There is a pack of coyotes where I live, and every night we can here them howling. Don't get me wrong - I have no problem with coyotes. But apparently Colby does.
"He's running himself out of his mind," My trainer said to me over the phone, having called me at midnight. I was in my pajamas, watching a movie with my mom and dad when the phone rang. She'd explained to me that when she went out to check on the horses, Colby was galloping along the pasture fence, shaking and terribly inconsolable. She'd already called the vet and wanted to call me to let me know what was happening.
"I'm on my way," I told her, and after fifteen minutes, finally convinced my mother to drive me to the stable.
Colby was truly in a panic. He'd stirred up the other horses too, who were now clustered together at the gate, whinnying shrilly. In the distance, the howling continued, and with each one, Colby pinned his ears and shook his head. Even from a good 50 feet away, I could see him shaking.
My trainer was standing in the driveway looking upset. She told me that if the horses weren't calmed by the time the vet arrived and had a look at them, she'd have to sedate Colby to bring him into the barn. I told her that I would bring him in myself, no matter how freaked out he was.
I entered the pasture with a halter and lead rope slung over one shoulder, and headed toward him. "Hey, bubba." I said, using his nickname. He immediatly paused in his pacing and looked at me, although his ears were still pinned. I didn't stop walking. "What's the matter with you? How can a big old boy like you be so scared?"
Another howl set him off again, and this time, he broke into a sprint. I smooched to him, and rattled the fence post, catching him off guard. "You're fine. Do you really think I'd let some mean old coyote hurt you?"
I headed for him again, and he stood still, quiet. I ran a hand over his warm back - he was damp with sweat, and his skin quivered under my touch. I haltered him as quickly as I could and began leading him toward the gate.
There was another howl and immediately I braced myself for whatever Colby had up his sleeve. He shot back into the air, rearing so high I was afraid he'd topple over backward. I gave him some extra lead rope and the second his hooves returned to the ground, I was pulling him forward. "Come on, boy," I said calmly. "We're going inside."
I jogged alongside him (he wanted to get to the barn as fast as he could, apparently) and pulled him into his stall. The vet arrived shortly after and examined him to see if he'd hurt himself out in the field. Aside from a cut on his leg that wasn't deep and wasn't bleeding (he must have knocked against the fence), he was in fine condition. The vet gave him an injection that would help him relax and my trainer went out to check on the other horses. I fetched a bucket of hot water, a rag and some treats and prepared myself for the night.
Colby lay down and I went down with him. I dipped the rag into the bucket, steam rising quickly, and rubbed the rag in small circles down his neck, back and legs. Soon he was falling asleep with his giant head cradled in my lap. When the water was all gone and the vet had left and my trainer had gone back to the house, I rested my cheek against Colby's and sighed, stroking his neck. No matter what he was or wasn't afraid of, he was still my baby, and I was going to be there for him, no matter what. I listened to his breathing until it finally lulled me to sleep, and in the morning, I awoke in Colby's stall with my head in a pile of straw, with him gazing back at me cutely.
I love Colby.