The above picture was taken this last Sunday around 1:30 in the afternoon, about an hour before she, along with the nine other horses at our family ranch, tried to stomp my literal brains out during one of the strangest and most terrifying minutes of my life. Looking at this picture now, it serves as eerie foreshadowing. It was funny to me at the time I took it, though. Look at her, just plotting my demise and wondering how my brain fragments would complement her hooves.
I took this picture while sitting on the bed inside one of the Sunday houses at our ranch. The below picture was taken through the same window as the first one, just from a different angle. Two horses standing on the porch to my room, creepily gazing through the window and preparing to set a plan in motion to run me down and hoof me to a lifeless pulp.
And here is the perspective from outside:
Our Texas hill country ranch is tight. I get it. That’s neither here nor there, though.
I brought my dog Mia with me to the ranch, as I always do. She’s a bloodhound. This matters because, as a bloodhound, she is a natural tracker and will follow a scent wherever it takes her. Because of this, I have to keep her on a leash at the ranch. I take her on regular walks out there. She loves that shit.
Fast forward about one hour. Mia and I leave the main house to go for a walk. We head down a trail and approach a lone horse about a quarter of a mile from the house. The horse is standing off the trail a bit and eating grass — typical horse stuff. We walk past him as he non-threateningly looks up at us. He’s about 50 feet away. For a reason I am unsure of, he begins slowly walking towards us at this time.
Now this is a big animal. Instinctively mild-mannered or not, big animals are to be respected. I prefer to live my life sans big animals walking directly at me, so Mia and I turn back to the house and begin casually walking away from the 1,100-pound approaching equine.
He starts to trot. This makes me uncomfortable. We start to jog so he doesn’t gain on us. Mia stays with me, step by step. He begins gaining on us, so Mia and I start to run.
The other nine horses notice the commotion from a couple hundred feet away — they were all grouped together in what I just learned is called a “team” of horses — and begin running at us in unison. Well, fuck. What do they want with me? What set them off? If they catch me, what will they do? If they get me on the ground somehow, I’m a dead man. These are the thoughts going through my mind as I begin to sprint toward the house.
I don’t know the book on evading a team of charging quarter horses, or if this is even a thing that has happened to anyone other than me, but I do know the way to evade a charging elephant is to run in sharp angles. Zig and zag. As enormous, heavy beasts, they lack the agility to make sharp turns. In my panicked state, it seemed like the play, so I implement this strategy.
I zig. I zag. I zig and then I zag. It turns out horses are plenty agile, as they stayed right on our trail. Mia, my poor girl, panics, shimmies out of her collar, and runs off to safety. Good move. Respected it. Take care of yourself and don’t worry about me. I need to do the same. During the zigging and zagging, they all kind of scatter in the chaos, leaving me surrounded. They keep coming.
As they’re bearing down on me, I decide to run toward our fence line, which was about 50 feet away. They follow me from all directions, leaving me basically pinned against the barbed wire fence at the edge of our property. They are approaching fast. Again, I have no idea what they intend to do if they caught up to me, but I wasn’t about to find out. I was convinced they were out for blood and wanted me to die that day. With visions of 10 wild stallions rearing upright and coming down with all their weight to throw 20 front hooves at my moneymaker before stomping my skull out, I make my move.
There is a large patch of thick brush just to my left. It’s loaded with cactus. I’m thinking this is my best bet to escape. I take two steps toward the thicket, hit the right stick to throw a nasty juke and split a couple hapless horses like ’97 Barry Sanders. I jump straight into the cactus.
My plan worked. They didn’t follow me. But I still had a quarter mile to get back to the house, so I take off sprinting. After about 10 seconds of running toward the house, I look back over my shoulder to see that they had stopped following me. I was safe, but what about Mia?
I make my way up to the house, at this point running solely on adrenaline, and hop into our mule to drive down the trail to find my dog. She was fine, thankfully. She was sitting on the trail a couple hundreds yards away, panting, heart racing, and terrified. I threw her in and we drove back to the house. Aside from two legs covered in cactus thorns, we were both totally fine.
Did you know 22 people a year die from horses?.
To listen to me tell this story on Tuesday’s episode of Back Door Cover, check it out on iTunes. You can also listen below on SoundCloud.