CO-INCIDENTS                                              (upon Dec. 27, 2011)

“I could crawl between the legs of the wildest horse
Without getting kicked – we knew each other.”

– Edgar Lee Masters, “Willie Metcalf”, Spoon River Anthology

Dignified spirit stilled

Zil holds herself in check at the end of the aisle

the vet unwrapping my hasty pressure dressing

washing clean of stark red

blood the white fetlock

the bone

stitching the rent as if it were silk


my beautiful sister so injured


the Guest right up in my tears, carrying on

“It’s the horse that I’m sorry for, I’m only sorry for the horse”

expecting I-don’t-know-what of me

she is facing Zil, but I must face her

her Staff worker not minding, but staring, slack-jawed

gaping past my anxious glances

making Zil a spectacle for herself


the Guest insistent, drawing

compelling my attention

with words, bulk, force of will (doesn’t know

better, I tell myself, or care—I mustn’t

lose patience with a Guest); I can’t see

Zil; she is behind me alone with the vet

the gawking Staff

ignores my distress, and my gentle suggestion

that they clean a stall, just one


leave us in peace!


It is a horrible crash, a clatter and shriek

of twisted metal, flecked pink and rust

the livestock panel torn loose, mangled and on the ground

and little Zil in the big Appaloosa’s pen with her,

aggression over between them.

Zil, neck low, looks up, legs splayed, ears

like mirrored paisleys pricked, as I run to her

with her crimsoning sock


What have you done!


and Zil so good

with the hose and with me underneath her

field-dressing the leg, pushing closed

the parted curtain of flesh

the six-inch gash down the front and across

the fetlock

the exposed cannon bone, the pain


Zil oh God Zil


with one hand, wrestling

the leg wrap with the other


“Staple it! Just staple it together!” the

neighbor admonishes. The clinic

has just informed me the vet is


“Don’t you have a stapler? You know

when I was up pushing cows my gelding

cut his leg real bad and I

just stapled it together and rode him down the mountain”


Self-adhesive-wrapped, secure

and royal blue. I hunker stunned

confused; should I

haul her? Should I wait? The blessed vet

arrives, defying her own



Thank you, God!


and hard upon, a Declarer

of declarations of sorry-ness for the horse, which

are so much more important than

the brave mare herself


I want to scream!


I hate my attitude

The vet finishes her work and leaves

everyone leaves

us in peace and bandaged and alone

and I weep over patient Zil

fix her a stall to heal in


over weeks of changed bandages

antibiotics, anti-inflammatories

dissolving stitches that won’t

dissolve, husband on his knees, cutting

and pulling them himself with

toenail clippers

swelling, poultices, therapy


My sister will bear the scar forever

without bitterness.

Zil and Mesa Verde

Today's frolic: Spring is coming!

Today’s frolic: Spring is coming!

Scar - 1 year later

Scar – 1 year later

Not too bad now, really

Not too bad now, really

– horsebackwriter, 3/10/13


Baby’s bone chip fracture


Little Zil - before her injury

Little Zil – before her injury

Zoom back to 2007: One day in late September, when little Zil was five months old, we were watching her zip around. As usual, it was a delightful sight. But something was wrong with her hock.

We got closer, and examined it. There appeared to be two small wounds close together oon one side, and one on the other side. We couldn’t figure out what it was, but we settled on it being a dog bite. It was odd because though we also had a penchant for rescuing dogs and one may have nipped at heels, we didn’t have any dogs at the time who would take a bite out of anyone like that. Sooo, may or may not have been one of ours, or a dog at all. The cause could not be established as fact.

We flushed the wounds as best we could with water and dilute iodine, and gave her a tetanus booster and penicillin. The next day there was some swelling, and we continued to treat her.

Soon the wounds healed, but the hock remained swollen. Zil exhibited no sign of lameness, though. She was as energetic and full of the dickens as ever, hating being confined.

A couple weeks after the bite, my husband was examining her hock, squeezing the one tiny opening for signs of infection. There was no pus. Yay! And as he messed with her, she kicked at the panel and got a cut on her coronet. Blood ran. Wonder Dust®, help!!

Old Journal

Old Journal

I wish that I had kept better records of Zil’s life back then. . .taken pictures. . . written notes about communications with our vet. . . but that’s all the data I have on Zil’s injury until a couple of weeks after that. Apparently the swelling hadn’t gone down, and she had gone to the vet, because the vet prescribed Tucoprim, an antibiotic, for the leg. Perhaps it was at that time that the leg was x-rayed and she was getting antibotics in preparation for surgery.

She was diagnosed with a bone chip fracture . . . and on October 20, she had surgery!  Amazingly I can recall and picture the day, some time after, when we had her huge leg bandage changed. I remember the blue and yellow colors of the veterinary wrap. But I cannot remember how she looked on the day we picked her up from the vet after her surgery. I bet she was droopy and worried-looking. Her expressive Arabian eyes were and are very good communicators. All I have as a keepsake of the big event is the vet clinic invoice. Grrr. . . (bang self on head)!

She was adorable with the bandage on. It extended from the bottom of her leg up over her hock and was quite thick, to preclude motion of the leg. I remember we kept her in a small pen with her mother to restrict her from gallivanting around. I cannot find a single picture anywhere of her wearing her “cast.” It makes me sad. We weren’t good at record-keeping back then, or picture-taking, or movie-taking of the family horses in those days, because we used up all our energy chronicling the progress of the rescue horses instead. In hindsight, were they really more important than the family horses? Equally, I should say. We were blessed and charged by God to be good stewards of them ALL.

The whole Zil surgery experience cost us $435, a lot of money to us then, but worth it for the future soundness of our beloved baby! Our exquisite little one recovered fully, and the injury has never hampered her since, thanks to the great work of our local veterinarians.







Arabian mishap

Happy to see each other!

Happy to see each other!

The moon always insprires me to ride out of depression. So does Zil.

Right now there is no moon, and Zil is hunched miserably out in the pouring rain with her pasturemates, who all stubbornly refuse the option of shelter. I am sitting in my bedroom fighting thoughts of doom and gloom.

Before the bad weather hit, we had a couple more nice walks on the county road while the snow was melting, and then, at last, a week ago, we RODE!

I had to force myself, because of the depression + migraine I had, but I was NOT going to waste the beautiful day and the opportunity to enjoy my beloved’s healing properties, and, of course, her pleasant company. Will prevailed.

I tacked her up at the front porch because my western saddle was there in the sun room, waiting to be cleaned and oiled, along with her bridle, so her bit was kept hanging in there in the sun rather than out in the freezing tack room. I rode her through the yard and opened the gate off her. Pretty good, I thought, after so many weeks of no practice.

The county road was still slushy and slippery in places, but overall had scoped out doable in yesterday’s walk, so we headed north up the road. Immediately, Zil became Zilla (as in Godzilla), because she wanted to evade every cue and be the one to decide everything, most particularly when to trot. Her whoa, well, it seems she lost it somewhere. I let her go, and then when she wanted to stop, I just “let” her keep on a’goin. We walked and trotted up to the next county road. Turn on the haunches, and then back toward the house again.

I’d wised up and had her more in hand by the next couple of rides. Though we rode in a western saddle, we communicated through the English cues and I at last had her trotting along at an even tempo with a nice headset. All was fine and good until I asked her to transition to a walk. She ignored my cues. So I asked again, a bit more loudly. Nada. During the third try, she put her nose in the air. Our even tempo was long gone.

She decided to evade further. This evasion was to make a sudden dash for offroad, onto the smooth snowfield alongside.

Big mistake. The snow was covering a steep, deep dropoff, which I knew about and she should have, having just watched her paint friend Stetson do the same stupid thing on the previous day, but fortunately, without a rider. Zilla and I were solo this day…

She immediately plunged down into snow that came up to her chest and stumbled, just as her hind foot stepped off the solid ground. My legs were in the snow. By now I had forgotten I ever had a migraine, or bipolar, or depression! Surprising myself, I found that I was secure in the saddle, was going nowhere that Zil didn’t, and was more concerned about her than about falling off as we wallowed chaotically. However, I was glad I was in the western saddle, not the English. I just threw away the reins and gave her her head.

In just a moment Zil found her feet again and plunged out of the snow like a gopher out of its hole! She seemed none the worse for the “fall,” no limping, no lameness. She did listen to me very well for the rest of the ride. I think she got a self-taught attitude adjustment.

That was an excellent adventure, but I wouldn’t want to repeat it, and neither would she, I bet!

When we got home, it was a long, ugly procedure to close the driveway gate off her, but we did it. Then, not frozen enough, I decided to work on her dredlocks. I didn’t groom her otherwise, though she loves it, because I don’t like the idea I’m disturbing the insulation fluff of her coat. Here is a picture of her dredlocks:

DredlocksThis was AFTER I had divided one into thirds and worked it out. I got another one out and finger-combed her mane, hoping the monstrosity wouldn’t have re-formed by the next day.

Now it’s all gray, rain, and overly warm (40’s – 50 in the daytime) but still won’t stop raining, and is cold enough to make Zil shiver in the night–she doesn’t get a barn stall 😦 so they all get extra hay to burn and hopefully stay warmer.

Zil looking awayI like sunny day pictures. On days like today, no pics. All I do is feed them and bring them treats, and tell Zil how much I love her.

Now see what I did there? I forgot all about how depressed and useless I was, thinking about Zil. If you are reading this, I truly hope you have something, large or small, that inspires you, too! 😀