Tuesday, August 30, 2016

So Much for My Day Planner

So, we've ratcheted up the crazy another level here at Chez Bradley. BOTH my darling children are in college, which is frankly impossible, and yet exists as fact. They're doing well. My husband is off golfing--he seems concerned that this Won't Be Fine but it Is Fine. He's doing well. I am so busy I recently bought the first planner I've owned since the days when I was a research chemist and everyone in our company was required to use the damn things. It's been going splendidly. I make myself little notes of everything I need to do, and I'm being super-organized, and it's keeping the speeding train that is my life right now from coming off the rails.


It is nearly seven o'clock at night as I type this. I did get some very nice writing done this early this morning, and I've got a load of laundry in the washer, and I'm clean and fed myself, but other than that--looking down at my list, written in pen under today's date, I've accomplished nothing. Zilch. Zero. None of that. And yet, today was a very good day. Today I helped keep a lovely horse alive.

The horse in question belongs to a friend. He's lived on my farm for--shoot, something like ten years now. My friend zips in and out each morning and evening, caring for the horse, and my basic responsibility is to scratch the horse's head where he likes it and, sometimes, like when a blizzard has shut down Bristol, toss this horse hay along with my own.

Today one of the first things on my list was to ride in the company of another friend, a teenager who's recently taken over one of my horses. (That's a story in itself, and a good one. I'll tell it soon.) She and I plus her mother are heading to Kentucky for a horse trial, leaving tomorrow, and so we'd planned to practice our dressage tests today. We'd just gone into the barn when my young friend pointed to my other friend's horse and said, He doesn't look right.

I investigated. She was right. The horse looked quite wrong. I tried to measure his heart rate but I couldn't find my stethoscope, I'm crap at finding a pulse on a horse, and every time I did find it the horse shook his head and neck hard enough to dislodge my fingers. But he was breathing too hard, which is another indication that he was in pain, and he was pawing and biting his belly and in general it looked like colic, which is an equine emergency. I called my friend--didn't get him. Called his vet--left a message. Called my own vet, was told all vets were busy, got a touch snarky. Called my friend's dad, told him what was happening. Got the horse out of his stall and started walking him, in the grass not the driveway in case he went down.

He went down. We got him back up. I called another vet I know. She was in surgery, actually scrubbed in, but she's a friend and she talked to me on speaker phone, affirming that the horse was in trouble and that absent a vet there was not much to do. My friend's vet called back--he was on his way, but two hours away.

Walked the horse. Walked the horse.

Two hours later, the vet and my friend the horse's owner show up simultaneously, my friend in wool dress pants and a crisply ironed business shirt. We commenced medical treatment of various sorts, for a few hours, and for a long time it looked like things were going very poorly.

And then suddenly they looked better.

And then not as good. And then better again. And then we all started to breath a little bit easier.

"Hey," I said to my friend, "In the book I'm working on right now there's a scene where a horse colics. However this turns out I want you to know I wrote that scene before today, not after."

We still had no idea how it would turn out.

Eventually the vet left on another call, leaving us with some drugs and instructions on when to call him immediately. I hung out at the barn while my friend ran home to change out of his business attire.

A few hours later-now--and the horse is not only still alive, he looks good. He may have quite literally dodged a bullet.

I came back to the house in my filthy riding clothes, soaked in sweat, having not ridden at all. I showered and ate and drank a beer, and now I'm sitting at my desk, looking at my list, realizing that I did not accomplish one single thing that was written on it. And yet, I'm so happy with all we accomplished today.