Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Adventures of How D Special Dawn

Well here is the culprit of all the panic on Friday. It is going to be a bit of a long story because there are lots of things that lead up to why she got on the other side of the fence. In fact this picture is taken with the railway track behind her in just about the place I had to get her back in!
Ok for starters, it is my fault that this filly and her two sisters aren’t even halter trained, and have never been taught to lead, in fact they have run out in pasture all their lives, but with up to 20 horses at one time on my own, I have burnt out and lost most of my passion for something I have strived my whole life for, to own my own horse. They are easy and respectful to be around, well mannered and calm so my job this summer is going to be to try to work one at a time so that each one can have a better chance of finding a good home.

This will be the third year that I haven’t bred my mares much to my husbands disdain who believes a brood mare that is not in foal is not worth anything if you decide to sell her, but my argument is that there is such a glut of unwanted horses at the moment and we still have some of our babies from four years ago, why the heck would I want to breed more and cause myself more heartache at parting with them and finding good homes. I wont send them to sales so they can end up on the killers' trucks and have $200 in my hand if I am lucky. I am battling severe depression to top it off so it has been a hard few years for me.

This first picture was taken when I first came here (click on any of the pics to see larger versions). The electric post and to the left is where this all took place and you can just see the pipe running under the railway line on the right where all the water from the whole district eventually runs either via the ditch along the track between it and the barn, and one that floods the bottom of my field every time it rains, so it seees a lot of water.

The next part of the build up is that a few years ago a grader tried to drive along the side of the track to get back to the road and got to a certain point where the gradient was too steep and it just started sliding down the bank into our fence. It is always wet here so the mud is terrible most of the time. Again instead of bringing their equipment into our field and hauling the grader out they drove a backactor down the length of the ravine between our property and the railroad and succeeded in making a mess like you cant imagine because half of the embankment that the track is on came down with it and it tore out all the foliage and trees and foliage that had protected the gully from erosion naturally for many years there as well, leaving a muddy mess. I was worried for the safety of the embankment that the trains run on because this stretch is right next to my barn and every time I see a train go by I see a little more gravel eroding away and sliding down into the ditch. We live next to one of the busiest lines in Indiana.

We insisted that they repaired the fence immediately before we could put any horses out in the pasture, which they did a half hearted job on but it has worked thus far.

The backhoe tried to tow the grader backwards to follow the path it had already forged along the full length of the drainage ditch.
Of course all going to plan the backhoe broke one of its tracks and had to be repaired in that mess where it stood!!! It also cleared everything out of the path it needed to drag the grader up the drainage ditch back the way it came.
The area below is almost exactly the stretch that I had to work with and where I got her back into the field, only the erosion is far worse now and has reached the gravel next to the track now.
Larry called the Sheriffs Department to get them to notify the railroad that we had a horse loose in this area. One of the railroad employees came down in his little vehicle a few hours later to check that we had caught her and that everything was okay.

So here the saga starts (if you have not fallen asleep yet) On Friday I popped into town quickly to take a friend to the shops so she could get some groceries for their camping trip and trail riding expedition this past weekend, the first of the season for them. I arrived home just after 4pm and immediately noticed that Dawn was on the other side of the fence between us and the railroad. She was still pretty calm but of course the other horses were all excited and running up and down and bucking and making matters worse. I couldt find a break in the wire, I found a couple of spots where they had leaned over and pushed the level of the fence down trying to reach the grass outside the field as my pastures are non existent. The only thing I can think is that she stretched too much and tumble over the fence, thank heavens not getting her legs tangled in the wire.

This stretch of our boundary is the Railroad’s responsibility to maintain and they had a 5ft square mesh like fence up which has been there for many years and is deteriorating fast. To cap it all they decided last year that after the ice storm we had a few years ago they were going to fix up all the trees that jeopardized the power lines and went to the extreme. They started clearing all the brush and chopping everything down along the fence line at ground level and leaving the branches just laying in the ditch, in our field and laying over the top of the existing fence. This then made it possible for the horses to get their heads over the fence, whereas before there was just too much thorny stuff and bushes for them to be able to get out of the field along that side. They even went so far as to chop all of the trees which were far shorter than the powerlines which were at the back of my old barn which needs the protection because it is deteriorating fast and exposing it to the elements was not a good thing. The only problem is that between our old barn and along the railway track parallel to the track there is a deep ravine which carrries a lot of the storm water from the surrounding acreage out of the fields down to the bottom of our field, through the pipe under the tracks and on into the creek on the other side. They just dumped these large trees where they cut them blocking the gully so I couldnt just walk her up the ravine without climbing the bank first.

So here I am, in the rain and mud with horses flying all over the show, I got the halter on pretty easily and the lead rope and had a bucket of grain but now had to figure out how to get her out of there because the only way out north or south was to climb this massive bank, walk along the track and bring her round via the road or the neighbors property. She bolted on me twice which had me on the ground trying to keep her under control and she climbed up the bank and ran back and forth along the track. By now I was panicking. Richard our neighbor came to my rescue too but our efforts were pretty futile. I decided the only way that I was going to solve the problem was to cut the whole fence down in the area we were and hope that she would walk through to get back to her buddies. So off I go (bear in mind it is still raining LOL) to get the fencing tools. I cut the wire and had to shoo all the other horses because they wanted to participate and all I needed was for two horses to be out!!! We managed to coax her through and patch up the fence. What a relief.

Then I started checking the entire fenceline which was eye opening because a lot of it which had been protected by the brush totally before was now exposed, corroded and only about 1 to 2 feet off the ground!!!

So still in the rain and mud I got a roll of wire we have and strung up a strand about four feet up along the worst stretch and tied long orange plastic tape all along it. I always do this on the electric fences so hoped it would keep them away from it because they would think it was hot. I really think it was just a freak thing that happened but I didn’t want it happening again. The brush that they did leave there makes it impossible to electrify that stretch without cutting all the rest of the brush down. It will be a shame because it used to make a lovely green and pink and white hedge almost along the fenceline when the wild roses flowered and all the bushes got their leaves. Even got blackberries in there which the birds love.

So that is our little saga, and of course we haven’t been able to get anyone from the railroad to respond to us so it is probably going to get nasty. Just pray with me that I can get this fence fixed before I get another escapee. It is about a 600 ft length of boundary so is not going to be cheap to repair but is the railwroads responsibility to maintain thank heavens.

I still have visions of me standing twenty feet below her while she was running up and down along the gravel of the track and hoping a train didn’t come along. Here is another picture of how thick the brush was last year, this is Taxes hiding from the first rains a year ago when he was 6 weeks old along the same boundary.

Well if you got this far with this story, you deserve a gold medal LOL but most days have something unexpected happening which is why I never get anything done LOL
Hope you all had a great weekend, we have had rain all day but I got some stock photos done for the agency.
Thanks for listening ((((((Hugs))))))


Rising Rainbow said...

I'm glad that it worked out she didn't get hurt and neither did you, for that matter.

Mike said...

Gee. what a story and what a mess the railroad has made. Great neighbors huh?

Beautiful horse and it looks so much like she has a free spirit in that run outside the fence.

It reminds me of a Bev Doolittle painting when I first saw her picture.

CG said...

What an amazing saga of incompetence (not yours!!) and what a mess that heavy machinery made. I'm so glad Dawn is ok and that you are too!!

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