The escape artist

For Sam and Minnie this is the second summer they live here. Last year I brought them over in June, and they stayed until October. I would fence off an area with electrified tape and they would stay there until it was time to move them to greener fields. Our house was under construction at the time, so that was an absolute no go area for the horses, which was also fenced off with electrified tape.

Sam’s owner and I would ride out together maybe once a week, but usually Minnie and I just went out by ourselves. Sam then had to stay behind on his own. That was something he certainly didn’t appreciate, and we would be able to hear him whinnying until we were well out of sight. For some horses it is harder to see their companion leave than to be the one leaving. Minnie never seemed anxious to leave Sam behind. She was always happy to come with me. When we came back, Sam would be waiting for us behind the tape, still whinnying and not happy until Minnie was back in the field.  He would then push her around for a bit, as if to demonstrate that he was still the boss. If Minnie was thirsty, I would protect her in the field so that she could drink. I never had a problem keeping them where I wanted them. Although clearly upset whenever his mare was going away, not once did Sam try to follow us. He was known to jump timber fencing, but he had a healthy respect for the tape and fortunately stayed put.

This year, I can’t keep him in and I wonder what’s going on in his head. The three mares seem quite content to graze anywhere, but Sam’s motto is “the grass is always greener on the other side and no matter what, I’m going to get there.” He has pushed through the electric fence, ripping the wires out of the fencer in the process and has now lost all respect for white tape. He has burst through hedgerows. He has climbed 4 foot high banks and gone through ditches. I would find him somewhere on his own, obviously where I would least want him, ploughing up reseeded headlands or trampling all over the new lawn in front of our house. It was getting to the stage were I would wake up in the morning and dreaded to think what damage he might have done this time.

What surprises me is that he sets out by himself and leaves the herd behind. Nobody is challenging his authority. In fact the three mares stay out of his way and any contact between them is initiated by Sam, when he decides to move one of them on so he can graze in that particular spot. Sam is the alpha, there is no doubt he is the boss, but the mares don’t seem to like him very much.

A few days ago I had a concrete footpath poured around my stables and hay barn. That morning I woke up to find all the horses in my lawn. Hoof prints leading from the hedge showed a new opening. I led Cassie back into the field with the other mares following, then I went off to catch Sam, who had gone in the opposite direction. After fencing off the gap in the hedge and putting up some extra security around my yard I went to work. When I came home, I went up to the yard to have a look at the finished work. I was not prepared for the sight that greeted me. Sam was standing in the concrete, treating himself to the new hay in the barn. There were hoof prints all over the fresh concrete. I stood in the middle of my yard, looking at the havoc created by one pony and this wave of anger swelled up in my body. I was frozen to the spot and speechless, but the force of my anger sent Sam and the three mares, who were just coming up from the bottom of the field, galopping off into the distance.

Here is my hay barn. The hay that Sam spilled was all stuck in the concrete.

A pattern of hoof prints. Sam was here!

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