Over my career, I frequently found myself out in the middle of the night walking colicky horses, often ponies. It would be dark, and my barn and house lights would make for an impressive shadow as I walked these painful horses around my driveway.
When we came close to my own horses, lined up at the fence watching the “new addition” to an ever-changing population of horses that came and went, the colicky animal would usually nicker to my horses. There would be communication that only they understood. I envisioned conversations between these very painful horses and my own.
Toffee was the oldest and the pony who saw the most since she came to us and lived with us twenty years until her death at thirty-seven. “Hey, mate.” She would say ‘mate’ as she was Australian, despite her Welsh heritage. “How are you feeling?”
The colicky horse would respond, “Like hell.” Or if it was getting better, “not as bad as yesterday. I hate those injections, but now that I have a catheter, the pain meds are the bomb. I just wish the doc would let me have a bite to eat.”
Toffee would respond, “has she stuck her hands up your backside? Gross. She knows what she’s doing. If you are savable, she will save you. I came to her because I was a chronic colicker, now I rarely have it. You are in good hands. Pun intended.”
Well, I always could see these conversations gave me an indication of the severity of the colic. The ones that weren’t too painful showed great interest in my horses as we neared them. The bad ones could care less.
So back to the discussion. I always knew that few people realized what I did for their horses at night. My daughter would occasionally wake up and see me walking them. Of course, the barn cat would be a vocal witness to midnight events. My staff would know if they read the charts, but this was something that basically went unnoticed. I know vets worldwide did this kind of thing with little fanfare or acknowledgment and, sadly, without pay.
In the last few years, I played the song by Fun, “Carry On,” as I walked painful horses in endless circles around our lawn.
If you’re lost and alone, or you’re sinkin’ like a stone
May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground
Thankfully, I was far enough from my neighbors, so they didn’t hear me singing along.
Anyway, once I wrote my first book, I thought: If I die today, at least my family will know what I did, and for one or two generations, I would not be forgotten.
Ten years later, the writing bug hit me big time, and I decided to try my hand at fiction. Of course, my experiences are woven into these stories.