It was another typical day with my horses. As I was feeding in the morning, I noticed the barn cat in the yard, a regular hunter of mice and rabbits. About an hour later he took up a perch near the top of the driveway next to the road. I found that unusual, but didn’t think anything of it. I haltered my horse, Chaco, to take him for a walk, and as I walked him up the driveway I noticed a rabbit in a frozen position, his hind legs stuck in the fence. I assumed he was dead and figured the cat would eventually have him for lunch.
Chaco and I took our time at the top of the driveway, sort of curious and at the same time not wanting to look too closely at a dead rabbit. While we were at the top of the driveway trying to figure out why the cat hadn’t done anything yet, we heard a commotion in the neighboring maple tree and the sound of big gusts of air. Suddenly, overhead, just 15 feet above us, were the huge yellow-gold claws of a bald eagle. It startled both Chaco and I. Wow! Those claws and legs were huge. I had no idea.
With the eagle gone we continued down the road for our walk. Upon our return the bald eagle was standing in the grass cautiously walking very slowly toward the dead rabbit when the cat came out hissing with its back arched and hair raised. The eagle started to posture and then flapped his wings, moving back a few steps. Undeterred, the cat did not back down and the eagle left the rabbit where it was, stuck in the fence.
About an hour later I was about to leave when Chaco left his hay and walked to the far end of his paddock and pointed his body in the direction of the dead rabbit. This was unusual behavior for him so I stood with him watching the dead rabbit. As I stood there I asked, “What are you trying to tell me? Is the rabbit alive?” Sure enough, after a couple of minutes of watching the rabbit, I saw what Chaco saw. There was a twitch of the rabbit’s nose. The rabbit was alive!
I knew then that I needed to unhook this rabbit from the fence, and hopefully he would hop off. As I looked for a way to loosen the wire, Chaco watched me intently everywhere I went. I found a shovel and scooped up the rabbit’s front legs and gave him a little push backwards, and he was free!
However, to my disappointment, he didn’t hop off. I put a drop of Rescue Remedy on the end of a piece of straw and touched his ears with it, hoping that maybe that might bring some energy back to him. And yet, I also saw the injury to his hind leg, and perhaps that was why he was not hopping off. There was nothing more I could do. Even the wildlife rehabilitation center I contacted agreed. With sadness in my heart, I told the rabbit I was sorry. I knew what was coming.
Within hours the eagle won, and the rabbit was no where to be found. The cat went back to hunting mice, and Chaco had gone back to eating his hay. And me, I wanted a happier ending, but I also respected that the rabbit was a wild animal and part of the cycle of life where life and death coexist. Mother nature took its course, and I was the only witness to the convergence of this rabbit, cat, eagle and horse.