Living in major cities most of my life, I feel I am at a disadvantage for taking care of livestock…specifically in the equine category.

I learned this a few years ago. I received a call from my brother about a family emergency. My niece was ill and needed to spend time in the  hospital. I decided to fly out to Boston to help out.

Getting to work

When I arrived at his home, he sent me right to work. I can’t say that I have any special skills that would make me a shoe-in for any specific job at his house. But he must have had some faith in my horse feeding skills because he asked me to take on that task. I will tell you that my niece ended up doing ok, but I can’t say the same for his wife’s horses while under my care.

He drew me directions on how to unlatch the gate and feed the horses. This is where his idea fell short. He is the “Let me draw you a map” type guy and I am the, “I will take written turn by turn directions with major landmarks inserted” type girl. However this was not the time to nit pick!

I grabbed my sister in law’s size 10 mud boots and hobbled over to the paddock. With each step, the boots were inserting themselves deeply in the mud as my feet were slipping out. I finally got to the paddock. That is where I saw Snow Flake the white Shetland pony, Justin, the retired race hose and Floyd your run of the mill four legged, hungry horse. Referring to the directions, I unlatched the gate and proceeded to feed Floyd first.

Escapees on the loose

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a white figure flash by. I look up and my sister in law’s white pony had escaped the paddock. It was not easy to run in these boots of hers that were both big and not made for running. To top it off, the horses didn’t have the gear on their heads to grab them from. I was panicked. After the white pony came Justin, who is a thoroughbred and a retired race horse. They were roaming free in the back yard. Hey, what do you want when you ask a San Franciscan to come to your house…we want everything to be free and peaceful. Namaste, you’re welcome!

These horses are my sister in law’s pride and joy. I would say, its her kids first and then the horses and her other animals on the same plain. She told herself that when she made partner at her firm, she would buy a big house and have property big enough to house them. And here I was letting them go. Like an angel from above- albeit a very upset angel, my brother appears yelling profanities at me.

He grabs some food and gets the horses to come into the paddock. Speaking of horse food, my brother saw the food I had for Floyd and freaked out about how much I had given him. He relegated me to laundry and I went inside like a dog between its legs.

Warning: A horse was harmed in the taping of this blog post

Several hours later, I was building forts with my nephew when my brother came home from the hospital with a look of disbelief on his face. He exclaimed, what the hell did you do to Floyd? At first I tried to remember who Floyd was and then I realized. “Nothing.” I said, “I just followed your directions, why?”

Floyd is DEAD he said with an umpire-like “you’re out” movement. Oh shit I thought.

He brought a vet in and they confirmed it, before the burial which was done on their property, my brother cut off a lock of Floyd’s mane and brought it to the hospital to deliver the bad news to his wife, a horse lover, who had been in the hospital with my niece for 12 days. She should not have to hear bad news like this…

I decided it was time to go home. The next time I came in contact with a horse, it was with a pony on a rope at the Marin County Fair. My daughter, who was four at the time, was a top of it.