Gabe got out with the donkeys this afternoon. It was my fault, I was putting the windows in for the winter and I accidentally knocked the wire down. He noticed and made a run for it. Things were OK for about three minutes then the excitement got to him and he went off like a rocket. That would have been fine except that he immediately started chasing Ramsey.
It was everything I have been worried about, Ramsey couldn't go fast enough and Gabe was striking and biting at him. Emma kept trying to get between them, but was too slow and too small. I tried to do the same, but I am even slower. Finally, Ramsey ducked under the fence and got to safety. Of course, that left him and Emma on opposite sides of the fence with Gabe still trying to chase them. After an eternity, Gabe ran into the barn and I was able to stop him inside. Emma and Ramsey got back together and peace was restored.
The whole crazy thing probably lasted no more than three minutes, but there were at least a 100,000 moments of possible catastrophe. No one got hurt, but it's a miracle that they didn't. Any vague notion I had that these guys might be able to share a pasture and the barn someday evaporated completely. Gabe is lucky that looks can't really kill. I left him locked in the barn and walked away. I was too angry and upset to do anything with him for a while. Instead, I went and hugged and scratched my donkeys until we had all calmed down.
The whole incident made me angry with myself for my moment of carelessness and especially with Gabe, that just isn't acceptable behavior. Once I had calmed down and reassured myself that no harm was done, I didn't want to leave things like that so I saddled Gabe and spent an hour riding him around in the pasture with the donkeys loose around us. We worked on subtlety and obedience, the two things that Gabe is most sorely lacking in. When he was finally working softly off my seat and legs and not arguing with me, we quit.
Interestingly, Emma knew immediately that Gabe was no longer a threat with me on his back. She and Ramsey stayed within thirty feet of us the entire time we rode. I can see why donkeys make such good pack animals.
I wish there was a way to teach Gabe not to do this, but I have not thought of anything. I have no intention of letting them out together, but, as any horse owner can tell you, intentions don't count for much where horses are concerned. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.