Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Incredible Journey - Part 3

My relationship with Taco grew steadily as time went by. I was now the sole source of his grooming, exercise, and companionship. He had transformed into an old gentleman, a marked difference from the dirty, depressed horse that I saw a few years earlier. By then, I could not remember what it was like before I had him.

All through that time, I had continued riding. I even leased a horse one summer, so I was at the barn several times a week. I also competed in local horse shows for two years, and racked up a number of blue ribbons. Things didn't seem like they could be more perfect. I had my riding career, and I had my old man, too.

However, one summer day in 2003, after making my way down to the riding arena to say hello to everyone there, I heard words that, at first, I thought were a joke.

"We're being evicted."

Now, I won't get in to the details of this, but basically, a great schism was set to happen. My riding instructor and her throngs of students and horses were being kicked out of the barn by the property/barn owner. There was a lot of he said, she said on both sides - to this day, I couldn't tell you who was wrong, and who was right.

Though I was told that it wouldn't happen for months, my mind instantly raced. Taco was owned by a whole separate party, and had lived here his whole life. He was around thirty-seven years old at the time. Should he stay behind, to live out the rest of his life with the few horses that would be there? Or, should he go to New Jersey, to a place over an hour away from me? Would I still be able to see him and care for him in either of these scenarios?

It was a hard place for me to be in. The barn owner actually invited me to come back and continue caring for Taco, even after the riding group was gone. But, as some of you may know, when two groups in the animal fancy (be it dogs, cats, horses) start feuding with one another, it usually boils down to every one taking sides. I tried my hardest to avoid doing so, but the tension was mounting and the barn became a very unpleasant place to be. It was basically assumed that I would stick with the riding group and sever my ties with the people here. Things got very nasty.

My riding instructor did try to convince Taco's owner to move him to the new stable. But, he did not wish to do so. The picture was originally painted as bleak for Taco's future - there were horror stories circulating about how badly he would be neglected if he stayed where he was now. I do not know where those claims came from or if there was reason to believe them, but I was scared for him. I was told to start distancing myself from him because it was unlikely that I'd ever seen him again.

The day finally came where the last horses were loaded into the trailer, and the evicted group was set to leave the scene forever. Not knowing if I would ever see Taco again, I broke down in to a million tears. I was given the unsatisfactory statement by my riding instructor that there would be "plenty of other old horses for me to care for at the new place," which totally demeaned my relationship with this one, very special old horse, for whom I could never find a replacement.
Me and Taco, summer 2003

For a week or two, I basically treaded water. I knew I had the opportunity to continue going to see Taco, but faced the whole issue of allegiance to my riding friends. When they caught wind of the fact that I was considering doing so, they once again told me that it would be dangerous to go back there (implying that the barn owners were nuts).

But, I just couldn't give up like that. Not on him. So, the phone call was made, and I set up a day to go to the barn and see him once again. Whether my riding friends knew about this or not, I'm not sure. Eventually, due to a misunderstanding with one of the barn girls, I lost touch with them all. I still think back to what might have been if I continued riding and showing, but I made my decision and they made theirs, too.

Though, for the most part, I no longer keep in touch with the barn owners, either, the years that would follow would be some of Taco's best - maybe the best in his life.

Part 4 to come soon..


Amy / Layla the Malamute April 11, 2010 at 11:42 PM  

I got teary-eyed just reading this entry. Now I'm sure I'll cry during part 4.

LauraK April 12, 2010 at 12:28 AM  

The suspense is killing me, I can't wait to hear about Mr. Taco!

I wish everyone could just all get along and that there weren't "sides". Life would be so much easier and happier that way!

Speaking of "sides and drama"- did you get an invite for my blog? Just wondering if you had tried to read the new one yet, and if it was an easy process :)

Life With Dogs April 12, 2010 at 12:31 AM  

You're getting us all hooked! I love the pic of you two. ♥

Stella April 12, 2010 at 12:55 AM  

You seem to love a cliff-hanger!

Great picture of you and Mr. Taco.

Jo and Stella

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! April 12, 2010 at 1:01 AM  

How nice a horse helped show woo who your furiends REALLY were/are...

And how sad too...


Diana April 12, 2010 at 5:53 AM  

Adults sure let silly things get in the way of life. Diana

SissySees April 12, 2010 at 8:53 AM  

Just wanted to let you know I am reading along. Horses used to be a part of my life too...

River April 12, 2010 at 9:09 AM  

Even though Taco is not a dog we know how you felt. A special animal of the heart is not one you give up on--no matter what the price. You are amazing!

love & wags,

KB April 12, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

I love this story because, more than anything, it's about love for an animal. I'll keep following...

Thanks for sharing.

Sue April 12, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

I think that statement about 'other old horses' would have been the deciding factor for me. A true animal lover doesn't think that way.I'm so glad to know that you couldn't abandon Taco. This all says a lot about your relationship with Marge, too.

Anna the GSD April 12, 2010 at 11:38 AM  

I'm on the edge of my seat wanting to know more about you and Mr. Taco!! Wonderful writing!

AC April 12, 2010 at 11:57 AM  

I love the pictures of you and Taco from the last two posts. I think we all can relate to that tug an animal can pull on your heart...Waiting for part4

Anonymous April 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM  

Miss Sam, I am loving this story of Taco. You sure were lucky to haves each other!

Wiggles & Wags,

the teacher's pets April 12, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

The tone of your voice speaks volumes about your love of not just Taco but of all of the other animals you've come in contact with, include Marge. The bond between humans and animals is such a strong one and I'm sure Taco knew how much you cared for him. "Old man" or not, he deserved a happy life and you gave it to him...what a lucky horse!

Gus, Louie and Callie April 12, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

That is a sad story Marge's Mom. We sure wish you could have kept in touch with those people..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

The Army of Four April 12, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

This is such a special story! We know it has to be hard for you to share it!
Tail wags,

Unknown April 12, 2010 at 10:40 PM  

Gah, I can't take the suspense! But we are hooked. I'll be watching for Part 4!

Sara April 13, 2010 at 7:16 AM  

Sam, It sounds like you had to grow up fast, and learn too soon about the silly gripings that go on between people. That's so sad that you had to choose a side.

KB April 13, 2010 at 10:11 AM  

Sam: I forgot to say that it seems to be highly variable as to whether a dog is as obsessed by the mannersminder as R is. For example, although K isn't afraid of it, she isn't over the top excited about it. In the absence of distractions, she'll take kibble from it. But, in stressful situations (like toe nail clipping), she prefers to get treats from my hands.

I did have a video of it with audio.

Natasha April 13, 2010 at 10:39 AM  

I've really loved reading about your journey. I used to ride as well and I completely understand the bond you can have with a horse. Can't wait for part 4!

Kathy Mocharnuk April 15, 2010 at 10:09 AM  

wow, sad when people are so focused on choosing sides that they lose sight of the actual animals, I could feel your pain reading that....

Kathy Mocharnuk April 15, 2010 at 10:11 AM  

wow, that is so sad when people start waring and are more concerned about who is right and wrong and choosing sides then the actual animals, I could feel your pain as I read....

Kari in Alaska April 15, 2010 at 4:23 PM  

im with you. I would have kept seeing him

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