It’s My Life – Chapter 15

Some people find solace and comfort in a church where they can confess their sins, sit in silence, or find strength in a congregation. For me, it is found with horses. Whether I am grooming, mucking a stall, or training, the chatter in my mind quiets and the world around me fades.

The concerns that I had about our finances as well as my anxiety, continued to grow. I no longer voiced my opinion around Ted as I was too worn down to argue. I had convinced the therapeutic center to change my shift from the weekends to weekday mornings to “save my marriage.” I showed up early in the morning to feed, turnout, do stalls, and ride then head to work. Many days I would show up to work in my barn clothes or breeches and do a quick change in the bathroom, barely making it on time. I was always rushing.

My new coworker Kara was my sounding board and would lend an ear to let me vent my frustrations. She said many times that if weren’t for those horses relying on me every morning, I probably would not get out of bed. Many mornings, she was right.

We had two dogs now, Bryant, the chocolate lab, and Bailey, a yellow lab mix. Bryant was incredibly smart, intuitive and a mirror of my level of anxiety. I could be laying on the couch watching TV and feel a panic attack begin. While no one else in the room would know, Bryant would begin panting and pacing around the house. If I didn’t feel well, Bryant was by my side no matter how long I slept. Both dogs came with me to the barn and to work. Many days we spent every single minute together.

Time spent at home was mostly dictated by what Ted wanted to do. Turn a light on in a dim room to read my book? Not if the light disturbed Ted’s football game. Have a nice relaxing bath? Ted would want to know when I would be done before the tub had even filled. One of the few moments I could call my own was in the shower. I would silently sob and ask God to give me an answer. How do I fix this? Do I leave? Should I be a “good” wife and stick it out? I ended so many showers without an answer.

The little chestnut mare Baby Doll had always been difficult but had progressively gotten worse. She was now showing aggression towards humans in the field. With the primary operation of the stable as a therapeutic riding center, having an aggressive horse was just not an option. I had her seen by a vet and even tried chiropractic adjustments. Just what I did not need to add to our already stressful financial situation. I was trying not to give up on her but without investing potentially thousands of dollars into diagnostics, I didn’t have a solution.

There have been so many times in my life when I have felt lost and without a clear direction about a decision that needed to be made. Other times I feel that God has gotten so tired of giving me answers that I’ve missed, he just sighs and hands it to me. This was one of those times.

I enlisted Kara’s help to load Baby Doll on the trailer. I was using the natural horsemanship method of working the horse away from the trailer and resting on or near the trailer. Kara was standing outside the side door of the trailer ready to help if needed. The mare was partially on the trailer and I made the mistake of tapping her with my whip to see if I could get those last few steps on. In a flash, she flew backward and got away from me.

I watched in horror as Baby Doll pinned her ears and headed toward Kara. Kara quickly jumped between the truck and trailer as Baby Doll charged her. I screamed in my biggest “I mean business” voice and she pivoted to come at me. I was frozen. She stopped just a few feet from me, staring me down. It was in this instant I knew my decision. She would not be sold or sent to auction. The safest option was to have her euthanized. Kara agreed.

I contacted Baby Doll’s previous owners giving them the option of returning her before I made a decision that could not be undone. While they appreciated the call, they felt that my decision was in everyone’s best interest.

A lady who had been interested in Baby Doll years before I owned her caught wind of my situation and contacted me. She asked me to consider selling her as she was interested in her bloodlines. I explained how dangerous she had become and tried to explain my decision. Her theory was that she had been unhappy with the dressage work and would enjoy life in a bosal, working cattle as she was bred to do. I was young and hopeful. I thought maybe the mare would be happy and here was someone that could help her. Also, I could use this money for another horse. I drafted a contract including a disclaimer that the horse was known to be dangerous.

A few weeks later, I was invited to see Baby Doll at her new home. She seemed happy in the field and I had a glimmer of hope that all would end well for her. I called her name and she came trotting over to the fence. Instead of a warm fuzzy reunion of nickers and soft muzzle kisses, Baby Doll grew tall and began to breathe me in from head to toe with an intensity that made me very glad I was on the other side of that fence! Yep, hands washed of that situation.

Bailey, Me, Bryant 2012

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