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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

JJ: Cutter Time 1

The lady agreed to teach Bec how to ride and to train Cutter, a process with a lot of ramifications. She was dealing with both a horse and a girl that had similar problems with discipline & rebelliousness. Cutter hated being contained or controlled, and was an expert at finding weak spots in fences and taking advantage of any mistakes a rider made. He was food oriented. He escaped from the pasture on the farm and disappeared, only to be found back on the creek inside the old hog pasture. Yeah, it involved going over or through two different fences and traveling a mile to get to where HE wanted to be. Bec was riding him down the road when she met a pickup pulling a trailer load of limbs and brush -- Cutter spun 180 degrees and took off at a gallop after the trailer, mouth wide open, trying to grab a juicy batch of leaves that dangled over the side. We put him out in the field behind an electric fence. Cutter respected the fence, so he bided his time and waited his chance. It came when we turned the fence off to move it. He waited till we were actually handling the wire, walking it to a different area, then ran between us, broke the wire, and was gone. Yeah, he was THAT smart. He knew if we touched it, it was safe for him. We fixed up a small pasture with wood and woven wire, and fenced off an area at one end where we kept some hay stored. Cutter got into the forbidden area by walking up to within five or six feet of the hot wires, bracing himself, and charging through it, breaking the wires and pulling out some of the little metal posts. He'd decided the shock was worth it to get his fill of tasty alfalfa hay. After he did that a second time, I grabbed the pellet rifle and hid where I could watch him. I waited till he walked up to his usual starting place near the fence, timed it as well as I could, and shot him in the butt a second before he was ready to start his smash-and-dash trip to the hay. He spun, snorted, and galloped back to the far end of the corral. A few minutes later, that scene was repeated. Approach, pause, PING, snort, gallop away. He waited quite a while, then came back to the wire a third time, and that time I nailed him before he got even got close. He got the hint and left that end of the pasture alone from then on. We fixed up the old barn; new roof, new floor, new stalls, and all. We kept a bucket of honeyed oats in a partitioned off section and one cold winter day when I went in to get some I found an upside-down icicle in the middle of the bucket. I was looking for a leak and puzzling out how one could exist in the freezing cold when I heard a scraping noise. It was Cutter, pushing his nose through a vent on the wall over the bucket, sniffing the aroma from the oats, and drooling. It was his slobber that made the ice pile. Some years later, a friend commented that he was worried about Cutter -- his legs seemed to be getting shorter. Yeah, he was an easy keeper. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)