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?
Wow! That's REALLY scary. I'm so glad Freyja is such a good natured mare, I don't think most mares in that situation would have reacted nearly as well.
I think it would be really cool of you to even consider letting her continue to work with your horses under your supervision. Maybe you could have a serious talk with her about how she lost your trust and that she'll need to earn it back, but that you'd love to have her around and let her earn back your trust? And then show her how you want to be shown that she's trustworthy again and that she's learned her lesson, or something.
I think that's really awesome that you're willing to give her another chance. I remember doing a few dumb things like that as a little kid but the adults involved always started kinda "shunning" me (according to the memory I have, so maybe not totally true) and it would have been really neat if they had let me get back on their good side again.
Wallaby, thanks. :-) To be honest, I'm more inclined to be forgiving now because I have had a chance to cool down about it. If you'd asked me what my plans were 20 minutes after it happened, I would have probably said I planned to use my son's tree house like a deer stand and sit up there with a pellet gun filled with rock salt. :twisted: I was pretty mad.
But, like you said, I remember being that age, and I remember making some dumb mistakes, especially around animals. It takes someone being willing to teach you, to be able to learn.
I totally agree with Wallaby.
I guess that's a kind of sad things that just happens every now and then. Still kids are just kids and cannot consider things and consequences or be responsible like adults. Rules will be forgotten so easily if there are distractions and misleadings like peer pressure etc.
I think the girl got her punishment with that shock and swollen ankle and will remember rules easier in the future. If I were you I'd allow her to continue with horses under my supervision. Oh, and of course I'd talk with her about the accident, explain why it happened and revise why I've set my rules. If you want, you'd also set a some kind of extra "punishment" as a condition if she wants to continue with your horses (for example my cousin, who was a kid then, broke once some important rule set for him - he had to pick a bucketful of berries to his mom as a punishment. Or something like that).
I'm anyways happy for you all and that the dangerous situation turned out well :-). Sounds you're a warmheated person when you consider to let her to continue with your horses.
WOW! This is one of my MAIN concerns! I do not want my kids in with the horses when we move, by themselves. I'm glad the little girl was okay. I would give her another chance because I'm big into brain washing the future horse loving generation. : D
Wow, you are right, that could have been so much worse. I completely understand your mixed feelings on the matter and imagine it would take me some time to really come to any conclusion were I in your shoes. I think a time without an answer might give the young lady a real chance to think about just what it is she did and maybe sweating it out will make an impression on her beyond the initial time you are all in right now. Trust is a HUGE deal for me and it is something that, once broken, is hard to rebuild....especially in a situation such as your's where the consequences of violating your trust can be so very life changing. The soft side of me wants to say I would be inclined to try to figure out a way to try to rebuild the trust and that I would continue to work with her under some VERY restrictive conditions, but there is the little voice that says, "You thought you could trust her as it was, how many times might she have done something like this and just been lucky enough not to have been caught? How will you really KNOW that she won't do something like this again?" That's the part about a broken trust that is so hard.
Best of luck to you in making your decision!
BTW, I do want to say how refreshing it is to see her mother having good sense about the whole situation.
Wow, Indy, you have every right to have m mixed feelings! I'm so glad she wasn't hurt!
I agree with Wallaby, if you want to give her another chance, go for it. But I would tell her upfront that if she does anything like that again, then she can't ride anymore. That should really get her attention if it hasn't already been gotten.
Atleast her mom isn't one like "WHY DID YOUR HORSE DO THAT TO HER?!" She knows her daughter was in the wrong, which makes things easier.
Hopefully that's the last bit of excitement for you for a while ;)
Thanks, everyone, for your advise. I really appreciate it.
I spoke to her mom again this morning, and we have set up a tentative plan. She is going to resume her barn duties once she is up and about enough to do so, still supervised of course. For the next several weeks, she is going to be "grounded" as in, she wont be riding. I am taking her lessons back to the basics. We are going to do a lot of groundwork and I am going to teach her about reading horse body language and understanding their nature. The girl had already been taking lessons from a local barn for 2 years when I moved in here, and I assumed these things had been covered some time ago, but her mother tells me she was never worked with in the lessons about handling the horses from the ground and learning these things. The girl handles herself very well in the saddle, and I had been considering over the winter moving her up to Claymore from Misty this spring, but I think now in light of this instance, I am just going to completely start over, from the ground up, and treat it as though she has never had lessons in the past. She's not been in 4-H because her mother says she's not interested in showing, but I've recommended she have her enrolled in 4-H this year anyways, because the variety of clinics and teaching she can get from it benefit her in a lot of ways and there is more to 4-H than just showing. She is generally a good kid, she's shy and quiet around people, but she handles the horses confidently (or she has anyways.) Like ShutupJoe said, I'm big into brainwashing the next horse loving generation, and I would rather see her get started right, even if that means starting over. I'm sure she will be frustrated with it, but I think she's missed out on an important part of her horse education.
I am very lucky about her mother, they are actually very good neighbors, and sensible people when it comes to animals. Her father grew up on a cattle ranch and they are intending to get cattle themselves this year, and were considering getting the little girl her own horse, so her mother told me she's actually kind of glad this happened, in a weird way. The only complaint I have about them is they have a large number of children (6 kids) and tend to let them range rather far afield to what I think is safe or appropriate for their age - again, though, not my kids or my call. We are way out in the country here, in what is actually ranked as the lowest crime rate county of the state, and people do things differently than where I grew up in southern California. *lol* However I did speak to her about watching that her kids don't come over uninvited. Occasionally I let my big male collie loose to patrol the property in the evenings - my collies are old fashioned farm bred dogs, who herd, hunt pests, and defend the property - they are working animals, not just pets. Cailean (my dog) usually just tracks and hunts down the varmints on the property, but he has in the past bitten intruders (though it was under extreme circumstances) so that's a risk I obviously don't want taken either.
I also have my fence guy coming out on Sunday to check my wires, and crank my electric fence up to max. :twisted:
I would definitely sit down with mom, have her sign a liability form(if not already done), and make sure the property rules are set. If you feel that the mother isn't going to be taking this seriously, then don't let the little girl help out anymore.
It's a huge risk.
Oh wow lol in a way I feel bad for Freyja and fiona. I mean to see a person take your baby like that would have been scary. IMO I think the mother should of at least called you and asked if the girl could have brought that many kids to look at your horses. Even if it was just outside the fence line.
I like the idea of having "punishment" either have her clean up your barn, make it spotless and pretty. Or do maintance on the pastures check for holes or clean up sticks or even have her give all your horses a bath! Thats what I would do and those farm kids are though! We might think their tiny lil things but they can dish it out. Also if that happend infront of all her friends she could of been embarrised and has already re-evaluated how she could of done that differently. Hope everything works out
oh! I like the super charged fence idea to, no one will squeez through it :P
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