It was the gelding’s day for the south pasture, the best turnout spot. They are athletic boys who like to start with a few wind sprints. Then somebody pretends to be afraid of something invisible and they bolt off bucking and farting and air kicking . It’s all good clean fun.
Edgar Rice Burro was waiting at the gate to join them with Bhim, a 34” mini horse here for training from Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue. Edgar helps me with the rescue horses who visit. He’s good at sharing and has a soft heart for strangers. He is slow to react to insults and conservative about name calling. Always ready to forgive and looking for a friend, Edgar doesn’t hold with bigotry. He is kind to mares and geldings alike, with no breed preference. Being Edgar isn’t a bad thing.
Edgar knew Bhim was special from the beginning but it took a long time to make friends. The little horse had a chip on his shoulder and like to throw his insignificant weight around. He wasn’t good at socializing. He wanted to join in but his fear got in the way. Edgar and I chipped away and eventually we wore Bhim down. We were relentless.
I finally opened the gate after the geldings were done playing, and Edgar and Bhim trotted out and immediately threw their heads down and started grazing. Neither of them had any plans to lift their heads for the next four hours. It was no big deal, they had all shared pens. Sure, this was the pasture but we’re all friends here.
I looked out a second later and everyone was running. I smiled at the sight: Beautiful horses, different strides, and little Bhim proudly out front. Everyone seemed good, but then something changed. Someone pushed ahead, someone pinned his ears. I’m not sure who started it but all of a sudden the herd turned mean. Bhim was running tense and panicked. The big geldings were racing after him, necks long and teeth bared. It didn’t stop, they were running Bhim off his feet. I grabbed a rope to swing, like that would make a difference in this free for all.
By the time I got through the gate, Edgar had joined in. He was running hard, right behind Bhim. Shame on him. I expected so much better from an animal of his intellect and compassion.
The galloping herd fought for position, Bhim was barely in front. His tail was tucked tight. Would they run him over? Grab him by the neck and shake him? Could Bhim survive a stampede?
Then I saw Edgar. He had his nose to the inside and was gently suggesting that Bhim move to the outside. Bhim didn’t take the cue right off, he was breathing hard and a smaller circle was his first choice. In the meantime, Edgar’s hind swung from side to side. The three huge geldings were bumping into him but he didn’t give way. Edgar was blocking like a linebacker. No one was getting past him.
Finally Bhim could slow, first down to a trot and then a walk, while Edgar kept the big boys behind him. Bhim looked exhausted, he blew and shook his head. Easy to act like a big stud now. He fooled no one but Edgar didn’t mind. This little horse had every right to celebrate. Edgar doesn’t hold with belittling others just to make yourself bigger.
Don’t feel too bad for Bhim. Not a mark on him and now he and Edgar get turnout with the mares. Bhim has always fancied himself to have a way with the mares. Whereas Edgar actually does.
These are challenging days. World politics are pretty adversarial. It’s been a hard summer on my extended herd, too. Some of us are facing physical challenges. Some of us are being bullied. Some of us are just worn out by bad luck and feeling chased by circumstances beyond our control. It’s a good time to have a saintly burro on your side. Or maybe get your Ass in the way and slow things down to a more civilized pace.
Donkeys are misunderstood. When people behave badly, we call them Asses. The truth is, more of us should defend our friends, stop bullying and set a good example by holding to kindness when the crowd goes stupid. More of us should stubbornly hold on to our best self. Like a real Ass.
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.