My mare, Lady, came through winter looking like a greyhound. She will put on weight once the grass comes I told myself. Grass came, I upped the mashes and she managed to put on enough weight that she looked so very trim and fit, but I knew it would not be enough to carry her through winter. I did not want to go there. My mare and her pasture mate had been in my life and care for over 30 years and they were now 35 years old. My gelding (Mikey) had cushings and so I was on constant alert for any signs of founder as he has already had a few episodes. I knew it was time. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I promised myself that I wouldn’t put them through another winter. I wanted to remember them “whole” and not as skeletons. After losing my mother to cancer and the last memory I have is of her almost unrecognizable in a hospital bed I really did not want that to be the same for my beloved horses.
I made arrangements to have the hole dug. I was telling myself that my chapter with horses was over. Convincing myself that I was ready to have a life without horses in it. A few years earlier I had sustained a moderate traumatic brain injury in a MVA that left me unable to speak or walk very well for 2 years. Recovery in the fashion that occurs with head trauma was and is very slow and frustrating. My balance and coordination was and still is compromised. I had actually quit riding when my mare was 28, using the excuse that she was getting too old. The reality of it though was that riding was just too hard. I couldn’t stay on. Fifteen minutes at a walk and I was wringing wet with sweat from trying to keep my ass perched on her back. It was heartbreaking for me.
Before the MTBI, I rode like the wind. I always rode bareback leading the gelding. I could race while leading the gelding and win. Everyone I ever rode with could not get over how I could go up hills, down hills, run while leading another horse and never hang on. We were like one. For me we were one, we were a team. I was born with a love affair with horses and could not imagine not having a horse. Over the years, I often ate lots of beans or went without, so my horses would have the best. In return, they (Rosebud-my first horse, Lady- my fourth horse) looked after me too. If I jumped and didn’t quite make it they would grab my pants and help me on. If I fell off, they would stand over me and not let anyone near. Boyfriends were not welcome either. Lady especially would edge in between and nip to keep them at bay. Both horses loved chocolate cake and pepperoni pizza probably because I did. Friday nights we would sit together and share. When I was much younger, the minute my mom left for work the horses would be at the front door and I would let them in. It wasn’t till she got sick that she came to understand where all that hair came from that was in her vacuum! And then, I fell and hit my head on the heat register and was knocked unconscious.
If I thought I was worried about falling and having another head injury before… LOOK OUT!! Now I was terrified. Six years into my recovery and now knocked backward – almost back to square one. My processing speed was once again so very, very slow, as was my speech, coordination, balance, and executive function.During the summer after I had the hole dug I was trying my best to prepare myself for October. That’s right I had now set a date. I had a trusted friend and hunter lined up for the day.Out of the blue, I get company. Glenn, the man who I got my first horse from, is on my doorstep. He is trying to put his house in order and is looking for a forever home for his horse and I was the only person he knew he could trust if I gave my word. I think the horse must be old, so I say yes. Then I come to find out that the horse is two.What have I done? I can’t afford to get hurt. I am terrified of getting hurt. How can I possibly do anything with a two year old without the possibility of getting hurt? Oh well he can always be a lawn ornament I tell myself.
Gemini arrives. He has just been gelded. He is huge, I mean really huge, a big tank. Not fat! BIG!! Lady at 35 years old goes instantly into estrus. What the “f” have I got myself into. Soon she realized he couldn’t do anything for her and she laid the boots into him. Okay , one problem solved.Over the next few weeks, I realize Gemini is not at all interested in humans unless they have carrots. He is very aloof, independent, has food issues, has a huge built-in fear of whatever is behind him that he cannot see, dogs and is a bully. He will make a very beautiful lawn ornament.That thought doesn’t last long because I feel guilty. He has so much potential what does it say about me if I do not realize that potential? The dilemma: How do I overcome my disabilities? He is a bully, I am weak, indecisive, slow to think, slow to respond. Not a good combination. I did not want to be part of the problem.Okay, he needs exercise and exposure. I can only walk so far, and he is dragging me around because I can’t think quick enough or process fast enough to correct behaviors before they are happening. Plan. Think. Viola! A solution. With proper support and things to hang on to I can sit backward on the quad while my partner drives and I can lead Gemini. All I have to do is watch him and hang on to the rope. Off we go around the trails on crown land. This is working. I am really not a quad fan but hey this is working. Not so fast… didn’t plan on what to do if I lost my balance…bounce, bump, scrape and thud and my ass is on the ground with swollen red skid marks all up my back.The lead rope is not in my hand either!! Gemini turns tail and I am pelted with clumps of dirt, a parting “f” you to say the least. Jim is pissed that I fell off! That ended the quad idea. That fast! Back to the drawing board.