Friday, April 22, 2011

A Change of Pace......... A Little Farm Story......

Dandy has been the grumpy old man on my farm for quite a while now. I think the basis of his attitude around other horses began with his EPM as a youngster, Before he ever got diagnosed with the disease he began to get uncomfortable with traffic in the ring getting too close to him. I suspect this behavior was directly rooted in the fact he was not quite right because of that lesion on his spine. Feeling vulnerable the horse wanted strange horses to keep their distance.

As the pasture mates he grew up with gradually went their different ways, Dandy found himself with new pasture mates. The grumpy horse from the ring now appeared in the fieldin these new situatons. Dandy had no tolerance for this younger set. Going out with the other geldings who are all at least 15 years his juniors is not Dandy's idea of fun BUT it is much better than the other role he gets delegated to around here on occassion.

Being the only "old" gelding on the place make Dandy the number one candidate for baby sitter duties when it is time to wean colts. If I had a pair of colts in the same year, Dandy got a reprieve because I can count on the colts being colts to teach the little varmints something about herd dynamics. It is when I have a lone colt that needs a buddy that Dandy gets stuck with the job.

Dandy has always acted like he is put out by the role of babysitter. While he doesn't hurt the colts, he does teach them to respect his space. From the first moment a colt is turned loose in the same field with Dandy you can see his flattened ears and snaked neck as he shakes his head at the little monster laying the rules down right from the start. I always appreciate any time colts spend with Dandy because they certainly learn to follow as well as to pay attention and look for what's expected of them. He's a great teacher even if his demeanor always seems to be grumpy with any interactions with the colts.

I have never seen Dandy act anything but disgruntled about this role. He has not ever decided a colt was worth befriending. Instead he seems to tolerate them following him around with their funny hero worship kind of admiration just like the big brother forced to take the little brother outside to play. Dandy had done it because it was expected but he's most certainly not been happy about it.

With Tango now being a yearling, it was time to separate him from Dare. The last thing I needed was him breeding his sister when no one way looking and yearling colts have been known to do just that. That left Dandy as the reasonable surrogate much to his chagrin. Whenever the weather cooperates, Dandy and Tango have been turned out into the front field. That's the same field that Leg's stall opens into.

One day not too long ago I had taken Legs to the park to school and Dave and Lindsay had turned Tango and Dandy out in that front field. When I arrived home I asked Dave to help me keep Tango at bay so I could get Legs back into his stall.

Imagine my surprise when from out of nowhere I saw Dandy flying my direction with ears flattened and teeth bared diving straight towards Legs. Even twirling the end of the lead rope at him to keep him away wasn't working. Dandy was going after Legs with a vengenace I have never seen before.

Dave was oblivious to Dandy because he was so focused on Tango. That colt loves his dad and always wants to run up to meet him. On this day he was moving off as asked but clearly watching for an opening to make a break to visit Legs. Dave was so intent on keeping Tango off he could not see that Dandy was the real threat, nor would he have expected it.

For the first time in many years, Dandy was the horse with the attitude. Dandy was clearly defending Tango like Dare or Solidare would have done if they thought the colt was threatened. Only Dare or Solidare would have known that Legs is not a threat to Tango. He loves his kids, even the boys, until they get much older and decide to challenge him.

Dandy hasn't really been exposed to Legs in his stall face boxing with colts on the other side of the wall. All he could see on this day was a baby without a mother and the stallion getting too close. It was a role I never would have expected from any gelding, let alone this one.

I was afraid Dave might get kicked in the scuffle as I tried to protect Legs from the onslaught of fire breathing uncle Dandy. Yelling at Dave to get his attention while still maneuvering Legs so he didn't get attacked, I was caught in the middle. I was not worried about Dandy hurting me but he clearly was not responding to me trying to send him away. As long as Legs was in that field Dandy was going to get him. My concerns were for Legs.

I finally got Dave's attention and he was able to help ward Dandy off and Legs and I dashed for his stall. I struggled with the sliding door and silly Tango tried to sneak through into Legs' stall before us. I had to shoo the colt off before we could even get in the door. With Tango that close to Legs I could hear Dandy breaking past Dave just as we escaped into the safety of the stall.

I just turned Legs loose so I could focus on getting the door closed without Tango following us inside. I could only imagine how that might freak Dandy out. I managed to get the door closed right in Tango's face and Dandy wasn't far behind him. Once Legs was in the stall and the door was closed, Dandy was no longer worried about Legs. He pushed Tango away and the two went off to graze like a mare and a foal would.

It's a good thing that Legs is so comfortable with who he is. The stallion was not the least bit threatened by Dandy charging at him in that manner. He looked at Dandy the same way he looks at Storm when he challenges him in the trailer. The horse has this calm confidence that says he knows that he is "the man." He just is. He doesn't feel the need to defend that title. He just let me move him around where ever I wanted him as I tried to keep him away from Dandy. Without his cooperation there could have been a real wreck.

I have been bringing Legs into that field to go to his stall with mares turned out there for all of his life. He knows the routine and is always a prince. Whodda thunk, it was the twenty year old gelding baby sitting the yearling colt that would cause the problem.............certainly not me. Never in a million years could you have told me that Dandy would defend any upstart colt, let alone against Legs.

It'll be a long time before I get that picture of him diving at Legs out of my mind. It was as vicious as the look on Mark's face the day he attacked Scandalous. Of course, now that it's over, I can't help but chuckle just a bit when I think about it. That grumpy old man is nothing but a fake.................

Visit Blog Village and vote daily for this blog They are now measuring the rankings by votes out, so if you find my blog on the site, please click that link too to improve my rankings. TY


  1. I love it. No one is going to get a baby his watch! So funny. I think its funny how even when they are older and we think we know what they will do, they can still surprise us.

  2. I loved hearing about Tango. I know he had a ruff start, is nice to hear he is doing okay.

  3. It was a scary situation that turned out well. And I think he is definitely faking the whole grumpy thing. He obviously takes his job seriously, just won't give you the satisfaction of knowing how much he enjoys his job. They never cease to amaze me, it really makes you wonder what goes on in their heads sometimes.

  4. Our crabby old one is a mare. Nearing 30 and not much slows her down. Just when you think you have them figured out, they throw you for a loop.

    Gotta love those older horses. They definitely demand your respect!

  5. Tango has totally charmed everyone on your farm, hasn't he?

  6. Funny old Booger! He has a job , that he clearly takes very seriously! Not as tough as he makes himself out to be.Not surprised that it is Tango , that brought out his protective instincts ,I have never met that colt but I suspect ghe has soemthing special about him (how could he not?)

  7. Nicole, he was definitely pretty clear about that. I thought it was funny too......after it was over. At the time it was a little scary.

    Tango is coming along. There will be another post about him.

    Arlene, I think he's faking the grumpy thing too. It's a good thing the geldings have never figured that out though. They're probably terrorize him.

    CNJ, I think you're right about those older horses. They are worth their weight in gold.

    laura, well he's charmed all the humans for sure but he's not met all of the horses. The horses he does know think he's pretty special.

    fern, yupe a job he takes quite seriously. I expected him to be good company but watchdog, not so much. I think you're probably right about Tango. He sure carries himself like he's something special.

  8. How wonderful that Dandy really does love his job!
    Glad that everyone made it out unscathed. (not sure I spelled that right)

  9. Awww, what a sweet (and scary!) story! I love grumpy geldings - they're usually fakers.

  10. I don't think we've ever had a gelding protect a youngster like that, but I did have a similar terrifying experience when Frosty was a baby.

    I had several horses in a large pen and was bringing Queenie and Frosty into the barn, through that pen. I had fed everyone and figured they would pay no mind to the mare and foal coming through. There was quite a bit of distance between where I had fed them and the gates. I was almost to the barn, leading Queen, when an Appy gelding I had, looked up and charged the mare and foal. I couldn't do anything but let the mare go, so she could try to protect her foal. They took off for the pasture gate, which was closed, with the gelding in hot pursuit. Just as quickly, my Woofer mare took off after that Appy and attacked him as viciously as I have ever seen one horse attack another. She drove him straight through the fence on the far side of the corral and then stood there guarding against him coming back in. While the Appy was flipping through one side of the corral fence, Frosty had hit and flipped through the other side. I had 2 mares freaking out on the inside of the corral, a baby on the outside freaking out and a now terrified gelding heading for the road. It was a mess. Of course, I headed for Frosty and Queenie first. The only thing I could do was open the gate for her to let her next to her baby and make sure he was not injured. He was fine. The gelding on the other hand had some pretty severe bite marks on him and was cut to hell. Woofer never did let him back in the herd after that. She mothered up to Queen and Frosty and let no one near them...ever. Queen never had to worry about her baby because Woofer never let her guard down.

    Things like that happen so quickly, it takes longer to tell the story than it happened in real life. But boy...did I learn a lesson.

  11. I have a soft spot for EPM horses. Dandy sounds like quite the character.