Caspian vs the Yellow Jacket

I looked into the rearview mirror as I backed into the car port, and as the gravel crunched under my tires, the view in that small mirror made my stomach sink.

Oh, no.

Oh, NO.  No.  No, no, no…….

Caspian stood in the corner of his paddock – head down, ears half pinned, and sweaty. His nostrils flared, and he whipped his head back to bite at his belly – once.  Twice.  Three times. He kicked at his belly, hard, and his neck shot up in distress, tail wringing and snapping.

Oh, no.  No, no, no.  Not colic.  Please, not colic.

“Boys!  Get the babies out of the car, and into the house!”

The boys began the tedious process of unloading the twins and I walked through the backyard, approaching Caspian warily. Maybe I was wrong?  Please?  I hope?

It didn’t look like it.  It was all the classic signs of colic – and pretty severe colic at that. Caspian pawed twice,  as if to roll, and then continued to bite at his belly.  He’s a fairly stoic horse, so for it to be this far along….. I bit my lip, and began to feel nauseous. Please.  Please let him be okay.

And then I saw it… or maybe I heard it?  It’s hard to say which happened first, but there, among the normal flies buzzing around, was a large shape.  Was that a bee?  A horse fly? What WAS that?

And then I realized what it was – a yellow jacket, furious, body curved into a “C”, stinger leading.

 

It buzzed in, and jabbed, and Caspian jerked around to bite at it, only to have it dodge, hover, and then swoop in again.

Sting.  Sting.  StingSting.  With every sting the wasp gave him Caspian kicked, or bit, or whipped his tail around, but to no avail.  Eventually he took off in a loop around the paddock, and by his movement and the sweat I could tell it wasn’t the first time he’d tried that.

He thundered around once.  Twice. Three times.  Four times.

The entire time I could see a small dark speck following him angrily, and the second he stopped it began to sting him again.  Sting.  Sting. STING STING.

I turned around and ran to the house.  “Where’s the swatter?  Where’s the swatter, boys?!”

It took longer than I liked to make my way back to the paddock, but Caspian will have to forgive me.  I spent most of the morning jumping on a trampoline and, well, the old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be.

I made it out there half hoping I was too late to do anything about it, but nope.  There was that stupid @*#@*&! yellow jacket, still in a “C” shape, stinging him without mercy.  I stomped through the gate and tried approaching Caspian without a halter, but my body language was furious, and with the first missed lunging swipe at the yellow jacket and his belly he took off like a shot and began to do his laps again.  You could almost see it in his face: “What have I ever done to you, woman?  Do you have any idea what kind of day I’m already having?!”

I circled back around and grabbed his halter, approaching him warily.  I wouldn’t blame him in the least if he kicked when that stupid thing stung him, but that didn’t mean I wanted to be on the receiving end of one of his draft-sized hooves.

The second I put the halter on him, he began to calm down, although not entirely – with the yellow jacket still making passes at his legs, belly, and flank, it was hard for him to do anything other than quit running.

“Easy.  Easy.  I’m not mad at you.  I’m mad at that stupid insect.  Shh.  I’m trying to help you.

Help faster, he said with an obvious flick of his tail.

I took a swipe and missed, and the yellow jacket stung him in response.  Caspian jumped forward, and I grabbed a hold of the lead rope and apologized.

Get it together, woman.

The yellow jacket swooped at his belly again and paused to curve into a more exaggerated “C” shape, and just as it paused I leaped forward and smacked it with the fly swatter.  Boom.  BULLSEYE.

Caspian jumped forward a few steps, then turned around to look at me.  I couldn’t see where it had landed, but I decided to pretend I had, and made an obvious show of stomping the ground.  Horses will instinctively stomp on a snake, so I figured he’d understand what I was saying.

Look at me, the nice human, stomping the biting thing for you. I will protect you.

He stared at me for a moment, then approached, head down, and laid his forehead against my arm.

Thank you.  Thank you so much.

“I’m so sorry, buddy.  You must hurt so much. I’m so sorry.”

It does.  It hurts.  But thank you.

And we stood like that for a moment, our conversation spent, just enjoying each other’s company.

But seriously – if I could find that stupid yellowjacket’s body, I’d probably pin it down with a needle and then set it on fire.  I swear, I’ve never hated anything quite so much.  I think I was literally seeing red the entire time I hunted for the fly swatter.

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