Trapping “Top Rail.” Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and if she intends to produce a storm, she can any time, any place. In our great state of Oklahoma, there are times it happens so quickly we are unprepared. A few years ago, such a storm took place. Some say they were straight winds; others say it was a tornado. All I know for sure, a lot of downed trees on a lot of fencing!
The area that suffered the most severe damage was where Fossil River Refuge is located. Home to one of my favorite Palomino stallions, “Top Rail.” He has called Fossil River home for several years, marking his corner of the acreage and keeping his small band safe from other stallion intruders.
These horses can find a fallen fence quicker than a dog can sniff out a bone. They have a strong “horse sense” when it comes to such things. “Top Rail” found the hole in his fence and believing it might be “greener on the other side,” took his band and left the home place. By the time the humans searched and found the hole, he had been gone a bit and was nowhere in sight.
While up there checking on the other horses and the rest of the fence, Bryant had seen “Top Rail” a time or two, but that stallion always turned and headed off. Almost telling his owner he wasn’t quite ready to return home. Unfortunately, the hole had to be mended, and the fence repaired to keep the other horses from escaping. We weren’t 100% sure which side of the fence “Top Rail” was on since we hadn’t seen him in a while. It was entirely possible we had just fenced him out…now that’s something different for us!
The concern for “Top Rail” and his band’s safety never left our minds. We knew we had to bring him home. It was now going to have to be a lucky break.
“Lady Luck” must have felt bad for my friend. On May 5th my phone rang, looking down I see Bryant’s picture. “Hey, just got a call about some horses out on private property. I was wondering if you want to take a ride, I think it could be “Top Rail.”
Did he think I would say “no?” “Come get me; I’m putting my shoes on and grabbing the camera!” A few minutes later he is in the driveway; I jump in excited to think we could possibly be seeing our friend “Top Rail.”
A left turn off the highway, at the end of a long gravel road a horse head pops up. “Look it there,” Bryant says. There he was, our “Top Rail” standing near a round pen with his band. What a beautiful site!
The trapping begins. Bryant jumps out of the driver’s side and directs me to wait inside the cab for a few minutes. If you’ve ever been trapping with Bryant you know to do exactly what he tells you to do. If you don’t, you could be the sole reason for a missed catch or an error being made. Now Bryant is too gracious to scold you or make you feel bad. But you can make yourself feel worse than he ever could anyway. Of course, I’ve NO first-hand experience with that, I always listen!!
After he poured a bit of tempting feed into a few buckets, he called for me. A few seconds later I was standing next to the pen snapping pictures of my old friend and his mares and foals. While standing there admiring the group, I am saddened.
I see how healthy they look, and their eyes have that sparkle of “freedom.” These horses belong on their mountain. For years they roamed the hills of Southeast Oklahoma living on what mother nature provided and the will to survive another generation. A heartbreaking moment always takes place when you remove them from their natural habitat. I promise you when you load them up, and they look into your eye it tugs your heartstrings strongly and isn’t something you forget soon, if ever!
It also becomes clear that like all of us, “Top Rail” has aged. His stance is no longer one of a young stallion. It makes one realize how quickly we lose time and how valuable it is.
Then my friend surprises me. “Guess who the dark mare with the roan filly is?” I look at her but don’t recognize her from any mare I’ve seen before. “I’m not sure,” I respond. “That is “Cocoa.” She is ‘Namaste’s’ half-sister. Daughter of “Chickasaw Princess.” Wow! I begin to see a definite resemblance to her mama. She is a beauty no doubt!
Now that we have the horses trapped, we remember there is no horse trailer on the hitch. We didn’t think we would be able to catch the horses so easily. Bryant had to be at his mom’s birthday party in Paris, Texas at 6 pm and it was now 3:30 pm. “We’ve got to get them now,” he said. I agreed. No way to leave them here. So, off we go to fetch the trailer. I looked back to see our friend watching, “We’ll be back.”
We will continue our story tomorrow with our return to the trapped band. Please be sure to come back and see the loading of “Top Rail” and his band.
Until we meet again,
‘Namaste’ and ‘Mamma D’
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