Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I have a new “boy” at the barn, a nice kid in college who was raised on a farm with COWS. He is eager to learn but he just doesn’t get that HORSES are not COWS. I have patiently explained to him that horses and a mule (Daisey) wait for you to make a mistake and then they exploit it. He left the gate open the other day, taking his lunch break, and never looked back. I spent two hours chasing horses around the house, yard and barns in ninety-five degree heat. Needless to say, by the time his “lunch hour” was over, I had a few things to say to him. Suitably chastened, he apologized, walking away muttering something about having never heard “those words” before. Dripping wet with sweat and a little dizzy, I walked away muttering something about “the younger generation…” (Lord how I have become my mother!)
I thought he had learned his lesson, especially about the part of leaving gates open. Okay, so maybe he had – about gates. Stall doors are another thing entirely. I feed in the morning because young men do not watch the sunrise. They prefer to sleep in, take long lunch hours and then do their work in the hottest part of the day. Fine, they don’t have to worry about heat stroke or heart attacks. Nor do they have an aversion to sweating (I hate sweating). Any way, I digress.
The other day, I made it to the walking horse barn about 5:30 a.m. to feed. Because these are show horses and cannot be out on the pasture, I make sure they are fed, watered and hayed (I think that is a verb – the act of throwing hay – anyway I use it) twice a day. I walked into the barn through the office, flipped on the lights and stumbled out into the main hall. My usual routine is to walk down the row of stalls, checking on the horses and talking to them as I make my way to the stack of hay at the front.
I had made it about fifty feet when I looked up. Sundancer was loose!
A flash of yellow and a welcoming whinny were the only warnings I had before fourteen hundred pounds of horse was running to MOMMA. (I raised this horse from the time he was three months old and he really thinks I am his mother or at the least the woman who carries apples in her pockets). I ran, what else could I do. I made it to the feed room, opened the door and slammed it shut behind me.
I heard a disappointed snort by the door and I knew Sun was standing there, waiting. Now, the doors have outside latches on them which snap shut and LOCK. An escape mechanism, running a string through a hole in the wall which attaches to the latch, is very necessary in case you close the door behind you. Weeellll… the boys had removed the string (for what reason God only knows). I was trapped! I could have stayed there until someone realized I was missing (three or hour hours later) but I remembered the office door was open to the outside world. It would only be a matter of time before Sun lost interest in me and wandered up there, seeing his chance to escape to the world of roads, cars and rednecks who don’t break for animals. FREEDOM!!!!
I had to get out before the mischievous palomino found his way out of the barn. The feed room has twelve-foot walls but no ceiling, open to the rafters of the barn which are at least sixteen feet above the floor.
My only alternative was to climb. I don’t like heights and my upper body strength is nearly non-existent but I had to do something.
I turned a feed barrel (garbage can) over and started up the side of the wall, gaining toeholds where I could. Success! I made it to the top of the wall and looked down. Sun looked up at me, grinning or at least to me it looked like he was grinning. My first thought was to drop down on his broad back and then to the ground but visions of a wild ride around the barn with no reins and no way to stop him squelched that nonsense. My only option was to lift myself over, hang seven feet and then hopefully drop to the ground without shattering both ankles. Then I had to survive Sun. As I was hanging there, skinned and bleeding, I thought that surely no jury would convict me for murder. After all, there are plenty of young boys and I can always replace them. I had to let go – I had no choice. Stretching as far as I could, I managed to drop and roll, avoiding the dancing feet of Sundancer. I jumped up and chased him back into his stall.
Then I proceeded with my morning feeding, a little weak from blood loss, but otherwise okay. The new boy, well, he got another lesson in verbage.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were left hanging, either literally or figuratively? It’s a hard choice to let go, knowing that what waits at the bottom could be shattered ankles or, in our case as writers, shattered dreams. But sometimes, you just have to let go and see where that fall takes you. Tell me about your experience at “letting go.”