Horsing Around And Being A Horse’s A**

, , , , , , , | Friendly | CREDIT: Shifting-Parallax | June 4, 2021

I live in a rural neighborhood on five acres and my nearest neighbors are a sweet elderly couple about one acre from me. They’re perfect and we get along very well. I own my own home and have two horses and a cat, and recently, my mom has also moved in.

Here’s where things go south. My neighbors’ son and his wife and two girls — four and seven — live in the nearest city and don’t feel safe during the health crisis. I don’t blame them, and because my neighbors are saints, they open their home and the brood moves right in.

One morning, I’m letting my horses — a Clydesdale and a Welsh Pony — out into the front pasture, and I hear the most high-pitched squealing from next door. I pop my head out and the two girls are losing their minds. And I get it — little white pony and the horse from “Brave” — but still, they’re large animals they don’t know, so they should have the sense not to approach, right?

Pfft. Not a snowball’s chance in Hell. These kids sprint to the fence shrieking. The pony runs around in panic and the Clydesdale stands there with the same “WTF?” look I’ve got on my face. Then, the four-year-old starts to go under the fence.

H***. No.

Me: *Firmly* “Don’t you dare climb under that fence!”

I admit I’m kind of harsh, but I’ll be d***ed if I’m going to have my horses mow over a kid. I walk over to them and they look like they’re about to cry.

Me: “These horses are big animals and could easily hurt you. You must never climb under or over the fence.”

They go home and I clean stalls. An hour in, I hear someone banging on my home’s door, and I can see through my barn’s hatch door that my mom and the kids’ mom are having a conversation. The kids’ mom then storms down to the barn. I’ve never met this lady, but I know an entitled parent when I see one. Joy of joys. She starts going off on me.

Kids’ Mother: “How dare you make my kids cry?! They just wanted to see the ponies!”

She goes on and on, but when she takes a breath, I get my point across.

Me: “Ma’am, your youngest was crawling under the fence toward two large animals none of you know. That Clydesdale is a 2000-pound draft horse; he can literally crush you, not feel it, and do permanent damage. The pony looks cute but needs an experienced hand as he is very untrustworthy, flighty, and tends to bite. Your children are not allowed near them without my consent and heavy supervision, and they’re never allowed in the pasture with them. Do you understand?”

Kids’ Mother: “Well, if they’re so dangerous, why do you have them? Are you even allowed to have them? I should call animal control!”

And on she goes again, until I find a space to interject.

Me: “One, they’re my personal horses; yes, I’m allowed to have them. Two, your kids trespassed on my property; I’m trying to keep them safe. Three, this is not a petting zoo.”

She huffs off and I continue work. Later that evening when the kids’ father gets home, I explain what happened. He’s understandably alarmed. I explain how dangerous that situation is and he agrees. I’m optimistic about his reaction, but I know he’s often not home so I stay cautious.

Later in the next week, I’m working from home and I suddenly hear screaming — not excited screaming but scared little kid screaming. I rush outside and the four-year-old is bawling in the middle of the pasture. The pony is doing laps around the perimeter of the fence as my Clydesdale slowly approaches the little girl. The seven-year-old is crying outside the fence and calling for her mom, but clearly, their mom is not watching them. My initial terror recedes a bit because my Clydesdale is essentially a golden retriever in a horse’s body — the sweetest pushover in the world. He’s gingerly approaching her in a slow, friendly, way and being as non-threatening as he can. And with him so close, the pony won’t rush them. He’s probably about three steps from her, but I yell for him to halt, and like a good boy, he does. I make my way in with them.

Me: *To the four-year-old* “Are you hurt?”

She’s not, but she’s clearly scared, so I pick her up and walk out, making my Clydesdale heel to me just in case the pony gets a dumb idea.

The mom is STILL nowhere in sight, so I take them to my neighbors’ house. What proceeds is about thirty minutes of screaming and crying. The girls’ mother is the one to open the door, she starts screaming at me and firing off questions before my neighbors intervene. I tell everyone exactly what happened and my elderly neighbors BLOW UP — at her, not me.

Neighbors: “How could you be so irresponsible and negligent?! Your daughters could have been hurt!”

Kids’ Mother: “Well, if your neighbor didn’t have those horses in the first place—”

The mom keeps trying to throw the blame on me, but they aren’t having it. My neighbors apologize profusely and I go about my day until the father gets home. He comes by my place.

Kids’ Father: “I want to apologize for my family’s behavior and especially for my wife’s behavior.”

Me: “Thank you. I understand; they’re little girls, and I, too, know the allure of magnificent, fluffy horses! Their mom is at fault for not watching them. I’m just glad everyone is okay.”

The girls were still really shaken up, so I extended an olive branch. I was an overexcited kid who liked horses once, too, and I didn’t want this to completely traumatize them from being around horses.

So, the next day, I properly introduced them to my Clydesdale, with him in his stall with the inside hatch open and the girls being supervised by their father and me. They loved it and the Clydesdale loved the attention. Everyone’s happy, right? Well, except the mom, who took my olive branch as an offer to teach them horseback riding, give free lessons, and other crap, but her husband shot it down hard, and presumably so did my neighbors.

Since then, it’s been quiet. I did install a second electrical wire on the bottom of the pasture fence — not just on the top — just in case. And yes, they did test it. The seven-year-old got zapped pretty good and got in trouble with her dad. Aside from that, there have been no incidents other than them wanting to pet the horses when I drop evening feed once in a while. Here’s hoping it stays peaceful.

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