At one time, I actually managed a self-service barn. It wasn’t very large, just 10 stalls, a large tack/feed room, riding arena & about a 5 acre pasture. This property was one of several that was at end of the flight path to my town’s airport. The largest of the properties was about a 30 acre pasture. This made a significant greenbelt region in town.
The wildlife varied. In the spring & fall, there were the migrating birds that landed looking for food in the pasture. There was even a red fox that showed up but never stopped. It made its hurried travel through the pasture to get to cover in the next property. There were the urban possums & rabbits. You could catch a glimpse of an occasional owl at dusk in the fall. The one critter that seemed to make it’s home somewhere near (or under) the buildings was a skunk.
I was running late to feed Iggette one night. I turned on the light in the feed room and there I was, having a stare contest with a skunk. I almost killed myself backing out of the feed room before it decided to spray everything in sight. When safely on the other side of the doorway, I noticed that the skunk was not concerned with my presence. It was merrily eating the cat food that someone had left for the barn cats. I waited until the skunk had it’s fill and waddled back under the hay & out of sight.
For the next few weeks, the skunk & I came to an understanding. I had put my lunge whip next to the door. When I turned on the light & if the skunk was there eating, I tapped it on the back with the whip. It would look at me and then move under the hay. Fortunately, it wasn’t my hay so I could do what I needed to do in the feed room. Each time I left, it would reappear to eat. Each time I would come back, I would tap it on the back and it would move back under the hay. The amazing point is it never offered to spray me or the room. It was never aggressive.
One night, my husband came with me. I was behind him when he turned on the the light to the feed. I don’t think I ever saw anyone move as fast as he did getting out that room. He bumped into me, almost knocking me down. I thought he had seen a snake or wasp or something like that. My husband is irrationally wary of wasps, hornets, etc because of an unfortunate encounter with hornets as a young boy. I asked him what was the matter. He looked at me & replied “SKUNK!” I told him I knew there was a skunk. I told him to move and reached for my whip. By now, the skunk knew the routine and just moved back without being tapped. It stayed put until I was out of the feed room and then moved back to the food. My husband was utterly amazed at our strange routine, but he didn’t offer to help with anything that was inside.
This strange relationship went on into the winter. Then the skunk disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. I never saw it again.
With humankind ever encroaching on nature, some wildlife is adapting to urban ways. This incident gave me cause to do some research. Wild skunks usually stay away from humans. Skunks can carry rabies.
Where am I going with this? I highly encourage vaccinating your horse for rabies as part of your annual shots. I started giving my horse a rabies shot shortly after the skunk moved in. I continue giving my horses a rabies shot every year. I have persuaded most of my friends to give rabies shots to their horses, whether they board in town or have a place in the country.
You protect your dog & cat from rabies. Why not protect your horse.
As always, don’t forget to let me know what YOU think.