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Sunday, October 28, 2012

My blog for 10/28/2012 Temporary title: Silver Strutter Dead CONTINUED

            From the distance as she approached, the farm’s layout brought up an envy she hadn’t felt for a long time.  Rolling land punctuated with trees clumped in ravines where a tractor might have trouble lay out like green fudge.  Fences separated what she knew to be several permanent pastures deep in planned grass full of millet, oats and several other nutritious grains whose names she had in her notes but not her head.  The whole looked like Kentucky’s miles of bluegrass horse parks.  Lexington had reached a hallowed place in her mind twenty years ago.   Phoenix’s horse farms hoarded precious pasturelands. And Phoenix is where she’d been brought up.   Paddocks of decomposed granite looked neat, but lush was only a word until Maria had seen what the south could provide.  Tears rolled up under her eyelids.  Whether jealous tears or admiration of God’s generosity, she wasn’t sure.

            The driveway wound past the house, red maples bordering both sides all the way to the back of the property. She turned at the barn fork. The red barn color was the only thing traditional. This barn rose two stories from the grass, all the sliding doors, tops of the half doors leaning open, bordered in white paint. Washracks peeked out from the back of the barn a hundred feet to her left. A showplace.

            She stepped out of the Jeep and was swept into nostalgia when her nose hit the mesh of clean straw, horse manure, fly spray and horseflesh.  Heaven.  With a sigh and flick of her hand across her cheek, she headed toward the open doors.  Barns always had open doors--another thing that built emotion in Maria.  Business at hand brought her back to reality.  She strode in as if she owned the place, looking for Wrathmire.

            A small head she took for a pony at first, appeared from inside the first stall on her right, and reached out as far as its neck would allow.  Big eyes, bony face.  Too delicate to be a colt, she must be recuperating or younger than she looked at first glance.  A heavy blanket seemed to swamp her.  Maria patted her nose and regretted not having loaded up on carrots or apple pieces for these babies.  The filly shoved her nose against Maria’s hand, jacket, neck.  There was no sign of a snack nearby--no hay or feeder with crumbs lurking at its bottom.  She walked a little further into the barn, where two more horse heads popped up on the other side of the steel mesh stall doors.  A sorrel with a wide white blaze that was almost fluorescent against the taffy colored hide.  A black whose head rose so high above Maria’s she looked into the stall to see just how high its withers lay.  Every rib showed on the black.  She followed its lines down, found huge knee bones and fetlocks like baseballs.  When her eyes met the hooves they found four-inch corrective pads on its feet.  Her stomach lurched over.  The sorrel nickered at her.

           When she turned back to pet its nose, she saw blisters healing on the backs of its front pasterns.  Wrong.

            Maria grabbed the black’s halter hanging near the entry to its stall on a nail.  She rubbed it head then slipped the halter over its nose, opened the stall and led the mare into the runway as a green pickup truck stopped at the barn door and a small woman stepped out of it.

            The woman said, “hello in the barn.” 

            Maria almost ran the horse over her on the way beyond her to the pasture. “Are you related to Wraithmire?” She opened the nearest pasture and pulled the halter off the horse.  It ran to the far corner of the paddock, put its head down and began eating.  It didn’t take time to blow or snort or snuffle.  Eating was on its mind.

            “No, are you Maria Sebastian?”

            “You must be Donna Kelly.  Yes, I’m Maria.  Excuse me for a minute.” She was having  a problem seeing around the giant red ball of anger that had burst inside her head.

            “Is everything okay?  Where’s the owner?  I wanted to talk to him.”

            “Yeah, I want to talk to him too.  Have a look in the stalls.”  Ms. Kelly, Maria’s client who had come to see the property to perhaps purchase it, turned to the first stall and looked at the tiny filly.  Then she looked in at the sorrel as Maria made her way down to the next stall where a bay with a snip of white on its nose looked anxiously out at her.

            “These guys look a little thin,” Kelly said.

            “No shit.”  Maria led the bay out of the stall down to the pasture beyond the first one where the black still munched in the corner.  Maria turned it out the bay and returned to the barn.

            “Are they sick?” Kelly asked.

            “They’re starving.”

            “Well, why?  There’s a lot of pasture out there.”  She waved her hand in a broad gesture.

            “Exactly.”  Maria moved two more horses to pastures.  “Do you know anything about shoeing?  I’ve half a mind to rip the pads off these mares.”

            “Does the owner know you’re raiding his barn?”

            “Do I look like I care?”

            “Yeah.  Um.  Maybe they’ve been sick?” Kelly said.

            “Is that a good reason for six horses to be crippled up from pads, sores and starvation?”

            “Okay, I’m calling the ASPCA.”  Kelly took out her cell phone and poked a bunch of words into it.  “You know, we’re screwing the willingness of the seller to want to deal with me.  In case I might want to buy this place.  If I ever get a chance to see it.  After we save some horse’s lives.

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