Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

On Saturday, our neighbor turned 50. He celebrated his birthday with a family party complete with mariachi band. We had the delicious experience of feeding horses and finishing the day's farm chores while being serenaded by the magical sounds floating across the field.

I watched Argus as he listened intently, a quizzical look on his face. That look stayed in my mind all evening, making me both sad and happy. I felt sad because I know that so many times during the course of Argus' life in prison, he must have stood and listened to the sounds of parties and music and laughter all around him. It must have been exciting to have heard something new and different. I felt happy because I could see that the music pleased him.

Argus has graduated from the winter dry lot to the adjoining green pasture, which is now full of wide blades of grass. The horses wish they could spend the entire day out there, but for now, a couple of hours must suffice. Horses have sensitive digestive tracts that do not look kindly on sudden mega-doses of rich greenery.

I foolishly opened the gate to the big pasture, the horses all charging out into the lush field. I say foolish because I forgot to teach Argus that where there once was a gate, there now was an opening. He galloped frantically up and down the fence line, past the open gate, terrified that he was separated from his friends. "Uh oh," I thought, "what was I thinking?" How would I catch him?

I called Argus as I walked toward him with the halter, trying to calm him down. Here was one charged up Thoroughbred (and those of you who have been in this situation know that catching then when they're this panicked can be harrowing) who was not seeing me. I called him again. He looked at me and stopped, allowing me to walk up to him and halter him. Argus took a deep breath of relief. I could feel how much he trusted me to help him. Amazing. We then walked through the open gate, back and forth, back and forth. Argus has unusually good ground manners and leads really well, even in a scary situation. I was proud of him. We walked all over the "new" pasture, back to the winter pasture, over to the waterer, back to the shelter, out to where Argus' friends now grazed. He got the lay of the land. I released him.

Argus walked back to the winter pasture, where he stood in a familiar spot, quiet and spent. Was it too soon for Argus to have so much room? Had I gone too fast for him?

I left him there, hoping he would figure it out, and watched from the house. Soon, he wandered up to join the herd, this time grazing quietly after a quick canter around. He has gone out several times since, and he settles down to graze just like of the other horses now.

Here are photos from that first day (taken after Argus' entered the big pasture of his own accord):

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I had to throw these in. I took the girls to a dressage show yesterday. It was a disastrous day. Shelby fell off the pony just before entering at "A." Demi's mule (who has done more horse shows than we can count) spooked at a tractor and bolted across the dressage court, jumping the court rails TWICE before she could stop him. The judge excused Demi from the test. Ridge was as high as a kite and jigged his way through our test.

But the best part was the lunchtime Easter costume class. Shelby is pictured here aboard Ginger, our pony. They were dressed as "Wee Biscuit," complete with a pretty good rendition of the original Howard racing logo!
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When we arrived home, back safe from our exciting day, Argus greeted the trailer with excitement. He has seen us come and go enough to realize that the trailer bears his good friends, who undoubtedly tell him about their adventures.

Yesterday, it was no different. Ridge and Odie, their manes still curly from braids, stood quietly with Argus. If you listened closely, it was almost as if you could hear them talking about their day.


Sandra said...

Katie and Argie-----Happy Easter to you!!----I just love to read about you, Argie------your Katie makes you come alive for us and I live vicariously thru her posts. This new world is so challenging, but you take it patiently in stride,with child-like wonder. You have learned so much in a short time, and i hope will continue,as there is still much to be found. It is so hard to believe that you have adjusted so well after so long a prisoner-----------just shows what a special horse you are and how you were meant to be found by Katie. Thank God for this miracle!

Sandra said...

sorry-----should have said Argies!!

CG said...

Thanks for brightening my Easter with the Argus update- he looks wonderful! It is raining and blowing sideways here but it really looks like spring in your pictures.
I love the Wee Biscuit costume, that is really cute. It looks like the girls had fun, despite the rough go of it at the show- I think they both look great!

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter to you and your family, horses included!

"WeeBiscuit," CUTE!!

Argus is looking good and I hope that his trust in you continues to grow. I'm sure your many people in one to him. A mother, guardian and friend.

Jessica said...

I just found your blog - from a link in the email about the big tack sale - and was really amazed at Argus' story.

It never ceases to astound me how horses that have had such horrible experiences can still somehow begin to trust humans when they have absolutely no reason to do so.

Kudos to you and smooches to Argus from our family.

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter!

Aw, I love the WeeBiscuit costume! That is sooo cute!

It's great to hear that Argus trusts you so much...what a long way he has come. I love the pictures of him enjoying being a horse in the pasture, too. Especially the one of him rolling. I wonder what he thinks about rolling in the grass and how good it feels? He's never felt that before coming to live with you. I'm sure it's an amazing experience.

Mrs Mom said...

Thank you, very much, for sharing the journey of Argus with us all. It is so great to see him rolling and frolicing in the grass!

LOVE your long ears too... ;)

"WeeBiscut"-- oh my gosh- that is adorable!

Holly said...

And Argus continues to tug at my heart. What a special boy he is to look to you for guidance when he's so frightened. That's incredibly special.

The Wee Biscuit was heart rendingly adorable.

The Boss Bitch said...

My biggest laugh today came when I laid my eyes upon Wee Biscuit. Hysterical. Hope they won.

Argus is marvelous.

Anonymous said...

I cannot put into words what your posts mean to me. I am grateful to you from the very bottom of my heart for sharing Argus with me (I'm in love with him) and for showing him such love, compassion and kindness.
You are surely blessed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting Argus's story. I look forward to each entry.

Schnitzie said...

I love the tribute to Seabiscuit. The costume was just darling!

Argus -- wow. Hard to remember that even the most simple thing, like opening a gate, is something that he is not yet equipped to deal with.

Then he shows you his trust, even when he is in a panic. He is extraordinary, and I just love him.

emma said...

These photos are just darling :)