Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Joey Decided to Go Swimming

So, I guess if I want people to keep in touch via blogging, I'd better get at least one post up.
And what better way to kick off the blog of a horse-crazy gal with an entry about how I had to fish my horse out of my swimming pool this morning?

For those of you who don't know me in real life (or that I haven't kept up with over the years in real life): meet my blind horse, Joey Joey. 7yo; black; purebred Quarter Horse; bred for barrel racing; my first horse; owned him for about 3 years now. He doesn't generally get into trouble like this. Which is surprising (and often makes me wonder at God's mercy and blessings to me). My mother went out at 5:30 this morning looking for her special kitty, who, strangely, hadn't come up for breakfast. She walked out onto the deck. She looked to the right. She looked to the left. Then she looked to the left again. There was my horse, just standing, dozing in the middle of the shallow-end of our swimming pool, perfectly facing the steps. As if he was just waiting for me (or somebody) to get him out of this rather odd predicament. As if this happened everyday. He's never gone swimming before. Barely tolerates rain. He's blind. And he'd fallen into 4 feet of water. And he wasn't flailing around. God's grace, anybody? I think he'd been standing in there for quite a while. There was a lot of manure in the pool. (Ew.) Mom came up and got me up. Like I said: Joey has never given us any real problems beyond getting an abscess in his hoof a few months ago (well, and the going blind ordeal, if you want to count that). And usually when Mom comes to get me out of bed that early in the morning, it has something to do with a sibling (I have 6, after all) or a cat (and there's 17 of them). But this morning, when she woke me up, I was awake instantly. . .and knew that it was Joey. I'm not sure how or why. She said to put something warm on. It was in the 50's. So I grabbed my jacket and a pair of socks and dashed down the stairs, praying that it wasn't anything too serious; trying to prepare myself for anything. In my mind, I tried to go over everything that could have gone wrong during the night. A lot of horrifying images came to mind. Mom was nowhere in sight when I came downstairs, so I raced out to the barn. But on my way down, I saw something, and instantly knew what had happened: The back gate was swung open. . .I knew where Joey was, and my stomach flipped over. But Mom had told me that Joey was ok. So I raced around the house to the pool. There he was. My poor, cold baby whinnied at me as if he were saying, "Mommy! There you are! I'm sorry I fell in here; it's very strange; but can you please get me out?" And then his demeanor relaxed; as if since I was there, he knew everything was gonna be ok. But that's the complete opposite of how I felt. How was I supposed to get my 1,000+ lb horse out of my swimming pool? So many emotions welled up and threatened to take over: praise to God that He had kept my boy out of the 8-foot deep-end and safe from drowning; anger that I had forgotten to check all of the gates before going to bed last night; confusion at how calm he was; and my mind was racing with ideas on how to get him out. We had been told when we put in the pool last summer that the steps could not hold very much weight. And they definitely didn't look like they could. So walking him up the steps was out of the question. My mom called my Dad on his way to work, and then woke up my 16 yo brother, Kyle. Dad got there, surveyed the situation, and he and Kyle decided to build a wooden ramp. We weren't totally sure the wood would hold Joey's weight, or that he would even walk up the ramp. He was wet, and it was steep, so it was going to be very slippery. They made it two boards wide and told me to walk him up. Joey spooked, but he tried hard for me. But his hooves slipped halfway up, and then he lost it. He was flailing, his front legs scrabbling on the concrete, and his back legs dancing around on the bottom. He was trying to get out, but couldn't. He calmed right back down. And we widened the ramp to four boards and tried it again. I was skeptical that he would do it again for us; but he did. He tried, taking it one step at a time. But again, he slipped off. The ramp went floating away. And once more, he was balanced on the side, trying his hardest to just kickoff and jump onto the land. We had to be really careful not to get kicked with all those thrashing legs. He took a bit longer to calm down this time (grain helped). We stood there for a while, letting him calm down and eat his breakfast, while we slowly became distressed at our failed attempts. I think my Dad was even beginning to despair. (He was supposed to be at work; so he was wading around in the nasty water, cutting and hammering boards in his nice [expensive] office clothes.) A sob came lose from my chest as our second attempt failed. I was soaking wet and freezing cold. I felt bad about Dad being cold and nasty in his nice work-clothes, and Joey possibly causing hundreds of dollars of damage to our nice new pool. And I was kicking myself for leaving the gate open. And there was still the fear that Joey could just take a few panicky steps back and slip down the slope into the deep-end. . .and we would never get him out alive. After the second attempt at getting him out with the ramp, my Mom decided to call the local vet and have him come out here to see if he could give us any new ideas. Plus, it looked like Joey had hurt one of his back legs pretty badly; he wasn't putting any weight on it, even in the water. So we wanted the vet there in case it was something serious. [Now that I think about it, the icy water was a good thing for that leg.] My toes and lips had turned pretty blue; and I couldn't really control my shivering anymore; and my speech had begun to slur. So Mom made me go inside and sit in a tub of warm water, until Tyson (the vet) arrived. I sat there and got (I thought) all of my tears out, telling God that I needed no less than a miracle. I told Him that I didn't believe that He would place this blind horse in my care to just take him away like this. I told Him that I knew only He could get my horse out of my swimming pool. Tyson arrived, and I went back out. He and his assistant grabbed the lead rope, and told me to get behind my horse. Suddenly I was terrified. In the water. Where my movements were slowed, too. Behind Joey. When so far the direction he went when the attempts failed was back. And it meant I had to get back into that icy water. My stomach sank. But the assistant intimidated me so much that I eased on into the water--only to jump back out a second later. The water was colder than I remembered. But she shouted at me that I needed to at least be at his shoulder to give him no alternative but forward. So I splashed back in, trying to hold the tears of exhaustion and emotional stress back as I pushed and pulled and begged and pleaded that he would walk up the steps and out of the pool. [Tyson's plan was to have him walk up the steps, and take the risk of them not holding him. We'd already tried widening the ramp to 5 boards and using that a third time, but it hadn't worked.] Over 3 hours and 4 failed attempts later, Joey wildly scrambled out of the pool. The pool steps are narrow. As I watched, and time seemed to move in slow motion, it looked like God was pushing Joey from behind, not letting him fall backward and give up like before. He staggered out onto the concrete, snorting. I led him down into the grass, gasping out thanksgiving to my God, the God Who is alive and still works miracles.
Five minutes later, Joey was in his paddock, grazing hay in the sunshine, looking a little sleepy, his leg having nothing worse than a few scratches. But I was pretty traumatized for a bit. Still am a little shaky, and exhausted, even though it's only 4:00 in the afternoon. I couldn't stop crying after everything was over and done and "back to normal". I've learned the hard way to double-check ALL of the gates and latches before calling it a night. And Dad says I even learned to be calm in a very stressful situation. My faith is stronger, too. I know for certain that my God still works miracles and listens to prayer.
One more thing before I let my sister on: This was the first thing I saw when I sat down at the computer 20 minutes after this episode:

It was posted on Facebook by a horse-product company that I really like; and it had the tag: "Does your horse like to go swimming?"
I also saw today that my God has a sense of humor. ;)

Hope you come back for more. And don't let this super-long post scare you off: I don't normally post *this* long. :)


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey! Thanks so much for commenting! Comments to me are like opening presents on Christmas. ^.^ If you ask a question, I will answer you on your own blog; but do not dispair -- if you don't HAVE a blog, I will reply to your comment right here. So be sure to check back if you were looking for an answer. :)