I was nosing around the Young Adult section of the library the other day looking specifically for girl horse books and found Wind Rider. I read a bunch of it this morning while cycling to nowhere at at the gym, a great time to get some reading done especially if you’re not into getting your pulse read by the pulse-reading-handles. You can actually hold the book in your hands since you are not attempting an upper-body work-out.
I’m a fan of the YA genre but I havn’t read much of it in awhile, so it’s a pleasure to dive into something with a strong female main character and a horse. I’m envious of Fern, the protagonist, a young woman in prehistoric Asia who has saved a young wild horse and is learning to ride. I’m envious because she has so little fear as she topples from her foundling again and again in the quest to learn how to ride.
The idea to ride comes to Fern in a dream, which is a most excellent way for a character in a book to figure out what they know or what they want to know. It’s a good way for 3-D folks too, but in a novel the tactic fits nicely into the narrative structure and doesn’t bore the hell out of people.
The saving and ownership of the horse is also perfect in the wish-fullfilment department. What I loved the most about horse books when I was a kid is the fantasy of owning your own horse, what thas by even more right yours sinc eyou’d saved it from Certain Death. Duh, I know, but I get excited all over again and never tire of this same triumph in girl horse books: She’s got her own horse! It’s hers! It’s hers!
Many more trials are ahead for Fern and I’m eager to read on. The swift pace and clean narrative of a good YA book are real and true reading pleasures.
We lost a horse yesterday. Chip started to colic the day before, but it passed and all seemed well. Then he went down yesterday all of a sudden. One moment, everything was fine as a small group of us rode horses either in our lesson or just riding in the indoor arena. Then there was a huge noise outside and the huge noise was Chip going down. It was the beginning of the end and in a few hours, it was all over. His bowel was twisted and even though everyone did everything they could (Dr. Johnson arrived ASAP), it couldn’t be helped and the poor horse had to be released from misery.
I didn’t stay around until the bitter end due to a combination of not wanting to see the bitter end and also a feeling of being in the way. Wandering around saying “What can I do? What can I do?” seemed like a bad idea. I was able to help with one of the chores (getting the geldings back into their stalls) which enabled more experienced hands to do more experienced work, and then I left.
So that’s a horse lost, a vet bill incurred, a hole in the herd, an aching in the heart. Leah called to tell me last night and her misery . . .her misery is heavy upon her. How could it be otherwise?
So even though it’s pretty clear to me that my #1 problem with Gabby is that I’m scared of her, I’ll stop complaining about her health. Her blood levels are good according to the doctor and her health is in no danger that anyone can see.
It’s time to take Gabby out for a little walk, a task I did not realize I was dreading until Leah suggested that someone else do it for her first time out in three weeks. Gabby will probably spook, start, dance, kick, etc which means that (more than likely), I would do the exact same things. I didn’t really know I was dreading it until I was talking to Dennis and when the subject came up and I made noises like “yeah, sure, I was thinking about doing it any minute now maybe,” he suggested I be extra careful because of the ice.
“It would be awful if she fell,” I said.
“Or if she fell on you,” said Dennis.
That kind of closed the book on the whole issue for me as my ever-inventive brain began to run movies of what it would be like to see 1200+ pounds of bay TB mare falling on me and what it would feel like to go under her bulk. I also watched “Night and Day” over the weekend, a bio pic about Cole Porter that is more true to its era (1946) than life (it leaves out the awkward bits) and the horse-falling-on-Cole-Porter scene (in Glorious Technicolor!) was also fresh in my mind. I was very very grateful indeed for Leah’s input about a more experienced horse handler (like Dennis) taking her out.
What I can do today is go out and ride pregnant Sadie who needs some work-out time (I did that yesterday) or Mopey Moe for the same reason. It’s nice to be useful.
Today the vet came out to draw Gabby’s blood and after looking at her and her still-twitching muscles and stiffness said she hasn’t been on enough ‘Bute. I can’t remember the dosage she’s been on but according to the doctor, not enough for a horse of her size.
I payed $2K to the Horse Hospital for a diagnois of “We Don’t Know For Sure But We Think It’s This Infection Thing Over Here — And Oh Yeah The Seven Days of Isolation Probably Wasn’t Necessary But That’s Not Our Fault Either” and a perscription of Not Enough Bute?
I don’t wan’t to scatter criticism like rice at a wedding here, but it seems like everything, EVERYTHING is taking sooo looooong. Why is the visiting vet just now saying she’s not been on enough pain medication? And if I tell that to the doctors at the Horse Hospital, won’t they just disagree and after all there are so many of them and it’s a world-class facility and just how much do you know about equine medicine, lady?
What in blazes am I supposed to do for this horse?!? How am I supposed to know?!?
(Insert image of person banging head on brick wall here)
Oh, I bought her a Jolly Ball. Bet that turns out to be exactly the wrong thing too.
Leah moved Gabby to another stall, mostly to make room for poor old Jim. Poor old Jim has a slowly healing crater-like wound on his back that has been radiated, debrided, cleaned, protected with a hat (over the summer, a straw hat was duct-taped to his back to keep the flies off and to allow ventilation — I thought he was wearing some kind of special event costume at first)., and generally fussed over and cared for. He can’t, however, wear a blanket. So Jim was moved back to the warmer stalls (which is where Gabby hung out) to keep him warm and as blanket-free as possible. Since the back of the Big Freeze is broken (I hope I hope I hope!!!!) it will hopefully work out. They do the best for him that they can at the barn.
Gabby, meanwhile, is liking her new digs. She doesn’t drink as much water as she did and seems perky and alert. I visited her yesterday before my lesson on Mopey and was greeted with a “got any treats?” snort. She looks fine. The doc will take some blood next week and check her fibrinogen levels, plus she can have light turn-out now. Another couple of weeks and we go back to horse hospital (oh joy) for a check-up. I promised Leah I’d help with the loading this time. Leah said not to worry about it, but obviously I do. I feel morally obligated to be there when she’s loaded up and also that I need to learn how to do this or at least not hide during the proceedings. Gah.
When I was hiding behind the vet students, the wall, etc, watching Gabby “load,” it really brought home how much horses are our creatures. They are dependent on us for food and healthy conditions, yet they often do not want to do what we want them to do, like load up on a trailer. Their breeding, height, weight, temperament, etc, has been determined for years by humans. Even wild horses (with the exception of Przewalski’s Horses) aren’t really wild the way, oh, a raccoon is wild or a deer is wild. I mean, who breeds raccoons? Who would want to breed a raccoon? And why?
But horses, horses are the way they are because that’s the way they are, but the modern horse is all about humans and what humans want. I felt like such a brute, watching all of the attempts to load Gabby even though I never touched her; maybe more of a brute for just watching even though I was no help.
I sound like I’m kicking myself and really, I’m not kicking too hard. Gabby’s OK and she’s in a nice stall at a nice stable with people who like her — Black Beauty this isn’t.
But all of the trappings of horse care are so much about us, about humans, and about how we deal with and relate to horses. And they serve us at our will and pleasure, like political appointees.
Now that I’ve decided that nope, no way, not at all would I ever ever consider stepping into the breeding arena, I’ve begun thinking about it. I guess I hate the thought of missing out on something that I would always wish I’d done. And one of my fondest memories of childhood is the time my mother woke me early in the morning, grinning from eat to ear, to annouce that our Siamese had just given birth to four little black bundles of fur.
Now, there’s 3 pregnant mares at the barn who are due in April, May and June so it’s not like the Joy of Life is going to pass me by. And considering how things have gone with Gabby so far, the whole enterprise of breeding her seems doomed to many, many medical bills. And I have no illusion about growing rich or even recouping costs on the sale of a foal (which would certainly have to be sold because I cannot afford the board on two horses).
So, if anyone wants to tell me what it’s like (finding a stud, boarding or insemination, the misery and/or terror of the birth of an already large animal), please feel free to chime in with whatever you’d like to share.
What exactly does Gabby have and how did she get it? Excellent question and the one that has plagued us all for a couple of weeks. This is the hypothesis posited by the vets, one that makes experienced horse owners nod in agreement: At some point, Gabby got an infection. She might have had pneumonia, she definitely cut her nose and had to have it stitched up, or something else could have happened. She got some kind of infection that seemed to run its course or never present itself much. BUT, the bacteria wandered around her body and set up shop (the phrase of the good vet Dr. Johnson) in the tip of one of the bones that constitute the withers. It’s not the result of an ancient accident, I did not buy a lame horse, I am not the victim of a giant conspiracy (Oswald did indeed act alone).
I feel much calmer and I feel much happier for Gabby.
When I called the barn today, I found out two things:
1) Gabby is much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. She’s eating lots o’hay and is interested in giving and receiving greetings. I’m pleased and cheered at this.
2) Leah can’t clean the stalls because the poop is frozen to the stall floors.
I told my husband both of these things and he seemed as though he did not wish to discuss item #2. Since it seems like manure is such a common topic at the barn, I forget that others do not accept this topic as fit for discussion right before lunch.
Gabby’s home and back in her stall. I went out and saw her, bringing along a bag of carrots. When I groomed her, she seemed sensitive and the twitching in her shoulder was back — not as big and bold as it was, but I felt the grooming made it flare up. Her hay’s in a net because she has trouble reaching the ground to graze (bad for a grazing animal) but she seemed pleased to have company.
This is\where things stand. Nothing to be done.