An unfair fight
Phoenix, our yearling Miniature Horse, stood a mere 18 inches tall and weighed in at maybe 40 pounds---small, even for a Mini. Our little orange baby, we called him.
I scanned the pasture in the growing darkness, my eyes wide and determined. Struggling to calm my nerves, I spotted a shadowy lump in the distance. It was Phoenix, laid flat out and still as death, halfway between Mercury and me.
Mercury snorted---a loud, challenging, stallion snort. He looked right at me, shaking his head fiercely, his long mane swirling like a tempest. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Phoenix lift his head. He flopped back down, and then with a mighty struggle he heaved himself to his feet only to topple over yet again.
I knew what had happened. Tiny as he was, Phoenix was a colt. At 1 year old, he hadn’t started acting “studdy” ---aggressive and full of himself---so we hadn’t gelded him yet. But Mercury knew another male when he smelled one, no matter the size, and Mercury meant to be king of this herd. So he had attacked.
Mercury snorted again. This time he fixed his gaze on Phoenix and stepped forward, his hooves making their way straight toward the tiny heap that was our little orange baby.
“Hey!!” I yelled. And then, louder, “NO!” I forced my voice to be strong, loud in my best “Bad Horse, Bad Dog” tone. Phoenix struggled to get up, but he stumbled and fell after just one or two steps. It looked like there was something wrong with his head. It looked … bigger than usual, and heavy.
My trembling fingers pushed the speed dial number for our local
S i i ibl d or obviously broken bones, the veterinarian said it
looked as if Phoenix may have been kicked
in the head.
veterinary clinic. It was after hours, but someone always answered. I spoke briefly to the veterinarian on call, who headed out toward us immediately. But I couldn’t wait until then to get Phoenix safely away from Mercury.
I’d need help. With my daughter Megan away at college and Brett huddled up and miserable in my flower garden, my next calls were to my two nearest horse-savvy friends, Dale first, and then Kathleen. No answers. Darkness settled around me, and a January wind froze my fingers as I left hurried messages, asking them to come if they could to help me get Mercury and the rest of the horses out of the pasture, away from our badly injured Phoenix.
Then, shivering in the cold field, I did what I always do when I’m in terrible trouble. I called Brett. Dislocated knee or not, I needed his help.
Minutes later I heard a muffled footstep from the dimness of the barn. And there was Brett. Limping but still strong, he was the cowboy in those old Westerns who just wouldn’t stay down no matter how many times he’d been shot. He grabbed a handful of halters,