Lisa Hood: Through the Fence 1-14-13
October 16, 2013
No matter how obvious a situation might be, I've found it's always better to ask and clarify rather than to assume and be wrong. My husband once assumed a lady was pregnant just because she had a big round poochy tummy. When he asked when her baby was due, her glaring look gave the answer before her words. Unable to stop while he was behind, he continued plying her with questions like, "Well, I guess you just had a baby then?" She had not. An uncomfortable silence followed. Assuming is always a dangerous situation.
The folly of making an assumption was proven by my veterinarian buddy, Mark, a few years ago. He was working at a horse breeding facility. They had a really fine cutting horse stallion that was commanding $4,000 for a stud fee. He got a call from a man in south Louisiana who wanted to bring his quarter horse mare to be bred. They agreed on the price and other particulars, mainly that the mare had to be halter broke.
About mid afternoon, Mark got a call from the man. He explained with his thick Cajun drawl that he was still coming, but that he'd had flat on the Mississippi River bridge and would be delayed. Right before dark, he pulled in to the ranch, trailer in tow. He unloaded a scrawny little black mare with a colt at her side. When Mark asked about the colt, he said that the mare had been running with her brother and had been accidentally bred.
Assuming the mare was halter broke, per their agreement; Mark got one of the ranch hands to lead her to a stall for the night. When he grabbed the rope and started walking away, the mare took off. But the young stable hand held on tight. The mare headed down the alleyway through the large barn that was still under construction. When she came to the end of her rope, the young man started skiing through the powdery dirt on the barn floor. That only lasted a moment before he plowed right into a 6-foot pile of dried manure that had been raked up but not hauled away. His body burrowed in up to his waist. Even after that abrupt and unpleasant end to his ride, the tenacious young man still didn't let go of the rope.
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Almost instantly the slack in the rope was gone, and it stretched taut. When it did, the little mare did a back flip, floundered for a moment, then scrambled to her feet. Mark watched the whole comedy of errors play out in front of him, watching helplessly. He and the owner rushed out to rescue the guy half buried in the manure pile. They gently lifted the lead rope out of his rope-burned palms and shoveled enough horse poop out of the way so he could climb out. The horse trotted a little way down the alley then stopped to look back at them.
By that time, the owner assumed correctly that Mark was not going to keep his mare. He was flustered but offered no excuses or explanation for her behavior or the fact that he'd not honored his end of the deal. They managed to get the horse back into the trailer and the man left that night.
The next time someone called to make arrangements to drop off a mare, Mark was more forthcoming in his conditions of the disposition and training of the animal. Neither he nor the stable hand wanted a repeat performance of that night that was brought on because he had "assumed" something. ❖