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A Horse Named Lady...

Story ID:8222
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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A Horse Named LadyÖ
The Lady of Road -Apple-Rancho
By Chuck Dishno

In 1971, Roz and I bought 5 acres near Clovis, California. It came complete with house, barn, riding arena and a 25-30 year old horse named Lady. Actually we bought a small saddle and the man threw in the old horse.

Neither Roz nor our 4 kids had ever been near a horse. My dad had been a cattle rancher in Montana most of his early life but I had never been around horses except to ride one that had already been saddled.

When it came time to put the saddle on Lady we didn't have the foggiest notion how to do it. We did know that the horn went up front but that was about the extent of our knowledge. Lady stood patiently while we experimented putting on the cinch. If she thought we were doing it wrong, she would turn her head and stare at us as if to say, "Hey guys, that doesn't feel right, try again". After a while and many tries, she seemed satisfied and my brave daughter climbed on. Lady proudly took her all around the riding arena and then it was everyone's turn. Even timid Roz got on and I led Lady around. I'm sure my Dad was watching us from Above, laughing his head off.

As I said, Lady was really old and when she stood to be saddled, she had a definite lean to the left. When we would push her up straight, her bones would creak and she would slowly settle back into her list again. She didnít appear to be in any pain though and was just more comfortable in that position.

We had a lot of fun with Lady and she seemed to enjoy our company. Each morning, before I went to work, I would go out and change the sprinklers in the pasture. I would walk along and Lady would be following me so close that if I stopped she would bump her head on my back. I think she did it on purpose. As soon as I had set the sprinklers we would go back to the corral where I had a nosebag and I would put a couple of scoops of a molasses and oat mix called Trophy. Lady would munch on the Trophy with her eyes closed savoring every bite. As soon as she finished I would take off the nosebag, make sure she had plenty of water, then head off to work. Lady ate the grass in the pasture but I would give her a little hay when I got home.

Roz had a cousin that had just come over from China and he had two children about 9 and 11 years old. They would come out to the ranch and I would always put them up on Lady and walk them around. It was a new experience for them that they never forgot.

An incident with Lady happened in 1971. Roz and I were getting ready to go to her son, Davidís wedding in Riverside, California. It was a Friday and as usual we were running late for the long drive from Clovis to Riverside. I had worked most of the day and went out to check on Lady to make sure she had enough food and water for about 3 days. When I went into the corral she was laying on her side and I could see that she was breathing very hard. I didnít want to startle her so I picked up a couple clods of dirt and lobbed them onto her side. She didnít even flinch. As she was really old and decrepit, I immediately thought she was dying and didnít want to leave her to die by herself.

I was in a quandary as what to do. It was a very hot day and she was laying in the sun and the weekend promised to be even hotter. I told myself I had to put her out of her misery so I went back into the house to get my gun. The only gun I had was an old 12-gage shotgun that I had since I was a kid. I told Roz what I had to do and loaded the gun, then went back to the corral to do my sad duty. I knew that by the time we returned on Monday I would have to take care of the remains but it was better than let her suffer.

When I got to the corral she raised her head and looked at me, got up and trotted over to see if I had some treat for her. She apparently was just taking a nap and in a really sound sleep. How fortunate for Lady and me that she woke up when she did. For years after that incident, my friends would say, ďIf you go over to Chuckís house be sure you donít lay down in the corral or he might shoot you.Ē

Lady lived another few of years before she finally had to be put down. I'm sure she enjoyed her last few years as a Dishno horse.

I like to think that she is waiting for us by that big Heavenly Haystack in the sky. Waiting patiently for her nosebag of Heavenly Trophy and thanking us for not sending her there too early.