Monday, June 7, 2010

Murray's Misstep

Dear Municipality of East Hants,
Last week, I looked out my window and was delighted to see your yellow and brown trucks moving slowly along our pot-hole-filled road. You were finally grading it. However, in future, could you please use something other than seemingly unscreened fill consisting primarily of 2-3 inch long, sharp rocks?
Sincerely yours,
East Gore Resident,
Melissa Friedman

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

This morning was one of those mornings that makes a person want to get out of bed early. Outside, a mist-like fog lingered over the paddocks, clinging to green blades of horse-mowed grass. But even as I watched, the sun began to burn its way through, pulling the fog up off the ground and lifting it into the trees. It was the perfect morning to take in the view from the back of a horse.

Dave and I had both ridden Maggie the day before, but Murray had had the day off, so I chose him as my beast of burden. We've had days of deluge, so the footing in the ring was too soft for Murray's sensitive suspensories. It seemed like the perfect morning for a ride down the road anyway, so we left the driveway and pointed our noses down the hill toward the dairy farm.

The road was graded about a week ago. Since then, I've avoided taking Maggie on hacks. The new surface is riddled with large, sharp rocks, which leave her barefoot-hooves tender and bruised. Murray, however, has shoes and he has been able to walk, trot, and canter on the road without any problem whatsoever.

As we get closer to the dairy farm, the mist finally loses its battle with the sun and disperses into the hot, humid air. At the foot of the hill, two black and white dairy cows eye us warily as we walk past their lush pasture. Murray returns their stares with equal suspicion. But both the cows and Murray are too preoccupied with soaking up teh warmth of the sun to act on their mutual unease. We continue our leisurely stroll until we reach the intersection with the main road. Then, Murray and I lazily turn around. It's a picture-perfect morning, and Murray obligingly allows me to drop the reins long enough to snap a few quick shots.

We reach the base of the hill and as we begin to climb, Murray moves into a trot. He takes two enthusiastic steps, then in typical Murray form, trips over his right toe. As he recovers, his head bobs up and down, and I can tell by his awkward, uneven gait that he's limping. I immediately bring him back to walk and continue on for a few more steps. At first I figure he's just stung himself, much like stubbing one's toe, and that he'll soon be fine. But the lurch in his step continues.

I hop off and look down. Murray is bending his left knee and holding his left hoof pathetically off the ground-- the one that caught all his weight as he tripped. My first thought is that he's torn a tendon or ligament. But then I take a closer look at the hoof itself. There are a few dots of blood on the hard sole, and amidst the blood there's a thin gash about a 1/2 centimetre long. It looks much like a typical paper cut, only no paper could penetrate the tough substance which makes up his sole. A deep purple bruise is already forming around the cut. It seems that in trying to stay on his feet, Murray put his hoof down on a sharp rock. Well, so much for a perfect morning.

I pull the reins over Murray's head and lead my limping horse up the hill. Either this hill really is steeper than it looks, or I'm out of shape. I'm huffing and puffing by the time I reach the top.

Inside the barn, I dig through my well-stocked first aid kit for the necessary supplies. Same-old, same-old for Murray, only this time, I'm trading-in the ice packs for Epsom salts and hot water.

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