With this, everything has changed, no matter how well I thought I had it all worked out. The urgency of the moment created in me a relentless energy that I tapped to get Scout through her surgery and into recovery. Putting her needs first pushed me into the background, pushed my reactions down. She's been home for a week now, and a routine, of sorts, has been crafted. In that week, I found the time to write my long, hard letter to the barn where she was injured. When I dropped it in the mail, it seemed to put a frame around all of it, containing it as one long event. That's when I began to see how hard all of this is going to be.
It took me so, so long to decide to give up Scout. For two years I listened to a loop in my head, a festering chatter of questions and answers, delusions and bravado. I always got hung up on the same few things.
1) In the right person's hands, she could be a wonderful, athletic little horse. Then I would regret giving her up, forgetting that I decided the right person wasn't me.
2) She's so herdbound, I can never just take her out for a ride alone. Then I have to change my life so I can work with her more.
3) She intimidates me too much. Really. Then I'm validating my fear by walking away from her.
4) I must have brought the fear with me, Scout didn't cause it. Then no horse can fix it.
The trouble with these themes that I obsessed over? I can't tell whether they came from my head or my heart. I only know that I felt relief when I finally decided to let her go. But now she's back. The fierceness of my love for her surged in the face of her injury. She awed me with her ability to go through things she didn't understand. The needles, the surgery, all the strangers around her. Through all of it, she looked for me. Don't I have to try again? Shouldn't I?
As I knew she would, Scout hates the separation from the herd. The first few days were so hard for her that we raised the sedative dose from once daily to twice, but she still paws the floor in frustration and sometimes spins.
I stood with her in her stall yesterday. It was stupidly cold. For an hour, we both stared out the window, watching the other horses wandering in their paddocks. I talked to her, as I have since the first day I got her. She rested her head on my shoulder. I could feel the warmth of her body beside mine. I know I calm her. On the ground, our relationship can be sublime. Once I'm up, though, things change for me. I ride with an anxious anticipation and contaminate my skill with the tension I feel. That changes Scout. She absorbs my tension, and then we're pulled into a cycle of mutual mistrust that I don't know how to ride through, don't believe I can ride through.
Maybe nothing I think today will matter in a month or two, but I'm worried and sad. Scout's not for sale now; I don't think she ever will be. Winter has come; the cold feels sudden and shocking. Soon Dr. B will come and look at Scout's leg, maybe remove the stitches, and, above all, tell me when she can go out, and how she can go out.
I have too many thoughts and reactions to organize. For now, I'm left with the feeling of having suffered a blunt-force trauma. The story has changed too abruptly. Now I have two horses, one who is injured and another who is gaining energy, impatience and idiocy every day. I can't do much with either of them, preempted by the snow and ice.
I've long had the sense that winter time is when life withdraws into itself. I know how I shut down and go quiet then. That will still be true for me this year, but I won't be able to hide from the decisions that have to be made. Right now, I don't want to make them. What could be hard seems too hard, and my reactive, jaundiced eye often overlooks what could be simple. "It is what it is," they say. But I always want to know what it is; that's my vigilance and my handicap. It's easy to say that fate has thrown me a do-over. What if it has?