My geld­ing Moe spent 16 happy years with me, but when I see him with his new owner I know that he’s now where he truly be­longs.

EQUUS - - Equus - By Tracy Boros

One horse’s jour­ney: My geld­ing Moe spent 16 happy years with me, but when I see him with his new owner I know that he’s now where he truly be­longs.

Re­cently, dur­ing a bout of in­som­nia, my mind wan­dered back to a time years ago, when Moe, my Ap­pen­dix Quar­ter Horse geld­ing, was se­verely lame, and the vet­eri­nar­ian said he needed com­plete stall rest, two dif­fer­ent medicines and daily soak­ing and poul­tic­ing.

So I moved Moe to a large dairy barn in the mid­dle of the rolling hills and pas­tures of north­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. I went there twice a day to feed and med­i­cate him, fill his wa­ter buck­ets, soak and wrap both front hooves and muck his stall.

He was housed in the belly of this old barn---a gi­gan­tic open space with wooden hay mangers built into both sides of the long walls and rows of tiny win­dows way up high. I sup­pose this was where the farmer used to keep his cows. We used a cou­ple of big, old gates to en­close Moe in an area that was prob­a­bly 20 by 20 feet, and we bed­ded him in deep straw.

For about four weeks, I jug­gled a full-time job, moth­er­ing my tod­dler and tak­ing care of my lame horse. I was com­pletely ex­hausted but ter­ri­fied that if I missed a sin­gle visit my horse would suf­fer or be per­ma­nently dam­aged from my neg­li­gence. Four weeks may not sound like a long time unless you are liv­ing it.

Moe spent the first two weeks in­side his gi­ant stall, and for the first 10 days or so, he seemed con­tent. Then he started get­ting rest­less. I took this as a good sign---he was start­ing to feel bet­ter---but it also added a layer of stress, since I started to con­stantly worry that he would do some­thing stupid in that big old barn all by him­self where no one would hear, see or know he needed help.

By the third week, Moe was cleared to be­gin daily hand-walk­ing in the larger area of the old cow barn. His rest­less­ness grew, and we be­gan to ar­gue when his 15 min­utes of lim­ited free­dom was over and it was time to head back into his stall. It was a la­bor of love.

Fi­nally, the vet­eri­nar­ian told me Moe could be hand-walked out­side and even have a few min­utes of turnout in a small area. How­ever, there were no small pad­docks; only a big white barn on a hill, with pas­tures and farm fields as far as I could see. I de­cided to make the best of it and be thank­ful for walk­ing out­doors.

It was late af­ter­noon when I took Moe for his first walk out­side. He snorted and squinted and walked like a gen­tle­man be­side me out of the barn. All was well … un­til he ex­ploded. He reared straight up, and I swear he lev­i­tated for an in­stant. Then he let out a gi­ant buck with a hearty fart for good mea­sure. I was hold­ing onto a kite! A happy, ath­letic, opin­ion­ated, drunk-with-free­dom kite who was lit­er­ally leap­ing with all four hooves off the ground be­side me in an awe-in­spir­ing dis­play.

Sud­denly, though, I was ly­ing on the ground, watch­ing his back­side get­ting smaller as he gal­loped glee­fully away. There is no way to de­scribe the help­less ter­ror, guilt and anger swirling through my mind in that in­stant. I jumped up and ran af­ter him des­per­ately call­ing, cry­ing and pray­ing all at once. I caught just a glimpse of him bar­rel­ing along at the bot­tom of the hill and turn­ing right into a clus­ter of trees. More des­per­ate pray­ing, call­ing, curs­ing, self-loathing and run­ning. I lost him.

I was out of breath and won­der­ing what to do when I saw the vi­sion I will re­mem­ber for the rest of my life: This gor­geous crea­ture emerged from the trees right in front of me. The sun was set­ting, so golden beams of

PER­FECT MATCH: Moe turned out to be an ideal mount for Nora, who was look­ing for an “old gen­tle­man” to help her learn to ride.

sun­light bathed him with a fiery glow that made my heart skip a beat. With in­fi­nite grace he glided to­ward me with a long-strided, Olympics-wor­thy trot, his neck arched beau­ti­fully. He came straight to me and cir­cled around be­hind be­fore stop­ping.

Ob­vi­ously, Moe had fully re­cov­ered from his lame­ness, which in turn re­lieved my wor­ries that I had caused a huge set­back by al­low­ing him to get away from me.

Moe and I were to­gether for 16 years. For much of that time, I strug­gled with guilt be­cause I felt that he was ca­pa­ble of grander things. I wor­ried that I was squan­der­ing his tal­ents. Yet, over those years, he taught me so much. We spent hours and hours just hang­ing out or rid­ing around the barn, and even more hours trail rid­ing with friends. He was used by a girl in 4-H for a cou­ple of years. He even­tu­ally taught my daugh­ter to ride English.

In July 2012, I made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to let Moe, now 20 years old, go live with an ac­quain­tance, Nora. Moe was in dan­ger of be­com­ing a pas­ture or­na­ment with me, and she was look­ing for an el­derly “gen­tle­man” to love and a part­ner to learn horse­back rid­ing af­ter she be­came wid­owed. They were a per­fect match. I stayed in touch, and Nora and I have since grown to be close friends, shar­ing a love for our dear, sweet Moe.

Months later, dur­ing an­other sleep­less night, I was think­ing back to that golden sun­lit trot, and it hit me that Moe is truly where he needs to be right now. I thought about how kind, gen­tle and car­ing Nora is, and how Moe mir­rors her spirit. They need each other. Most im­por­tant, I know they love and trust each other.

It was then that I re­al­ized that Moe has in­deed reached his great­est po­ten­tial af­ter all. Dur­ing those 16 years, I was train­ing him, car­ing for him and pre­par­ing him for Nora. Now, on those nights when I can’t find sleep, I count these bless­ings many, many times.

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