Monday, February 22, 2010

Mini-ponies or sheep? Gman doesn't care.

Katina, her dog Macy, the Gman and I traipsed across the road this morning to go and visit "Pony" (aka Shadow). Shadow will be 29 years old in April and Katina has had him 26 years and the Pony and I also go way back to when Katina and I first became friends. I used to come up and visit for weeks on end and Katina and I would show horses together.

Katina's always had dogs and she encouraged me to get a Bouvier 12 years ago knowing so many different breeds and knowing my personality. I am forever grateful for her insight into pups and Pilar.

Because of the various dogs Katina's had in her life, Shadow is VERY used to having dogs around. And generally in life, Shadow isn't phased by much. He's an amazing equine and I was so excited for Garrison to meet him today. Garrison had never met a horse or pony before, only sheep. Because of his instinct, I chose to keep Gman on his leash for this introduction.... just in case. Just in case.

Katina and Pony have had a very successful and long relationship and when she yells out his name Pony comes a-trotting. Gman was intrigued by Shadow and knew it was a smell he hadn't smelled up close before... and was slightly intimidated by the size of this new beast. After it was all said and done, the Gman loved meeting Shadow. Gman loved tasting Shadow's grain. Gman kissed him and sniffed him but stayed wary of Shadow. He was a new beast and opinionated when Garrison got too close to his grain bucket. Garrison backed off much like a pup backs off from an older dog keeping pack order. Garrison IS the size of a mini-pony, after all.

Now then... every once in a while, Garrison would pull me away from Shadow to inspect the other horses in the pasture eating hay. Garrison saw them from afar and the horses would notice him, but were more intrigued by the new bales of hay Tom the pasture owner provides.

"Hmmm... those beasts look much bigger than me. I think I'll keep my distance. For now. Maybe."

Garrison kept walking around Shadow and was happy to be out in a field. Macy knows these pastures like the back of her paws and does not have a strong herding instinct. She would rather run and chase and sniff out holes that might have rodents than chase horses. But girls can be rather vixen-ish and girls know that they can often get boys into trouble.

Katina had planned on treating me to a massage (aka "a little slice of heaven") so we couldn't stay at the pasture nor take a long pasture walk. I also wasn't too keen on having Mr. Show Pony The Gman get all muddy and junk while sploshing through melting snow and ice from the system that blew through this past weekend. But we had a nice open area and we were walking back toward the pasture gate. I let Garrison off of his leash for a quick romp in the open space.

Macy wasn't ready to leave. Not just yet. She wanted to show Garrison the mini-ponies in a smaller pasture and enticed him into a high-speed game of chase.

At first Garrison didn't see the mini-ponies around the smaller barn. He was having a blast chasing Macy and running at full speed stretching his legs after days and days of road tripping and dog showing and keeping calm and composed. His Happy Puppy grin was blazing across his face as Macy ran around and around and headed back down the small hill toward the mini-pony barn.

And then... Gman caught a whiff and a sight of the mini-ponies. I saw that look in his eyes and the curiosity and excitement whaft over his body in a flash and my heart jumped into my throat. Katina said, "Ummm... I don't think there's a hole in the gate in that lane that he can crawl under....."

And Garrison proved her wrong.

Then Katina said, "Ummm... I don't think there's a hole in the fence into that pasture..."

And, again, Garrison proved her wrong.

I knew in that moment that all hell was going to break loose and I was very uncertain of the outcome.

The ponies had seen Garrison, but they were used to having some dogs around. This, however, was not just a dog. This was a Southern California Grey Bear Dog beast-like wolf looking thing and they were intrigued, too.

We couldn't see Garrison as he sploshed through the muddy creek. (So much for keeping Mr. Show Pony The Gman clean. UGH.) And then... I heard it. The high pitched bark of all Happy Puppy-ness that I've heard many, many times when working sheep.

The one bark. The one high pitched bark made me cuss out loud and cued in my head the music from The Man From Snowy River - the exciting wild horse chase music. That... and the screeching violins from Psycho.

All of this was happening in a matter of seconds. Macy thought it was hysterical and wondered if she could go off and chase Garrison. She decided against it.

Katina was up and over the first gate and I was in hot pursuit as I watched from afar as Garrison went on a HUGE "go by" as the 4 mini-ponies were running full speed ahead... and Garrison was right on their hooves.

Would the horses run into the wire fencing?

Would the horses kick Garrison and hurt him?

How big was the pasture and would Garrison ever calm down and bring the herd back to me?

Would this herding dog of mine in a huge pasture with only 4 animals to round up EVER listen to me?

Grrr... I know I don't have a herding title on this dog yet because he gets too excited with small-sized flocks (or herds, as today proved). There weren't 40-100 horses to round up. Oh no. The 30 or so regular sized horses were in the OTHER pasture. There were only 4 mini-ponies and they were close to the size of sheep and Garrison wasn't intimidated by them.

I watched the ponies turn back down the fence line and he got in between them and the wire fence. He was turning them back to the paddock as I called his name. Something happened. Garrison rolled over twice in the field and never missed a step in staying on the ponies. The ponies jumped the muddy creek. Garrison sailed over the muddy creek and corraled the ponies back into their paddock. He was right in the midst of them pushing them through the gate. No ponies were kicking... just shoving. Garrison was no longer barking or yipping or moving swiftly. No. He was channeling his up-close-and-personal experience with 30 sheep at Judy Vanderford's Sylmar ranch and keeping the ponies off of the fence and was about to run and block the gate when I yelled, "LIE DOWN!" Miraculously, Garrison HEARD me and dropped to the ground. Katina was able to put her hands on his neck and get ahold of his collar.

Legs and undercarriage caked with muddy snow and more than likely manure. However, no signs of blood, rips, tears, scratches, kicks or trauma to dog or ponies. Our hearts started to settle back down to a normal rate.

Gman was panting hard and heavy and had that look on his face like, "Did you see me show off my herding skills? Did you see that I brought them back? Did you see how fast I was going?"

"Garrison... that is NOT showing off your herding skills. That was being stupid and immature."

"Mom... I didn't do anything wrong. I was doing my job! I did a great job! I brought them back to you! They weren't in their paddock and they took off in the pasture and I brought them back. Did you see? Huh? Did you?!?!"

Auntie Katina said, "Boy I hope Tom didn't see that one. Here ponies... have a carrot. Thanks for playing 'sheep' with the Gman today."

And the ponies, wondering why they had to settle for mere carrots when they clearly deserved grain or fritos or something, were breathing slightly heavier than normal. They seemed to look at Garrison as if to say, "Dude... next time don't scare us like that and we can all get along. We're not sheep."

And Pony? Well, Shadow watched the entire incident and simply snorted at Garrison as he went back into his pasture with the big horses. He didn't have time for Garrison's little herding dog games.

So... Garrison had to spend the rest of the afternoon inside his crate while the muddy snow melted. I figured I would assess the grooming situation once I got home from my massage. Thankfully it wasn't nearly as horrific as it first appeared. The boy doesn't even smell and four human noses confirmed that this evening.

Katina had planned in advance to treat me to a 2 hour massage with Tim Duffy at The Knead Place in Olathe and after our cardiac stress test at the pasture, it was much needed and by far the best massage I've ever had.

Thanks, Garrison, for making it that much more worth while!

P.S. There were no videos of this incident since the entire thing happened in a matter of minutes and dog/pony management required all hands on deck and we weren't angling for the 5 o'clock news Top Story.

P. P. S. Pictures of the "crime scene" will come later once I've had a chance to download the pictures and insert them.

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