This is a story from Sarah's sister, 12-year old Rachel Holm. Rachel helps with all the barn chores, hiking out over the hills some mornings before the sun is up to bring the cows down to the barn for milking. She loves horses and books about horses. She is always ready for an adventure and can often be found drawing or playing her guitar.
Every day my ten year old sister and I spend time with our old white horse, Leo. Today, I walked along leading him, Mary on his back, her honey colored hair partly covering her blue eyes.
"Mary," I asked, "Would you like to ride up View Hill instead of jogging around in this small pen?"
It was a clear day and I felt like having the wind on my face and letting Leo smell freedom.
"I don't know," she said, "It's a little risky because of the electric fence that runs up the middle of the hill. What if Leo runs into it?" It was true that getting around our farm is sometimes difficult because we are always moving fences so the cows constantly have new grass.
"Well, I rode up View Hill once before and he didn't run through the fence. Besides there is two of us so we would be twice as strong!"
"I suppose," Mary agreed, "But you have to go grab the saddle blanket."
Mom had saved an old saddle from her childhood in the shed but she never has shown us how to use it, so we just sat on the blanket. Instead of a bit, we tied strips of leather to his halter. Perfect—just like an Indian pony!
You see, our farm is an Organic Valley dairy farm. Usually, our Jersey cows get all of the attention. Or the chickens that run around scratching the soil in the pastures. Cows give milk each day and chickens give eggs, but our Dad had the opinion that all a horse gives is a headache. So, I was thrilled when Dad allowed old gentle Leo to finish his days on our farm, sharing our heifers' organic hay. A neighbor wanted a good home for him since his kids were allergic to horses and Leo was too old to sell to anyone.
Doubled up on Leo's back, Mary and I headed for that highest point on the farm we call View Hill. I was almost on his neck, and then I told Mary to scoot up and hold on to me tight so she wouldn't slide off his rump.
We whooped with glee as Leo cantered up the hill. At the top of the hill, Mary and I began to talk while Leo grazed. Soon, I remembered the fear Mary had had about the fence. It was just a slim silver wire that Leo really couldn't see but I knew he would feel! I immediately started pulling backwards on the reins. But he kept walking toward the fence that he didn't know was there.
The main problem was that Mary couldn't reach the reins and Leo had no bit in his mouth, only a halter.
"Pull his head up so I can grab his reins!" she yelled in my ear.
"I can't, he's too strong!" I screamed back. My hands burned as I pulled as hard as I could, all the while Mary was crushing me as she tried to reach the reins.
"He's going to break the fence!" Mary yelled again.
"I know!" I half screamed, half groaned. "I hope it's not on!" I yelled as he pressed his chest against the wire. The fence had electricity in it that would run through anything except wood, unfortunately, we were not wood.
ZAP! The first shock hit Leo and went through his body, then through Mary's, and then through mine. ZAP! It did it again, but harder. "Hang on!" I yelled to Mary as Leo bolted forward instead of backing away from the fence. It zapped us one more time, and I felt sick to my stomach. Leo did three crow hops and the next thing I knew I was falling through the air! I landed underneath Leo's hooves as he was bolting again from being zapped a fourth time. I jumped out of the way of his flying hooves. Then I turned back to Mary, who had been squished when I fell on top of her. I realized that Mary was still getting shocked! She was tangled in the fence, it had actually wrapped around her twice! I ran to her and grabbed her by the arm and tried to haul her out of the fence. I had to drop her on the ground and untangle her by hand so I was shocked again. By now I felt really sick from all the shocks I had gotten.
"Where's Leo?" Mary asked. I pointed out toward him. He was peacefully grazing. As we walked over to grab him, he raised his white head and nickered at us.
"You bad horse," I said to him as I patted him on the neck. This time he seemed to be listening, and he put his fuzzy white ears back. "It wasn't his fault, he didn't know the fence was there," Mary defended him.
The fence was snapped. After half an hour of being shocked while trying to mend it, we decided to tell Dad the truth about Leo getting out of control and busting the fence.
When we got home and told Dad, he laughed and said the broken fence was no big deal, and that he was just glad that we had pulled through safely.
Farm Fact: No two horses are identical.