Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pulling the Hammy

You know you're getting older when you pull your hamstring in the course of chasing a little ass.

And I don't mean that in a dirty-euphemism kind of "Hey look, Jeff's 'pulling the hammy' again!" kind of way but in a "grasping the back of your thigh and writhing in pain" kind of way.

Although the ass I was chasing did have the strip-club-worthy name of "Whisper", she was in fact a new rescue donkey at the ranch. I suspected we were going to have a more difficult time than I'd been led to believe when the guy who brought her over to us told us "It only took an hour" to get her halter on and to load her into the trailer.


Note the Phil Stacey-like glowing demon eyes.
I stood there with the lead rope in my hand as he backed Whisper down the ramp slowly. I'd been told she was fine once she had the halter on, so we planned on walking her to her temporary holding pen.

However, as soon as she got out of the trailer and had a nice look around, she decided it was time to split. She took off, almost pulling me to the ground, and raced around the twenty acres in front of the house. "You did lock the front gate, right?" I panted as we hustled after her. Luckily the gate was indeed closed, and after about half an hour we had herded her into the main barn area.

She still had the halter and lead rope on, which is dangerous -- an animal can step on the rope while walking and trip, breaking a leg or their neck. It was dark, however, and we were wiped out from chasing her around the yard. We decided there was little risk in the small barn area of serious injury, so we let her be for the night.

The next day we got a bit of luck when the rest of the herd came up to check out the new girl. She was eager to be with the other donkeys and horses, so we were able to slowly walk up to her. "You hold the lead rope," Annie told me, "and I'll go get the halter off." With the feel of rope burns from the previous time I'd been assured everything was "fine" with this donkey, I was a bit hesitant, but cowboys show no fear.

I stood there holding the rope, thinking over and over "Let go if she runs, let go if she runs, let go if she runs!"

Then she ran, and I forgot to let go.

I must've looked like something out of a Three Stooges film, legs cartwheeling and body flailing about as I vainly tried to hold back an 800 pound animal with my pathetic and withered muscles. Halfway across the yard I felt a sharp burning pain in my right leg and I hit the ground. At the last moment I remembered to finally let go of the rope, possibly having flashed back to a time when I was learning to waterski and forgot to let go after falling. A mouth full of river water from being dragged behind a boat was unpleasant, but a mouth full of barn hay and horse manure from being dragged behind a donkey would have been much, much worse. Not to mention the cactus -- ouch!

That was small consolation as I rolled there in the hay and muck, clutching my hamstring and trying manfully not to be too obvious about the wracking pain.

Whisper stood on the other side of the barn. I'm pretty sure she was laughing at me.

At that point it was up to Annie. She employed some of the "Donkey Whispering" techniques we'd picked up over the years, and with infinite patience over the course of two hours managed to get Whisper to trust her enough to come close and take off the halter. Once again, kindness won out over brute force, and Whisper was able to get free to join the rest of the herd.

I, of course, learned a valuable lesson as well:

Chasing young, wild ass can lead to serious bodily injury for older married men, so just say no.

1 comment:

Allen said...

Maybe next time go out there with a handful of $1 bills. I'm told that can work.