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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Happy Trails, Misty Girl

We got the phone call we had been waiting for, Wednesday morning. I woke the Farmer. “You do know you sold our horse last night, right?” We had been in the midst of St. Patrick’s Day festivities at an Irish pub when he made the sale over the phone. It’s like getting a tattoo. Sometimes you regret it the next morning. But no, he said, he was of sound mind when he made the deal. And Roy Sherrer was on his way from Spencerville to pick her up.
I went outside to break the news to Misty. She was standing at the hay feeder with the cows. Over the last few days she had given up trying to get into the inner sanctum of the barn where new mamas rested with their calves in comfort, and she seemed to have forgiven me for putting a cow and calf in her stable. But it was clear she wasn’t comfortable with calving time. She needed a farm full of horses. Where she could be trained, and maybe bred too. That’s where she was going. Shermount Farms. I told her all of this and she listened intently, flicking her ears back and forth and moving to stand very, very close to me. She put her chin on the top of my head and rested it there. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and a lump forming in my throat. Maybe she did too.
We watched as the horse trailer rounded the bend in the road and made the slow approach to our driveway. It was almost silent – not like the cattle truck, the sound of which tends to get the animals whipped into a frenzy. They know it means someone is either coming or going, every time they hear it. I tried to get Misty to follow me to the stable but she stayed locked to her spot, her ears nervously twitching, eyes watching the trailer as it backed into position.
A bowl of sweetfeed worked to lure her into the stable. I held her harness and stood just to the side of the deep freezer, in case she decided to freak out and bolt either forward or back through the stable. She did neither.
All of the doors and gates worked quietly on the trailer. Maybe because Roy works with horses, he knows that spooking them will only make his job more difficult. When he snapped a lead on Misty and pulled her toward the trailer, she followed obediently. Then her big dinner plate hooves hit the patch of ice at the door of the stable, and she lost her footing for a moment. She steadied herself and froze to the spot, afraid to move. Roy stepped down from the trailer, grabbed hold of the tuft of hair at the back of her front leg and pulled until she buckled and allowed him to place it up on the trailer. She gave the wood floor a good tap as if to test its stability, then she followed him up into her chariot.
“You’ve already got her trained more than we ever did,” the Farmer said.
“Oh, I know Misty,” Roy answered.
Roy Sherrer used to trim Misty’s hooves when she was a young horse on Ron Cooke’s farm. She has also been to Shermount Farms before, for a few weeks a year ago when we tried to breed her to a Belgian stud. She might meet him again someday soon, or maybe they will try matching her up with someone else for one more go at breeding before she gets too old. She is twelve now. She will probably live to about twenty-five.
While the men stood talking, I climbed up into the horse trailer and whispered to Misty. She turned slightly so she could see me. Then she looked back out the window, at her pasture. I wondered what she was thinking, as I told her she was a good girl and we loved her very much and wanted her to be happy. Then I realized she was probably letting it all sink in, that this was goodbye. She was looking out over the fields she had thundered over for the past six summers, with her sister Ashley, Donkey, and Gracie the sheep.
I had a good cry, then, and I’m tearing up again as I write this. Happy trails, my Misty Girl. You will be missed.