Monday July 18 2011
As we're driving up Bates Creek, getting home from the Big Horn endurance ride, we're discussing the possibility of a new endurance ride at the City of Rocks that we've just toured, talking about who we'll ride around here tomorrow.
John has called and said he was going up the canyon to fetch the horses since he hadn't seen them yet today.
I'm thinking of feeding Rhett (who's been calling for his dinner every night I've been gone), hugging Jose, and smooching on Stormy.
I jump out of the car with my cameras and wait for the horses to come thundering down to the house in the golden evening light for some fabulous back-home photos... but the only dust I see is John on the ATV.
His face is sober when he arrives.
"The horses are way up the canyon. Sunny's cut her leg bad and Jose's on the other side of the fence." He looks sick.
I feel sick.
John heads for the truck and trailer. Steph heads for the ATV. I grab 3 halters and climb on the ATV with her.
Up the canyon we go, hot wind drying my mouth, bumpy road setting my stomach to churning.
A quarter mile from the end of the canyon, there is the herd. Jose is standing by himself on the other side of the barbed wire fence. Sunny is standing off by herself well away from the fence, but well away from the herd. Steph and I climb off the ATV. She heads to Sunny. I head for Jose.
I can see two old thick fence posts half laying down, 4 strands of barbed wire detached in places and hanging at 4 different dimensions. Somebody had a battle with that barbed wire fence and lost. I feel nauseous. My legs are shaking. I might cry. Please God, not Jose too. I have cottonmouth, tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, throat painfully dry and cracked.
I first come across my horse Stormy. Stormy knows barbed wire - he once got into it badly enough to spend 8 days at the vet. Thank God he is fine this time.
I get to the fence and Jose next, dreading what I will see, but miraculously, a quick glance tells me he is fine, with not a mark on him. My hands are shaking as I put his halter on and I give him a quick hug. I can't speak to him because my mouth and throat are so parched, but I know he knows how relieved, how grateful I am.
As I start leading him up the canyon to the nearest gate back into the acres with the rest of the herd, we pass closer to Sunny. I can only see her upper legs for the tall sagebrush but there is dried blood and cuts up there. She must have been standing there a long time, maybe all day. I can't see the worst of it, but Steph just says, "It's bad." I almost cry.
I lead Jose back in with the herd. i walk up to Steph and Sunny, wishing time backward, wishing this hadn't happened.
It's bad. Huge gaping gash on the inside front of the left hock. It looks a lot like Finneas' leg when he tried to tear his hind leg off on a fence 4 years ago - only much worse.
John has followed us in the truck and trailer. With Steph leading, and me insisting from behind, we get Sunny loaded in the trailer. Steph and John drive her to the clinic 90 minutes away.
Many hours later, after midnight, they return with an empty trailer. They've left her at the vet. We'll know in the morning if the gash avoided the joint capsule and if it avoided infection. We'll know if she'll make it.
The herd follows the horse trailer back to the house. As Sunny leaves for the vet, I take Jose out to feed him. I give him a fierce hug. I look him in the eye, and I tell him thank you for not getting hurt. He listens, and I know he understands me. I hug Jose, I bury my head in his mane, I hug him, I hug him, and I don't let go for a long while.