Donerail Farm
Alvin, TX 

Faxx’s big spill

By Cyndi Craig

This is one of those stories that is funny only AFTER the fact.

Faxxsimile (Faxx) is a half Arabian Oldenburg colt who came to live with me January of 2006. He was 9 months old at the time and had only been off the farm to go to his Oldenburg inspection. He was a shy fellow and was overwhelmed by all the changes in his life at first – new home, new pasturemates, new “mom.”

The first weeks Faxx was at Donerail Farm, he did not ‘get’ the concept of coming to the barn for dinner. Everyone else would be chowing down in the barn and Faxx would be just sort of wandering around in the field wondering where everyone had gone.

Now, I have to explain that our barn did not start life as a horse barn, but as a huge workshop. As such, it has concrete floors which were troweled into a nice, smooth surface.

Since the floors are slick, I’ve placed mats in a ‘runway’ configuration in the middle of each traffic path. Horses are always led into the barn, to minimize the risk of them getting off the mats and slipping.

Because there is so much ‘wasted’ space in the barn, we also store tools, etc. on shelves lining the walls near the entrance.

Back to Faxx’s story.

One evening, Faxx was yet again wandering around the pasture wondering where everyone went.  I shut the barn gate behind me, opened the pasture gate and set out to find him and bring him in.

As I approached him, he took off running. I did not worry, knowing I had shut the barn gate and he would end up in the small paddock that separated the barn from the pasture.

However, unbeknownst to me, after I went out to the pasture, my husband had come through the gate, leaving it open. (Husbands, and especially this one, are good – or bad – about that.)

I did not realize the barn gate was open until Faxx, in a sudden understanding of where all the other horses had gone, ran past me straight toward the barn. I saw the open gate and knew I could never reach the barn before Faxx did.

The following scene happened with the absolute clarity that only comes when you know really bad things are about to happen and you are powerless to stop them. Time slows and every object and each motion unfolds slower than catsup oozing from a new bottle.

I saw Faxx veer off the mats at the entrance to the barn. He slipped and his feet went out from underneath him and he fell with a horrible thud and slid on the smooth concrete toward the plastic shelving. His outstretched hooves hit the bottom shelf containing gallon cans of paint. In what sounded like a gunshot, a full gallon of white paint exploded open, spewing paint everywhere. Faxx tried to get up, but now the slick concrete flooring was also covered in wet paint. He got up and fell back down several sickening times.  Each time I was sure he would break one or every leg. And there was absolutely nothing I could do but stand there in horror and watch.

He finally got one hoof onto the rubber mat and managed to get to his feet, where he stood, dripping, not blood, but white latex paint.

Poor Faxx. I got to him and he was standing quietly – probably in shock, with paint all over him.

So, it’s dark. It’s January. It’s not freezing, but it is cold. And I have a scared young horse who’s probably been bathed once in his life covered in white latex paint. (Thank GOD it was latex paint. If it had been oil-based paint, this story STILL would not be funny. Oil-based paint covering 50% of a horse’s skin/coat would have been not only a serious matter, but a life-threatening one.)

So, back to poor Faxx.  My wash rack did not have lights or hot water. So I took him outside under the only exterior light I had near a hose and proceeded to wash him off the best I could.

Either Faxx was really, really good, or he was still too shellshocked to do anything but stand there. It took me almost an hour of hosing him to get the majority of the paint off of him. I would hose him, then bring him into the barn under better lights to check my progress, then go back out under the not-so-great exterior light and hose some more.

Finally I finished and Faxx got to come in and eat his dinner and dry off under a nice wool cooler that was far too big for him. I checked him all over and he seemed no worse for wear – amazingly, I found no scrapes, cuts or any sign of his ordeal…. but for the next month I kept finding bits of dried latex paint on him in out-of-the-way places!

Our barn floor and walls still have white paint spattered over them as a ‘souvenir’ of Faxx’s big crash.

And I maintain that Faxx, wanting to fit in at his new home, was just trying really hard to become a “paint” like his friends Lisa and Flying Colorz. ;)