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Life and Times of a Working Cowgirl

The Blind and the Beautiful

About a month ago my big grey roan Gunsmoke stuck something through his eye. It is one of those horrible freak injuries that you pray never happens to your horse but know are always possible. I was out feeding when it happened and I don’t know what he stuck in his eye but it was most probably the end of a low hanging tree branch. Whatever it was the results were devastating. After emergency surgery to put three stitches in his cornea he was banished to a box stall for two weeks. For a ranch horse being kept indoors in tantamount to torture. He managed the best he could but it was obviously wearing on his psyche. After a check-up from the vet and with a dark fly mask Gunny was set free in the pasture. It appears he can see light in that eye and possible movement but not any real vision. Thankfully he has managed fairly well. There is still a fair amount of drainage and we clean and flush it every other day. I think he will eventually heal up just fine but he has lost the vision in that eye. Once he heals we will have to determine if he will trust a rider enough to be ridden or if he is now just a pasture ornament.

About the same time Gunny was injured I picked up a mare from a friend who had been seriously injured in an accident with a cow. He called her Lotus because she was like driving a sports car. She is a petite chestnut, cow bred quarter horse  with a sweet face and a darling disposition. After some x-rays from the vet we determined she had a hairline fracture in her cannon bone and her posterior sesamoid (accessory carpal bone) was fractured into six pieces. Had I seen the x-rays without the horse I would have thought any horse that severely injured would be completely lame and in serious pain. However, Miss Lotus was neither. She was off at a trot and her range of motion was not complete but she was functioning as a normal horse in the pasture. We put her on some herbs and homeopathics to promote bone growth, did a chiropractic adjustment and a series of EPR sessions with her and in 30 days she was showing no signs of swelling, she was walking normally and her range of motion had increased to the point she could extend her trot without any signs of lameness. Now time will tell if she will be able to return to being a completely sound riding horse but for now she is pain-free and healthy.

As I was driving back from Moab yesterday, after delivering Lotus back to her owner, I had a great deal of time to think about the benefits and difficulties that come from sharing my life with horses. First off I was driving back from Moab, that is over 350 miles each way from the ranch, but it is a lovely drive and stunning country, does that go in the benefit  of difficult category? Second diesel is over $4 a gallon, that is definitely a difficulty. Next I was traveling with a dear friend to see another dear friend, benefit, definitely a benefit. I continued down the list making my mental Ben Franklin “T” of pro’s and cons in my head. Financial considerations aside, how do I justify the time and effort I spend on and with horses? I hadn’t really come to any conclusion in my head as I rolled through the gate at the ranch. I was tired and the odometer on the truck said I had traveled 900 miles since I rolled out that gate. I stopped at the barn and let misty out of the trailer. She had spent the last 30 days in Utah working cattle and learning some arena manners. As I lead her to the gate and entire herd of horses emerged from the darkness. Each one whinnying, neighing and verbalizing some form of welcome home. After each horse had met us and said there welcomes I unlatched her halter and set her free. She gave me a quick nuzzle then disappeared into the darkness. I stood all alone in the dark listening to the thundering of hooves across the ranch. I could hear them change direction, I could smell the dust, I could feel their energy and their life swirling around the ranch like a building storm. Standing in the dark wrapped in the love and the raw natural power of the herd I knew I had found my answer. There is no word in the english language to describe what I feel or how I benefit, but the horses have a word for it, if you listen very closely in the dark you can hear them say it over and over again as they welcome one of their own back home and back into the herd.


I made it to the house where I was greeted by four dogs, two kids and my husband in a manner that seemed very similar to the greeting Misty had just received.There was a building of excitement and energy and then sounds of contentment and joy.  So, what is the benefit in keeping blind, lame, old, sick and unrideable horses? I think that is something everyone has to work out for themselves. For me the benefit lies in hearing those magical words that are carried by the soft wind following a herd of galloping horse. Words that can’t be translated, or spoken but words you can hear and feel none the less.

One Comment

  1. How you maintain that prespective, as I reach those “GOLDEN YEARS”. I know productiveity has been on the decline, and I sure as hell don’t want no stickin stall, padded or not.
    Just wanted to let you know.
    :)