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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2007
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    Default These Boots Weren’t Made for Walkin’-Cows-A Runaway-Disaster Averted

    This is the story about how I broke in my tall boots! ... and saved my own neck in the process.

    This morning, about 4:30am, I woke up to the cold thought . I still haven’t really broken in my tall boots. Those things can be painful. I’ve read up on COTH how best to break them in. I have the Vogels Conditioner, and the Ko-Cho-Line. I know all about soaking them in a hot tub and wearing them until they dry. When I first put them on in March, after not wearing them for a year and a half, I found I couldn’t even get them all the way up my calves. I had to have my husband extricate me from their vise like grip. It took ten minutes for the claustrophobia to subside, and the feeling to return to my toes. I started wrapping my calves in plastic wrap when I went to the gym hoping to sweat off just enough to get those boots up over my breeches. My goal for this spring was to break them in and wear them each time I ride (instead of my beloved and oh so comfy half chaps) so when I make it to the one show a year that I take the time to go to, I won’t feel like I am wearing such a foreign outfit.

    That’s the one thing I hate about showing. Whether it’s the saddle seat suits or the high hunt boots, the habits feel so alien. Another thing that popped into my mind was to clip Grey’s bridle path, since I was thinking about taking a picture of the world framed through Saddlebred ears, and, in a moment of higher than average sense of self preservation, that I ought to take my cell phone with me when I ride. I rarely use my cell, although, if I long line when there is no one in the barn, I have often clipped it to my belt just in case. It’s doubtful, in an emergency that I would be able to call for help, but we do what we can.

    After breakfast, I started to get ready to head to the barn, and my mind snapped back to my predawn thoughts…wear boots, clip bridle path remember cell phone. I remembered the discomfort and frustration of not being able to get my boots on over the breeches, and I remembered my first ever ride in them when my horse threw in a crow hop, and those slick calves failed to grip sending me bouncing over the cantle, off his rump, and Whomp! Into the sand on my fanny. I’m afraid of the boots! I must conquer my fear and just put them on. No matter how many threads I read, or how many products I buy, the only way to break them in is to put the darn things on and suffer it out. So I did. I was pleasantly surprised when they slid over my breeches and all the way up my calves. Yay SaranWarp! I took my cell phone out, flipped it on, and clipped it to my waistband. Ready to ride! I threw a boot jack and a pair of flip flops in a bag just in case my resolve waivered, and headed to the barn.

    Grey was in an unusual mood. Granted I hadn’t actually ridden since last weekend, but he had been turned out and ought to be sane enough. I decided to longe him before riding. I don’t usually, unless he is in such a mood where he is actually blowing and snorting in the cross ties while I’m tacking up. This was one of those days. I did get him clipped despite the wiggles. I spent five minutes free longing him, made sure the saddle was good and tight, and headed out down the road. As I headed up the driveway, I called to Mom “I’m headed straight down Mead Road, and I have my cell in case I have a problem”. Prophetic words to say the least.

    We went for a nice ride down the road we took last weekend. Almost a mile from home, I see the neighbor has turned 30 heifers out in the pasture along the road. Grey has never seen a herd of cows before, so I knew there was going to be a problem. I wanted him to go by since living in dairy country, you can’t get far in any direction without encountering cows. I figured he would snort and hunker down and charge past in typical Saddlebred fashion. He danced around for about 5 minutes arguing with me and throwing a bit of a fit, then decided he was going to give it a try. I was settled deep in my saddle, feet firmly in both stirrups, and a handful of mane. I was ready to ride. He hunkered down and started to trot. I looked at the toe marks after, he was really digging in. This startled the cows, who had been watching him with rapt attention.

    So, Grey scares the cows, who start to jump and scatter, which, in turn scares Grey. He threw it into high (and I mean HIGH) gear, and flat out bolted. Fastest furlong on record for a Saddlebred. I was ready for something, not necessarily that. He stuck pretty close to the shoulder, but I did hear some scraping of pavement. After about 20 strides of blind runaway, I sat up and said “take it easy you fool, you’ll slip and kill us both.” I have to give him credit, he pulled up on his own. Then he struck a park trot and started flagging his tail and whistling. We went another half mile, and I was starting to worry about getting back past those cows. We got to within about a hundred yards when he started to blow and snort again. I was afraid he was going to pull the same shenanigans, only this time, the cows wouldn’t be up against the corner, they would be free to follow us back down the fence line towards home.

    We sat around for about 15 minutes while I weighed my options. The cows were very interested and not going anywhere. Opposite the pasture is an old pasture and a field. I really considered this route, even going so far as to ride into the old pasture and look around. The field is owned by my mother’s cousin, but I didn’t know who owned this pasture. I’m pretty fussy about not riding on land without permission, and I wasn’t sure of the footing, or that the old barbed wire fence had been removed. Scrap Option #1. Option #2: Dismount and attempt to lead him past. My last horse flat out ran me over the first time he saw a cow. I have bad associations with leading horses past cows. I’m staying up here. Scrap Option #2. Grey was still snorting every 2 minutes, and getting himself more worked up. I was getting a little fed up. I told him “You are seriously ruining my day. I have things to do.” My voice of self preservation popped into my head. “What if he bolts again, slips on the road, throws you or falls? How will a trip to the emergency room, or chasing him all over the countryside, and possibly waiting for the vet all afternoon affect your schedule?” Point taken. Time to use a life line and call a friend. This must be why, today of all days I brought my cell with me.

    I had a hard time getting signal, but I managed to get my Mom headed my way in the car with a lead rope and a bucket of grain and no idea what we were up against. Good Ole’ Mom. Nearly forty years, and she’s still bailing me out of tight spots. With the bad signal she knew he was balking at something and figured he needed cajoling past some scary object. When she pulled up, Grey had worked his way about 50 feet into the hayfield, and was rooted in place with his head thrown up, snorting. She simply said “I see the problem.” Then asked “How did you get past the first time?” The most accurate answer to that question was "quickly"! I got off him, and we tried leading him forward, but he was way past simply being nervous about something new, and had figured that bolting saved his hide once before, and now it was an excellent option to consider. Mom would not let me try riding past again, wisely refusing to have her first born atop a panicked horse. Her first born was still not happy about being afoot next to a horse panicked over cows.

    After about 5 minutes, Mom declared “we need drugs”. Back she goes in the car. I got back on and rode him away from the cows to get him calmed down again. Mom came back with drugs, a halter, and my step dad. We put his halter on, gave him some drugs. I was thinking it was Banamine, but that’s a pain killer right? So it must have been the Rhompum. We rarely use drugs, and just keep them around for emergencies such as colic or a horse that fights the trailer. This qualified as an emergency. We took off my nearly new, Stubben saddle and put that safely in the trunk. Waited, gave him more drugs. Grey showed little or no sign of relaxing, but he seemed more at ease if only because he was now surrounded by his entire “posse” and knew we would come up with a solution for him.

    Step Dad went to see about moving the cows. I wasn’t sure that would work since they were excited and likely to come stampeding back just for fun. We all grew up on farms, and we are well aware of typical cow behavior. It was doubtful these giddy spring heifers were going to cooperate with our agenda. But, as luck would have it, there was a Mallard duck nesting near them, and Richard scared her, and that scared the cows, so they headed for the woods. Mom and I were able to lead Grey, one on each side, past the pasture with him dancing between us like a racehorse on the way to the post. I was still half a mile from home, and by now my ankles were feeling a bit bruised from these darn boots, so I wasn’t in the mood for walking. I would pick today, of all days, to break in the boots.

    We got him saddled again and I rode him home. He behaved fine, but was a little jittery in spots. This was one of those situations where I was glad I had time to press Pause, think things through, and come up with a safe way out. The whole thing added an hour to my morning, but at least neither one of us got hurt. Thank Heaven for that little voice of Self Preservation.
    Last edited by SmartAlex; Dec. 30, 2009 at 08:32 PM.
    People are crazy and times are strange.
    I used to care but, things have changed.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2007
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    3,201

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    Good on ya for getting home safe! It took some smart thinking to solve that one! Being the "mom" of a T|B who truly thinks that cattle are aliens, and the mother ship is waiting around the corner, you have my applause!
    Dee
    Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
    Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique
    http://wilddiamondintherough.blogspot.ca/



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
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    What a story!!! I was laughing so hard, in part because we had our own cow moments today. Went on a group trail ride and my DH was taking photos. There's a cute one of a cow peeking around a bush. The one after it is a blur of grass and flapping reins as his mare took three huge leaps away from the lurking cow!!! But she settled in a minute and we continued on.

    Then we got to a dairy farm we hadn't been past before. On the way past, there were a few cows lurking around. But on the way back they decided to gallop (!!) along the fenceline as we passed. Thank goodness DH has the world's stickiest seat, because his mare was doing Tasmanian Devil spins all the way down the road, while we tried to surround her with our horses as a "buffer zone." She got all the horses jigging and prancing and the guy who passed in a car got an eyeful of a parade of jazzed up horses!!! We plastered the road with manure, too.

    Do cows HAVE to be so darn curious???

    Hope your legs and feet are recovering - a good soak in epsom salts, perhaps?



  4. #4
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    Dec. 4, 2002
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    Default

    You know, so many of us will read this, and we'll be nodding. Yes, yes, this all makes sense.

    Try and explain this to a non-horse person.

    Just glad everyone is okay! Though when you wrote your mom said you needed drugs, I thought, - wow! she's packing brandy in the car? That's one prepared mom!...then I realized, oh, drugs for the HORSE.
    www.specialhorses.org
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues




  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2008
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    Florida
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    Default

    Oh my god - I HATE cows! I got dumped at a show this year because the dumblood I was riding had never seen a freakin' cow before. I never even thought about it till he was going straight up - we'd always had cows and I'd always started young horses working cows, but not this one!

    Your story was funny, though, and kudos to you for handling it so well - after the bolt I'd have been a basket case more than the horse! I'm ok with a bolt in a field, but a bolt on the side of the road gives me the heebie jeebies!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2004
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    Back in the 'nati
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    Default

    We have cows across the road from us, and I rarely ride on that section of road. My TB is pretty bombproof about stuff like that (unlike my mare, who would have reacted much like your horse did!) We were coming back from a hack one day last spring and passed the cow field. We were on the shoulder right next to the cows. The cows were running around, very interested in us, and my horse was doing this big goofy trot...I thought the ground was muddy, because it felt just like he was getting sucked down by mud. Turned out that it wasn't muddy at all...he was just passaging! It was a very cool feeling

    The mare, however, has happily dumped me more than once wheeling around to run away from a cow. (It was my own fault for riding there without a saddle, LOL). If I can get her to stand and look at them, I can feel her heart pounding under my leg.

    Glad everyone made it home safe, and thanks to mom for bailing you out!



  7. #7
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    May. 20, 2005
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    Desert Southwest
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    HEY! My Dum, uh Warmblood loves cows! He learned pretty quick he can make them run away. He gets pretty excited about it, though. First time I felt him do a HUUUUGE medium trot was while following the BO's cows.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2008
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    Florida
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    Well, I did get him to herd ducks once, but I just never really thought about exposing him to cows, because all my horses have always just been used to them.

    He is NOT a natural cowpony (at 17.2 he's kinda big to be that catty), although he did manage a pretty good cutback without stepping on the ducks. We were trying to clip their wings, and I had to keep them from going under the fence. It was funny as heck - he was so careful about not stepping on those itty bitty ducks!



  9. #9
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    Mar. 5, 2009
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    In a barn
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    "Fastest furlong on record.."

    What a great story! Applause Applause !!!!!!!



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 20, 2007
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    427

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    Quote Originally Posted by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho" View Post
    You know, so many of us will read this, and we'll be nodding. Yes, yes, this all makes sense.

    Try and explain this to a non-horse person.
    Ya know... the quote above applies to SO MANY CoTH posts!!




  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 22, 2008
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    Outside Ocala FL - Horse Capital of the World
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    6,193

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    Quote Originally Posted by TBMaggie View Post
    "Fastest furlong on record.."

    What a great story! Applause Applause !!!!!!!
    Same here. I enjoyed every word, and got a great mental image of the whole scene. Glad it all came out okay.
    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 29, 2008
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    VA
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    I seriously cannot tell you how glad I am to read this thread, because my gelding was TERRIFIED of cattle (all livestock, actually, but cattle were the most common threat). Nothing and no one could get through to him as soon as he was aware that a cow was within a three-mile radius. For years, I've thought that I failed as a horsewoman because I could not keep him from losing it whenever he saw a cow...I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear I'm not the only one!

    Years ago, I took Rebuff out for a bareback hack around the farm one day. A cow popped up from the underbrush next to the fenceline - I didn't even KNOW there were cattle in that field, or I would have avoided it like the plague - and totally set him off. I had to resort to calling for help. Someone else trailriding on the property heard me, thank God, and told my barn manager that someone was yelling for help while holding crazy young TB. ( Rebuff was 23 at the time. Sigh.) My barn manager, God love her, had to drive out into the field with a few helpers, and we managed to get him back to the barn.

    I'm very glad that your story has a happy ending, and that you have such an awesome mom who was able to save your bacon.
    In memory of Rebuff (1974-2009)

    Rest in peace, my sweet man



  13. #13
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    Aug. 12, 2001
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    Trailer Trash Ammy!
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    Wow, my sympathies - so very glad it all worked out well.

    Y'know what I would do? Turn him out with them. Quattro is surrounded by them on 2, sometimes 3 sides of his paddock, and has to walk past more 2x/day en route to the barn. It honestly took him TWO SOLID MONTHS to get used to them. Nowadays he'll graze right next to 'em but boy, it sure did take a while!
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief



  14. #14
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    Feb. 23, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by War Admiral View Post
    Wow, my sympathies - so very glad it all worked out well.

    Y'know what I would do? Turn him out with them. Quattro is surrounded by them on 2, sometimes 3 sides of his paddock, and has to walk past more 2x/day en route to the barn. It honestly took him TWO SOLID MONTHS to get used to them. Nowadays he'll graze right next to 'em but boy, it sure did take a while!
    I'm on the verge of buying a calf just to force my poor husband's silly mare to get the f** over it! We have been near multiple dairies for over a year, and we walk by cows at least 3 times a week - sometimes father away, sometimes nearer. If you catch her before she notices and keep her busy, she even walks by them without getting explosive (though she'll be rolling her eye and ear around to try to watch them). But if you aren't paying attention - bam. What a pain. She doesn't mind dogs. Or sheep or chickens, that I've noticed. Or cats. What's up with cows???



  15. #15
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    Jun. 19, 2001
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    Pacific NW
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    Maybe horses think cows smell bad. A touch of Vick's Vaporub in each nostril can be a helpful distraction. And if cows aren't bad enough, some really lose it around pigs.



  16. #16
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    Apr. 27, 2009
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    Western Washington
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    Great story! Good that you survived the meeting of the alien forces come to ruinate the world with little more than sore ankles from the boots and a few "Oh Sh*t" moments.

    I have quite the opposite problem. My OTTB feels that she needs to be a cutting horse now that she isn't being shown as a dressage mount much anymore. Cows have become great fun for her even though she has about the cow sense of a fencepost..

    The Arabs on the other hand
    Power and grace
    A beauty sublime
    Thus is the nature
    Of this creature Equine



  17. #17
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    Jan. 6, 2001
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    Washington State
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    1,711

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    Quote Originally Posted by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho" View Post
    You know, so many of us will read this, and we'll be nodding. Yes, yes, this all makes sense.

    Try and explain this to a non-horse person.

    Just glad everyone is okay! Though when you wrote your mom said you needed drugs, I thought, - wow! she's packing brandy in the car? That's one prepared mom!...then I realized, oh, drugs for the HORSE.
    See, I'm thinking you DID need drugs...after a similar incident (with us it was supposed to be a trailride with a friend in the snow...not exactly sure why there were antics, but there were), said friend took me out for a very needed drink! Gotta love our ponies...glad everyone came home safely!



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan. 28, 2000
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    Woodville, Virginia
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    377

    Talking Something to ponder...

    SmartAlex, do you think it's a coincidence that the number on your post is 666???
    Jennifer Thomas Alcott
    Woodville, Virginia
    http://www.theshingleshanty.com



  19. #19
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    Jul. 5, 2007
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    LOL! I did notice it was post 666 as I logged out. No, I don't think it is a coincidence, I'm pretty sure the universe was conspiring against me all day.

    It's good to hear other people's experiences, and it does make us feel better to realise these things happen. As I was putting Grey up, my Mom and I were trying to decided whether the outcome was a positive training experience, or one of those "Incidents" that will haunt us for years. We decided it was sort of a wash. Yes, Grey did scare the Bejeezes out of himself and will be wary from now on, but he did his best to obey, and his training did override quite a bit of his natural instinct when he gave it a try in the first place. Also, while I often worry that reading these things on COTH have given me too much knowledge, and an impending sense of dread, knowing what CAN happen in worst case scenarios, I feel that our outcome was evidence that knowing what can happen can arm you with enough information to save your butt.

    Looking back, I never got the shakes. I calmy thought through everything, right down to unbuckling the reins when I dismounted in case he got away from me, so he wouldn't get a leg in. I think the situation assured me that I have matured to a rider who can keep a leg on each side, and her brain in the middle. I also proved to my horse, that he can trust me enough to go forward when asked, but that when we get in over our heads, I am willing to stop and use my human resources to stack the odds back in our favor when from an equine point of view, the only option left is to "Run For Your Lives!" Hopefully that has kept him from losing a degree of trust in me for putting him in that situation, and help him to stick around and give me a chance to get us out of the next mess.

    Yes, we will be working on some sort of cow desensitization program. He is used to seeing the two Red Devon steers that my step dad is raising. My Mom said he was eyeing them with renewed interest yesterday, but I seriously doubt he has made the connection between these two red steers, and the herd of 30 holsteins. And yes, they did smell different. I could smell the haylage smell myself, so I'm sure Grey did too. I have images of having to go through this with a herd of each possible color of cow, since we may get used to Holsteins, then encounter a herd of white faced Herefords, and have to start all over.

    I will not be putting us between a herd of cows, a rock and a hard place for a long time to come. And I'm pretty sure I will never ever EVER be brave enough to ride in the direction of the local Llama farm.
    People are crazy and times are strange.
    I used to care but, things have changed.



  20. #20
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    Oct. 30, 2006
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    Great story
    Quote Originally Posted by barka.lounger View Post
    u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

    we see u in gp ring in no time.



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