This post is long overdue for publishing, but many have asked for more info and to see pictures, so here goes! WARNING: Graphic photos below, but a happy ending!
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Around 6am on July 31st, we received a phone call from the Derry Police dispatcher stating that there were a few police officers in our driveway that wanted to speak with Dan and I immediately. Thinking something terrible had happened, we ran downstairs to find out.
Apparently two horses were loose down the street from us and their first question was to find out if they were ours. We did a quick headcount and were relieved when all of our horses were where they were the previous evening. It was the second comment that the officers made that made me laugh out loud... "Well, we don't know what to do with the loose horses and we're too scared to go near them, so do you mind coming with us to help us catch them?"
I grabbed halters, leads and a bucket of grain, then jumped in the truck with Dan and headed down the street. Two draft-cross geldings were about 200 yards off of the main road, in a field behind a restaurant. The black gelding was closest to me, so I began walking up to him. He was curious about me but not so enough to come my way. I shook the bucket of grain and his attention immediately refocused on me. He walked towards me and stopped about twenty feet away. Then he caught onto my intentions...
Within a split second he spun away from me and took off at a gallop. He let out a few big bucks, farted a handful of times, and bucked some more. The grey gelding picked up his head from grazing to watch his crazy friend, but thankfully didn't follow suit. Figuring that he would be the easier catch, I headed towards him, shook the bucket once and he eagerly walked up to me. When he stopped to put his head in the bucket, I hooked up my lead to his halter and rewarded him with a few bites of grain. One down, one naughty one to go.
I turned towards the black gelding with the grey gelding in tow. The black one wasn't going to let me get close enough to grab his halter. So I did the last thing he wanted me to do - I started leaving with his friend.
I turned the grey towards the main street and began walking back to my truck. It took maybe five seconds and the black gelding realized that being alone isn't fun. He already missed his buddy and we were only a short distance away. He trotted up to us, let me grab his halter and stood patiently while I hooked my other leadline up.
The police were still discussing with dispatch what to do with them. No one had called to claim them. All phonecalls to local farms were returned with no missing horses. We weren't going to hold them on the side of the road all morning, so we began walking them back to our farm. With a police escort, might I add.
Back at the farm, we turned them loose in the arena and gave them hay and water. They were more interested in rolling around and having a good time together, which was cute to see. They were an adorable pair - matched perfectly in height and size, identical with the exception of their color.
An hour later a trailer pulled up. The geldings' owners came up the driveway, thankful that we helped them out. They asked what we owed them, and I told them not to worry. I would hope someone would do the same for me. Later that day, I walked into the barn to see a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers with a note that said, "Thanks for taking care of our boys!"
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On August 7th, we received a call around midnight from the Derry Police. They told us that a horse was loose on Route 28 and wanted to know if it was ours. I ran downstairs and checked - all of ours were safe. The dispatcher again asked if we could assist them, stating that officers were located about 5 miles from our farm. Within five minutes my trailer was hooked up and I was heading down the road.
The dispatcher called back, gave me an exact location and also informed me on something they had previously forgotten to mention: the horse had been hit by a car. My heart dropped.
I headed down the hill and within minutes was at the scene. Two officers were there, one from Derry and one from Windham, the town to the south of us. The horse had apparently run south for quite a distance and crossed the town lines. They managed to corral him with cruisers, caught him and tied to a telephone pole. He was grazing on grass and seemed fairly content despite the ordeal he caused.
He was a Quarter Horse type gelding, a cute chestnut with a blaze and a few white socks. As I got closer, I saw the lacerations on his leg. Both were about 5-6 inches long, one on his forearm and one on the inside of his knee. He had quite a few other cuts, but none as serious.
As I headed back to get a halter and lead for him, I called Dr. George, explained the situation, and he agreed to come out and look at the horse. The officers then helped me load him into the trailer and back up to our farm we went. Again, with a police escort.
The gelding unloaded easily and we put him in a stall until Dr. George arrived. I gave him hay and water, but was hesitant to do much with him medically. I was reluctant to give him any medications, such as bute or banamine for the pain since I didn't know about his medical history or allergies. But he seemed rather comfortable, and since Dr. George was on his way, I figured he would be fine for the time being.
Dr. George showed up shortly thereafter and we pulled the gelding out of his stall. He asked about his mobility and I informed him that nothing appeared broken. He injected him with pain killers and tranquilizers, then pulled out his suture pack.
We chatted for a few minutes about what had happened to the gelding while the tranquilizer kicked in. During our brief conversation, we realized the poor guy didn't have a name. We agreed that we would have to name him after the car that hit him, but we didn't know the model so we started figuring out which one would sound most appropriate. Mustang? Too corny. Ram? Appropriate but he didn't look like one. Passat? It didn't suit him. I made a comment that whatever had hit him had to be small because it didn't do a lot of damage. We agreed that "Bug" would be his nickname for the night.
The tranquilizers kicked in, Bug was in his own drug-induced world, and the suturing began. He started with the one on Bug's knee. It was be difficult to suture because of the mobility of the joint, so he sutured in stints on either side of the laceration. Pulling them together, it would relieve the pressure from the sutures and allow the laceration to heal better. Next was the wound on his forearm. The skin was flipped back up and sutured into place.
His entire leg was bandaged heavily to limit movement. We put him back into a stall and kept him comfortable and happy for the rest of the evening. At that point in time - around 3am - no one had reported a missing horse to the police department.
Around 8am, shortly after putting our beloved Charlotte to sleep, "Bug's" owner showed up. She spoke with Dr. George and he informed them that he should make a full recovery. They thanked us profusely and offered to pay me for trailering him and nursing him through the night. I declined and told them that I would like to stop by and visit "Bug" when he was feeling better. (Bug wasn't his real name - we weren't even remotely close, actually.) A few hours later, a beautiful fruit "bouquet" was at my door from Edible Arrangements and a lovely note. It put a smile on my face despite the terrible night I had just been through.
I have learned quite a bit by working with the Police Department on these calls, and look forward to helping them out in the future. It's so rewarding to help out horses in need, and quite humorous to see grown men with guns afraid of them... :-)