Ch.188 I Can No Longer Keep Lakota Safe.

Ch.188 I Can No Longer Keep Lakota Safe.

February 2023

          My horse is named Lakota. He’s a “quarter horse,” a type bred to run exactly one-quarter mile in races. Lakota cannot be ridden because he has an injury causing him to stumble occasionally. That’s how he became a member of our family, as a rescue from a family that wouldn’t keep a “useless” horse. Lakota came our way about twenty years ago.

          Lakota has lived all these years on about five acres enclosed by a four-layered wire fence. No problem. He escaped only once or twice during that period, due to human carelessness. But then, this December, we had a massive snow fall. The snow was so deep that Lakota one day simply stepped over the fence. Apparently, Lakota had an epiphany right then. “Hey, this fence is an illusion. I can jump over it or walk through it any time I want to.” And that’s exactly what’s he’s been doing ever since. Once in the first week. Once again, the next. Twice last week. Three times in the next two days. I’d been able to lure him back to his enclosure each time, with treats, but with increasing difficulty. During the last incident he balked at going into his stall, veered off several times, and only resignedly entered when I put all his treats inside the stall.

          That afternoon I realized, painfully, I could no longer keep Lakota safe. Up to now he had headed to my bird seed containers, but soon the snow would melt and he might start eating grass anywhere. He might wander into the road where he could get hit by a car, endangering its occupants. And I might get hurt trying to “muscle” a 1,200-pound beast into his stall. My conclusion was I needed to find Lakota a new home, immediately.

          Finding an elderly horse a safe haven isn’t all that easy, but the Gods were kind. I called the Osseo veterinary clinic; they recommended a woman named Samantha; Samantha has a special area reserved for older horses (a senior paddock) and she had an immediate opening; within hours I found someone to transport Lakota to her farm. The whole process took less than 48 hours. Lakota is, as I write, working out his place in the equine hierarchy of about a dozen animals. This will take a few days, according to Samantha (I think maybe more since Lakota hasn’t lived with other horses for two decades), and then I believe he will be happier than he was in our little family.

          Here’s what I am already missing:

# How Lakota kisses my hand softly as he takes a piece of apple or carrot.

# Seeing Lakota race my dog Levi, each on opposite sides of the fence, as I walk to Lakota’s feeding place.

#The good physical feeling of carrying a 50-pound bale of hay to his feeder.

#Lakota’s loud whinnies as he responds to my calling for him and when he sees me drive into my driveway.

#The sense I was leading a more meaningful life by caring for this beautiful, vulnerable animal. Nurturing my horse, cat and dog has been especially important for me since Pat died.

          I do feel a great sense of relief, though. I have protected Lakota the best way I could by finding him a safe place to live out his remaining years. And Levi and I can visit Lakota – he only lives about 10 miles away - a nice country drive.         

 Lakota is like a child who has grown up now, an adult ready to join a new family. Now it’s up to him to make a good life. And I’m the empty-nester parent waving good-bye and hoping he’ll remember me.