A thunderstorm came up in the night, and of course, we were sleeping under the only leak in the roof! I made Richard wake up so we could move our stuff, then climbed back into my soggy sleeping bag for a little more fitful sleep. I wasn’t looking forward to saddling soaking wet horses.
When we did get up, the rain had only paused. We caught the horses after we cooked some of our fresh food (including a rare treat of bacon!), and our hearts sunk when we saw Satchmo. His withers were grossly swollen. On our downhill ride into Blanding, we had packed him instead of ridden him so he only had to carry 1/3 the weight while he was mildly limping. The pack saddle had sored his withers a bit, apparently not fitting him well. When we switched saddles at Paul’s house, it appeared that the other pack saddle would fit him ok, and the swelling on his withers had gone down quite a bit. So we used it again yesterday on Satchmo, and Richard continued to ride Fiddle. This morning, it was apparent that we could no longer use Satchmo. Neither pack saddle was working for him, and he was still not sound so he could not be ridden. And now we had another very big problem- his withers were so bruised that he was not going to be able to have any saddle on him for weeks- limping or not. Without a fourth horse, we are stuck- unable to carry all our gear, and unable to walk this much because of the blisters on Richard’s feet from all the walking he has done already.
I fought panic and defeat with prayer. God has worked out every single tiny detail of this journey- from before we even left home. He has kept us safe during horse and vehicle accidents, kept us watered and horses fed in the desert, put the right people in our path with the right knowledge, skills, and contacts at the right time, given us encouragement through many sources, and on and on and on. There have been way, way, way too many “coincidences” during this trip for us not to know without a doubt that God cares and is looking out for us. When coincidences become a regular part of life, one can no longer call them coincidences. We know that this situation, though out of our control, is not too big for God to handle. We are scared that the journey is over, worried about our dear Satchmo, and have utterly no idea what to do. Trade him for another horse? No way- he’s family. Send him home? Go home? Find a fifth horse? Send him ahead to rest? Stop and work? Find someone to transport our gear each day? The scenarios running through our head were endless. But the day was not over….
Clint showed up, thankfully, and offered to transport our gear and us to his house where we could stay and figure out our options while the horses stayed on the fairground pasture. John Moore, a respected local horse trainer, came to give his help. He looked at Satchmo and observed that his hips are out of alignment, as well has his lower back. First priority- find a horse chiropractor willing to come help us out and see if that fixes one of Satchmo’s problems. Time and ice will only heal the withers.
Then Clint took us to Dolores to pick up our packages of food and heavy duty winter gear for the winter. Along with the packages was an envelope from the IRS. They had more paperwork concerning Hearts Up Ranch- due tomorrow. Great. Just great. Back at the house, I made a phone call to our friend at home to have him fax me some documents I needed to complete the IRS paperwork. He told me the news that my boss and friend had died. I was shocked. He had been diagnosed with cancer and died within the month- at a rather young age. No one had called to let me know, and that hurt. He was one of our most enthusiastic cheerleaders for this ride, and I was greatly looking forward to calling him when we crossed the Rockies. Now I can’t. The day ended with many tears and prayer for guidance for the issues we would face tomorrow.