He then started shivering, just in his neck at first but later in his back as well. I ran to the tack room, grabbed a clean towel (I always keep a stash on hand), and went back to the barn to rub him down.
I noticed as I dried him as best I could that he was very jumpy, probably because the shivering put him on edge. He tolerated me rubbing him down with the towel, albeit reluctantly at first. He even let me drape the towel over his ears and forehead to towel off his forelock. Gradually he warmed up enough to realize it felt kind of good, and started letting his head drop.
When he started warming up, I set the towel on the wooden trough built into the wall in the stall we were in. While I called my husband, Panama walked over to the towel to investigate. He surprised me by grabbing it with his teeth and starting to shake it — just like this
Unfortunately, Panama had grabbed towel by one of the ends, and when the other end dropped down it startled him. He started frantically trying to get away from the towel — except he forgot to let go.
He tried backing up, shook his head furiously up and down, but the horse-eating towel stayed with him! Then bolted forward and out the side door, luckily remembering to let go as he did so. Otherwise I might have been trapped in the stall with a very frightened and confused horse.
It was actually a somewhat dangerous moment — though Panama didn't once bump into me, even in his panic, he certainly could have. But at the same time, it was hilarious
— because Panama was trying to run away from a towel that he had gripped in his teeth the entire time.
I was laughing so hard, it was several minutes before I could explain to my husband what had happened!
As funny as it was, I didn't want Panama to remember the incident too well — he's already a bit jumpy about towels and his blankets. He wouldn't come near the barn, however, so I ventured out into the rain with the towel so that they could make up.
At first he wouldn't come near me if he could see the towel, so I hid it behind my back, and the silly horse approached me with his nose stretched out as far as he possibly could. Then we progressed to sniffing the towel with it bunched in my hand, though as soon as I let it dangle from my hand he ran off again. Eventually I got him back to the point where he would come into the barn and let me rub him down some more, but it took a while.
A little bit later, his girlfriend (who seems to think she's the size of a poodle, by the way, when she's really more like a bull in a china shop) decided to play with my flashlight, which was in the same trough. She nudged it hard with her nose, and it banged against the plastic with a hollow thud. That was the last straw for poor Panama. He bolted from the barn and refused to come back in again. He was also feeling warmer by that point, though, and had been behaving a little like he wanted to play; so I wasn't surprised when he proceeded to run several times around the barn and harass the other horses a little before finally settling down. When I left they were all searching for soggy bits of hay among the puddles.
I just wish I had gotten the incident with the towel on camera. I think I'm going to invent a camera that is part of a riding helmet. It's impossible sometimes to pull out a camera — i.e., such as when you are simultaneously laughing and trying not
to get trampled — yet those are the moments that most deserve to be preserved!
Labels: horse behavior