THE STOPOVER

EQUUS - - Eq Tack & Gear -

“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

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