The Whole Picture is Nothing But a Compilation of Details.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Travelling by the Seat of my Pants

Taking time off your normal everyday life (wait, did I say normal?) takes preparation and planning. I did neither. One and a half hours before my 7 am departure I still needed to shower and pack. But let me fill you in: I actually had a plan, only it was sabotaged by a sick horse that carefully chose his time to colic to coincide with my leaving work early to start my five-week long vacation in South America. I bet you didn’t know that horses only ever get sick when you have firm plans to be elsewhere…
Leaving work early before vacation is like nailing jello to a tree. Since I’m a stickler for making sure everything is in good order before I go away I am late leaving work from the minute I start my day. To finish it all, I cancel dinner and drinks with friends, and am just about to leave when a big dark bay gelding falls ill to a point of needing hand walking for hours and hours and vet care. I call to inform the local vet that she will be late for dinner as she is supposed to be at the very same dinner I cancelled. She arrives moments later, and with half the guest list at the barn, the other fifty percent stop by with a bottle of wine. My hay supplier is in the area and calls to wish me a nice vacation, so I invite him to join the party. He is a little disappointed with the lack of food, and the wine which smells like rotten, disintegrating horse feet. I try to improve it with a candy cane, but there is simply no saving it. At 9:50 pm, the horse seems to have turned a corner and is alert and happy, so I leave. I only just walk in the door of my house as the phone rings. It is the man who does night check… “Horse is back down”. Damn.  I feed the cat quickly and grab my laundry, which still needs to be washed before I leave in ten hours. My sandwich falls on the floor but there is no doubt the ten-second rule applies: It is the only food I have held in my hand since breakfast.
Back at the barn, I take over from the night staff, who’s walking the horse when I arrive. This time it is not a matter of a meager four hours to get the horse through his belly ache– no, this time we carry on through the night. At midnight, I insist the night staff and the other visitors leave as I can still make my plane if I leave the barn at seven – the time the morning crew arrives.
There is something very special about being alone in a barn full of horses. Especially at night. Those of you who have know what I’m talking about. The rest of you I hope will experience it someday. I prefer winter to summer because of the silence. No birds, no swishing tails and best of all, no pesky flies: only the sound of the horses sleeping. Add light snow falling softly, and I hope you can feel the stillness.
In this serene environment I walk a dark bay horse up and down the aisle countless times. After two hours he looks and acts well enough to be left in his stall for a little while. On the floor in the office, I wrap myself in a fluffy horse blanket, use my clean laundry as a pillow and curl up waiting for the alarm to go off an hour later so I can walk the bay horse again.
At 5 am, after a long night of hand walking, Banamine, the wonder drug, purging of intestines, and hot mash, yes, all for the horse, I am comfortable enough with his well-being to take to the dark, snowy roads and head out. At home at last, I ponder if I should drink that “after work” beer or have breakfast. I shower and sit down, utterly drained, desperate for sleep. With thirty-five minutes til I must leave for the airport, somehow my hands slowly, absentmindedly make me breakfast and begin to place things in my backpack. Thank God they didn’t hand me a beer.

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