Saturday, April 10, 2010
Victoria and Lola...
What a day! I'll try to do the day justice with a good literary description but, truly, you had to be there...
Yesterday evening, we prepared the truck and trailer for the journey to get Lola, a grade QH mare that is to be Victoria's first horse. We filled a traveling container with water, prepared the cooler for snacks, cleaned and lubed every hinge on the trailer, and gathered the necessary tack. Emma, the ever faithful mutt, was in everything, getting underfoot left and right. Until, where was Emma? We were convinced we were ready and wanted to head in for an early night and some rest, but could not locate Emma. She was nowhere, after being everywhere all evening. We circled the neighborhood, calling her name. We stopped people out for an evening stroll with our worried queries, but to no avail. We gave up well after dark, and retired for the evening convinced she had run off, distracted after deer or other dogs, and we would never see her again. My youngest, Sofia, was nearly inconsolable, crying for her Emma.
The alarm came quickly, sounding at 0600. I had awoken numerous times during the night thinking I was hearing Emma scratching at the door or barking for attention, but it was only wishful dreaming. I awoke Victoria, and after our personal preparations, I told her we would feed the horses together and then hit the road. She opened the tack room in the barn to get the feed, and out bounced Emma! She must have been doing her best to stay underfoot at the previous evening's feeding, and had been shut in the tack room. The tack room was a mess after being subjected to Emma's chewing overnight: feed bags were ripped open, objects were scattered everywhere; but Emma was OK! Victoria and I let out HUGE sighs of relief. Now we could focus on getting Lola without the worry for Emma that had plagued us all night and had threatened to rob our excitement in getting a new horse!
We hit the road, our moods lighter than air and with Emma safely tucked in her kennel after several hugs. We had 263 miles to cover. Let me explain: we were going to Uvalde to take possession of Lola, then drive back to Hondo and head due north through Bandera to Kerrville, where I would round on 6 patients, and then back to Bulverde to end the journey. We were on a mission!
The exchange for Lola went well, and I had Victoria prepare a bill of sale enroute and handle the transfer of money. The family selling Lola was very sweet, and it was a tender moment for them to say goodbye to their mare (known to them as "Liberty").
I exchanged their halter for ours, and asked Lola to load in our trailer. She hopped right in without a hitch, and she was in and loaded just like that! Yes! This trip was going EXACTLY as planned.
We started our trek back to Hondo, with Victoria's new horse in tow. We turned north and admired the beautiful wildflowers. We drove through Bandera, "Cowboy capitol of the World", and Victoria and I marveled at the charm and the number of motorcycles. We were just outside of Bandera on the north side, when I spied a sign that offered trucks an alternate route. Why did we need an alternate route north? We were here to enjoy the country and we were in a F-250 with a stock horse trailer. We weren't driving an 18 wheeler after all.
Has anyone driven HWY 16 between Bandera and Kerrville? It is the curviest, tiniest, most undulating stretch of road I have ever driven on outside of Mexico's mountain passes. Just when you thought it couldn't get tougher to negotiate, it got scarier. We took some turns at 5 MPH. The trailer was going right, then left, up then down, and I could only imagine that if Lola could get trailer-sick, she was there. I was feeling green myself, but my fear and focus driving this rig with my daughter and her new horse was taking all of my attention.
I joked with Victoria, "If we get a flat tire here, we are in BIG trouble". At last, the road straightened and we were through. Kerrville was in sight. We parked in the hospital parking lot and I collapsed in my seat from the strain. We were right on schedule.
While I donned my white coat, Victoria started to prepare her "picnic" in the back of the truck. She would stay with Lola while I did my rounds. But before we gave Lola some water and made sure she had survived the most serpentine road in Texas, Victoria said, "Dad, did you feel the trailer was lop-sided?" The right rear trailer tire was flat, the sidewall exploded but not yet in tatters. The heat from "snake road" must have been too much for the tire, and it had probably blown in the last few miles. No matter. I needed to do rounds and then look forward to a trailer tire change. I tried to put on my best face for Victoria, to show her how to laugh at adversity and tough luck, but inside I was dreading a hot, sticky tire change knowing that not every tire change goes well, and I was going to have to do this with a horse in the trailer.
I did my rounds, all patients mostly stable, but I wasn't overly chatty with the nursing staff. I wanted to get home with Lola and Victoria.
With Victoria's help, I did the tire change in 17 minutes (I like to time myself with tire changes). I had taken every precaution the evening before, and verified the pressure of the spare and I had all the equipment necessary to make things easier. Victoria remarked, "That wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be." I hope she learned something, and I hope she doesn't think they all go so well; the right tools and preparation and practice makes hard things look easy. Lola was awesome the entire time, and endured all the noise and grunts from my exertions without an issue. In fact, the entire trip, she didn't paw in the trailer ONCE.
After a lunch on the run, we headed home without any more issues. Lola unloaded calmly from the trailer and we allowed her to take in her surroundings. Victoria introduced her to the boys, my geldings, and they seemed as impressed with her looks as we were when we first met her.
It was an adventure that I hope Victoria will look back on fondly, and it delivered my oldest daughter her first horse, her first business transaction, a trip on new roads, a lesson in adversity, and culminated in a peaceful walk leading her new horse...