There are times in my life, when I feel no one else in the world—or very few people—are doing what I am doing at that exact moment. I once assured my lawyer that I was his only client that day—or ever—cleaning the inside of a horse’s sheath (the tubular skin that houses the penis). He agreed. I often told myself that no other CEO’s were mucking horse manure, when I had to do that chore.
I was reminded four days ago of those rare and special moments. Strange how many of them involve horses. We left the house just in time to head for my mother-in-law’s Mother’s Day lunch at her nursing home. Well into her 80′s, she is easily unsettled if we are late to the dining room. Just as we were about to drive off, I heard that a pair of sunglasses was missing. “Grandma is going to be upset,” I announced. And I waited for my passenger to make the trip back inside to search for the needed opticals. Thank goodness for this few seconds delay.
When we finally set off, I looked to the left and saw three Cleveland Bay horses staring at us from the driveway. It took me a few seconds to realize they had escaped from their fenced-in pasture. The last time this happened, two of them were in open fields and took almost an hour to round up. They looked great cantering through the tall summer grass. But it’s no joke if they make it to the road and are hit by a car.
Now we had three mares wondering how they got there and what they should do. I quickly made a sharp turn to block one stone-wall opening, hopped out of the car, and tried unsuccessfully to prevent the lead mare from going though the other opening of our circular driveway and head down toward the road. Did you ever try to stop a 16-hand-high frolicking horse with your bare hands? Helluva trick. Impossible. “Grandma is really going to be pissed,” I thought.
“How did they get out?” my daughter asked innocently. “Doesn’t matter now,” I blurted, “We have to get them back inside.” You can really see the pragmatist side of me in moments like this one.I raced the car to the barn, picked out some neck ropes and threw grain into a bucket.”This is going to be quite a trick,” I thought, running through the fields after “wild” horses in my loafers and dress-up clothes.
But miraculously, shaking the grain bucket worked like a snake charmer. Those horses heard that food 200 yards away and came right back toward the barn. My daughter blocked one other passageway by standing in it with both arms spread out asking, “What do I do if they charge me?” “Get out of the way,” I told her, as I put a neck rope around one horse chomping grain and led her into the stable. The other two followed automatically. All three horses were soon in their stalls, and we were driving towards Grandma’s luncheon.
The whole incident lasted less than 10 minutes. We couldn’t believe what had just happened, and it all seemed surreal. Now who do you know who started their Mother’s Day like that? A small adventure in a somewhat special day made even more special and unforgettable, because someone left open a gate and someone else wanted her sunglasses. The difference a few seconds can make. If we had left an instant earlier, no one would have been there to stop those horses from running free all over the farm and maybe into the road. Lucky break.
I was proud that I knew what to do, was unafraid to do it, and saw that it worked. A non-event if you are a rancher or handling horses every day. But I am not and don’t, and was pleased how far I’d come from a small house on Miami Beach, where I grew up with frogs and pollywogs.
What did you do on Mother’s Day? Chase any horses? Wrestle some alligators?