It was cold and damp, like a March morning should be, as I waited for Lisa to arrive. Dew dripped off the leaves of the trees, cozy horse noises snuffled softly from the paddocks that edged the driveway to the barn. The swallows were catching breakfast and the ducks were starting their morning swim as the mist rose on the little lake at the front of the property. I have always loved mornings in a barn, and this one was exceptionally pretty and peaceful. And today was exciting! Bryan was coming in and I was there early to oversee the arrival. I was in a happy, sleepy state, and just finishing a coffee. I shivered as the sun started to peek through the clouds. I checked my watch. She should be here any minute.
I became aware of a rhythmic crashing. That could only be the sound of a horse kicking in a trailer. Holy cow, I thought first. What the heck? Oh, great, I thought second. You don’t think that’s them?
Indeed, it was. The crashing increased; the trailer pulled into sight around the corner. The trailer rocked and shook with each kick. The birds fled in an instant, the ducks on the lake scattered with an outraged quack. The horses in the paddocks along the barn lane stood frozen, electrified. My friend Lisa, driving the truck, waved cheerfully, apparently unconcerned about the noise and the iminent destruction of her trailer.
She pulled in, expertly turning the rig around, unfazed by the commotion they were creating. She stopped, got out of her truck, and gave me her usual affectionate hug. The horse inside the trailer, *my new horse*, was now "whinnying". Read "screaming". Loudly. She tried to talk over the din but after a few futile attempts we reverted to hand signals and decided to immediately unload him from the trailer. I opened the escape door and was promptly knocked backward by Bryan's head snaking back and forth. He was trying to climb out over the manger. Good grief, I thought as I tried to push his head back inside so I could unsnap the trailer tie. Good grief! again, as he screamed in my face and resisted my efforts. I pushed as hard as I could, got him unsnapped, Lisa dropped the ramp, undid the butt bar, and with a final last crash, scramble, and scream, he unloaded himself in a heap in the driveway.
He scrambled up, all 17 awkward fungusy hands of him. I grabbed the leadrope just as he righted himself and started to leave. I knew he didn’t know where he was going but he was going somewhere, and he was going NOW, and was going to levitate himself there, by the looks of it. He had no idea I was there, was absolutely shaking with nerves, his eyes white rimmed and spinning in his head. Did I mention the screaming?
My presence at the end of the leadrope meant little to him, and as I tried to keep him from dragging me off I panted to Lisa "Get a chain! Did you bring a chain?!" Lisa looked surprised. "A chain? Why?!"
I yelled over my shoulder as I tried to keep from being trampled by *my new horse*, who was prancing in circles, tail over his back, head in the air, and did I mention screaming? "LISA! Do you HAVE A CHAIN?!"
"Of course I do, you don’t have to yell!" Lisa sniffed, as she started leisurely looking about her trailer dressing room for a chain. "Here", she said, about a year later.
Pleased with my adroitness in getting the chain over the nose of a horse that was alternately plunging, rearing, spinning, trying to kick, and passing watery poop like mad, but sensing that no congratulations were forthcoming, I pulled quite smartly on the leadrope, engaging the chain hard on what really was a classic TB nose. He had no idea I was even there. Lisa looked shocked, and spoke to the horse in a soothing tone which was totally lost in the din. "You don’t have to shank him!" she cried in horror, in a voice that may as well have been saying "You don’t have to eviscerate him!". I pretended not to hear, which wasn’t hard to do, and ignoring her appalled face I shanked him again, good and hard. He shook his head, snorted, struck out at me with a foreleg and reared in my face. I shanked him again and backed him up good and smart. For the first time he quit spinning around me. He semi-stopped that ear shattering screaming and stood still, pawing madly. He didn’t look at me and still didn't seem to know I was there. Head a mile high, nostrils flaring, tail up, he looked like he was going to leave the planet any moment. But at least he stood still...ish. And he quit the God awful screaming.
Oh great, I thought to myself again as I looked at his quivering body. I could see his heart pumping out of his chest. He looked ready to absolutely explode.