The tour through the barns seemed normal enough. I introduced each horse giving the usual spiel I would give to prospective buyers, bloodlines, talents, level of training and personality traits. With the younger horses, I included what I expected for growth and behaviors that indicated what discipline each might do some day.
As we made our way through I noticed the deterioration that is inevitable when someone is not staying on top of things. Also noted was my usually hard keepers were showing some signs of weight loss. I made mental notes on all of these things so the necessary corrections could be made. I was more alarmed by the state of my barn than by the health of my horses.
The woman asked questions as we stopped at each stall. With her list of my horses out she was trying to match the individual in front of her with the corresponding listing there. The questions she asked were to clarify what I was telling her about each horse.
There was no hint her notations might be anything more than notes on my conversation. There was also nothing to indicate any kind of negative judgment about the condition of the barns, the horses or how they were being cared for. We seemed to linger at the hay barn stalls a bit longer than others but it appeared she was still figuring her way around that exhaustive list of paperwork that is the printout of my horses owned information from AHA.
Dave's unemployment had run out late that spring. Over the three years we had made many cutbacks but nothing concerning the horses' care had been sacrificed. With shavings now running around $500 for a small load, we had to make the decision to forego bedding.
We were already experiencing problems getting shavings on a regular basis. With so many lumber mills shutting down all over the country, our biggest supplier was now sending everything to the race tracks in southern California. That has left us at the mercy of one struggling small mill that only had shavings when it had orders for lumber.
The transition from occasional loads to none was not a big one for the horses. Their stalls were cleaned and the mats swept daily. Other than now something new to figure out how to play with, they seemed unaffected but just the thought of no bedding drove me crazy despite the fact some stall mat manufacturers advertise quoted from actual farm owners choosing to eliminate bedding because they use stall mats. For me this was something I was not doing for my horses and it eats at me......making it yet another vulnerability.
Now as we toured each barn the only concern from either woman seemed to be about my well being as I struggled with exhaustion and pain. There was nothing to indicate this woman was anything but genuine as she encouraged me to leave them and go into the house to rest.
I pushed myself beyond my limits wanting to show this woman each horse but by the time we reached the far barn I could go no farther. Most of the horses in that barn are my breeding stock so when this woman encouraged me again to leave, I acquiesced knowing the horses left to be seen were not horses I intended to part with anyway.
As I headed back to the house I still had no idea I was in any jeopardy other than from my health. My body trembled from exhaustion as I made my way by myself. Both women stayed at the barns so they could go through and groom all of the horses. I rested thinking my horses were in safe hands.
I must have fallen asleep almost immediately when I hit the couch that was my resting place in the living room. The fatigue of the barn tour was the most exhausting activity since my illness. It even trumped my walk to that shower in the hospital. My body screamed at me for the torture I had subjected it to but my psyche refused to accept the reality of my physical state, shut in.....
The frailty of my body smacked me in the face heightened by the enormity of the responsibility of thirty horses but my will could not keep me conscious. The sleep was fitful as my mind struggled to bring order to my opposing veiws. The state of my body versuses the state of my mind which still clung to the belief I had the strength to survive anything and colon cancer was nothing more than a small set back.....how could that sleep be restful? I had the weight of my world on my shoulders.
I did not sleep long when I was startled awake by the sound of a truck in my driveway. Not expecting more visitors, I forced myself to my feet to peer out the front door. Imagine my surprise to see a strange truck and horse trailer driving into my yard. My stomach rolled, my heart sank but my brain told me my friend would not allow any harm to come my way.
To be continued........