Saturday, March 8, 2008

Horse Theif!

Last Thursday night while I was hurridly getting ready to go to exercise class, I received a phone call from Adele. I tried to tell her that I'd call her back later, but she quickly explained that her call had a special purpose. It seems that Ian had received a homework assignment from his teacher. He was to ask Mommy to tell him a story from when she was a kid. Then he needed to write it down and turn it in.

Well, Adele had a little trouble with that one. We don't have all that many happy stories about growing up, and many of the ones that make us laugh would not be approriate for an eight-year-old. She thought about it, and decided to tell him a story about how she had kept a secret for me for a whole year... a really big secret.

Ian didn't quite believe her. He's a "Rules Man," and to hear that she and I had been decietful to our Mommy and Daddy, especially for that long, was a little more than he was willing to accept. So Adele decided that the two of them should call me and he could hear the same thing right from my mouth.

I was horse crazy. The first horse we owned - Rose - was shared between the siblings, but at some point, I was the only one left that was interested. I aspired to excel in horse shows, and was a regular on the Tri Valley Horse Show Association circuit. I wasn't a big time winner by any means, but I loved my horse and I loved getting out.

Rose was quite old when we got her, and at some point, I realized that she was just unable to do the kind of things that I wanted her to do. Faye - a friend - allowed me to ride her horse Shammy and we did the Hunter-Jumper thing.
I eventually saved all my money and bought another horse for myself, but she was a health disaster and ended up dying. So I was without a horse and without funds. I was, I think, either 18 or 19 years old, working a job as a Gift Wrapper at David Orgell's, Northridge, and going to school.

Mom and Dad were very against me continuing with my horse passion and made no bones about it. They extracted a promise from me that I would not buy another horse. It was a promise I made under great pressure, and I never thought I would be able to keep it. But I had no choice but to agree to their demands.

I continued to go to the stable and ride other's horses. My friends knew of my plight but didn't have an answer. Until one day when a fateful call came down from University of California, Davis. Chris, yet another friend who atttended Davis as a Veterinary Student, was about to come back to Los Angeles on holiday. He knew of a horse he thought that I might be interested in. It was a colt... maybe six months old. It's mother had died shortly after it was born, and it had been used as an experimental project for the students. Davis's policy was (and maybe still is... I just don't know) to destroy the horses that they worked on at the end of each semester. Chris didn't think that the little guy deserved to be killed and he knew of my desire. If I was willing to pay for the shipment down south, he would bring him to me.

I suppose that this was my first foray into animal rescue although I didn't realize it at the time. All I knew was that Chris was presenting me with a horse that I didn't have to buy - so technically I wasn't breaking my promise. The colt was purportedly one of the very last grandson's of Man O War, and he was potentially the great show horse that I had always wanted. So the colt was delivered to my stable and I was a horse owner again. Never mind that Chris had to steal him in the dead of night and I was an accessory after the fact. Nobody was looking for him.

The baby was a mess. He had not been handled by people at all except when they were going to cause him pain. He was not even halter-broken and was very frightened. His baby coat was still attached via mud to his grown-up coat; there were bugs eating into his stomach. He had to be shaved. He was skinny and scrawny and gangly. He was the sorriest looking thing that I ever did see, so his name became "Sorry."

I spent weeks sitting in his corral and talking to him before he finally became brave enough to come over and sniff me. Then let me put a halter on him. Then let me lead him around. All the while, Mom & Dad were none-the-wiser. But this was a big secret to keep and I was bursting with the news. I went to Adele and asked her if she could keep a secret, and then I told her.

Adele CAN keep a secret. She and I spent time with Sorry, and she brought her friends by to "see the horse that Mom & Dad didn't know about." They didn't realize anything was up. I had spent a lot of time at the barn anyway and they were too involved in their own problems to realize that there was a difference in my behavior. And all the while, Sorry grew and matured, and became a stallion. A damned mean stallion. Hot as all get-out.

It was inevidable that he should be gelded. Even if I had his papers, which I didn't, I had no intention of breeding him. As a show horse, he would be safer and better as a gelding. He was also becomming impossible to handle. In fact, I was victim of some pretty hard kicks and bites in that time frame.

The vet was scheduled to come out and take care of business the day before Thanksgiving. It came off without issue except for the part that he forgot to bring his receipt book with him. He would have to bill me. I reminded him to send the bill to the barn. He agreed. But of course, that's not what happened.

Once the vet got home, he forgot about my instructions and sent the bill to the address of record. The one that he would send his bills to when I owned horses that were not a secret. To Mom & Dad's home.

Working in retail, Thanksgiving weekend was required time. On Saturday, I got home to find everyone in an uproar. The vet's bill had come; Mom had opened it. "WHY ARE YOU PAYING VET BILLS ON SOMEBODY ELSES HORSE?" she demanded. I knew the gig was up, and the horse, so to speak, came out of the closet.

Yes there was hell to pay. It was worth it. With 30 years having gone by, I'm still glad that I snuck that horse into my life.

Ian was both full of giggles and horrifed by my story. I confirmed everything that Mommy had told him. He could hardly believe that Mommy & I would be less than truthful with our Mommy & Daddy. He doesn't understand that family dynamics are not always as nice as he experiences them, and he's young enough that he has no need to be enlightened. But after hearing it from my mouth, he did accept that it happened.

Later that night on the way home from exercise, I called Adele on the phone. Did Ian need pictures for his homework? I was pretty sure that I knew where the pics of Sorry were. She called him and asked. No, he didn't need them. But then she had him read the first line of his report to me.

"When Mommy was young, she and Aunt Laura kept a secret for a whole year about a horse that Aunt Laura stole."

I think if I lived in the old west, I would be hung right about now.


Anonymous said...

ROFL..I love the story and his interpretation of it.

hot tamale said...

LOL I can see it now.....Horse Thief captured after 30 years on the run!!! What happened to Sorry and how long did you have him once the jig was up? Thanks for the chuckle Laura

Claudia said...

OMG! This story is so you. So I guess Cozie and Sunny can thank sorry for turning you into an animal rescuer. I loved this story. Thanks for posting it.

Vennie said...

OMG! One of my best friends a dang hoss thief! A rustler! In some places thet's a hangin' crime--and who knows what the statute of limitations is on hoss thievin'! If'n I wuz you, Laura, I'd swear everbody on this here blog to promise to keep yore secret. I shore will, since I don't wanna see my friend swingin' at the end of no rope! That'd be a "Sorry" thang, for shore!

spinningmom said...

Now I want to hear the end of the story!!!! What ever happened to Sorry? I think it is awesome and now wish we had been friends when we were young because we totally would have gotten into way more fun. Thanks Trish

LI Laura said...

What a great story! Loved how you worked your way around your parents' restrictions.


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