Thursday, October 8, 2009

Runaway!

As I was walking home today, the first odd thing I noticed was a coat in the middle of the road. I checked the size and thought my husband must have dropped it on his way home, so I picked it up. A few houses later I spotted two pumpkins in the middle of a neighbor's yard. "That's odd," I thought.

When I turned the corner by my house I saw broken eggs in the middle of the street and as I looked up I saw grocery boxes and oxygen tanks - all piled up at the side of the road. Several of my neighbors were walking around picking up the boxes and organizing everything; that was when I heard it - "runaway."

Teams of horses do occasionally run away on Mackinac Island. A runaway is when a horse or a team of horses get scared by something and bolt - usually without a rider or driver to control them. Even if there is a rider or driver, the horse or horses are often so scared that they can't be controlled very well anyway. They just want to get away from whatever scared them and get away now! Often the runaways are dray teams since the drivers have to let go of the lines and climb down from the dray to load or unload it.

Today a dray was delivering oxygen tanks to a lady who lives around the corner from me when one of the valves on one of the tanks broke and started leaking oxygen - causing a very loud "shhhhhhhh" noise. That spooked the team and they took off like wildfire running down the street - dropping pumpkins, boxes and eggs as they went. At one point the driver chased after them and caught up, but was run over as he attempted to stop the team. The horses just kept right on going and didn't stop until they ran down a dead end street and ended up stuck in the trees on the edge of the woods.

We had to convince the driver to go to the Medical Center - he told us, "I'll walk down later." We called him a cab after we noticed how he was holding his arm and how his hand looked blue. If he doesn't end up with a broken rib or two I will be shocked. Hopefully that's all it is - given that the horses ran right over him.

The groceries can be replaced and the lamp post on the corner can be repaired. I'm just thankful the kids and I weren't walking home from the sitter's house when that team plowed through - those horses ran through about 3/4 of our walk home.

Kind of scary? You bet! But when horses are your main form of transportation, runaways are a fact of life. When you consider that there are hundreds of horses on the island in the summer, I'm really impressed that we have so few accidents. I bet if you compared the number of car accidents in a town our size to the number of horse accidents we have in a year, we'd come out on the safer side.

I've had enough excitement for one day and I'm hoping for a nice quiet weekend. How about you - any plans?

14 comments:

Mandy said...

I know there are not many runaways but they are scary when they happen. I remember one summer when I was still living on the island there was one downtown on a busy day. It was scary with all the people around town.

I hope you have a great quiet weekend. We are having a party for our 2 newly adopted children so we have lots of family coming into town. A busy weekend here!

Allie said...

Listen, cars runaway too - I've seen a couple of videos recently where people almost got run over, as the car came right up on the sidewalk! My mom and I were almost hit as a woman went over the parking block.
Having said all that, I'm REALLY glad you and your children were not in the way. Whew! Hope the driver's ok.

Loralynn said...

And here I thought you had very little in the way of exitement on your little island! Thank goodness no one was seriously injured. I can't help but feel bad for the horses too. Poor things just don't understand.

Betts said...

I still think horses are better than cars. Cheaper and more reliable.

Indy Mom said...

YIKES! Horses can be unpredictable.....you get an example of that every once in a while.

Be safe!

dutchgirl said...

Wow, I hope the driver was ok! I confess I had this idea that life with horses for transportation was very idyllic and romantic, I guess it does have its risks!

The WoodLand School said...

Thanks again for the enlightenment! I confess this is something I had not even imagined (except for on issues of Little House on the Prairie). I'm so glad you all were ok!

Val said...

Sounds scary! Yet accidents like these have occurred for thousands of years...and I have to think they are better overall than car accidents. Not to sound uncaring towards the driver, but were the horses ok?

Valerie said...

I think I'd take horses over cars any day, but I can imagine how scary it was. I hope the driver is OK today...

Liz said...

The horses were fine - as far as I know there was not so much as a scratch on them.

The Hubby said...

I spoke with the driver today. He was headed back to the Med Center for more X-rays. The radiologist thought he had several cracked ribs and a partially collapsed lung. The guy is unbelievably tough and all appeared normal as I spoke to him. Well, normal for him. He was walking down the street in a Carhart jacket, cowboy hat, and short shorts....It was 50 degrees and breezy.

kate said...

Thanks to the Hubby for the update ... and the vaguely disturbing image of a guy in short shorts ....

Those are powerful horses, I know I'd be scared!

On our island at the moment we have 'run away' cougars, two young ones lurking in the local green space around town. So you just never know where danger can come from.

Jeanette said...

Liz,
I love reading about life on your island. Makes me want to run away to somewhere small and sheltered, and without all the crap we live with in the city.

I am glad you and your little ones are safe, my thoughts are with the driver, I hope he heals quickly.

clara said...

That is scary and dangerous! Thank God no one else was hurt. I hope the driver recovers well.

So nice you were all well-received at the annual Conference :-)