Horse Doctor Adventures – Catch and Release

Mum, they’re crazy over there. They all have guns, and they have murders every day.” There was an endless list of reasons my children didn’t support my return to America. They didn’t want me to leave them.

My three children all lived in different states, and I was only flavor of the month in December. Not one of the kids came home for Christmas last year. They had their own families and had moved on. I left them in Australia to return to my native country—God bless America, I hoped. I was starting over.

Old age is not for the faint-hearted, but what’s old? Starting my new life in a rural community far from friends and family was scary. My sister and brother thought I was crazy, which I think we’d already established when I upped and moved to Australia to follow my future and now ex-husband.

My kids were furious, and they had every reason to be. Admittedly, I was abandoning them. It was alright and preferential that they moved out and started their own families. Still, parents are expected to stay and be the nuclear family’s anchor. I failed my kids and bailed on them. Sorry—not.

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Elizabet Woolsey Author - Horse Doctor Adventures - Catch and Release

Horse Doctor Adventures - Catch and Release

Catch and Release is the first book in a series about Dr. Maggie Kincaid. Maggie recently returned from Australia, where she lived, raised a family, and practiced as a horse vet for over two decades. Following retirement, she travels to a small rural town where she purchases a log cabin in the woods.

Her immediate neighbors are the National Forest and a reclusive, aging, former film and television star.

There was one small detail. Maggie's cabin was the scene of a murder-suicide. Many of the locals think otherwise.

Despite her children's warnings of the 'gun toting' Americans, she settles into a rural life where she plans to ride, fly fish, and write books about veterinarians who solve mysteries.

A young, hearing-impaired boy shows up at her cabin seeking work. Their relationship unfolds as Maggie attempts to help the boy.

Maggie meets many local townsfolk, ranging from ranchers to multi-millionaires who jet in and out of the area.

Through all of this, she becomes entangled in their lives and is courted by two men. Then the cracks unfold in her idyllic life. All is not what it seems, and neither are her friends.

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Horse Doctor Adventures - Catch and Release

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"Mum, they're crazy over there. They all have guns, and they have murders every day." There was an endless list of reasons my children didn't support my return to America. They didn't want me to leave them. My three children all lived in different states, and I was only flavor of the month in December.

Not one of the kids came home for Christmas last year. They had their own families and had moved on. I left them in Australia to return to my native country—God bless America, I hoped. I was starting over.

Old age is not for the faint-hearted, but what's old? Starting my new life in a rural community far from friends and family was scary. My sister and brother thought I was crazy, which I think we'd already established when I upped and moved to Australia to follow my future and now ex-husband.

My kids were furious, and they had every reason to be. Admittedly, I was abandoning them. It was alright and preferential that they moved out and started their own families. Still, parents are expected to stay and be the nuclear family's anchor. I failed my kids and bailed on them. Sorry—not.

I was restarting my life back in the States after twenty-seven years of living in Australia. I pulled into the long driveway to make my way up to my new home. I'd purchased a log cabin on forty-eight acres last year. I told my family I lived in a gated community.

An old Powder River gate with a lock protected me from the gun-toting heathens who my children had envisioned. The gate had seen better days and had a large indentation from a vehicle or a bison.

I don't think there are any buffalo here, but I could dream. The gate was well off the road, allowing someone with a truck and trailer to pull into the driveway and be safe when the gate with its chain and ancient lock needed to be opened.

The property looked like a desert with rocks and sage as the only prominent features visible from the road. It fooled me when I came last year looking for retirement properties. I could not imagine wanting to buy this place as I looked up the hill from the road.

My realtor, Carol Carter, and I drove over the hill and descended into a small, lush valley with a log home, barn, and fenced paddocks next to a year-round creek abutting a dense forest.

Carol turned to me. "Proceed?"

"Maybe. So, what are the issues? There must be a catch. This place has been on the market for six years. How come?"

"Let's just look before I say any more." Carol pointed to a white speck in a tree. "See her?"

"Is that a bald eagle?"

"Maggie, we can leave, but I think it's worth a look." I observed Carol smiling to herself.

"No, let's at least look around. Any fish in the creek?"

"Some. There's a story, but I think you may just be the one person who can get over a few details." Carol lied. The word detail implied a small obstacle; it was not.

Despite knowing the true story, which was far more than a tiny issue, I purchased the property, and now, nine months later, here I was, ready to move in and start the next ten years of my life. I planned to live like this for at least ten years before I went to live in 'the home,' as my children called it.

A bottle of Barossa Valley wine, flowers, and house keys sat on a table on the deck, which faced a cliff and the surrounding forest. My spectacular view was worth every penny. I sat down on the chair next to the table and pulled out my small book of contacts and reminders.

Most of my essential details were on my phone. My to-do list was usually written out so I could get the pleasure of ticking the items off. I added a reminder to send a thank you note to Carol.

The rocky gravel road would need to be graded and smoothed out. I would add that to a long list of things that would need to be done to make this place livable year-round.

There was an envelope with a list of tradesmen and contact numbers for the utilities and a state fishing license—go Carol! There was a second smaller envelope that contained an invitation to an annual picnic for the locals.

Carol mentioned her brother-in-law had an event every year. Attendance was mandatory if I wanted to meet the who's who of the area. I was told not to bring anything but my appetite. The theme was western casual, and it was in two weeks.

Here was my haven from my past life—no more work. No more being on call and no more worries about sick or dying horses. Veterinary medicine had been good to me. I was lucky that I loved what I did, but that life was over.

I left my country of residence, my children, and my profession for a rural life of solitude and recreational fly-fishing. My clients, family, and friends said I would fail at retirement. No one, including me, could imagine I could find joy outside of my professional life.

My coworkers were incredibly doubtful. I'd devoted the last fifty years of my existence to veterinary medicine, and to the exclusion of anything else. It was inconceivable that I could find joy in other activities.

They didn't know. I had a secret plan. I was approaching my late sixties when three years ago, I noticed that the joy in my work had finally waned. I no longer looked forward to saving the lives of horses.

Most of my contemporaries had retired long before me and found joy in cruises, grandchildren, and hobbies. They encouraged me to do the same. "You can't be a horse vet forever. It's dangerous, and you're vulnerable. Your reaction time is not what it used to be. Remember Larry Childers? You don't want to end up like him."

I never met Larry, but he was a legend in equine veterinary medicine. Larry had been killed when a stallion struck him in the head. He was a good horseman, but Larry took risks. He didn't have my staff. Their number one job was to keep me safe. I'd given up the dangerous stuff years ago.

I no longer collected semen from stallions or stuck the first needle into an unbroken colt to be castrated. Still, it was often the most unexpected occurrence that did many vets in.

The reason for my decision to retire was not fear of injury. It was not the midnight calls for help or even the continuous being on call for emergencies. I just had lost interest. I simply found no joy in veterinary medicine. I was at the top of my game, and I didn't want to play anymore. I wanted a new life, and while I was leaving many friends, I wanted new ones.

Living in another country was the best decision I'd ever made. The reason for the original relocation overseas, my ex, did not turn out like I had planned. Still, thankfully it gave me children and a great professional life. I used to say, "Pinch me. They're paying me to do this." Now I have changed the verb to "paid." Sadly, my Australian friends had either died, moved away, or had families and responsibilities that superseded me.

We had different interests and, more importantly, different values. I wanted to get back to my people. I had no problems making friends. I thought I might find like-minded people here in rural America. So, I sold up and moved back home to my people and heritage.

Before entering the house, I decided to walk down to the creek. There was an old fence on the other side of the stream. The barricade was damaged in many places. A bear could walk onto the property, and a horse could escape—more for the to-do list. I was aware that bears and mountain lions were known in the area.

I saw scat down on the bank and considered adding gun procurement on my to-do list. I left my dogs with my children until I was ready to have them sent over. This might have been a mistake. I was told the dogs were being held for ransom until I came to my senses.

I checked my phone. Only one bar, would that be enough? "Help, I've fallen, and I can't get up." I wasn't that old, and one month ago, I was still wrangling horses. My last call before retirement was a horse with a grass awn in its eye.

She was not impressed with me and vice versa. She thought the prick of a needle was a cue to rear. Better living through chemistry, a good vet nurse, and she was on her way home drunk and medicated—good luck on the follow-up. That was my past, and this is my future.

I returned to the cabin and picked up the keys. The door was solid with a heavy-duty lock. I unlocked and opened the door. Phew. The smell of death permeated the great room. I immediately remembered the ‘detail’ that Carol had explained, which stopped sales for several years. Oh my God, what had I done?

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. You can find the full book on Amazon.
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