A little divergence from the normal fare. I began writing this this summer, so it is a tad dated. I didn’t like what I had written and set it aside. I just re-read and re-wrote over the last day or so. I hope you enjoy!
The black stallion appeared at the edges of our subdivision early last summer and from the looks of him, he was beaten down and hungry, but I would be hard-pressed to guess which hurt more – the hunger or the beating. A lone male isn’t an uncommon sight, but it’s usually in the fall mating season that they are usually seen.
He was an older stallion, black in color and speckled with white around the muzzle. I immediately suspected he had been the leader of a herd and that a younger and stronger challenger to that position had won out. He had fought, and no doubt fought ferociously from fights I have seen in times past, but had lost, exiled from the herd forever.
I felt bad for the old guy that day. When he looked at me as I passed him, I had the feeling from the look in his eyes that he didn’t really care where he was or what would happen to him. He walked slowly and his ribs were showing too much for my liking. It made me wonder if one day I would find him lying dead along side the road.
For the next week or so, I saw him in the vacant lots on the outskirts of our subdivision, scrounging among the rabbit brush, the sage brush and the Russian thistle for grasses. He didn’t appear to have changed much from the first time I saw him, but, then again, maybe he was just a little more refreshed, like he had finally had some sleep.
I guess it was about two weeks later that he ventured into the subdivision itself, first in the yard of the house on what you might call the border between civilization and the desert, and just a short while later in the very center of the community. He was standing there in that yard with his nose in the freshly watered, healthy, growing green. The grass had to have tasted like a fresh green salad to him.
He slowly made his way deeper into the streets lined on each side by houses with cars, trucks and RVs parked in driveways and on the streets. There was always the roar of a motor starting and the bang of vehicle and house doors as people left for work, but none of this seemed to phase him.
I suppose it was around July that three other stallions showed up and started following him around. We’d drive to the grocer’s and see the three of them grazing on one yard and on our return trip, we’d find them a little farther down the street. Our neighbor across the street, Tom, had a beautiful yard and it was a preferred spot for those horses. Tom had different ideas, though. Having been recently married, he was trying to sell his house and wanted nothing of the deposits these wild horses were making all up and down the street, the sidewalks, and the lawns.
When the three of them would stop by for a little grazing, Tom would turn on the lawn sprinklers. They weren’t too appreciative of that and soon moved on to “other lawns.” Obviously, this didn’t hurt the horses and was a good way to discourage them. Tom eventually moved for good, though, and today they have free reign over his yard — laying on the fresh grass, rolling around and just plain enjoying the softness.
They are generally pretty quiet about their presence. Early one morning I saw two of them walking down the middle of the street, walking a walk that was more like a sneak and being as quiet as a ton of flesh on four clopping hooves can be. They were actually tip-toeing (tip-hooving?) on the pavement!
One night, my wife and I were on our way back from a big box store when we happened across two horses in the road – actually, I nearly hit them. We slowed down and as we did, my wife pointed and said, “Look, a new one!” Sure enough a paint, smaller than the other two, was munching on the grass of the lawn just on our left.
The two solid brown horses approached the paint and then started to fight when it took off between them and headed down the road at a fast walk. They faced off and rose up on their hind legs each trying to hit the other with their front hooves.
It’s a little frightening to be so close to two full size horses when they are fighting. When they get up on their hind feet and start gyrating in the air – they have to be twelve feet tall at a minimum!
The next week, we began questioning where our four amigos had gone. There were horses, but none looked like any of our first four that had adopted our subdivision. It was true – they were gone. They had probably been run-off by the herd that was making itself at home.
Now there are about eight horses – a stallion-leader, probably five or six mares and a couple of younger males. Their territory seems to be larger than that of the four males – we see them in neighborhoods several streets away.
I have mixed feelings about them. I like them and they are fun to watch and there is something special about a wild horse. Cleaning up after them is a different matter, though. A couple weeks ago I put three old plastic storage tubs in the back of my pickup and drove down the street a couple blocks, filling them up with “horse apples” to put on the garden.
There are perks to every situation.
My main concern, though, stems from their lack of fear of humans. They respect our presence and clear a path for vehicles on the road, so that is not a problem, but they are content to munch on a lawn while the owner is in the garage working on a car or while the kids are playing on the lawn, and that is my worry.
I suspect they consider the children to be “colts” of the humans – or something like that and don’t see them as a danger. Maybe they think the same of we adults, too. (We aren’t as big as we think we are.) I guess I just wonder: What if they start fighting and in their fury kick or roll over a child – or adult. It hasn’t yet happened here, although I have heard stories of wild horses in residential areas fighting, rolling over fences, knocking out picture windows and such.
There are worse wild animals to have in one’s neighborhood … like the coyotes we hear singing just beyond our fence at night. Now that’s creepy!
Thank you for reading and God Bless.
Here is a pic of our new neighbors, well, sort of neighbors. They don’t really stay in one place too long and frankly, I don’t know where they hang their hat for the evening, either. I think they go in the surrounding foothills. To get a scale of their size, I would guess the smallest is about five feet tall at the shoulder – I know they come to the top of my small Ranger pickup.