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The Nag, the Cripple, and the Deaf Dog, continued ...

What about Taffy? Our farrier said orthopedic shoes would help. Taffy refused to let the farrier lift his right hind hoof. We figured it was because this put too much weight on the swollen left fetlock. But the farrier said we absolutely had to get on the orthopedic shoes. He ended up tying Taffy's lead rope tightly to a rafter in his stall. The gelding hung from it and fussed and was obviously in great pain, but finally the shoes were on.

Two months later, Taffy had little trouble working with the farrier. He left leg was now able to bear her weight when he worked on the right hoof.

After half a year the limp vanished. I began to ride Taffy, but never faster than a walk. Whenever my eight-year-old sister, Mary ,wanted to ride, I'd put her on Boy Horse. I'd take Taffy so I could be certain he would go no faster than a walk.

Our Dalmatian, Lady, often went with us. She constantly ran circles around us, clearing the way like a minesweeper. It's what Dalmatians were bred to do.

Our mom had rescued her from the dog pound. Lady might have been there because, like many Dalmations, she was deaf. She also may have had a vision problem. At least once every week, she would crash into a cholla cactus. I would hold her so she couldn't bite while Mary took pliers to spines.

Boy Horse and Taffy were as safe as Lady was clumsy. They never bumped us into cactus or low hanging palo verde thorn tree limbs, never spooked more than a tiny "what's up?" Nevertheless, whenever Mary rode, I'd saddle them. One Sunday afternoon in July, those saddles made the difference between life and death.

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Where springs seep out of the mountians and sweet grass grows.


    

© 2004 Carolyn M. Bertin. All rights reserved.