Outdoors Column: Vertigo

Vertigo is a false sense of movement or dizziness. When we were children, we found it entertaining to spin in circles until we fell down. The world seemed to continue to move when we stopped. I have discovered another cause of vertigo.


One morning last week, I rose early and went to the kitchen to start the coffee. It was a cloudy morning well before sunrise, so it was completely dark outside. I looked out the window, more out of habit rather than seeing anything in the darkness. Suddenly, the darkness moved. I developed a real sense of vertigo. Knowing I was seeing something move that could not move made me almost dizzy. Trying to ascertain the cause of this phenomenon, I flipped the outside light on. My confusion was instantly replaced with the realization a very large black horse was standing just outside of the kitchen window.


Knowing there is no glory in chasing a black horse in the dark, I poured a cup of coffee and sat down to wait for daylight. My wife and the dog got up a few minutes later. I explained a horse was standing outside and to not let the dog out. She immediately asked whose horse it was. There are a lot of large black horses in the neighborhood, including one we own. It did not occur to me, it could belong to someone else. That would be much better if it was someone else’s problem since the snow was deep and it was cold out there.


When it got light enough to see, I checked on the horse that seemed quite content to stand by the house and wait for me to come feed him. It was Little Joe. At that point, it would have been nice to call someone and asked them to come get their horse, but he was my problem. A horse that is feeling fat and happy can be a real pain to catch if they do not feel like being caught. I could just imagine chasing a frisky horse through knee deep snow around the house for a few laps. A better plan suddenly came to me. If I were to ignore him and drive the Ranger down the hill to the horse pasture, he would probably follow, just out of curiosity. When I started the Ranger, Little Joe came around the house at full speed, bucking and kicking as he came. He was feeling so fine, he could hardly stand himself. A feeling of terror was rapidly sweeping over me. If in his jumping and playing, he slipped on the snow, a ton of happy horse would do considerable damage to the Ranger and the driver inside it.


Not being able to get up much speed in the deep snow, Little Joe ran laps around me while we headed across the lawn and down the hill. He waited patiently while I opened the gate and started frolicking again when in the pasture. He seemed almost disappointed when I turned around and left him to play alone.


Driving along the fence, there was no obvious place where he could get out. He must have walked onto the ice and around the end of the fence to escape and explore. His pasture arrangement has been modified and he can no longer get to the lake. I do not trust him to not try to escape again. The next time, he might fall through the ice and find himself standing in really cold water rather than at the house causing bleary eyed people to experience vertigo.