During the business of being in Lexington promoting Hearts Up Ranch, meeting with many representatives of horse organizations and ministries, speaking, doing press, and taking care of the horses… I did not have the opportunity to share the stories of the week or so before we got to Lexington. So here’s to catching you up…..!
Most everyone who meets Bella falls in love with her sweet nature and beautiful face. And out of all the hundreds if not thousands of dogs that she has met, only two have not liked her. She just loves to play with any dog she meets and this was not exception when we stayed with Bob and Darlene in Bardstown. While we were busy getting to know our hosts who we enjoyed many common passions, Bella was busy playing with their dogs…. very hard!
The day we were riding out, we noticed she was a bit gimpy on her hind left leg and were concerned. It seemed like she had hurt herself a bit playing too hard. We kept an eye on it, but she seemed to walk it off ok. Then she decided during the day to hunt and kill a woodchuck- probably a third her weight- and then proceeded to carry the thing for at least a mile! Surely this did not help her already strained leg.
Our host was not home for us to get permission to stay a day and see if she got better. So we had to move on. We decided that Richard would take all the pack horses and I would attempt to carry Bella in my saddle. Apache handled it very well as did Bella. She sat very still and calm. But have you ever tried to ride with a 55 pound dog in your lap? Even a good one?
For the next 5 miles, her rib cage and mine jammed together every step Apache took, the horn was stuck in Bella’s side, my arm muscles screamed with the effort of holding her from sliding off, my back ached painfully from being hunched over to hold Bella, and my belt buckle dug under my rib cage until my stomach was knotted in pain- a dull ache that lasted several days. So in case you’ve never tried it, I don’t recommend it. It’s fun for about 5 minutes. Not Apache, nor Bella, nor I were having any fun with this plan.
So we tried another one. We took the top pack off Chance and tied it to my saddle, then we hoisted Bella up on Chance. She still had to lay sideways draped across the pack. Chance was a little nervous at first and we both had to walk and hold on to the horses and Bella at the same time so she didn’t fall off. But he dealt with this new experience very well. The problem was that there was just no good place for Bella to lay were she wasn’t sliding off to one side or the other. This plan lasted about 1 mile. Then we were plumb out of ideas.
We were standing in Chaplin frustrated, hurting, and wondering what we were going to do. We had only made it half way to our planned hosts for the night, it was clear we couldn’t carry Bella any further, but we couldn’t force her to walk on 3 legs either.
In steps God- putting the right person in the right place at the right time- just when we need them.
Larry Calvert was getting in his tobacco crop as we rode by his field. Curiosity got the best of him and he drove down to see what we were up to. We told him about our ride, then told him our dilemma with Bella which was why we were just standing there. He drove away and then came right back and invited us to put the horses in his pen (complete with hay) and to camp at his barn as long as we needed for her to heal up.
A half mile backwards was worth it for Bella, so we loaded her and Richard in his vehicle and I followed with the string of horses.
We camped there for the next 5 days…