Finally I’m able to blog again. Oh how I have missed it. My wonderful 3 month old laptop decided Windows 8 hated me so now that I’m back to using ol’ faithful windows 7 I’m back in action. Blogging to me means – sentences that aren’t always grammatically correct, aren’t always in the best order, spelling and typos that are totally ok and I can crap on with whatever I want and no-one can tell me that it’s wrong or is a bad storyline. Ahhhh nonjudgmental writing space, how I have missed you. I can only pray everyone else had an amazing Christmas and New Years but suddenly I would be ignorant to believe that was true but ignorance is bliss sometimes.
In the last few days I’ve remembered just how amazing animals are. My dear old horse is now 29yrs old. VERY old for a thoroughbred He hurt his leg many years ago so that was the end of riding him because it was cruel to hurt his leg but when he wasn’t ridden his leg didn’t even look like it affected him. Many circumstances led to him being a wild horsey who lived in our paddock which is nearly impossible to access which wasn’t an issue because he was healthy and happy. In the last week the creek dividing the house yard from his paddock dried up to almost nothing leaving Larry (the horse) without water. For the first time in over 4 years we had to get him across an appropriately name creek – Rocky Creek which is nothing but rocks. It was a blistering hot day last Sunday and I knew I had to get him to my parent’s house where he would have a big dam to drink out of. In hindsight I shouldn’t have been wearing thongs (Flip flops for all non-aussies) especially cheap slippery ones but I wasn’t really thinking. I fought my way across to Larry’s paddock now with wet thongs that I kept slipping out of. Not fun when both banks of the creek are near impossible to scale. I found Larry who was happy to see me as usual. He’s such a loving horse with a personality and sense of humour (I know he’s a horse but if you met him you’d understand). I only had a rope to put around his neck – not exactly proper equipment to lead a 500kg horse across terrible terrain but I had nothing else. I quickly realised that Larry was much skinnier than what I thought and he walked as though he didn’t trust his legs to keep him upright. I felt gutted seeing my powerful horse reduced to a shell of whatever he used to be. 15-20 years ago Larry was a perfectly trained Dressage horse who competed in Three day events (Dressage, Jumping and Cross Country). He was close to Olympic level trained but once we bought him we only use natural horsemanship on our horses and Dressage was not something we thought the horse enjoyed so that was out. We loved him and the basic things we did with him (competitively speaking) he was fun and well-behaved. This boy was so well trained with natural horsemanship that I could get him to lie down so I could get on although by the time he was mine (he was originally my older sisters horse) he had already started sometimes showing signs of being lame. I didn’t like to make him lie down because it wasn’t enjoyment out of it. My solution was lining him up against our fence and me clambering on to the fence then inelegantly getting on him all the while he was never once held there or tied up. He didn’t need to be he just knew that was what I wanted him to do. I never used a bridle on him (who wants bloody piece of metal in their mouth and being ripped around by it) and sometimes no saddle. We had a strong bond and understood eachother perfectly. Needless to say I love Larry. In the many years he was officially mine I never fell off him – he made sure of that even when I nearly fell off him over a jump he moved across to right my position on him. Larry is a magic horse. He is also a very very smart horse. When his paddock flooded our neighours cut their fence so he could get through to their higher paddock but obviously they couldn’t go get him as it was too dangerous. Larry knew that humans always were a positive so I guess realising he was in a bad situation he ran to the open fence and survived. Unfortunately the neighbouring horses that belonged to other people weren’t as smart as Larry and sadly perished.
Anyway so I lead him toward the dreaded creek. Me in shorts and thongs walking in front of a really big horse (he’s 16.3 hands high which is close to the biggest normal horse you can get) but not once regardless of me stopping randomly and changing direction, did he stand on my feet. I tried many ways to just get down into the creek but the grass was high and there was a half metre drop to dangerously rocky uneven ground below and small trees blocking our way. He refused to go into a very rocky part of the creek which was a fair walk to the only place to get up the bank on the other side so I tried elsewhere. There was only one spot that I could get him across. I needed him to get to the house so I could at least hand feed him and give him fresh water. I tried pulling him down a tiny path (created by the neighours dog running through. I cut down one of the small trees but he was having no part in it. He knew his wobbly legs wouldn’t survive a fall even if it was small, the rocks were unforgiving. I tried to guide him to the path I knew he’s be ok if he took. No go and I wasn’t going to force him, that wasn’t fair. It was hot and everything felt hopeless. I needed to make Larry better, I needed to fix him and make him feel better but I couldn’t. It broke my heart not knowing what I could do to get him across this creek which seemed like the divider between Larry being ok and not being ok. I cried, I couldn’t help it, I cried. I had let him down. I shouldn’t have let him get this old in this place, it was a death sentence now because I couldn’t look after him the way he needed. I stood there crying, pleading with him to trust me and let me help him. I gave up, the rope I was leading him with was loose. I stood in the creek a few metres from him, crying. I couldn’t look at him, knowing I failed him. The insane heat, exhaustion and dehydration can really break you. Then by some miracle Larry started to walk down the impossibly small path he was scared but he loved me. He looked at me wanting to be lead down the safest path. In that moment I knew that animals were so much more than what everyone assumes they are ‘just animals.’ That horse understood what I couldn’t explain to him, he fell back on the belief we had instilled in him – your owners will never let you get hurt. After he made that monumental step (it really felt like that) I knew he was going to be ok. He was steady walking across the rocks then even jumped up the other bank all the while never once standing on me. Once I gave him a hose down to cool him and fed him I realised his front teeth were very low so of course he wouldn’t have been able to eat much grass. He’s now living in our house paddock (about an acre) where we feed him morning and night because he wouldn’t be able to cope with the horse float trip to my parents and I don’t think he would be able to get enough food by himself. He learnt fast where we keep his new food and as we started feeding him morning and night the second day he came right up to the house and made sure to make a loud enough neigh to remind us it was feed time (he learns fast). Now he is safe and I can make it all ‘OK’ which is what I needed. Larry is finally happy again and it’s so nice to be able to give him a pat every day which he enjoys. He’s too old now for him to ever be fat again (very old horses especially thoroughbreds always have their ribs showing) but as long as he looks healthy and his coat is shiny then I’ll make sure he lives out the rest of his life in peace. I don’t know how animals know our thoughts but I was reminded to NEVER underestimate an animal ever again.