Today was a joyous day for me in a very dream-like, surreal, somewhat eerily strange way. It doesn't involve sex, or boys, or "love" in its most common terms. No, this goes back to horses so stop reading here if you don't wish to hear it! It's a very sweet story, though.
For two weeks I had been "watching" an ad on craigslist. It was a scary ad, for a 22 year old thoroughbred horse that "Must Go!". Very urgent, very little information, very strange posts. I watched, deliberated, and waited. Each day, a new post went up. Red flags galore. I couldn't stand it anymore! On Friday, I texted the owner of the horse. They had specified in the ad, no phone calls or emails, only texts! How strange... but then again, everything about it was weird. I had that feeling of foreboding in my gut. I knew something wasn't right, something was pulling me towards this ad. I check craigslist regularly just in case, but rarely do I see anything that effects my sleeping patterns like this one did.
I decided to go take a looksie. I was expecting a starving, old, debilitated horse. When I got there, and they led me to his stall, I immediately noticed he wasn't in dire need of help. He wasn't in any immediate danger. While thin, he was quite okay. I breathed a sigh of relief. As I stood there looking at him, what seemed like hours was only seconds... but I began to feel an alarming case of deja-vu or something similar. I felt like I had been there before. I couldn't pinpoint what felt familiar. The people? The place? It was quite strange. As they began to tell me more about the horse, the feeling increased.
They said the horses name was Laker. They said he was bought after his racing career by a player of the LA Lakers (Basketball team).
The feeling increased, becoming a strong throbbing thing in the back of my mind. It was tugging at me, willing me to remember something.
They said the man was a large man, and needed a large horse to aid him in his hobby: civil war reenactments.
The feeling again, increased. At this point I was biting my lip, feeling exasperated. Something was jogging my memory but I could not pinpoint what, and suddenly I was certain it wasn't because I had dreamed about this. Nor was this classic deja vu.
I studied the people as they went on with the information. They looked sort of familiar, but I wasn't sure if I had seen them before.
They told me Laker belonged to an "All Girls Camp" for years, 10 or more. He was the sweetest horse, totally unaware of his size.
I was stumped as I followed them to the indoor riding arena. I started to study the horse closer, watching for signs of lameness or issues relevant to his age. They let him go in the arena and started to tell me that their 2 year old daughter could ride the horse with ease, they hate to part with him, but 5 horses were too many. Then, offhandedly, they asked me I was familiar with a certain horse farm nearby.
DING DING DING! It hit me then, it flooded me. I felt a rush of emotion so strong I can't put it into words. I audibly whooped, a trilling sound of laughter and shock. I verified with them that this particular farm had indeed owned him, even though I knew at that moment what it was that my mind was trying to tell me. A thousand memories assaulted me then. I felt tears rush my eyes. What were the chances?
Laker was a horse that belonged to the first ever riding stable that I learned to ride at. I started riding there when i was 6 years old. I don't remember specifics but they had acquired Laker a few years after I started riding, and he became a favorite of the adults and more experienced riders. He was special in many ways, at a whopping 17.2 hands, he was THE largest horse on the farm. He was as gentle as he was large, a true gentle giant. The term may have been created for him specifically. I didn't ride Laker for a few years because of his size. I was just a young girl and weighed 60 lbs. But I did ride him a handful of times as the years went by, including one summer when I was 12. I rode him a lot that summer preparing for a hunter jumper competition nearby. I have pictures of Laker and I with first place ribbons from that day. The memories I have of this horse are of a gleaming, young, beautiful horse. The years have taken their toll on him, but he still has a light in his eyes. I think his circumstances have brought him down, and it's truly a shame. I should have remembered him right off the bat, but this was 10 years ago! It didn't dawn on me immediately, even though i'm sure there are very few 17.2 hh bay thoroughbreds named Laker in this area!
As I stood there with the realization dawning on me, the warmth of the memories of some of the happiest years of my life as a child flooded me, and gave me such a feeling of elation. Laker trotted proudly around the arena, showing that he is indeed still a handsome steed. He carried his head tucked in proudly, lifting his legs high with his tail swishing saucily. As he danced large circles around me, an odd out-of-place rumble was coming from his throat. I smiled, thrilled. I remembered clearly the Laker of my past who had the odd characteristic of making funny noses when he ran due to an odd flap in his throat that would flutter around and cause the air to whoosh in and out of his lungs in a strange pattern. He lowered his head and slowed down to walk up to me. Almost as if he realized I had finally gotten "it", as if to say "Finally, you know! I was trying to show you!" He sniffed me curiously and without hesitation I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms around his huge head. I held him against my chest and knew with utmost certainty that I would get him out of this situation. He had done his duty for years, teaching people how to ride, carrying young riders to victory. He had probably been ridden by hundreds of different people in his life, hundreds of people that had forgotten about him as I had. If those people could have seen him then, with his whithers and his back bone sticking out and his hooves overgrown and his face so hollow and thin, what would they have thought? I would like to think it would be the same thing I thought. "Laker, I'm so sorry. Let me help you." I felt tears prick my eyes as I tried to radiate hope and happiness to him, to let him know I would help. Somehow.
I went home that night arguing with myself. I told the people I would get back to them, but I had no idea what to do. I have six horses. I have limited space, limited funds, limited TIME. But fate had knocked, like she always does. I don't get lucky in matters of love, or fortune. I don't find winning lottery tickets blowing in the wind, I don't stumble across my true love in the supermarket. But when it comes to animals - specifically horses - fate makes things happen for me. This sounds corny as hell, but this is NOT the first strange coincidence that has happened to me concerning horses.
When I got home, I immediately looked up the email to my old riding instructor at the farm Laker had lived at for years. She answered my email after only a few hours, and she was in shock. She had just sold him in October. She owned him for 14 years, maybe even 15. She said when he left, he was fat and 100% healthy. She could not believe they were selling him after just a few months. She was distraught. She told me the only reason she sold him in the first place was because with his advancing age, he wasn't able to jump fences or cater to the needs of her more experienced riders (mainly adults) in strenuous competitions and shows. The younger girls, the girls who come to camp, inexperienced riders just wanting to spend the week at a horse camp, were intimidated by him. He wasn't being used and was lacking love and affection, and she thought she would find him a better home. She said that he was sound to ride when he left, but that the new owner had called her just hours after they had bought him. He had an "accident" in the horse trailer and sliced his leg. They didn't have money for the vet. She paid the vet bill for them and everything, convinced they were good-hearted people and would do right by him but still feeling sad and thinking of him often. I quote "I guess I should have known."
I guess by selling him, they are trying to do the right thing. He is apparently not getting "enough" for his age - he is thin. He is tired. He looks sad. I hope they realized that and did what they could for him.
He is now in my barn.
Horse: $60 (yes, you heard me right)
Borrowing a horse trailer last minute: Stressful, $10 to fix brake lights.
The Price of Fate: priceless
"Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live." - Marcus Aurelius
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