If ever I thought my horses couldn’t sense my moods, last Friday’s events dramatically changed my thinking.

Let me set the stage for you.

It was, in author Judith Viorst’s words, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. That’s from her wonderful children’s book, and an excellent distillation of my own day.

I was exhausted from too many nights of not enough sleep.

I was stressed, having spent the previous two days scurrying around on a work project due that day.

I was hot.

I was having an allergy attack, which left my head throbbing, my eyes burning, and my throat raw. Thank you very much cottonwood trees!

I had a to-do list so long it started in Colorado and finished up somewhere south of Amarillo. I’d cross one task off and I swear three more would take its place.

And, I couldn’t seem to talk without getting all weepy.

You’re starting to get the picture, right?

Tired, stressed, sick, busy and on the verge of tears.

Over committed and under resourced.

It’s not a good combo, but unfortunately it happens often enough in my life that I’m considering making t-shirts.

Perhaps you’d like one.

On top of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, my husband had experienced his own version of the same. He came home hot, tired and frazzled.

And this was the day we’d chosen to begin feeding in the evening instead of at noon. We filled feed pans and headed toward the pasture, both of us so tense we nearly vibrated off the car seats. If humans really could self-combust, I think I would have.

Let me say right now this is not the way to approach horses.

When we arrived at the pasture we found the whole herd, minus the love triangle and the bachelors, milling around the gate. Bud, Amigo and Red were at the far end of the pasture grazing. I guess they hadn’t received the memo about the change in feeding time.  I grabbed a lead rope and went to get Bud.

I thought my husband was at the car, readying the feed.  Instead he’d decided to go in search of Pepper. He found her in the shed with you-know-who. He slipped a halter over her head and began to lead her toward the car.

When Bud finally saw me, he came running toward the gate, quickly getting ahead of me. He found the gate closed and panicked. He was confused. And he doesn’t like being around the others in the herd.

His panic caused the other horses to panic and they all started running and kicking. They broke through the taped off fence and bolted into the new field.

Bud, Amigo and Red were long gone.

Again.

About the same time, Rick and Pepper showed up, with Chickadee and Beau trailing behind .

Great!

Now we had Bud’s arch nemesis patrolling the gate. I figured we’d never see him again that night. But my husband trudged out into the newly opened field and started to lead Bud in.

The closer they came to Beau, the more spooked Bud became. He is genuinely afraid of this young, disrespectful gelding….

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of this story. Suffice to say, we’re not out of the woods yet.

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