There are moments in every trainer's life when his or her work is tested. Monday evening, such a moment presented itself to me. As I pulled into the driveway, fresh from the office, I scanned the herd in my usual headcount.
My heart rate hardly had time to jump before I spotted number eight, Consolation, milling anxiously between Insider's and Aaruba's paddocks...outside the fence.
Dressed as I was in a suit and heels, I knew I'd spook her if I approached immediately. I hurried indoors, pulled on jeans and a sweatshirt while keeping an eye on Consolation through the window, and bustled out to my tack box by the round corral for a halter. On the way, I noted with a sinking stomach the mangled fence that had, until sometime during my workday, contained Consolation.
While half my mind ticked off possible first aid procedures, the other half wondered whether I'd have trouble catching Consolation. She's never been a problem in that department, but she's also never been loose in a large, exhilirating, unfamiliar field after a traumatic experience. And let's face it -- she was, for all intents and purposes, and wild horse for her first three years of life.
I circled around the outside of Aaruba's pen, halter over my shoulder, and approached Consolation with intentional casualness. I scanned her for bumps and blood. Nothing. She watched me with calm, liquid eyes as I sidled up and rubbed her neck for a while before moving around to slip the halter on. We stood there a while longer, she nibbling grass and I inspecting her more thoroughly. Still nothing alarming, though she was covered with grass stains from cannons to withers.
We moseyed back toward the round corral, investigating her hoofprints in the soft earth. It seems that something on the road spooked her into her 5-foot, wire mesh horse fence. She probably caught her knees mid-jump and flipped over, judging by the state of the fence, the scuffle marks and grass stains, the scatter of rakes and shovels, and the skidding-out prints left as she regained her feet. She galloped around the partially finished root cellar (think room-sized hole in the ground), through the garden, then looped around Aaruba's paddock to flirt with the stallions.
Back in the fenced compound, I offered Consolaton water, then walked and trotted her around the round corral in both directions to check for lameness. Nothing. I ran my hands over every inch of her body, searching for wounds or sore spots. Nada.
Thank heavens for good stallion fences, effective training, and a heavy dose of luck. Consolation, whose royal bearing long ago led me to call her 'Milady' more often than not, survived her adventure without so much as a scratch, bruise, sore muscle, or anything worse than the temporary appearance of a green-spotted pinto.
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