Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ode to Axel

I've been remiss for repeatedly missing an important anniversary on December 5th.  On that day, many years ago, I plucked a 4 year old Appaloosa stallion from a trailer destined for the slaughterhouse.  He'd attacked another horse, maiming him so badly that it had to be euthanized.  He himself had a foot that was so badly mangled that his farm gave up on him, loaded him in a trailer in Central Florida and shipped him to Montgomery, Alabama to get rid of him.  No bandaging, nothing.  A friend had been hired to haul a trailer full to the auction, I got up on the wheel well of the trailer and came eye ball to eye ball with the Appaloosa. And that's all she wrote.  
Without fencing, nor any experience in owning a horse, especially a stallion, I demanded they sell him to me.  His cleft hoof made it unlikely that he'd survive his injury, but I like a long shot.
Not only did he survive, but after a year and a half, he was sound and I decided to break him to ride and teach him dressage... because I'd broken horses plenty of time -- in my former life.  He's pitched me a few times, but we have a mutual understanding:  I feed him and he doesn't try to kill me.  Seems he's not interested in extending that courtesy to anyone else.  He's thrown, rather violently, anyone else who's tried to mount him, including two riding instructors.  Very exclusive, my lad.
Last week, bored out of my gourd, recovering from surgery, I purged my filing cabinet and came across his Coggins test from the year I bought him.  I'd lost track of time, in my mind, he was on the verge of turning 20.  Turns out, he'll be 24 this Spring! 
We've embarked on our 20th year together.  Where has the time gone?!?  Axel has outlasted one marriage, moved with me 6 times, survived last year's wild dog attack... he's due a proper retirement, yet this feisty little spitfire,  a spry Super Senior for his human equivalence of 70 years, he says he's not ready for the Old Folks Home, but he'd rather I not ask him to gallop anymore.  You got it, baby.  
It's on my calendar now:  Dec 5, 2017, we're going to party like it's 1997!