Not So Relaxing Evening


Morgan was spending the night with a friend. Ross got a date. Even though he’s only been here for a couple weeks. (Ross can always get a date.) An evening to myself! I shall relax, I thought. No dinner to cook for anyone. All is quiet on the farm.

I puttered about, relaxing and planning my relaxing. I’m relaxing! I thought I’d post something on my Daily Farm page. (Which I never did.) And have some ice cream. And read. And relax!

I went out early to give the animals their evening feed treat. To further my relaxing. Might as well get my work done early. And relax.

Usually I go to see Patriot first. He’s usually whinnying up a storm and he’s impatient. He knows when it’s evening treat time. But he was quiet, so I fed the other animals first. Chickens, goaties, sheepies, Buttercup the visiting heifer, Jack, Poky. Then off to see the oddly patient Patriot.

He’s always got his head over the fence, waiting for me.

No Patriot at the fence.

I went into the field.

I walked the entire field.

Patriot was not there.


I just had this field fenced! Repaired, fixed, corrected, safety-inspected! By an old experienced farmer who knows horses! How could this happen?!

I went back to the house and called my go-to neighbor Jim. His wife told me she’d found horse poop in their driveway.

I jumped in my Explorer and drove out that direction. A couple of girls came by on 4-wheelers. I held my arm out and they stopped. I told them I was looking for a missing horse. They said they’d seen a horse, earlier, but didn’t approach it because they didn’t know if it was friendly or not.

Brown horse with white blaze?

Yep. That’s the one.

They’d seen him in the other direction. I didn’t know which way to go. They were headed back in the direction they’d seen him, so I gave them a pocketful of horse feed and my phone number–and kept going in the direction of the horse poop. The road past my farm turns to a dirt road.

It rained this morning.

I forgot what backroad dirt roads are like when it rains. I haven’t been on one lately. I started slipping and sliding. My 4-wheel-drive is out of commission. There was no place to turn around. I kept going for about a mile, clutching the steering wheel at every slide, creeping, crying, telling myself to just go slow, slow, slow. There’s a patch of rocks, drive on that patch. Stay in the ruts! Making promises to myself that I was going to live.

Steep dropoffs, no guardrails. Everything that makes me FREAK OUT. I finally found a place to turn around and got to make the same hellish trip back out.

It was like being back on the road to the old farm when it was snowing or icy. I wasn’t even looking for Patriot anymore. I just wanted to survive and get back home. It was getting dark.

Home, I ran into the house and called the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office was closed. HOW CAN THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE EVER BE CLOSED? I called 911 and told them my horse was missing. Then I got off the phone and started crying. It was dark, and I didn’t know how to find Patriot.

The phone rang. It was one of the girls with the 4-wheelers. They’d found Patriot, about a mile and a half away at a farm on a side road. I got back in the Explorer and raced over there. (It was on the hard road, thank goodness.) Patriot was on a farm on a road that branched off my road, up about half a mile. They had a horse of their own, and they’d found Patriot in the road, talking to their horse over the fence, and had brought him in to hold until they could find the owner. The lady said he looked like a really good, strong horse, but he had a lot of old scars on his legs. I told her he was a rescue horse and had had a hard life. “He was found wandering and starving six months ago and a rescue group took him in and brought him back to health. THEN I LOST HIM. HOW CRAPPY IS THAT?!” Then I told her: “I don’t have a trailer, and I don’t think I can walk him home in the dark alone.” A mile and a half is a long way alone in the dark with a stubborn horse, and I was afraid of cars coming by on the road and spooking him.

The 4-wheeler girls said, “We’ll walk him home!”

I had brought Patriot’s halter and lead, but the people at the farm had a halter on Patriot already and said to leave it on, just bring it back. One of the girls started out leading Patriot with my lead, the other following on her 4-wheeler, and me behind her in my Explorer. We were an odd little caravan up the country road. The other horse followed along the fenceline, whinnying all the way, upset over his new friend’s departure. Patriot got stubborn and the other girl left her 4-wheeler and I gave her Patriot’s halter to snap on as another lead so they could double-lead him down the road. I filled their pockets with apple and oat treats, and Patriot clip-clopped along for a mile and a half at a steady, slow pace. It took over 30 minutes to walk him home. I put him in his stall in the barn.

Then I took the girls to the house. I asked them how old they were. They were both 17. I had them spell their names and I wrote them each a check for $100 and took them back to their 4-wheelers. I don’t know where these girls came from. I’ve never seen them before. They dropped out of the sky like horse angels. If I could have given them more, I would have. They didn’t expect anything.

Patriot won’t be going back to that field until we find out where he got out and fix it. All I know right now is, this horse is mine.

Whether he knows it or not.

And perfect strangers are some kind of miracle.

And now that’s it nearly midnight, I’m going to bed. Like, you know, to relax.


  1. Eva says:

    Those West Virginia girls ROCK!

  2. Pat says:

    Bless those sweet WV country girls and the folks who held onto Patriot. I’m reminded of that Bible verse about “strangers and angels unaware.” And so they were. Glad all are back where they belong. There are angels among us; I count you as one of mine. Rest well. :yes:

    Pat in Eastern NC

  3. gonecrazy says:

    That’s OK Suzanne..Leave him in the stall….did you hear we are getting a winter storm. I’m glad the horse angels helped you. Sometimes there are things that make you go hhhmmmm….like horse angels.

  4. perry says:

    Wow! It’s a good thing you don’t try to relax very often. 🙂 Thank goodness for the goodness of people!

  5. Dixie says:

    Suzanne, as a new horse owner, you’re going to be frightened at many things that occur. Keep an eye on him next time you put him in that field to see where he heads in an effort to discover his escape route. Tracks would be perfect but it sounds like they may be washed away. I will warn you in advance, for future reference and in an effort to alleviate any future mental stress, that horses will get hurt. It’s a fact of life. You can wrap them in gauze and stall them and they STILL injure themselves. (Hopefully minor injuries, but they make us horse owners worry anyway!) You’re hot a bad parent and this is something that can be easily rectified. Some horses are escape artists, too–let’s hope Patriot isn’t one of them!

  6. liz2 says:

    Whew! What an evening! Thank goodness for for the good girls who found Patriot & helped you to get him home, & for the good neighbors who penned him. That was a close call. Maybe he was lonely & might have heard another horse whinny. I hope Zip can come to live with Patriot soon. As bad as he was to escape, I probably would have kissed him on that big nose once he was safely in his stall at home!

  7. Jersey Lady says:

    Oh, Suzanne, I am so thankful you both are home safe and sound. I agree with Pat about “strangers and angels unaware”.
    Could it be that your fences are OK and that Patriot is a jumper?
    I wonder if he gets lonesome. Our neighbor keeps a goat buddy in the pasture with his single horse.
    With Patriot secure in his stall, I hope you can rest easy and have a good sleep.
    Gloria in IN

  8. MousE says:

    Oh good gods! I was scared when I first started reading this but so happy when you found those two 17 yr old angels! What a great thing they did, and what a gracious thing you did for them in return, and most of all, I’M GLAD YOU FOUND PATRIOT!

    One day, you will have the perfect, relaxing day….. fingers crossed and knocking on wood.


  9. Rose H says:

    Oh goodness, what a scary experience Suzanne. A band around my heart was tightening as I read your words. Thank goodness the horse Angels were there and the farmer was so sensible to take Patriot in until his owner was found. I cannot imagine the relief of having him safely home again.
    If you have the opportunity of a quiet night again do it secretly!
    Rose H

  10. auntbear says:

    …never a dull moment.

  11. Diane says:

    So glad you found him. When my dh and I was dating we was out driving around one night and saw what looked like a large deer walking along the road. When we got closer it was a horse walking down the middle of the road on his way to the other farm to visit another horse. lol. Thank goodness it was late and there was no cars on the road. We made sure he got to safety and found out that he would get out to visit the other horse often. Who would of though horses would do that???

    Glad he is home safe and sound. Hope he is not jumping over the fence?

  12. marymac says:

    He was out kickin up his heels, lookin for a girl friend maybe? Sounds like you never have a dull moment down there . Sure am glad you had help getting him back home.

  13. lattelady says:

    Ah, now I know why he is a brat. Well, he is a horse. 😉

  14. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Well, Patriot met a new horse friend and new people friends and so did you. You’ll get that fence fixed and hopefully, Zip will be along to keep him company so he won’t be so tempted to try the fences. I’ve seen horses stay within fences that were so ramshackle you wouldn’t believe, and then those who are like Houdini in very tight fencing.

    You don’t have to be perfect to be a responsible horse mommy, just care a lot and you do that every single day. ((hugs))

  15. av0055 says:

    Oh HORSES!! That’s how they do – I have been out looking for one or other of mine at least 10 times in the past 15 years. They love to find new buddies.

  16. angkm67 says:

    Must have been the night. We were up at 11:30 catching our horse last night. Gotta love those horses!

  17. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Oh, and I so want to kiss that beautiful velvety soft spot right in the middle of his muzzle in that last picture. It brought back all the memories of all the horses I’ve cared for and about in a flood of sweet memories.

  18. Chickenlady62 says:

    Glad all is now well at the home front…. animals sure know how to push our buttons as caregivers/owners don’t they? He was just giving you a little free cardio workout without you knowing it( as if you need it on a rainy night)
    Thank goodness for those girls that found him. That was definately their good deed for the day.


  19. aranel13 says:

    Once upon a time, we used to raise mustangs, so we thought we knew all about horses trying to get out. Then I got into Shetland ponies and discovered I knew NOTHING about escape artists. Those critters can work their way out of anything. My sweet Baby, who never got into anything, got a taste of freedom. Misty, who loathed me and everyone else except when it was feeding time, would dig holes to get out, I swear. It finally took a five foot chain link fence on the road side, and five rows of barbed wire on the rest to keep them in.

    And then we got goats, but that’s a different story.

  20. Claudia W says:

    Sounds like Patriot doesn’t want you to get too comfortable. Looks like he is an escape artist. You need Zip as soon as possible. On the other hand, he just gave me more faith in the kindness of people. Gosh, I want to move there. You have some fantastic neighbors!

  21. princessvanessa says:

    Oh my, sounds a lot like the donkey I had when I was about 4 or 5. Mike The Donkey would take off down the road in the direction we had brought him to our house. Dad was always getting the phonecall to come and get Mike. One day some neighbor girls asked if they could ride Mike. Dad knew that they had about 7 or 8 kids in their family and had an idea. He okayed it with their mom, gave them a big bucket for water and handed over the reins (with Mike attached). Dad told them they could ride him all day but be sure to let him have fresh water and an occassional “break” and to bring him back when it started getting dark.
    Many hours later the girls led back a very very tired donkey. After that day Mike would just stand and LOOK down the road in the direction that he had come from but remembered (I’m sure) that in that direction also lived a house full of donkey-riding kids.
    Dad is a pretty smart guy!

  22. lavenderblue says:

    Grew up with the neighbor’s down-the-road’s horses in our front yard most days. I think they came to visit the cows next door.

    God Bless country girl horse angels with four-wheelers, farmers who care not only about their own animals but other people’s also and horse mommies who range slippery back roads looking for their babies.

    Ross should be glad that the horse got out or with all that extra time on your hands you might have gotten worried and went ranging the roads looking for him!

  23. lilys says:

    Awesome story! So glad everything turned out alright! You have been blessed with great neighbors!

  24. Stick Horse Cowgirls says:

    Maybe when he gets a horse buddy he will be content in the pasture!

  25. Country Blossom says:

    Patriot is a horse Houdini. There’s a bunch of them out there. It’s a subversive underground group of magical horses 😀

    Horses are herd animals and more content to stay put if they have a friend. Your problem will soon solve itself. You did good and all ended well. Good job!

  26. countryfarmgirl says:

    I HATE days/nights like that.

  27. rhubarbrose says:

    So so glad you are both safe! I really identified with you when you were driving on that muddy back road all alone and trying to deal with a lost horse. Talk about stress levels! I’ve been there and it’s not fun!!! So glad those sweet girls helped you – heart warming! I know you will “pay it forward” whenever you get the chance. Suzanne – you are very brave and deserve a wonderful restful evening if anyone does!

  28. JerseyMom says:

    Oh boy! Hopefully Patriot was just lonely and won’t want to roam once Zip comes home. Glad you found him safe and sound. You are fortunate to have good neighbors ~ and the girls were indeed your angels. Hope you have a “real” relaxing evening soon!

  29. Launi says:

    Oh, bless your heart–you poor thing! What a night! I bet–well, I HOPE you slept well after all that. Sheesh. :}

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