This last summer I had to face a tough decision – what to do with my beloved quarter horse, Cinnaburst. I contemplated selling her, but that simply brought me to tears. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to school and pay full board…I needed a way out. Around July my answer finally came. A 13 year old boy whom I had babysat in the past called me and asked me what I had planned to do with Cinnaburst when I went to college. I had no answer for him…I wasn’t quite sure myself. His mom, grandmother and I put together a plan that I would allow him to use the horse in 4-H if he paid the boarding fee at his grandma’s barn. That’s where it all went downhill.
I soon realized that my horse was changing.I had worked with her since she was three months old and I had never seen her act this way, always hot and always entirely too excited. I was lost and not sure what to do. I didn’t want to point fingers so I just kept my mouth shut and rode and took care of my horse when I was there.
Around January the boy’s grandmother called me and told me the boy was no longer going to continue to use my horse in 4-H and she needed to either be paid for board or the horse needed to be moved. I was fine with that, but it was the middle of the winter and I was having trouble finding a barn that had enough hay to feed one more mouth for the rest of the winter.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend told me about a place his friend had – a barn right up the road from where my horse was staying. I was nervous about it but decided to give it a try. The exact day I was going to talk to the lady about moving my horse I got a phone call. It was the boys grandma explaining to me that if I did not pay her by the next day at least $100 she would be calling the district magistrate and we would be going to court. I stayed calm on the phone and told her that I would be there to get the horse as soon as possible and promptly hung up on her.
I have never driven as fast in my life as I did that day. I had a purpose and I had reason – I needed to get my horse out NOW. I got to my boyfriend’s friend’s barn and talked to her, explained my story, and begged her to shelter Cinnaburst for just a few nights. She completely agreed and told me to bring her up, but there was one problem – she didn’t have a trailer. I told her it wouldn’t be a problem becasue I would find a way, and left.
When I got to the barn where Cinnaburst was it was snowing outside, just on the peak of darkness and bitter cold. I threw on a beat-up old sweatshirt, my Ugg boots and a pair of jeans and walked through the door. Everyone in the barn was on edge…me, Cinnaburst, the boy and also his grandma.
I quickly brushed Cinnaburst from head to toe, making sure she would be comfortable and well groomed for her arrival at her new barn…her better barn. We gathered up my belongings and I started towards the door, Cinnaburst in hand. When his the grandmother stepped in front of me I tried to walk around but she stood her ground, when I asked why she said these words, “You can’t ride that horse in the dark, it’s dangerous! You’re crazy! She will be fine until tomorrow.” And with that the last words I said were, “Watch me.”
When I got down the icy driveway I figured I needed to get on and start riding, because it would be the only way to make it in any kind of time. I threw my leg up over the saddle and we started off, slowly walking up the old dirt road to our salvation…the dirt road to Carla’s house.
I soon realized that this was probably the dumbest thing I had ever thought of. I should not be riding my horse in the pitch black, through the woods on an icy dirt road. I was scared and so was she. I kept talking aloud to her “We are going to Carla’s honey!” “Are you excited we are movin’ out?” If I stopped talking for a moment she would come to an immediate halt and we would not move another inch. I had to keep going and I had to make her understand that she had to keep going as well.
After about two miles we met the first of our problems – dogs. What kind of dogs were they? I don’t really know, but they sounded like the meanest form of wolf/mastiff/hyena dogs ever created. I quickly dismounted and walked beside Cinnaburst. We walked quietly past the house as she quivered behind me, only moving because I was keeping her safe. But soon the barking quieted and I threw my leg back up over her and kept on riding.
I almost didn’t even see Carla’s driveway when we arrived. Four miles of icy darkness had blinded me and Cinnaburst and I was about ready to give up. When I turned into her driveway I knew that we had made it, that my horse was safe and that we would be OK. I walked her into the barn, took her saddle off and brushed her down. She nickered at me as I gave her a treat and put her head on my shoulder. I have ever been more proud of an animal in my life. She could have done anything to me in the cold that night and no one would have found us until morning, but she kept me safe, and I kept her safe. We have a bond – a strong one – and I will love that horse forever.
To this day she is still at Carla’s, doing very well and enjoying her time there. She has calmed down a lot and has turned back into the horse I knew and loved before I let her go to the grandma from hell.
Oh…a helpful hint I might add? Horses and flashlights don’t mix, it definitely just scares them to death!
by Emily Taydus
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