My husband and I started our day as usual.
After breakfast, the newspaper reading, the necessary trip the bath room, we began our ritual of stocking the veterinary truck, preparing for a day of visiting horses and clients on their farms.
Let me fill you in a bit. My husband, David, is an equine veterinarian. He is a very good vet. David is often called upon because of his expertise in seeing the most subtle lameness in a horse others’ might miss. I, Sharon, have worked as his assistant, after I left teaching school. I am a certified riding instructor but that doesn’t quite pay the bills.
So, off we go. Coffee cups full, ever faithful dog in the truck down the road to our first farm call.
“This is a new client.” David tells me.
“Yup, I know, I took his phone call and made the appointment, remember?”
“So, remind me, what are we looking at?” (I love how he says “we”)
“umm, John’s horse has been a “bit off” for a while and he can’t figure out why. Had another vet out to see the horse and they couldn’t find anything wrong so he called you.”
Mind you, David loves a mystery. Solving a horses lameness problem to him is like working a puzzle He loves to figure out how all of the pieces work and fit together.
As we round the corner on this sunny spring day we approach a lovely farm.
“WOW.” We say in unison.
A new indoor arena is being constructed, outdoor sheds built, jumps placed in a large field. This place looks to be very impressive.
John hurries out of his house full of smiles and warm welcomes.
To my astonishment he offers us a drink! It is only 10:00 a.m.
“Ah, No thanks, we’re working. Let’s go see your horse.”
As John is walking away I notice he has a slight limp.
No big deal, I think, Lot’s of horse folks limp.
Down into the under belly of his barn are many stalls.
Not so many horses.
John begins to explain his plan of creating a “new” eventing facility.
“Great.” says David. He knows what that entails
“Awesome.” I say. Are you nuts? is what I am thinking.
John then brings out his horse.
A big, lanky, dark bay gelding.
His eyes were wild, his head was straight up in the air and he could not stand still.
David looked at me.
Once tacked up, John took his horse out back of his barn to his riding area.
He assured us the horse would be “fine” once he got on.
Sure, I thought.
No sooner was John on the beast when the horse took off like a shot. He galloped around and around and around.
Sweat lathered up between his hind legs but he was not slowing down.
“John, why don’t you bring him back to a trot, please.” said David.
The left rein broke.
Again David and I spoke in unison.
And again the horse galloped around and around and around.
“I lost my leg.” yelled John
I, ever the calm riding instructor, said “just hook your toe back in the stirrup.”
“No,” he yelled, “I really lost my leg!”
At that point David and I did what we do best.
We work as a team
We separated, each taking one side of the arena, and began to walk the horse down.
As I was walking toward this horse I could indeed see that John really did lose his leg.
Evidently his lower leg had been amputated and his fake leg was flopping, boot and all against this poor horses side; which only encouraged him to go faster! With only one rein there was very little John could do to direct the horse and due to his now unbalanced posture, his seat was useless.
After what felt like fucking FOREVER, David and I closed in on the horse. I think he saw us as his saviors because he stopped.
I took hold of his bridle.
John started laughing and said “Hey David, Could you help me down?”
I did not dare look at David in the eye.
As he carted John over to the mounting block so he could put his leg back on I took the horse into the barn.
We decided we would come back to evaluate the horse at another time because he really didn’t appear to be lame at all.
John? He asked us again if we’d like a drink.
He is no longer a client.