IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘horses

Having a high pain tolerance is not always a good thing. My story:

Many years ago I lived on a farm, 3 km south of Lundbreck, with my horse Freckles. It was a beautiful place, with the house sitting on a hill, overlooking the valley all the way to the road that led back to town.

Winter was tough as the snow had melted and re-frozen into lots of ice around the house. One day I happened to look out and spied Freckles almost a mile down the road. There was a cattle guard so I could not imagine how he had escaped the fenced area.

I hurriedly donned winter wear and headed down the road to the cattle guard. It looked like it was frozen over. Freckles was old so I did not think he had jumped it. Being a city kid, I decided he must have walked across the frozen guard so I proceeded to do the same. I fell in with my right leg, all the way up past my shin. It hurt, but I was more concerned about rescuing Freckles so I hobbled down the road, finally catching him and bringing him home, locking him in a corral for his own safety.

The next day I went to my doctor who sent me for an x-ray. He said I had 3 cracked bones.  Being dumb and not really understanding what that meant, (cracked is broken, duh!), I continued on with life and took Tylenol for the pain.

About a week later, I came down the steps from the house and fell hard. It was nearly 9 pm and I knew I had some serious damage as I heard the bones snap as I landed on the ice.

My first thought was that I had to get into town to the little store before it closed at 9 pm to get someone to help me, as I was alone. I dragged myself into my Bronco with standard transmission and drove into town with my injured leg having to move between gas and clutch petals. My high boot was keeping everything in place.

As I pulled into town and stopped near the store, I realized I was going into shock and that the store was already closed. I parked in the middle of the road and a couple in a van stopped to help me.

The story only gets worse from here. The man drove me in his vehicle to the hospital in Blairmore while his wife followed in my vehicle. Once in emergency, the hospital cut off my boot and phoned the doctor on call. He was busy with his cows and told them to put me in a bed and he would see me in the morning. During all this, I refused morphine because I wanted to remain lucid.

I was mad at the doctor for not coming in so left the hospital and ended up on a friend’s couch for the night, with my leg propped up on pillows. The next day my son came and drove me to the hospital in Pincher Creek. They took one look at my leg and phoned ahead to Lethbridge to arrange for an orthopedic surgeon and surgery.

After finally letting them give me a shot of morphine, I laid in the backseat of the Bronco and endured a bumpy ride to the city. They offered an ambulance, but of course I said no.

After surgery that included a steel plate and pins to hold together 3 breaks, I had a cast from my toes up to my knee. I wanted to go home. The surgeon said I had to stay in the hospital until I was able to walk to the bathroom because I had no one to look after me at home. As soon as he left, I hobbled to the bathroom, pulled the cord for the nurse, then told her to tell the doctor I was leaving. He said it was against his advice, but I left.

Next time I saw my family doctor, he gave me heck because I should not have been walking on bones that were ‘cracked’ after the first fall. He had not told me that at the time, but assumed I understood. Poor fellow was my doctor for many years and I always made him earn his fee.

Best part of story – I was told to stay home for at least 9 weeks and they would not be giving me a walking cast. One of my students phoned me after about a month and pleaded for me to come back. The substitute teacher in my art room was not to his liking. I did go back and sat on a chair with my leg up. I was just as happy to be back in the classroom as my student!

So what did my bravery due to a high pain tolerance get me? Today I have osteoarthritis in my ankle and it can be a real pain some days. BUT: I also have a story in dumbassery to tell, (according to friend Deanna.)  Is ‘dumbassery’ a word? With stories from my life, I can make it so.







I have this theory that either our pets choose us or are assigned to us by the Divine Creator. Since childhood, I have had many pets, mostly cats and they all arrived in my care in interesting ways.

I was sitting in a lawn chair in our massive yard across from a large park when Missy ran across the street and right up into my lap. There she sat, looking at me. She was timid and other cats were mean to her. My husband at the time said, “No more pets, as we already had Blue, a fluffy, puffy bit of air, all white with a black tail. (Blue was abused by a previous owner whose wife had asked me to take her.)

Missy, of course stayed, and then left with me and the boys, Blue and George the abandoned dog, when we parted company with the city and the husband. Over her long life, she hid a lot around the house, waiting for me to come home, and then would land in my lap where she would stay as long as I would sit down.  She was the recipient of constant bullying from her peers and I was her protector for the rest of her life.

During Missy’s reign, we acquired Dusty. My boys were little and we had moved to a small coal mining town in the mountains. One evening we walked to downtown from up on the hill to get the mail. On the way home, this smudgy black and gray cat started following us. I declared to all, “Do not pet it or pick it up. We do not need another cat.” Well, before we arrived home, she had almost been run over and then was chased by a dog. I had to pick her up to save her life. Once ensconced in our house, she cleaned herself for hours, revealing a radiant white chest. face and socks. We named her Dusty (short for Coal Dust).

We acquired another kitten after a few years who actually adopted David. After about a year, we had to move back to the city so I could finish my teaching degree at university. We had 4 cats including David’s Scooter, and it would be impossible to rent with so many. I found a condo whose owner agreed to two cats, so we left Radar with the renters of our house and gave Scooter to a friend to keep for a year until our return. My last words to her were, “Don’t let him out for a week or two until he has his bearings.” She let him out the next day and he disappeared into the woods.

David was devastated. When we returned to the Pass and our house, he rode his bike over to the area to see if he could find Scooter. I told him it had been 8 months and through a cold winter and not to get his hopes up, thinking he would have no luck at all. He returned all excited saying he had called him and Scooter had run out of the woods to greet him. He could not carry him home on his bike, so we went in the car and he called again. Out came the cat and it was Scooter. A trip to the vet to take care of worms, etc. and Scooter was back with us. He had survived a cold winter outside to reunite with David.

Then there was Archie. He was a tiny, orange ball of a kitten who appeared in our front yard one day.  I checked with the SPCA and he had been reported lost so we turned him in. A week later he was back, having travelled again from way up the hill down to our house across from the local doctor. He was declared missing again and we returned him again. The next time he showed up, I called the SPCA and they said the owners had not contacted them, so we might as well keep him. Dean took to carrying him around in a paper grocery bag. The boys grew up and left home, leaving Archie and I together. He lived to the ripe old age of 20.

If you have ever had a pet have a most special place in your heart and stand out in your memory, mine was Archie. As a ‘kid’, he liked to sleep in the bathroom sink and on top of the portable dishwasher when it was warm from running. He was a gentle angel and was content to be wherever I was.

In his later years, we lived in a house that had a charming little wood stove. I would get the fire going strong on a cold, winter night and stretch out on my side on the couch. My other cats at the time would lay on the hardwood in front of the stove, turning from tummy to back to get evenly toasted. Archie would jump up on the couch, stretch out beside me, place his front paws in my hand over my head and sleep against me until I finally made the move to the bed. I used to lay down very quietly on the couch when he was asleep somewhere else in the house and as quiet as I was, he was there in minutes and in his napping position. It took a long time after he passed to quit thinking he was going to come around the corner to lay on the couch with me.

Spanky was a pure white kitten, found in a parking lot at a hotel in the city in the middle of winter. My mom and I had stopped there for a meal one night, on our way home, and we found him when we were leaving. It was very cold and storming and we did not know what to do, so took him home. There were no houses within several blocks of the hotel. He sat on Mom’s lap the entire trip home. I said I would call the SPCA the next day to see if anyone reported him missing. She said if not, she would keep him as company for her other cat. No reports at the SPCA and after a few days my mom called to tell me to pick up this crazy animal. He was terrorizing her cat, running up and down the curtains and ripping across the couches. I brought him home to join my team and he calmly settled in. Eldest son Jim likes to tell the story of how his mother and grandmother stole “Snowball” from the city and how a little girl was crying herself to sleep over his loss. Rotter.

While living in the mountains, I also adopted 2 dogs, both older and needing homes. Boone was a lot older than Courtney and when we moved to 19 acres at the back of Bellevue, I would walk the two of them through the woods and up to the waterfall. Boone was deaf and would wander off, so I would send Courtney to find him and guide him back.

My final adoption was Creamsicle, another orange, long-haired beauty. He had lived with a family for 5 years and they decided to put him down because the kids liked their new dog better. A good friend said no way and found a home for him north of Calgary. I offered to take him to his new home as I was heading that way, so emailed the fellow saying I would be arriving at a certain time. I borrowed a big cage to put Creamsicle in and went to get him. The owner has stuffed him into a broken, tiny cage and I quickly transferred him and put him in my car, eager to leave their house and their smirking little dog. As I drove away, I looked in the rear view mirror to see this solemn, elegant cat watching me. His eyes never left mine. I knew without a doubt that I was supposed to keep him. I emailed the person waiting for his arrival to see if he would be upset. He said no. He was only taking him as a favor to our mutual friend.

Creamsicle lived with Spanky and I for many years and was a lovely, sweet and gentle cat.

These were some of my pets who most certainly ‘chose’ me or were chosen for me and my family. The hardest times were losing each of them, with so many tears shed and more broken pieces to an already damaged heart.

Creamsicle, and then Spanky, were the last to go, a few months apart, and then I decided I was done. I had lived with pets since I was a child and now I was old.

Since moving to my current location, I now live alone. There are no cat boxes, no hair on the furniture or clawed ends on the couch. It is quiet, but I am okay with that. It is other people’s turns now to be the caretakers of these loving little creatures.

I have so many photos and so many memories, which brings to mind my biggest ‘pet’, acquired in my 40s. My entire childhood was spent asking my parents for a horse. We lived in the city so my request was met with, “Is she crazy, or what?”

One day, when I was a teacher in the Pass, one of my high school students in an art class, started talking about wanting to get rid of her horse because he did not like barrel racing anymore. He would buck her off and then slide to a halt. She was ticked and was going to find a younger horse to replace him. I decided my time had come, so this sounds like I picked him, but not so.

Friends who were horse folk, told me to go for a ride to see if we liked each other. They came along with their horses and I rode Nippy bareback because I did not have any tack. We were sauntering along when I started to laugh about something. Not being a seasoned rider, I lost my leg grip and slipped down the side of the horse, landing in front of him in a pile of soft dirt, still laughing. He stopped short, looked down on me and asked, “What the heck are you doing down there?”  That was the moment he chose me.

We had several years of long rides into the forestry, manned with coffee and boiled eggs in my saddlebags. My sons had pooled their money and bought me a used saddle I saw in the shoe repair shop window. I had bought a dozen books on horses and learned to saddle up and ride from reading instead of asking others.

I found out his original name was Freckles because he was a ‘grey’ (white hair with brown freckles all over). His first owner used to beat him on the legs with a stick. A previous owner had changed his name to Mackintosh and the student before me had changed it to Nippy. (She said he had the habit of biting other horses on the rump when made to follow, but I never saw evidence of this.)  I decided that adoption should not include constant name changes so back to his original name of Freckles we went. I would drive down to the stables where he was boarded and he would recognize my car, running over to the gate to wait for me.

When he lived with me at the back of Bellevue on the acreage, I would get up at 6:00 AM on winter mornings and stand there in the bitter cold while he ate a hot mash of oats and molasses, all the time nickering and talking to me. My childhood dream was fulfilled with more joy than I ever could have imagined.

There is a story called Rainbow Bridge:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author unknown…

I so look forward to Rainbow Bridge. There are many dear pet friends waiting there for me.

Priscilla is my sister of the heart. We met in elementary school and became fast friends. Both of us were shy and self-conscious but never thought of each other that way. Many years later when this mutual confession was made, it surprised us both. At the time, we did not question why we liked each other and why we chose to spend our time together.

I think it is because we are twins. Regardless of what was going on with school and our families, when we were together, we were one. We did a significant amount of giggling and we both had a huge passion for horses. We were horses on the lawn, running and snorting together and pawing the ground with our hooves. We rode our bikes over by Glenmore to watch the horses on the farms, (it was the outskirts of Calgary back then), and spent countless hours doing I can’t remember what.

Because we ended up at different high schools, we eventually drifted apart. Our friendship became more casual and we both included many others in our lives.

As adults, our lives headed off in totally different directions, and when we connected years later, I doubted that we could be good friends. What did we have in common? What could we talk about? What commonalities could we share? I honestly thought our time had passed.

I had married young and had children in my twenties, then divorced and clawed my way through the years trying to find jobs, going back to university and forsaking a social life for survival mode for a family of four. Priscilla had married young but divorced and led a totally different single life of a career woman, marrying again much later and never raising children.

All I could think about and talk about when we reconnected was my grandchildren. She was retired and married and I still worked full-time and was forever single. Polar opposites.

And yet, when we meet occasionally, three years ago and then this last weekend, we look at each other and we giggle. Two sixty-something women start to giggle and then hug for so long because neither of us wants to let go.

The other day was a surprise visit that included non-stop catching-up conversation for over 3 hours, and oh, so much laughing. She and her dear husband Jim (bless his soul for his patience with the two of us) had to be back in Calgary by 5 and probably ended up being late. We just did not want to part.

As we told our stories, we realized again how much we are alike. I kept saying ‘just like me’.

I was never one for juggling a herd of friends and always enjoyed my solitude. Socializing was something I had to force myself to do. The few really good friends in my life can be counted on fingers without going to my toes and maybe even using only one hand. Some have now passed away as I have reached ‘that age’.

But Priscilla is the sister of my heart, closer than a blood sibling and a mirror image of me. I don’t mean on the outside. We are twin sisters in our hearts and our souls and it goes deep in both of us. And as luck would have it, she showed up on my doorstep during one of the toughest times in my life and she made me laugh again.  Not the superficial ‘ha, ha’ stuff but the joyous from the inside of my being, head-back and hearty laughter that leaves you feeling cleansed and light-hearted.

Priscilla is a joy and a jewel in my life. I hope we can have more visits like that one. I warned Jim that when I retire, I am coming by in a little RV to pick up his wife and off we will go. I could not promise when I would return her. I guess it will be when we are finished giggling together.

She laughed and he looked worried. (He didn’t really, but I needed a way to end this story.)

Historically Speaking

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