The Perils of Horse-Keeping or All Hail Breaks Loose

Patty Wilber

The northern sky was looming over the ridge in a  thick smoky-black cloud. Still, I took Winston to the round pen to show him to some potential buyers.

Figured we could beat the rain.

Winston–all the horses actually–were high energy and anxious.  Winston couldn’t listen to a thing I told him. He showed his pretty movement but not his willing and quiet self!  The cloud got loomier and the sun was slinking behind the Sandias, so I figured I better attempt to convince Winston to let me catch him.  Normally a quick process, this took a few minutes.  He might not have sold himself on that performance!

A few rain drops were falling.  Headed to the barn and turned Winston out.

Then, the first hunk of golf ball sized hail slammed into the galvanized metal roof.  Loud and solid.  The roof rang with the impact.  There was a pause of quiet, then two hit.  Then five.  Then we were engulfed in a wall of sound; intense and overwhelming.

Dartagnon, here for vet care for an injured and stitched up knee, panicked immediately and began to run.  The hail was pounding him and the shelter was a den of cacophony.  He had no idea where to go, and I could not catch his attention.  The horse that will let me do anything to his injured leg,  a horse that really trusts me, could not see me in his fear; could not hear a word I said.

I wanted him in a stall to protect him, but there was no hope.

Risa was in a pen, alone and without any shelter.  She is edgy even under warm, quiet, normal conditions.  I could see the pain and confusion in her body.  She galloped blindly as the ground conditions deteriorated to muddy ice.

Jim put a board over his head and opened the gate so she could come in, but the noise of the hail on the metal was so incredibly loud that no horses wanted to be near the barn.

Cometa was penned next to Risa, but he had trees and is a very sensible boy.  He was running, upset, but he was thinking,  searching for a solution.

The ground became deeper in hail.  Risa’s pen was sloped and she began to slide and fall…She was looking for some way, any way, out.  She found it: through the 2-strand smooth-wire fence with an electric strand on top.  My heart stopped beating. The electric wire showered yellow sparks as it snapped. A T-post yanked loose and she burst through to Cometa’s pen, dragging fence.

He could not stop the hail for her.

She hurled herself back across the wire, catching a leg.  It yanked her to the ground. The hail was so thick and big that going out was too risky for us thin- skinned humans, and her panic was so great…I could only watch…or turn away…or watch.   And cry.  My chest hurt to see her.

She freed herself and regained her feet only to barrel through the last fence section  still standing.  The remaining electric wire went down with a hot flash.

Dart was still running. Risa was still running.  Cometa was still running.  The barn roof skylight panels were disintegrating over my head.  It was too loud to hear anything but the relentless hammering. Penny and Winston were still running.  The hail was punching holes in the plastic gutters and flying into the barn where the skylights used to be. I was surrounded by chaos, watching animals that depend on me  unable to find help or comfort or safety.

I guess I was glad Dart wasn’t in the stall with the roof falling on his head.  Not sure.

Oddly, the lights never even flickered.

As the hail  drove in harder from the northeast, Penny and Winston came around to the southwest side of the barn and found the most sheltered spot.

Risa found Cometa and they huddled together under the thickest tree, immoblized.  Dart never found a spot to settle.

It lasted, just as Doranna said in her Monday post,  approximately…forever.

When it stopped, all the horses were covered in welts.

Dart was shaking.  His bandage had slipped down and was soaked.

Risa would barely let me touch her.  All four legs were wire burned and cut.  None seemed horrible, but she didn’t want a thorough inspection. She had a gash under her eye and she was trembling. Bute ( a pain killer) and blankets and a slumber party for the two of them.  I had to rebandage Dart.

Cometa just wanted to crawl into my pocket and be hugged.  He stayed like that, a pocket pony, for four days. Penny and Winston shook it off.  Bute and company for those three, too!

My little car was totalled,  paint left the barn for parts unknown, and the entire property looked as though someone used a weed whacker to clear it. Saved on mowing…The electric fence has been re-strung but it refuses to carry a charge. Probably have to put in new wire.

Final insurance adjustments willbe done on Monday.

As far as natural events go, I know this was relatively minor.  All the property damage is repairable.  Risa is the only one with any injuries, and those not terrible.

The part that got me was watching their fear, knowing what could have happened…and having no power to help!

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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7 Responses to The Perils of Horse-Keeping or All Hail Breaks Loose

  1. Jackie Splinter says:

    Oh my gosh, Patty….this was terribly upsetting to read. I can only imagine your pain in watching beloved animals suffer and being unable to intervene. So glad to read that things mostly came out well…whew! Did Winston awe his potential buyers on any level? Wish I was into horses! Love you. Jackie

    • Doranna says:

      I hope he did–I like Winston! But I suspect we’ll have to wait until Patty returns from her latest adventure to find out…

  2. Tom Troy says:

    Having been in your barn I could easily picture the scene. Glad it was you with the terrified horses and not me. Tom

  3. Patty says:

    Am here in DC with a MASSIVE computer screen and little bitty type. I am sure there is some way to make the view larger…or I could wear my readers and look very professional…
    Jackie–it was very scary, but things did work out ok inthe end. Winston was one of the calmer horses and that did make a good impression. The buyers are coming back next weekend to ride him. If he is the right horse, they will likely buy him. If he is a little too green, there will be others (I say with confidence!!)

    Hi Tom! I was under the roof–where the horses were loath to come! You would have been perfectly safe(!!) Unless of course something unexpected happened…

  4. Tom Troy says:

    Wow Patty. I can picture it too.- vivdly . In my mind I ‘m going to Carolina..( er New Mexico. )

  5. Tom Troy says:

    That was from Anne

  6. Patty says:

    Hi Anne! I hope we don’t have that sort of hail again–we had that much one other time when the kids were little but it was small–there was so much of it it dammed up Tijeras Creek and caused a flood. We came home to find piles of hail and cold horses, but no damage!

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