Horse Spook…

I’ve been grooming and bathing horses for a year now and this one was in desperate need of a good rub-a-dub scrub.


While I enjoy my new skill there have been a few times when the horse I’ve been washing has ‘sat-back’ and I’ve stepped aside to watch the situation abate.

No-one wants to be trampled in a small space!

It’s usually a spook caused by anything,

a wasp flying past his eye

the wind causing the metal barn walls to clatter,

a vehicle starting up unexpectedly just as he was dozing off,

someone coming round a corner.

It’s frightening for the horse and groomer.  When he realises he can’t escape, because of the  rope attached to his harness and hitched securely to a wooden post, he begins to panic in earnest.

Usually a stern “no!” or a tug on his rope, will bring him to his senses.  A gentle rubbing of his ears and soothing words will return him to reality.

After all,

it’s only a bath!


However, bath-time evidently holds lots of perils and can be dangerous for both of us as I discovered when I was gently rinsing off Jay’s lather the other day.

Whether it was a shadow,

a puddle,

a stray bubble drifting across his line of vision,

or a cat under his feet,

poor old Jay totally lost it.

Shampoo and brushes went flying, the hose was knocked out of my hand adding insult to injury as warm water sprayed fiercely upward further startling him.

I stepped aside and into the opposite bay where I tried to unhitch him but he was doing a fine job at pulling the whole cross bar out of the wall increasing his terror and the tension on the rope rendering it impossible to release.

“Help!  Help!” I cried.  It was feeble, I know, but all I could do was stand and watch.

For a horse, the primeval instinct to flee is strong.  He just had to get out of there, but, like the Chinese finger trap, the more he pulled away from his perceived predator the tighter his rope became amping up the fear.

Rearing, yelling horse profanities, eyes darting wildly from side to side, ears pricked, he was what my daughter would describe as,

“A hot mess!”

And then something snapped and he was free.

He ran hell for leather in the opposite direction from whatever had it in for him, screaming bloody murder and whipping the other horses into frenzied leaps-&-bounds in their enclosures adding fuel to the already tense atmosphere that had quickly settled over the horse farm.

I followed with the rope as Jay ran into a dead end alongside one of his paddock-mates and stopped to seek solace breathing hard.

The other horses had clustered in a circle where their paddocks came together.  They looked like a group of women gossiping over the garden fence.  I could almost see the rollers in their hair and hear the ooh’s and aah’s as they exchanged stories.

Catching up with him I saw blood on his teeth from the metal rings and clip still attached to his halter and now somehow in his mouth instead of under his chin.

He was breathing hard and almost growling at me as I took the hardware out of his mouth and re-positioned his halter.

He finally calmed enough for me to lead him back to the washing bay where I quickly finished the rinse cycle, put a felt drying coat over his back and secured him in his own stall to dry off and settle down.

He complained bitterly while I finished grooming the other horses.  He was like a three year old throwing a tantrum when put in time-out.

“It’s to make you feel better, Jay.” I called to him, “now calm down!”  As if he could understand me.

Today he was out in his field- sparkly clean-calmly eating oats,


and I’ve decided that tying up a horse with a knot is not a good idea.

“I reckon they can’t go anywhere, you’ve got the farm well fenced,” I said to the owner.

“Yeah!” she said, “It’s no big deal if a horse gets loose.  Although having said that one of my friends had a horse break away and he was hit by a car, didn’t die but was never the same.”

Not a very heartening story…

Instead of my no knot technique she’s settled on twine tied to the post to hitch up to,

“That way if they start to sit-back it’ll snap.”

Horses are too big to take for granted; their spooks make them larger than life.

Maybe blinkers would help?

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2021-01-21 17:26:56 Reply

Glad you were not hurt in the melee!

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