I’m a Border Collie / Labrador Retriever cross (a “borador” I just learned) and, if there were a checklist of the characteristics I have from each breed, there’d be a big black X in the “instincts” box in the Border Collie column. I like a swim on a hot day, but I prefer to just wade in about to the belly for a cool off and a drink, and I like a good game of fetch. But … the drive I feel at the deepest part of myself? To herd.
Chico chases to kill, I chase to move. Not always in the right direction I’m told, but show me a big animal in need of moving and I’m right there at the heels. Now, you might be thinking this isn’t a very safe place for my head, and you’d be right. In fact, I have five incisors missing from the front of my mouth, four from the top and one from the bottom. (Thanks, Willow.) I don’t miss them that often, but they do make grazing a bit tricky, pulling little sinewy bits from a bone can be challenging, and my tongue doesn’t stay in my mouth when I sleep.
That kick to the face and the follow-up time at the vet should have been a good lesson. In my brain it was. But when Teresa or Nollind are trying to move one or more horses, all sense is overridden by a deep urge to nip those heels and assist.
And sometimes I do assist, pushing the horse in the right direction. It’s when someone is trying to move a horse backwards away from a gate that we get into cross-purposes, with them pushing at the front and me at the back. They’ve tried to show me how to come around the front but I’m not going anywhere near those teeth! Border Collies are also known for being smart.
I don’t get a lot of opportunities to herd around here. The horses mostly stay in their assigned pastures and, as I mentioned above, I’m not great at holding the gate from the front. At this time of year, though, my three horses go out on pasture in the early part of the day and have to be moved back to their less lush accommodations for the balance. Apparently, they’re a bit like Chico, don’t know when to stop eating. Do you know he once got into the dog food bag and ate so much the middle part of him looked like a balloon?
Speaking of Chico, in case more than one reader was concerned about his last blog, he didn’t kill the barn cat Tomas when we had him out in the field that day. He might have if the cat hadn’t been a scrapper and put some nice deep grooves in Chico’s snout, but Tomas the wildie lived to run another day and was never again caught out in the open.
The food binge and the biting of Tomas are just two examples of Chico’s embarrassing lack of self-control. But then, I guess when a guy has a bunch of missing front teeth and still bites the heels of horses, he should probably refrain from throwing stones.