Monday, February 22, 2010

Irrational Fears of a Horse Owner

NOTE: Apologies in advance for this post. I will try to post something happier tomorrow.

Does anyone remember The Sunscreen Song? It got some airtime in spring of 1999, and is actually an article by Chicago Tribune staff writer Mary Schmich set to music. Even if you do not remember the song you probably remember the internet hoax that went around in the mid-90's attributing this article to Kurt Vonnegut, who allegedly gave it as a commencement speech to MIT's graduating class of 1997.

Now that we have cleared that up, let me explain why I brought it up in the first place. One line from that article has always resonated with me:

"The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4PM on some idle Tuesday."

Or 8 AM on a Sunday in my case.

Every horse owner has suffered a bout of the "what ifs" from time to time. There is just SO MUCH that can (and does) happen to horses. A horse owner can drive him or herself crazy worrying about the multitude of things that could possibly happen. Just last week, V told me how Zachary the mini-donkey's breeder had been horrified that we were going to stall him at night.

Her statement: "But, don't you worry about a barn fire?"

Yes, Zachary's Breeder, we do. And we worry about lightning strikes when they are out in the pasture. And the coyotes that frequent our river valley. And alien abductions/mutilations. Colic, strangles, West Nile, sinkholes, speeding drunk drivers careening into the field/barn. All of these scenarios have crossed our minds at one point or another.

And yet as Ms. Schmich so eloquantly states, it is seldom those lie-awake-at-night worries that actually end up happening. But back to 8 AM yesterday.

Chef had left for work and I was trying to get some coffee going (I am no good without coffee). The phone rings just a few minutes later. It's Chef.

Chef: "Have you talked to V this morning?"

Me: "Hmmmfffth."

Chef: "I just passed the barn. They have G___ B___ Rd. shut off and there are cops everywhere. Looks like animal control too. And there is a helicoper hovering over the river."


Chef: "I don't know. I was watching the helicopter, didn't notice the barn...."

Me: (pulling on pants, phone pressed to shoulder, kicking dogs out of the way) "M&#$% F&%$ GD...what do you mean you didn't notice the barn???...I'm on my way!"

Chef: "Wait..."


I'll admit, I don't really know what I was thinking at this point (remember, I had not had any coffee yet), but the words "cops" and "animal control" were flying through my brain. It's possible I've just watched too many rescues on Animal Cops.

I won't keep you in suspense any longer. I got to the barn. V was there, and the horses were fine - munching their hay and occasionally looking up at the helicopter, which was in fact hovering over the tree farm adjacent to our pasture (they really are a pretty laid-back bunch). The "animal control" vans that Chef thought he saw were actually K9 units. V filled me in - they were searching for a missing person (16 year old boy) whose last contact had been with his family late the night before, and they believed the call had come from this area.

Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. I will spare you the details, but in case you are curious you can click HERE.

My heart and prayers go out to the family of this young man. Right now the police and FBI do not know anything. Which gives a whole new area of things-I-did-not-know-I-should-worry-about.

And it proves Ms. Schmich was right - get some sleep when you can, because you never really know what is going to cause the next sleepless night.


  1. LOL @ worrying about barn fires, come on, that's hysterical.

    I woulda done the same thing. No, scratch that, I would have let the coffee finish brewing. I can't cope with anything sans caffeine.

    I get so paranoid about leaving the farm sometimes. I can leave for work and be fine, but if I leave for pleasure, like a rare trip to the bookstore, I tend to come home to find horses everywhere and fencing nowhere. I don't know what that's about. So aren't our fears well-founded? WHY are all horses so suicidal?

    You know what I worry about most? EPM. To the point where I am tempted to swerve at opossums I see when I'm driving.

  2. YIKES! I hate having to cover stories like very heartbreaking. Makes you want to go home and hug your kids extra tight.

  3. Oh, no! What a tragedy. The poor boy and his poor, poor parents. Talk about something to keep you awake at night.

    I try not to worry about things I cannot control. All I can hope is that when crises come, I have the ability to handle them.

  4. Jean - have you read "The Tao of Willie" by Willie Nelson? Cute book. One of the chapters is entitled "Thankfully, we are not in control." I LOVE that and use it all the time now!