Friday, November 03, 2006

(There Must Be) Fifty Ways to Lose Your Marbles!

Now this is an idyllic scene, isn't it? It would be far more so if I hadn't taken this photo in my neighborhood, less than a mile from my house.

But I didn't stop by to rewhine my vermin issues. Not exactly. No, my plan today was to check in re the post-psychic-intervention interactions among my herd members.

When last I blogged, I was delighted that my new Appy, Dakota, had decided to cut me some slack, and the unicorn was on his way to de-horning. Zip was still depressed.

Today I can happily report that the de-balling went swimmingly. The vet insists that it's not possible for Duke to have undergone a major personality change so quickly after the, uh . . . incident. I explained that I don't think this was a hormonal shift so much as an emotional restructuring. Ginny warned him that if he didn't back off and stop attacking the other horses, he'd get hurt. He didn't, and he did. Score another one for Herd Mommy! His manners renewed, the little guy is once again a pleasant little soul worth hanging around with.

Dakota continues to be, if not my buddy, at least my friendly companion.

That leaves Zip as the last of the troubled spirits in my herd, and herein lies the rub. When the subject of his depression arose in conversation with Ginny, we both recognized his state of mourning for the late herd leader, Grady. Heck! I'm still grieving, so why shouldn't Zip? After all, he had a much closer relationship with the old gelding if only by virtue of the number of times Grady was forced to beat him up to teach him basic equine interaction skills.

Did I mention the bears?

As often happens, the zebra went unnoticed because he was just too obvious. The zebra in this case was a bear we'll call Chicken Breath. We'll call him that because he was eating my chickens when we first spotted him. CB was young (note the potent past tense)--about 2 years old--male, 250 pounds and looking for trouble when he ripped the siding off the chicken coop. He was about the same age and size when he stepped into the Fish and Game Boys' trap and shuffled off this mortal coil.

What does this have to do with Zip's depression? Well, you'd feel a little overwhelmed by your herd-leaderly responsibilities too if they included protecting Pinky the One-Eyed Wonder App from 250 pounds of highly offended bruin banging and thrashing in a steel drum just feet from the pasture fence. You'd be put off your stride a bit by the smell of rotting bacon and female bear urine permeating the otherwise gentle fall breeze. The sound of snapping jaws and the low growl were meant to suggest that escape from his confinement was hoped for if not actually imminent.


A couple of days after the grief discussion, I upped the ante and baited the trap with donuts--Shop Rite cinnamon/sugar to be precise--and CB was ours. But that was a full week after the strange man in the big truck came and made the bad smells and several days after the local varmints too small to trip the trap discovered the breakfast buffet and brought the family.

Zip still has issues. There's a mountain lion in the woods across the street, and I'm betting that was the cause of Zip's panicky idiocy that sent him chasing the herd away from the barn and stalking the fence line with tail flagged and nostrils flared. Uneasy rests the skull that wears the Herd Leader's halter. But for the most part we are working through the problems as they arise, and Ginny's advice to help Zip find his personal shape by fondling him has worked nicely. Today he noticed his tail.

The moral of the story is "keep an eye on the zebra". It may not always be the cause but it's probably a contributing factor to whatever lunacy is besetting your beloved equine.

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