I have to say, that without a doubt, Spring is my favorite season. New things popping up in the grass, the buds on the trees, the earth has slept and is now waking up to her full and wondrous cycles of new life and new growth.
To my little Hippie mind, this conjures images of magnificent gardens bursting with scents and color. I like my planet, they know me here!
The reality is generally VERY different than what my over-active imagination spurts forth. And so it goes that the first really nice weekend of 2010 (mid-April, as I recall) saw a new addition to the weed and grass control team. Luke!
Once again, I wish I had spent the money on a video camera – the process of getting Luke from the yard at Sanguine Clydes (www.sanguineclydes.com) the roughly one mile (yep, that’s one whole mile…about 2 km’s) to our yard was without question the most entertaining moment of the coming season!
I shall do my best to re-create the journey…
A little background: Luke is a purebred Clydesdale. Rather like the Budweiser horses, but he’s differently colored. Luke is about 6′ 1″ at the shoulders (neck and head extra) and weighs in at approximately 2400 lbs. (for our friends that understand metric that’s about 1090 kgs).
James (as shown) is not quite six feet tall, and weighs about 180 lbs (81 kgs).
Since Harvey had to travel to Wolseley (the next town to our West) this particular afternoon, he suggested that he follow us to make sure that everything went well. James felt that he would be able to lead the giant horse down the road through Summerberry, around the corner, across the train-tracks, and the short distance north to our driveway. It was a clear, and sunny day. A light breeze from the south west.
After a little cajoling and a handful of oats, James managed to get a halter on Luke. Harvey was kind enough to lend us a lead rope. With James and Luke in the lead, myself in our mini-van and Harvey in his little red car our improvised wagon train began the slow trek out of Harvey’s yard towards our farm.
Luke is, for the most part, unbroken. This means he is not trained for saddle, or harness, or anything else (other than eating). For much of the casual stroll through Summerberry Luke remained somewhat disinterested in his surroundings. He would stop occasionally to munch a bit of grass that drew his attention. He stopped to sniff a barn cat that was hunkered down in the brush along the road. James allowed Luke his lee-way, and we continued at a leisurely pace along the back country road. We made the railway tracks without incident.
Luke decided that stopping ON the tracks might be a good idea and did so. Since no trains were coming (and being in Saskatchewan, you can see for a good distance in either direction) James stopped with him and allowed Luke to sniff the breeze while I idled in the van. After a few minutes, James decided that it was time to move along. Luke was not interested. So he just stood there. James proceeded to tug, and pull on the lead rope, which served only to frustrate James. The horse was completely unflapped by James’ efforts. Luke just stood there, on the train tracks, enjoying the breeze.
James was signalling for me to put down the window of the van so he could communicate with me. I did so. His suggestion was to get up behind Luke with the van and toot on the horn to shock him into action. Harvey agreed. I rolled the van a little forward, staying well back from the 13″ hooves (just in case Luke decided to kick) and honked the horn just as Harvey revved his engine.
This certainly did the trick! Luke sprang forward as if hit with a 2 x 4 across the hind end. The action of the horse leaping forward caused James to dive for the weeds in the event that the rather substantial beast decided to take off running. As it turned out – Luke’s launch forward was just that. A single (rather impressive) leap. He again stopped to take in the breeze, giving the now ditch-grass covered James only a cursory glance.
James re-gathered his wits, and dusted off his clothing. Since I was still in the van, I couldn’t quite hear what James had to say about Luke’s dainty flight off of the train tracks. I’m sure there a few choice words for the animal as James collected the dangling lead rope and coaxed Luke to continue our northward journey. Harvey, I’m quite certain, found the whole thing rather funny and now that we’d safely crossed the tracks, he continued on his way to Wolseley.
From the train crossing to our driveway is one quarter-section field’s worth of flat terrain. Luke carried on along at a relaxed pace, and James seemed to be none the worse for his dive into the ditch. At about half way along the final stretch to our driveway things began to go south – VERY quickly.
Ah yes, the girls!
Horses are highly intelligent creatures. Some days I swear they are psychic. Blaze and Rosie must have sensed that something was afoot, and from our vantage point along the dirt road, James and I both spotted the two Mustangs at about the same time. The girls came galloping around the corner of the shelter belt and into the east pasture.
At roughly the same moment, Luke must have sensed that James had tensed up, and I saw Luke’s ears perk right up as he surveyed the area for potential threats. I could see James re-organizing his grip on the lead rope, fully expecting Luke to bolt.
Luke spotted the two girls and worked up into a trot. James managed to break into a loose jog, and so far was keeping pace with Luke. However, as soon as Luke figured out that these were GIRL horses, he fired into an all out gallop…James could no longer keep pace, and had resorted to trying to stop the now highly excited horse. After roughly 100 yards of gravel-surfing, James finally let go of the lead rope (in order to save his poor running shoes) and jogged to a slow stop as we watched Luke barrel off up the road. Rocks and bits of gravel flying in ALL directions!
Rosie and Blaze were galloping excitedly about the east pasture and Luke, being 100% male had to impress the ladies! He did so, by galloping RIGHT past our driveway and making a left into our north neighbor’s alfalfa field.
Now neither James, nor myself, has any tremendous amount of experience with horses in general, let alone BIG ones. Panic was beginning to set in.
James took off a’runnin’.
I hit the gas, and practically flew down the driveway and into the yard. I dashed into the barn and scooped a bucket full of oats and ran back to the van. I jumped into the van, threw it in reverse and nailed the gas. As I roared back down the driveway to the road, I could see James hot footing it through the stubble to the north.
Luke had now slowed his pace somewhat, and was trotting back and forth along our north fence in an attempt to impress the ladies.
Whenever James would get ALMOST close enough to get a grip on the lead rope, gracefully swinging from Luke’s halter, Luke would step up the pace just enough to keep James behind him.
Luke, as with most males of pretty much any species, the hormones are generally over-ruled by hunger.
I parked the van near the entrance to the neighbor’s sunflower field, and shook the oats bucket. This did the trick. The rattle of feed bucket managed to garner the attention of the industrial-sized equine long enough for James to get a decent grip on his lead rope. James managed to lead the suddenly famished Luke back out onto the road with a promise of more goodies.
James carried the oats bucket in one hand and Luke’s lead rope in the other and the pair made their way back along the road and down the driveway. The two Mustangs following along inside the pasture fence…somewhat annoyed that they had been bumped to second place over a measly handful of grain.
I preceded James and the Giant Horse down the driveway and waited for them to arrive at the east pasture gate (just inside the main gate).
Blaze and Rosie continued along the fence until they reached the point where I was standing. Once they figured out that I had no oats for them, they turned about in a huff and wandered away.
I opened the east gate, and James released the lead rope showing Luke into his new home to meet his new pasture mates. James poured the remaining oats onto the grass for the Mustangs to enjoy as well.
Oats bucket in hand, sweat pouring down his face James walked past me in an almost defeated fashion. He didn’t speak directly to me….just a low mutter involving Mother and her (*&!$!#@!! horses.
Welcome Spring 2010. 🙂