• Sherri Phibbs

Go, Boldly

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

So. This was new...

Gathering the horses in for the night is a usual thing ... the moose and calf between me and my boys were not. Unimpressed with the noise of my calling horse names into the dusk of the evening, they both stood firm in their space refusing to give ground to the tiny, insignificant human emerging from the trees into the meadow. What to do? I love the gathering and connection of my solitary, nightly ritual with my three horses. Walking out to find them, meeting them on their way in. Returning together to the barn? It fills my heart with a deep warmth, and eases a hunger in my soul. But, the moose. What to do? Moose are known to be aggressive at times. Their sheer size, their speed and sharp hooves, speak of pain, broken bones, of death to the unwary. A mama and her half grown babe? Well, I wouldn't want to mistake them for my ponies in the darkening woods. And, my horses? My brave, strong, old herd boss was not willing to cross the line in the sand (I mean, snow) the moose had drawn. The other ponies were out there, malingering somewhere in the deepening dusk behind him. Literally, held back by the mere sightlines of the mother moose and her calf, Echo peered through the trees at me. I could feel the power of his, 'Come get me, please.' from my stand on the other side of the meadow. Only a short 25 paces away, no amount of body language, or non-verbal coaxing could entice him forward. It was a standoff. "Whoa, Moose." I breathed out softly, slowly merging backwards into the shadow of the trees, out of the direct line of sight. I figured Echo knew what he was about. What to do? With ears straining to hear the slightest movement and shoulders hunched protectively forward under the weight of stares from all the four-leggeds behind me, I completed the return to the barn, alone. From that relative protection and distance, I called the horses again, promising feed and fresh hay, treats and warm bedding. No one moved. The silence was deafening. Sighing, my independence insulted, I went to ask for help. 'Will you drive me out and follow us up?' I asked The Man. He was gentle with my ego, quietly enjoying the moment without comment. Envisioning a mad scramble of a motorized round up with horses running in all directions, I held my disappointment close. We circled behind, and I decided to get out. Hoping to keep the calm of the evening intact rather than catching my boys between a rock, (the engine sputtering) and a hard place (the ever terrifying horse eating moose), I haltered my solid and wise little Pepsi-Kola, the furthest horse from the moose. Walking through the drifted snow, we approached Scout, the firecracker, where he pawed through the deep snow by the fence. Never really certain which direction his part-Arabian Welara brain is going to send him while under stress (the moose, the motorized lights) when at liberty, I eyed the wire fence and eased Pepsi and I into the gap. So far, so good. I heard the motor pick up slowly behind us, and I pushed forward. Where was our brave herd leader? I saw him, still standing frozen to the spot where the moose had him pinned with her frightful gaze. He must have felt my thoughts brush against him for he started to move. Backwards! Toward me and my slowly advancing entourage. At that exact moment, Scout saw the moose! He froze to the ground, his head and tail high, he scented the air like a wild stallion, quivering. I pushed forward, my energy weaving around the oncoming Echo, the intensity of Scout. So, what happens? Scout pees. Marking his territory in the face of these usurpers. Echo curls around, placing himself between me and the moose, and calmly starts to walk me back toward the barn, as though he is protecting me. I give him a look. With an eye on the moose, I noted the exact moment when they decided not to engage the superior strength, weird collective thing we had going on, and slowly eased to the furthest side of the meadow. I looked back and discovered I was completely surrounded. Pepsi to my right on halter, Echo on my left between me and the moose, with Scout tucked directly behind me, sheltering me from the threatening, noisy glare of the motorized lights. The Man was smiling. Connection. Together, we go confidently toward our dreams. 😏 _________________________________ A wild female moose likes to have a calf or two in the area almost every year. Sometimes they hang around and eat all the tops off of the willows, even stripping the top branches off young aspens. We lose more trees that way. This picture was very easy to get with the zoom on my camera. Here's hoping your moose encounters aren't so up close and personal! 🙂

Warmth and wisdom,

S. A. Phibbs

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Cochrane, Alberta, Canada