My father-in-law has a couple horses.
In fact, he has a bunch of horses.
A heap of horses? Lots. Not tonnes, just... lots. Anyways, to the point.
With having these horses brings about the possibility of them escaping now and then from their enclosures and wandering the property - and if we're unlucky, someone elses. This is simply a natural extension of them being animals that prefer greener pastures, so when they're hungry and there's no feed in front of them, off they go. Of course, this doesn't only happen when they're convinced they're being starved into an early grave - as creatures go, horses (and mules) tend to be very curious animals. If you stand still long enough, often even quite timid animals will approach you just to check you out. As such, if there's a way out of their pen that you haven't spotted - or foolishly assumed they wouldn't try going through - eventually they'll think to themselves "Hey, look, a hole in the fence. Y'know, I've always wanted to know whats through there", the fact that they can see on the other side of said fence is entirely irrelevant to the merest possibility that there is something more interesting on the other side.

Today, I chased horses.
Just three, they had finished their corn stalk bale and broke through an electrified wire and headed off into the grove. The pack consisted of three truly daft animals. Each screwy in their own ways, a Belgian Draught horse, six feet wide and dumb in that I'm-a-big-kid-and-I'll-just-flatten-you sort of way. Next a very attractive looking bay gelding with a blonde and black mane and a dark stripe right down his back, handsome but a twit. And then Toto, a scraggly thin thoroughbred stud, small, timid and dumber than a box of rocks.
The escapee's had broken forth into the grove, which is filled with burrs, and were happily munching down what was left of the ground cover. In doing this, they had managed to get many, many burrs into their manes, forelocks and tails. In fact the Belgian's forelock had so much garbage in it that it jutted out above her head and it looked just the one Elvis wore, a kind of peak from his forehead that lurched out an improbable four inches or so.
At first I used a long whip sort of thing to widen my reach and chased them around the grove. After covering myself in burrs, falling over at least once into a full crash and roll, twisting my ankle and thoroughly wearing myself out, I gave in. They'd just sort of run up one end of the grove, and when given the opportunity to head back into their pen, they'd skip the gateway and head straight back into the other end of the grove. Now had I had a partner in crime, this would have been much easier, but I was home alone and without help.
Did I mention that its getting into winter here? Today it was 22 degrees Farenheit outside. Thats -3 degrees Celcius. More than cold enough to freeze the balls clear off a brass monkey. So I returned to the house in defeat, aching, wheezing, tired and so damned cold I couldn't feel my ears for at least a half hour.
An hour or so later my father-in-law called about something entirely unrelated, and I mentioned the equine rogues in the grove and then he suggested a bucket of oats. Why the heck didn't I think of that? So, sure enough, I took the white 5 gallon pail out, stood high enough that the horses at the far end of the grove (Some 300 feet, or 90 metres) could see me, whistled at them to get their attention, and then held the bucket high above my head and shook it so I could hear the grain sloshing about.
The Belgian twitched an ear, Toto suddenly developed a muscle spasm in his hind quarter, and I swear I saw Fox salivating. Suddenly, they were off. Full tit, running, straight towards me. Thats right, towards me instead of away, an amazing concept.
I waited until they caught up, and then trotted nonchalantly into their pen, with them at my heels waiting anxiously for me to tip the bucket out and pour them their grain.
The moral of this story? Save yourself the running and go straight for the bribery.

However... it does get better than this. There are greater triumphs to be had.
One morning at 1:30 in the am I was woken by the hounds. A great caterwauling was to be heard, as they barked and yowled and screeched. I crawled out of my nice warm bed, poked my head through the window curtains to see if they actually were barking at something, before I opened a window to yell obscenities at them, and discovered there were horses out in the yard. Not just two or three horses, but six or seven. I was surprised. And then annoyed. And then cold.
So I climbed into my clothes and headed outside.
My wife wasn't too far behind me. She had woken partially, long enough to hear me say 'Damned horses are out', and then rolled back over and fell asleep for another minute or so before the brain processed this, reported to her higher functions that, yes, this actually required some form of conciousness, and roused her.
As we stood outside and watched these idiot horses run up and down the yard my wife noticed something I had clear missed. Of course, I probably wouldn't have noticed for a while anyway, as I'm not nearly the horse person my lady is, but still, she pointed out that as they ran they stuck their heads way up and their tails stood straight up in the air.
This means sod-all to people who don't know horses, so I'll fill you in - this is the trait of an Arabian. Arabian horses are generally dim-witted, twitchy, and sometimes certifiably crazy - and more often than not, their owners are even more so.
Arabian owners are the kind of people that talk to their horses and actually expect them to be listening. 'Come here High-Plains-Wafter-the-Third. Now, you just come right here. Oh don't you dare turn around and try and kick me. You know better than that! Come here. Now. Please?'
You get the idea.

I am not an Arabian person. My Wife is not an Arabian person. My father-in-law sure as hell isn't an Arabian person. But there is an Arabian person a half-mile down the road. As my Wife and I stood there, freezing our butts off in the dark, at 1:30am, deprived of needed sleep, a warm fuzzy feeling entered our very souls. The kind of feeling you get when you knock your favourite glass off the table, hear an awful sound, and then realise it landed on the cat and survived intact. These weren't our horses. This wasn't our problem.
This crap happens to other people too!

The long and short of it is, we drove down the road, woke the poor chap up, and helped him corral his errant horses back into their barn. This wasn't too bad at all, and that warm fuzzy feeling didn't even diminish as we got to bear witness to the slightly obese neighbour run up and down the yard in nothing but his shorts.
You have to be feeling pretty good, after all, to survive watching a naked fat man jiggling in the moonlight and not get a little creeped out.

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