It’s about Gabby because the time has come to talk about cabbages, kings, and her future.
On one hand, Gabby was not the best idea in the world for me. I made my decision to buy her before I’d seen her or knew much of anything about her (and I’m not an experienced horse person so I don’t have any business making decisions that way), I felt a little worried (OK, a lot) about her size when I first saw her, and after I’d said yes I started filling my own head with noise about how it was going to be fine, I’d adjust to her size, I’d learn all about her, we would be great friends, everything would be swell (Gosh, she’s big and I’ve got a fear of heights . . . ), isn’t she beautiful and she’s an awfully nice horse etc etc etc.
And the first times I handled her on my own, I was scared to pieces. Subsequent times, I was also scared. A few times I got into the stall with her and I burst into tears right away. And then she got sick.
But if I hadn’t bought her and she’d had her symptoms in her previous home, she probably would have been put down. She was being culled from the school’s herd anyway due to her inability/unwillingness to jump and her fever would have been the icing on the cake (I also think Gabby was waiting until she was someplace safe before she let down her guard and stopped fighting the infection in her withers which had to take its course eventually). And it wasn’t just me buying her; it was a group effort to sell her and stuff.
So I saw her, I bought her, I paid for her vet care — and very soon she will no longer be mine and I cannot tell you how relieved I am. Leah is going to take her and work with her as she becomes sound, will make the decision to breed or not, do all that stuff. Leah knows what to do and I hope very much that Gabby will be an asset to the barn, growing in health and potential as bold girls win ribbons with her and as she throws lovely Appendix foals that will in turn win ribbons.
As for me and horse ownership . . . well . . . remember Mopey?
The week before last, I was out of town on a work assignment (and was it tough! I learned a big huge bunch about some stuff and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’m grateful for the opportunity and that I hope to repeat it). I had three free-time highlights and the first was a serendipitous chat with Erica who reads this blog — and who just happens to live in the same Western town where I was stationed for the week.
Erica, I’m so sorry I didn’t get a chance to say hi to your husband — I wound up drinking and chatting for hours by the fire with some women. One was a Texas matriarch, one was a urological nurse practitioner, and the third was a writer and a urological nurse practitioners. That was the third of three good things.
The second was an opportunity to go riding in the mountains. A local ranch and the hotel’s preferred provider had room for me to take an hour’s ride on a brilliant day. I’ve never been so grateful for a Western saddle in my whole life! And nose-to-tail riding is very comforting! Since we were up in the mountains and all, we went, well, up and down. But my horse Henry did great, just plugged along and only spooked once (a small spook, more like a practice one).
The family that owns the ranch is amazing — three generations — and it was such a pleasure to walk along under the open sky, among the pine and running streams and melting drifts of snow. It was one big week of gratitude but it was good, beyond good, to get back home.
On Thursday, I delivered some meat out to the barn owners and yesterday, I gave some to a barn friend. It’s good meat; grass-fed rather than grain-stuffed, low in fat, the product of cattle who have lived like cattle should. But as we have discovered, the meat is just too . . . too darn meaty for us. And we bought 50 pounds of this too-meaty-for-our-palates meat. Know what I mean? No? Hm. With an unfriendly tautology like that, I don’t know how you, the reader are supposed to take anything away from my complaint. I’ve had venison (though not for over 20 years) and I’ve had lamb (only like it in gyros) so I’ve been surprised and a wee bit disappointed in my reaction to this good organic stuff. With some guilt, I ate a nice steak at a restaurant a few weekends ago and boy, was it a relief! So the meat is leaving the cellar freezer (which was purchased to store the meat) in dribs and drabs.
I rode Abbee for the first time on Saturday. Abbee is a pretty Appaloosa with a dorsal stripe and a sleepy eye. It’s not really sleepy; maybe I mean hooded. Anyway, it makes her look very knowing and it was fun to ride her. She breaks into a smooth little canter at the slightest provocation. Then I had extra time and Leah asked me to ride Mopey. I gave him some little work outside and also some carrots.
Outside!!! We were outside! It’s as though we have none of us been outside for months and years since the snows started January. It’s starting, you know? Spring is starting! Every year, we wonder: will it get here? Will it get here this time? Is there something we can do?
I propose a bonfire on the first day of spring, along with a ritual beating of the ground with sticks to tell the earth to Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake up and put on your finery!
My barn lost a good friend. One of the young riders died in a car accident over the weekend. She was a senior in high school, 17 years old, and started taking lessons when she was eight. Her younger sister is very involved in 4H and her family boarded a young gelding at the barn.
I went out today to ride Sadie, big and pregnant, around and around slowly in the ring. It doesn’t help the girl’s family but there’s nothing I can do. I didn’t know her, don’t know them, wish I could do something. I’ll contribute for the flowers and I’ll keep them in my thoughts.
I do know how awful it is when someone dies, how much you want the world to stop moving forward. You say to yourself, “But this time yesterday, she was alive. We spoke. We made plans. It hasn’t been 24 hours since he died. Look, there’s his hat in the same place. Look, that’s how she left the papers on her desk. She was going to get back to them, I can tell. How can this be? How can any of this be?” And then the day turns around again and you realize it’s been 24 hours since you realized you just spoke to her. And then another day comes and it’s time for his funeral. Numb or trembling or angry, you go through it and think how yet more time has passed since the person who died was walking right there with you. And another day and another day. Everyone goes on. Everyone goes back to school the next day, goes back to work, feeds the animals, drives down the highway, shops for bread, milk, and eggs, hands in an assignment, answers the phone. The world spins on. It is relentless, life is. It drives on and rides on. A funeral procession held me up on the way out to the barn today and I knew it wasn’t hers, but it felt like part of the same thing. The cars slowed down too; it wasn’t just me. Checking our pace as a funeral procession passes is a way to acknowledge that time is suspended in the hearts of those left behind.