My 4-year-old horse has super powers: He is naturally impervious to electrical shock.
That's a bit of a problem when he lives on a place where electric fencing is used to keep horses out of danger.
I know that seems like a bit of a contradiction: deliberate electrocution will keep him out of danger.
But it's not like the jolt is powerful enough to stop his heart or anything — if it were I'd be dead several times over by now. It just, y'know, gets your attention and makes you not want to go there again. Though I have by accident.
This super power explains why he goes through bouts of scaling the electric fences. I thought he was just a chucklehead, determined to make my head explode. Apparently, though, he's more than some run-of-the-mill chucklehead. He's a first-class, custom-grade, super-powered chucklehead.
I might not have discovered this if he hadn't driven me to want to deliberately shock him, so I could say, "There! That'll learn ya."
Recently, the horse had a one-day spree in which he repeatedly broke into the area where I keep locked away a large composting pile of moldy hay, manure, leaves and clippings — the main ingredient list for permanent lung damage, intestinal parasite recycling or colic.
No, I don't know why he would want to forgo the good hay and pasture he had for that stuff. I don't know why horses like to endanger themselves in general. All I know is that it's my job to try to prevent them from doing harm to themselves. Some days it's a full-time job.
I went to work trying to save him from his latest attempt at self-destruction.
Fence charger hooked up properly? Check. All wires, splices and insulators free from interference, shorts or loss of conductivity — or otherwise replaced or repaired? Check.
Horse still getting through fence? Check.
Retest for electrical sparking? Check.
So what is the problem? Huh? I knew the charger was old, but still, it was sparking.
At a loss, I finally just decided to lure him into touching the wire while I was watching. Don't judge me. He followed me over there and volunteered for the task.
We walked to the fence, and I tried to encourage him to step up close enough to touch his chest to the wire, but he kept lowering his head to indicate that he was supposed to duck under the wire, not barge through it. (Stupid human.)
So I let him.
When he finally touched the fence he pressed his forehead flat against the wire. I squinched my eyes in anticipation, and … nothing. I had him step back. I retested the wire. Got sparks. Had him touch it again. Got nothing, again.
The wire, the recently sparky wire, was laying there on his forehead. Doing nothing. That's when I realized he's impervious to electricity.
With that kind of super power, I don't blame him for barging through the fence. Really, I'd be stickin' screwdrivers into light sockets as a party trick if I were impervious to electricity.
Then I realized my solution, my kryptonite to counter his super power, lay in the power of science — and a little white magic.
I grabbed a handful of sparkling white snow, rubbed it on his forehead with one hand for a while, and then melted the snow particles with my other, warmer hand. And I rubbed and melted and rubbed and melted until I'd wetted his forehead through all his winter fuzz down to the skin.
That accomplished, I took him back to the charged wire, and, just like the two times before, he insisted that he wanted to stick his forehead against the wire. I was counting on that.
Now, I want to point out here that having a horse respect a fence is a very important thing because they are generally fenced in or out for their own safety.
So, just because I laughed with a sort of evil glee when a blue spark flashed against the horse's forehead, that doesn't mean the lesson was any less practical.
It didn't stop his heart, but it obviously made him question his super power. He hasn't gotten through the fence since, and I'm still chuckling.
We have heavy snow predicted for the next two to three days, I think that ought to keep his electrical conductivity heightened long enough for him to really learn the lesson, should he decide to test his powers against the laws of nature again.
Honestly, though, I saw that blue spark, and I think we're good for a while.
(Science ruled the day at http://www.viewnorth40.wordpress.com.)