Chaco had his surgery rescheduled twice. After the second time, which was due to everyone being sick with the cold, I felt panic. I’ve driven to Glenwood Springs on a treacherous I-70 before, and storms were rolling through each week. I worried that the later this surgery happened the less of a chance I would have to get there.
I decided to keep the surgery date to myself and Bill. I grew up in horse racing, and when you do, you become superstitious. I was sure that by announcing the date online twice, I jinxed us. Keeping it quiet was the way to go to make this surgery happen I convinced myself, however this made my stress go through the roof.
I busied myself preparing for the surgery. I got cedar shavings for the barn, I removed anything that he could rub on that may pull out his stitches, and I installed a camera into the barn. I trained him with the neck cradle in case he starts trying to pull the stitches out, designed his restricted turnout area, and I prayed a lot. I went over to Shandoka’s grave asking him to be with him through the whole thing.
The day before we left for Glendwood, Chaco was trotting around like a happy horse does when he took he a few bad steps. He came up to me, and he held his leg out to the side resting his hoof on his toe. I ran my finger over the area where the chips were, and his muscles twitched all over. He turned to look at me, and he and I both knew there was no other way to go but surgery. I rested my head on his shoulder crying a little scared for him, but mainly I was sad that he was even in this spot. I was sad that he had been hurting for over two years. I was sad that I didn’t know about the chips until he became lame. I was sad that nobody took these chips out after they happened.
I watched the race he went down in. I forced myself, because my grandpa told me to properly train a horse you needed to know about the good and the bad; especially the bad. You need to learn about the bad, so you can help them overcome any fears they may have. I noticed on our rides he got a bit nervous anytime we went through tight spots. I watched every single one of Chaco’s races on Equibase. He was a horse that liked to go on the outside, but this day he was brought up on the inside. He clipped heels, went down, and another horse went over him. I believe he got kicked in the stifle as the other horse went over him creating these chips. I was told they believed he also broke his pelvis that day.
I felt so sad for him as he rested his leg. I could have gotten on him, and he would do anything I asked of him even though it hurt. It was time for me to do whatever I could for him; he deserved someone being willing to go all out for him. Later I went out to say goodnight to him. He likes to kiss me. I put my lips on his upper lip kissing him, and he moves his upper lip as if he is trying to kiss me back. While we were doing this, I looked between his ears, and Pleiades floated between them. A good sign I thought.
I woke up at 3:30am, waited until 4:30am, and then I got up and started doing all of my chores. After getting everyone fed, I let the horses go on the pasture for a couple of hours before loading them in the trailer. I decided to bring Harley as a companion for Chaco. I wanted to bring someone with me, but I decided to continue to keep it all quiet until I got home. At 11:15am we were on the road heading towards Glenwood. We made it there in two and a half hours. As I pulled into the parking lot, the song I used to sing to Shandoka on our rides came on the radio.
Chaco was such a good boy. He was calm even though he constantly was moving around looking at everything. The vet really liked him, which made me feel good. He took a set of x-rays, and it looked like the chips moved from his last x-ray. He told me the surgery would probably take an hour, and he would be in recovery by noon the next day. I planned on being there.
I reluctantly put Chaco in his stall along with his jollyball and a tshirt that smelled like me, Harley, Bella and Chewy. I whispered to Shandoka to please stay with him and help him through this. I didn’t want to leave him; my grandpa taught me to stay with a horse when they’re in trouble. Leaving him behind went against every bone in my body. Reluctantly I left, and as I walked away, he watched me.
I hugged on Harley for a bit, got into my truck, and we drove off. I turned on the radio, and the song I sing to Chaco on our rides came on the radio.