Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Victory Lap

My face felt warm and prickly, but not from the sun, and a subtle mist of tears blurred my vision. I felt a liquid smile spread from my mouth to my ears. It was a private moment, just me and Argus, but it felt strangely familiar.

Here in the midst of my bare dirt pasture, I stopped walking the grey horse for a moment and paused to look up at him, with his curious expression and sense of quiet alertness. I realized then that I was feeling that same old rush I used to experience during the magical few moments at the completion of a three-day-event, when all my efforts to compete culminated in the group "victory gallop" around the stadium jumping arena.

Sometimes a bright ribbon fluttered gaily from my horse's bridle; sometimes it didn't. For the most part, I was content to bring up the back of the pack, alone in my thoughts with my horse cantering boldly beneath me. It was these times that I remember most vividly, for despite the cheering friends, the scratchy music playing over the loudspeaker, and the thunderous dust cloud of talented horseflesh galloping ahead, I was eerily alone with my horse in our own quiet place. We were a team. It was me and him --- friends and partners --- against the world.

This is how I felt yesterday, as I paraded Argus around the empty winter pasture, the only music being the rustling of the wind through the dormant grapevines; our only audience the lonely pair of Canada geese who rode out the winter here. Here we were, Argus and me, taking our victory lap together. He led calmly, carefully. He did not shake or sweat. He looked and sniffed. He was a gentleman, light as a feather on the halter, responsive, easy to handle when he spooked. We inspected fences, the shelter, and discovered the waterer. Argus took it all in stride, as if he'd explored strange pastures before.

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After I was satisfied that I had taught Argus the lay of this new land, I released him. He walked off smartly, exploring every square inch of dirt. Not ten feet from me, Argus was overcome with the urge to roll.

The pasture horses, penned up in the adjacent paddocks, watched intently. (Half Pint, who was to be Argus' trial turnout buddy, was feeling too rambunctious to be trusted; Argus took his maiden spin in the pasture by himself). They seemed to understand this was a fragile thing.

I stood in the center of the pasture, clutching a halter and leadrope and my camera. Like a toddler, Argus strayed only so far, returning to me often for a hug and some reassurance.

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I am so proud of you, buddy!!

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Hoof said...

Wow! What a story! I was introduced to this blog by accident. Someone had written something about it on a Yahoo Group thing then realized that was not the place they wanted to write, but gave us the blog address if we were interested. Which of course I was!

I spent most of the afternoon reading about you and Argus, and his new friends. Thank you so much for the story, for the time, and for loving Argus!

I agree with everyone who wrote about the Shadow Picture. It is a keeper!

I have learned a lot from you. I would love to help save animals, but I have to learn to let them go to a new home so I can make room for more. As I am at full capacity right now, I think that is something I will be working on! My husband also thanks you...he just doesn't know it yet. :-) (I will fill him in when he gets home)

I can't wait to hear the next update!

Karen C.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing - he is remarkable and his and your story is a remarkable story. I amsitting here a bit teary eyed and proud of it. Thanks for sharing Argus with us - it is funny but he is as real to me as any animal I know.

WTR said...

I've been waiting eagerly to read about Argus' new adventure, and I am SO PROUD of him for taking everything in stride!

What an accomplishment!

Your blog is a joy to read, and my only regret is that there aren't updates at least twice a day...

Thank you for being the wonderful, caring person you are, and thank you for sharing his story.

jules said...

Oh, congratulations to you & Argies! What a magical moment - almost like a birth. Happy, happy tears here in Western Australia

Faith said...

congrats to both of you! it's great to see him moving around some more and being a horse!
this is such an amazing story thank you so much for sharing it with us.

StableBabe said...

God bless you, Katie. The picture of Argus cantering brought tears to my eyes. I'm very happy for the both of you. :-)

Amy said...

Wow, Argus is looking so very well. I am enjoying reading about his recovery, you are a true credit to the horse world

Holly said...

he trusts you. I hope that when he goes to his new owner, they understand what a fragile gift this is from Argus.

Whadda boy.

Anonymous said...

I love the picture of him galloping along, like it's so normal. Awesome job with him!

Anonymous said...

That was a GREAT post!!!

Your passion for this horse, and horses in general, poured through the computer screen.

I too hope Argus finds a home that truly appreciates his journey and heart.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's amazing! He looks SO happy just being able to be a horse. That picture of him lying down before/after a roll; he looks like a foal, his face so full of curiosity to this new experience and wide eyed exhilaration. I love that picture of him galloping, too. Thank you so much for sharing his life with us and providing us pictures to see such progress. Words definitely tell, especially with your eloquent writing, but the pictures really SHOW just how changed he is both physically and mentally. What a horse.

SquirrelGurl said...

Yay for you and Argus!

I so enjoy reading about his progress!

MyTwoPonies said...

Just so you know- my sister posted a link to your blog on the Craigslist pet forums. I got her addicted (she LOVED the mud story and can relate) and now it seems that you have a whole slew of new readers & fans. Even if you are not into horses, Argus reminds us all to appreciate the little things in life.

Callo said...

This is such a beautiful story, thank you so much for sharing Argus' progress. I've gotten teary-eyed a few times just from reading. I love the pictures the best, because the transformation is stupendous. And you're an excellent writer; maybe you could make it into a book. I would buy it.

Best wishes!

barrelracingmom said...

Your gentle spirit and quiet faith in Argus gives him courage to explore what it's like to be a 'real' horse. Thank you for these precious updates!

Anonymous said...

i saw this blog on fuglyhorseoftheday and gotta say, this story is amazing. that picture of him running towards you is so cute its like zoom here comes argus!!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post - he has come such a long way! The smile on your face in the last pic is priceless. People like you help me remember the good after reading too many awful things.

I included this post in my weekly blog round-up. :)

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing Argus's story for so many other people to read. I almost didn't read your blog because the description of how Argus had been treated for most of his life made my stomach knot up, but I am so glad I did. I know you're already reaping amazing blessings through your efforts in rehabilitating and loving Argus, but I pray you have so many more. I can't wait to read more about Argus's weekly victories!

GreySomeday said...

I'm with Callo... you are simply a marvelous writer - please make this a book!!! I was just in Barnes and Noble and there was a horse "rescue" book for sale. While I enjoyed it very much, it's more about the author's personal journey of discovery about herself, along with taking care of a neglected mare. Argus's story is all about HIM. No matter what the ending - and all of us who are rooting for Argies know that the only possible one is that he'll find the perfect "forever" home - it should be told, and by you.

It's a special treat to visit this blog. Wish you would post every day... (like FHOTD, thank you to her for sending me here). Bless you for your love and care of this special horse, and all your animals.

I think Argus has such a tight grip on my heart because of his color and breed. As you can see by my screen name, *someday* I will own the grey TB hunter of my dreams, even if he's only a pasture pal because I'm 82!

P.S. The Shadow Picture can go on the cover.

PaintedPromise said...

man oh man. happy tears!!!!! i don't want to sound like an echo so i won't repeat what the others have said, but i heartily agree!!! so, DITTO!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Argus' story with us. It is wonderful to see him recovering. Your blog is a statement that we need to be responsible and loving in the treatment of our animals.

Megan said...

Is it my imagination or is that a white blaze I see on his face?