“Excitable” is Cory’s middle name, glancing toward him as we talked. There he was, a gentle giant rooted in his hospital stall, regarding us with the soft eyes of equine forgiveness, the epitome of Zen. But Hackett smiled in understanding and said, “Just do the best you can. We see everything under the sun as far as activity. Some of it is intentional, which is the kind of activity that makes me cringe the most.” Cringe-worthy activity includes riding the recovering horse, exposing him to turmoil, giving him freedom to run, or chasing him around to see if the surgery worked. Apart from such foolishness, Hackett recognized that animals sometimes react in ways that humans cannot prevent.
Cory and I headed for home with an eight-hour drive through the Rockies on the first day. Already worried about transporting a sick horse, problems expanded in my mind. Every turn was too tight, every downhill too steep, every stop I expected to see my horse strangling on the one mote of hay that I missed when vacuuming the manger. We rounded blind curves only to encounter elk in the road, tourists snapping photos on highway centerlines, oncoming traffic in our lane. As my cursing became more inspired, the cab of the truck glowed as blue as Cory’s prosthetic sutures.
And so, it was a huge relief to reach our overnight spot near South Fork. Full of open meadows and golden aspens in twilight, the ranch is backed by Wolf Creek Pass all sifted with snow. The pens were large, quiet horses stood nearby, and the pipe fencing was safe. Maybe, I thought, we’ll finally get a good night’s sleep.
Then I spotted the footing---the