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Monday, October 19, 2009

JJ: Toby

As a return favor to Jeff, we kept his mule and his Appy gelding at our place for a while. There was no trouble with the other horses or dominance problems to work out -- the mule KNEW it was the boss and the other critters didn't argue. Toby was smart!

He impressed me in a lot of ways. He wasn't too big, but he could kick like Chuck Norris, maybe with better control. When he was peeved at a person he would spin and deliver a kick against the nearest post hard enough to dent or splinter it, then look at you with a "make my day" expression. You'd just been warned.

Conversely, Jeff told me about a child who had walked up behind Toby and startled him. Toby kicked, but stopped the hoof in mid-strike when he saw what it was. Like I said, he had control.

I saw a little dog, a Heeler type, slip up behind him to nip at his ankles. Toby never even stopped grazing -- his left hind foot came up in a neat arc that connected with the dog's nose while it was still a few feet behind him. It wasn't a hard kick, either, just enough to discourage the nipper from trying again, without doing any damage.

Toby spent one winter in the wild in northern British Columbia when he was inadvertently left behind. Jeff expected to find a few scraps of bone and hide when he went back into the country the next spring, but he was greeted by a skinny but healthy Toby. A scarred Toby, though. He had an impressive set of claw marks down his ribs on both sides from what was probably a grizzly that had grabbed him from behind. Jeff figured that somewhere up there was a Griz with a set of mule prints embedded in his sore belly.

He was independent, intelligent, and a gentleman. He eventually gave in to old age, but I still miss him.