We call it Louie’s worry path. It’s a short path along the paddock fence that runs between the pasture fence and the stable. Louie has made and remade the path over and over again hundreds of times, whether the ground has been muddy, dry, or covered in snow. Sometimes the path is parallel with the paddock fence, while other times it slightly curves along the firmer, drier shores around rain softened ground. I don’t recall any time that some form of the path has not existed. Or that I have seen a day that Lou hasn’t walked or trotted it, gracefully pirouetting at each end and heading back the other way.
I am not so sure if it’s the right descriptive to call it his worry path, but we still do. Lou will walk or trot it when he’s excited to see us, anxiously waiting to be fed, or while playfully tossing his head at Zippy or Pat. My heart always lifts when I begin walking to the stable and suddenly Lou will turn from where he is nibbling grass in his paddock, and begin trotting the path with his tail flagging, and calling to me, happy that I am coming to see him….But there are times when he quietly and slowly trudges along his path with head down, as if he is in some deep train of thought or practicing some form of mindfulness, giving us reason to call it “Lou’s worry path.” Just like Pat waiting at the fence for one of us to kiss his nose, or Zippy sliding his bared teeth across his stable door bar to say “I’m here!” Lou’s path has become his brand, his trademark. It is a part of his personality, a part of his identity.
But lately Lou’s worry path has been ours.
Lou has given us a lot of worries this year. Losing his eye, contracting lymes disease and erchlichia, and then two weeks ago, he scared us with a bout of colic, which in a horse, can be fatal.
We recognized that Lou wasn’t feeling well right away and called the vet. She was on her way to another emergency colic about an hour away, and after she finished there (successfully!), she came out to see Lou. Lou had stopped eating and drinking, his breathe was heaving, his head hung low, and his eye had no sparkle... and the huge masses of muscle that hug his hips were sagging and too weak to hold him steady.
The vet worked on him for hours – working over his intestines, pumping his stomach out and pumping back in fluids and electrolytes, giving him antibiotics, and a good dose of banimine to soothe his pains. Lou was almost too weak to resist any treatments, but had a look of trust in his eye, and he let Kath and I hold him by his halter as he resigned to the tubes being pushed up through his nose and threaded down into to his stomach, the resulting nosebleed, and all the discomfort that must have been coursing throughout every part his body….
After all was done, and Lou was back in his stall, we all sank to the stable floor exhausted. The vet sat down a bit opposite of me and began writing up the records of what had just been done. I turned on my phone and started up Pandora. A song by the Fleet Foxes played and the vet looked up, recognizing the sound, and said it was one of her favorite songs. The moment brought us all to a sense of some normalcy…the tension lifted and each of us sighed.
It was a long night that night, walking out to the stable every few hours to check on Lou, knowing that we could as well find him on his feet as well as on the ground. Each walk to the stable was filled with hesitancy and hopefulness, yet each time, he was on his feet…
It took a couple of days of careful feeding and keeping him hydrated before he started coming around, and another week of slowly reintroducing him to his regular feed and pasture schedule before we really knew that he was, and would be, ok.
Once again, we dodged a bullet. The old guy came through…
I know that Louie has a guardian angel watching over him. Most times I think he has more than one, and they all walk with him on his worry path. It is a path we have all come to share – the good and the bad. This morning he was standing still on his trodden piece of ground, napping peacefully, with the warm sunlight lying across his back…I felt grateful to have this day, having had another reminder not to take another day for granted.