Monday evening it wasn’t raining. Bill attached the bush-hog (a big mower) to the tractor and I spent two hours mowing over half of the boys’ paddock. As I exited the field I left the big gate open. My plan was to ride Zelador through the gate and into the field Tuesday morning.

Tuesday dawned. As I led Zelador up to the arena I heard the push mower. Ah, Ray’s here, mowing the areas I can’t get to with the two bigger machines.

After a few minutes in the arena Zelador and I went to his paddock. The big gate was closed. Hmmm…Ray must have shut it in order to mow. Too bad, now I have to ride through the small gate. This can be problematical on a WIDE horse. However, I raised my knees and avoided knocking them on the posts.

Zelador was less than an angel, but managed to listen to me. Being all by himself was unsettling. Both of us survived and we exited through the small gate.

Moments later both boys had their grazing muzzles and fly masks on and were safely ensconced in the paddock, via the small gate.

I continued with my chores: gardening at two properties, running our Vizslas and returning to the horses by 4:00. At that time Ann and Ray were bringing Socs and Picasso from their paddock east of my house to the barn attached to the arena for another play session with the platforms, big ball, bunnies, cones…

I arrived home a bit early and took the opportunity to drive the tractor (with the manure spreader attached) up to the stadium jumping paddock. To get there I have two options: go east around the arena or go west. I chose east. As I turned to the right in front of the arena I noticed two hoof marks in the soft, rain-soaked soil. I figured that the racehorse, Mudpuddle, had left the prints when Randy was hand-grazing her. Unusual, though.

Sitting up there on the tractor there were some tight corners to maneuver between the arena and the fencelines. I was relieved to get the machinery to the gate without scraping something.

Zelador and Zeloso’s paddock is to the right of the field I was heading for. The boys lifted their heads, briefly (eating is a very important activity), as I stopped the tractor at the stadium paddock gate. My immediate challenge was to find a way to keep the gate open. (Ah, ha! I spotted a mop and used it to brace the long gate.)

Sophie was schooling Blue in the field. She rode up and said, “Winnie, when I got here your horses’ big paddock gate was open.”

“Where were the boys?”

“They were in the paddock, about ten metres from the gate, eating.”

“What did you do?”

“I shut the gate and put the chain around it.”

I looked at the gate, looked at Sophie and asked, “Did they get out?”

“Not as far as I could tell.”

“Whew, thanks Sophie!”

The tractor, manure-spreader and I entered the paddock, did our job and headed for the exit. Once again I had a decision to make: go east or west around the arena. The tight corners to the east were even tighter with the mop still in place, so I chose west. Within two metres I learned something. The boys had been out of the paddock…in a BIG way! There were five feet long skid/slide marks all over the ground. I tracked their joyful antics from the seat on the tractor. The hoofprints were very easy to see. The boys went around the arena. On the south side of the building the tracks were not as visible. The paddock south of the arena has Blue in it. I was wondering if Blue told the youngsters to grow up and stop fooling around.

As I drove the tractor back to the drive shed I puzzled over the bits of information I’d received:

1. gate open (Most likely Ray shut the big gate when mowing, but did not put the chain up to latch it. I missed this fact when riding Zelador, then when putting Z and Z in the paddock.)

2. horses got out (The gate sits against the fenceline on a support post…thus looking like it’s properly closed. The gate opens away from the field. All the boys had to do was lightly brush against the gate and it would swing open.)

3. Sophie sees the open gate

4. Sophie sees the horses in the paddock

5. Sophie shuts the gate

Actually, there weren’t five steps to the puzzle. Between two and three Zelador and Zeloso decided to go back INTO their paddock. Go figure!