Horse Lover, Author, and Eternal Optimist
Welcome to spring! We have birds nesting in our patio, flowers blooming in our yard, and the horses are all shedding their winter coats. I began contributing to this blog on the fourth Saturday of the month, but over time, I've drifted to the first. Don't know how it happened, but this month, I can give you a post on April Fool's, Easter, or Passover.
Dealer's choice, as they say.
April is a significant month for me. Snoopy was born on the 28th, and two days after his fourth birthday, he broke his leg. Trust me, I remember it well.
Today seems like a good time to re-visit one of those days, either his birth or his injury. Since I am the eternal optimist, I choose the happier of those two. I could tell you the story of Snoopy's birth, but I think I'll let him tell you how it happened:
* * * (Excerpted from FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH: ONE LUCKY MEMOIR)
I don’t remember much about my birth, but when I was little, Mom used to tell me the story of the night I was born. I love Mom. She’s so pretty. She is a bright, bright chestnut, but she has stripes of white hairs on her tummy, a blaze on her face and a big white spot on top of her tail.
Most of all, she has the most beautiful voice I ever heard. It’s soft and low and she would let me snuggle against her every night while she whispered in my ear. She usually told me stories at night. I think she was afraid of the dark, but she never told me that. Instead, she would tell me a story.
“On the night you were born, the sun had just started going down on the most perfect of days. My Gayle came to the ranch early and got me out of the stall. She curried and brushed me and cleaned my hooves. She talked as she groomed me. I love to listen to her. I have listened to all her stories. That day, however, she was talking about me, how big I was and how slow I had become.
“It was true, I felt bigger than any draft horse. My belly was so full of you, I thought I might burst. Gayle walked me around the arena a few times. It was nice in the sunshine, even though I grew tired. She took me back to the barn, where our groom Hilde wrapped my tail so it would not get in the way in case I gave birth that day.
“I’ll be honest with you, Son—I was frightened. You are my one and only baby and I knew you were large. I was afraid I would not be able to push you out. Horses usually have their babies alone, late at night. It is our tradition, from years of being wild. We leave the herd to quietly lie down and foal, then get the baby up and back to the herd as quickly as possible. If it’s not safe to have our baby, we can even hold back the birth until the time is right.
“By early evening, Gayle was still at the ranch. Our trainer, Miss Tina was there, too. I heard Gayle ask Miss Tina if a horse’s water breaks when they give birth. I realized this was my opportunity to have you while they were there to help. I relaxed and my water broke.
“Miss Tina laughed and said, ‘It looks just like that.’”
This is where Mom would stop talking and lick my neck. Sometimes I was asleep by then. If I wasn’t, I would ask, “What happened then?”
She would continue. “I could tell the first time I pushed, there was something wrong. You were stuck. I got up a couple of times and turned around, then lay down again, hoping you were rearranged. I love you, dear, but you were klutzy, even in the womb.
“Miss Tina saw my distress and stepped into the stall. She felt around inside me and found the problem. One of your hooves was folded back. You need both front feet pointed forward in order to slide out. She straightened your hoof, then helped me by pulling. I was already getting tired.
“At last, even Miss Tina was tired, so she told Gayle, ‘Get in here and help out.’ Gayle stepped in to the stall and took one of your legs. Miss Tina held the other. I pushed, they pulled and quick as a racehorse, you were out and cuddled up next to me, like you are now.”
“And Gayle is my MomToo, right?” I’d ask each time.
I loved hearing that story. Of course, I don’t remember any of it as it happened. All I remember is opening my eyes, like I’d been asleep but couldn’t remember the dream. I could feel Mom’s warm body beside me and I could see MomToo in the doorway of the stall. She looked pretty blurry, but I think she was happy.