Terri Farley
HomeBooksThe AuthorConnectEducationWild Horses

July 1

Last month in Sam's Blog:

Sam's friend Tabby loves her Arab gelding Banner, but Banner refuses to leave the ranch without Beauty, his best friend. When her mother considers selling both horses, Tabby comes to Sam for help.

Tabby and I have worked with Banner for a week, but we haven't made much progress. Jen is busy job-shadowing the vet, so we can't get her help. I'd feel a lot more comfortable giving Tabby advice, if Jen were here.

But, I've talked to lots of people with lots of ideas.

Brynna's idea was to move Banner out of the big pasture, further away from Beauty, and each day increase the distance between them.That worked fine. Even when he was out of sight of Beauty, he just gave an occasional neigh. But when Tabby saddled Banner and tried to leave the ranch. No way.

We checked the Internet. There, we found out that Banner is what they call "herd bound."

More like "buddy bound," I think, because he refuses to go anyplace without Beauty.

Tabby and her mom admit it's partly their fault for always riding the two horses side-by-side, but it doesn't matter whose fault it is. Banner's bucking and bolting is too dangerous to tolerate.

Dallas, our foreman, was no help. He said this is sissy behavior.

"Being weaned once as a baby is all a smart horse needs," he told me. But I didn't tell Tabby.

Dad said Banner just needed to work harder on the ranch, so that he'd appreciate a relaxing trail ride.

"That makes sense," Tabby said, when I told her, and she made a list of things Banner hated to do.

For almost an hour, Tabby sat in the saddle. She backed Banner until he tossed his head from side to side, huffing in irritation. Tabby made Banner trot in tight figure eights.

"Are you getting dizzy?" I asked, and Tabby bobbed her head yes, but she was determined to win.

"He really hates opening and closing gates," Tabby said. So, she'd saved it for last, riding the rose-gray gelding up to the gate of an empty corral, and then opening it to ride through. They did it six times as I

I watched from the ground.

"He's getting pretty sick of this," Tabby said cheerfully. She turned her gelding's nose toward the ranch gates. He took a few steps, and then looked back over his shoulder at Beauty.

Tabby made sure her helmet was cinched down tight.

"Just lead him forward a couple steps," she said.

I tried.

Banner is as beautiful as any non-mustang I've ever seen, but when I walked up to hook my fingers through the cheek-piece of his bridle, he glared at me. Looking mean as a snake, he flattened his ears into his mane and showed me his big, white, girl-chomping teeth.

That's when we realized Tabby's mom was watching!

"Enough!" she yelled. "I know a buyer in Denver, Colorado who wants a pair of matched Arabians to show in rodeo parades."

"But, Mom--"

"It's for the good of us all," Tabby's mom insisted. "They'll always be together, no one – including you! -- will be injured by Banner and your father and I can stop worrying!"

Tabby still sat silently in the saddle after her mother went back into the house.

Banner pawed apologetically, but he gave Beauty and the other horses in the pasture the evil eye as if it was their fault he had to work while they grazed, yawned and switched their tailI guess we both pretended nothing had happened, and of course things got better when Tabby's mom wasn't there to watch.

Once Banner figured out that he could quit backing and doing figure eights, he was happy to leave the ranch yard.

Tabby and I gave each other high-fives, and celebrated.

Gram came to pick me up, and before I got into the car, Tabby said, "As soon as my dad gets home, I'll show him that Banner is better. He knows how much I love Banner. And really? Mom loves Beauty, too."

While Tabby was talking to me, Banner used his teeth to untie his reins and return to the pasture fence.

His rose-gray head hung over the gate. He and Beauty rubbed their heads together, forelock to forelock.

"Fingers crossed," I said.

Banner's story concludes in the August newsletter