It could have been so much worse....
I had a real scare today. I still get a little queasy thinking about it.
All the horses were out in the pasture, including Freyja and her new baby. She is doing okay being turned out with the others, she is defensive of the baby and wont let the other horses get too close, but they are being respectful and staying back so there have been no problems. I've been feeling pretty confident about letting them out and not been supervising them as closely today because they have all been fine.
This afternoon my friend came over to visit, and after walking the pasture to say hi to the horses (which are all familiar with her) we sat down in my living room to watch a movie. About halfway through the movie, I saw Hank, the neighbors coonhound, wandering in my front yard. I didn't think much of it because he frequently comes over to visit my dogs, sometimes even jumping the fence in with them. He's a nice enough dog and stays away from the horses so I don't mind him. So I ignored it and went back to watching the movie, but 2 minutes later, a car rips into my driveway, a lady I don't know jumps out and runs across the yard into my pasture. Obviously then I was straight out the door, to see a crowd of people around someone laying down in my pasture. I charged out there, terrified. There was a little girl on the ground crying and screaming, and my horses were scattered to all corners of the pasture, and Freyja was in front of the barn, just pacing in tight circles round and round Fiona. The little girl was sobbing non stop, so I called my friend out into the pasture, she's an er nurse. While Tracie examined the little girl to determine if we needed to call an ambulance, I got the story of what happened out of her friends.
The girl on the ground is my 10 year old next door neighbor girl. She comes over time to time and helps muck stalls, brush horses/pick hooves etc in exchange for lessons on Misty. Apparently it was her birthday, and she had several friends over. She asked her mother if she could come over and show her friends the new baby. Her mother told her it was fine, but to stay outside the fence. Now I have never, ever allowed the neighbor girl to work with my horses unattended. I have never even allowed her on my property unattended, even when she is cleaning stalls I am in there with her. All the neighbors do occasionally come over and poke grass through the fence to feed the horses, but I've made it clear none are allowed into the pasture unless I am there and invite them over.
Apparently when they got here, Freyja took Fiona across the field from the girls and stood between them and the baby, so they couldn't see her. Feeling over confident from working with my horses under my supervision, or perhaps wanting to show off to her friends, the little girl climbed into my pasture, and ran across it, grabbed Fiona by her halter and tried to lead her over the fence, trying to do it quickly before anyone happened to look out and catch her.
Freyja's a great mare. There is no kinder, gentler horse than she. Sweet, willing, not an aggressive bone in her body. But she's a new mama, with an only days old baby, and her mother bear was roused. She still didn't try to kick or bite the little girl, but she shoved her way in between the girl and Fiona, pushed the girl away, where she then fell down, and Freyja trod on her ankle as she turned back to her baby.
Thankfully, the little girl is alright. No broken bones, no serious injuries beyond a scrape on her shin, and a bruised and swollen ankle. She is very, very lucky she doesn't have broken bones or other, more serious injuries. Freyja is a kind, calm mare, but it still could have easily been a matter of Freyja letting hooves fly at her rather than just bumping her aside.
Also thankfully, her mother is a sensible woman. I was apologetic and horrified at what happened, but her mother was very clear that she felt her daughter had made a serious lapse in judgement, and she did not blame me at all. The girl had been told by her mother to stay out of the pasture expressly, and she was also well aware of my standing rule. And she has been told repeatedly, since well before Fiona was born, that she would not be allowed to handle mare and foal for some time after the baby was born. Peer pressure can be a very harmful thing.
Her mother called me back again late this evening to let me know her daughter was fine after x rays etc, and both she and her mother were anxious and worried that I would not permit her to come over and work with the horses or take lessons any longer. I'm a little up in the air with what I am feeling about the situation right now. The girl made a mistake, but she's a kid and kids mess up like this. But it scares me badly when a mistake like this could have been life threatening. At the same time, the girl is passionate about horses, and it's not my place to discipline her as she is not my child. Also I certainly wouldn't want this incident to lead to fear of horses, and I know she should get around them again soon as possible to overcome any timidness stemming from what happened. What would you guys do?