Word Wrangling Woman, Stories, Novels, Blog, Writer

My Moveable Beast

Posted on | August 26, 2012 | No Comments

All’s write in my world …

Below is my first posting on this blog page. It happens to be a true story. You’ll meet the “golden dun” American Quarter Horse who changed my life in so many ways.

My Movable Beast     By Patrice Garrett

Moving to a new barn, horse in tow—literally, is always an anxious time for me. It’s more anxiety producing than packing up the house and kids and heading down the road.

I have moved my horse for many reasons: the care was poor, the feed worse, or the facility was not kept up and was physically dangerous.

In our upcoming move none of the above is true. I am moving him because I’m looking for friends and companions who are of the western riding discipline state of mind, who relish the moniker “cowgirl.” Although I’ve found a dream barn I am still dealing with the “what ifsof a move.

The barn we are leaving is a lovely place—clean and caring, however the one big arena is filled with all the posts, brightly painted poles and plastic flowers of jumps, which is as it should be, because that’s their riding discipline and joy, it’s a hunter jumper barn. Sundance, my sweet gelding, and I don’t jump. We like big spaces to practice our riding skills, our flying leads, our rollbacks. I hope that I’ve made the best decision for him as well as myself.

We are going to a well kept western barn with big arenas and no jumps at all. There are gallop tracks and trails everywhere right off the property. Still, I fret. Will he be okay? Will the new guys be nice to my boy when they come in armed with pitchforks to clean his stall? Will he like the water? The saying you can lead a horse to watereven sweeten it with apple juice and other enticementsbut you cant make them drink, is oh, so true, and water is key to any horses survival. They can bind up and colic and die without enough of it. Sometimes they refuse to drink the new water. That’s my worst nightmare. Then of course there is the trailer trip, through traffic, winding hilly roads and freeways. A horse can be injured if they don’t travel well on that day.

In the days preceding The Big Move, I have hauled my saddles and most of my gear to our new digs. I tingle with excitement and nervousness as I move between the two barns. I am both counting the days and tying my stomach in knots as moving day looms, closer and closer. And finally, it arrives. The day of reckoning is upon me.

Sundance is bathed, brushed, blanketed and awaiting the arrival of the trailer that will carry him to our new home. He is perky, energized, and aware that something big is about to happen. Maybe it’s because he’s watched lots of our “stuff” leave the barn he’s been happily living in.

The trailer pulls in on time and my wonderful team of friends jump out of their truck and get busy. Tack trunk loaded? Check. Feed cans loaded? Check.

“Will he load easy?” Asks my friend Shelley.

“Dunno,” I say, and watch while she hangs his full to bursting hay bag in his trailer tie spot.  “Let’s find out.”

I go into his stall, which will soon house my friend April’s horse, and remove his fly mask and sheet. Talking sweet, I ask for his head and he dips into his halter without skipping a beat. His ears wag up and down like Semaphore flags—perhaps he’s signaling his equine goodbyes. My fingers close around his lead rope.

In seconds we are standing at the loading end of the trailer. I stop and breathe deep, in and out. I hope this isnt going to be an ordeal. Then I step forward and up into the trailer bed and Sundance calmly and quietly steps right in with me—as though we were strolling through the lobby of some posh hotel together. He bellies up to his private hay bar without a blink and starts to munch. Trailer doors locked and barred, I indulge in a couple of good-bye hugs myself, hop in my truck, and follow the tow down the road.

On the way, we pickup a second horse. This pretty, nervous Nellie needs to be coaxed and persuaded to climb aboard. She had quite a bit to say about it too, when she was finally loaded, but Sundance took it all in stride. He simply gave her a soft welcoming neigh and went back to munching. Twenty minutes later, we pull in to our new home. The wild beauty of Open Space is all around us. I look up at the golden, tree studded hills, and wonder about the scent of wild turkey and mountain lion. A sensitive equine nose will catch the unfamiliar on the breeze and react with wide-eyed terror–jigging, snorting, sometimes trying to bolt.

However, on this day my amazing horse quietly steps off the trailer onto hard ground, looks around and decides not to panic at this new vista with all of its strange new smells. I could see him take a nostril-flaring breath and make the decision. Encouraged, I take him on a very short stroll and in moments he is safely ensconced in his new stall-run combo. So far so good, I smile and walk slowly away.

After unloading the last of our gear and settling it into the new tack room I sneak over to see how he’s doing. Piece of cake. My grin is ear-to-ear now. He’s eating his grass hay, he’s playing with the automatic waterer, splashing and blowing, and he’s besotted with my friend’s mare, who now lives right next to him.

I give a nod of thanks to the horse gods and hug my helper friends. Worry drops away from me like water off a Newfoundland’s back. All I can think about is the joy of riding with him tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that. Piece of cake!


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  • About

    My name is Patrice Garrett. I'm a writer harboring the soul of a cowgirl. I have a penchant for the Old West. I believe, as do many others, that I lived another life and experienced the California Gold Rush first hand. My first two novels reflect my connection with the era.
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