Friday, July 07, 2006

My Handful of Southerly Wind

from Jacqueline

“... and God took a handful of southerly wind, blew his breath over it and created the horse ...” (Bedouin legend)

Well, you’d think I’d have a lot to write about after a week like the one I’ve just had, but clearly the stress has flattened the little gray cells. The week’s main pressure point has been Sara’s sinus infection. Sara (real name “Serendipity”) weighs about 1200lbs and is a fairly large horse, and if there’s one thing that will turn you off your food, it’s something of that size with a sinus infection in a very big nose. It’s not as if you can hold a towel up to it and say, “Blow!” Things finally came to a head on July 4th – and I mean, quite literally, came to a head – and Sara has now been admitted to the equine hospital, trailered off yesterday with the anxious owner (yours truly) following the rig convoy-style, no less concerned than a parent pursuing an ambulance with a sick child inside. Every possible outcome ever encountered in an animal-related film or book went through my mind. Just think of what Seabisbuit went through, or Dreamer. And then there’s Black Beauty.

I’ve always been a sucker for animal books, starting with Anna Sewell’s classic story, which I read as soon as I was old enough to hold up the book, I think. It was probably the first book that had to be taken away from me – I was crying so much it was making me ill. I barely finished the chapter entitled, “Poor Ginger” (and we all know about that chapter, don’t we?), when my mother said that if this was the sort of thing that happened when I read a book about a horse, then she’d put a stop to it. I think Wuthering Heights was shoved into my hand in place of Black Beauty.

I grizzled my way through National Velvet, and had The Call of the Wild confiscated when I woke in the morning with my eyes so swollen I couldn’t see. The same thing happened last year when I read an early copy of John Grogan’s “Marley and Me: Life and Love With The World’s Worst Dog." Amid my sobbing, I pressed my husband to read “this really good book” – to which he had to comment, “If that’s a good book, what do you do with a bad one?” My brother is another complete softie with animals – he had to wait until everyone had left the theater after watching, “Eight Below” so that no one would see that he’d shed more than a few tears. He told me I’d better not see it. And when I saw Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” it was the segment with the animated polar bear desperately searching for a piece of Artic Circle to rest upon that I found absolutely heart wrenching.

But back to Sara. I packed up individual food bags for her, so that the techs at the equine hospital would find it easy to blend her antibiotics with something sweet and interesting, and I added a couple of jars of apple sauce, because it’ll help the medicine go down. I was so nervous when I filled out the admitting papers that my hands were shaking, and then I kept dropping things, left my cellphone in the office and generally gave the impression that my brain was about the same circumference as that of the average thoroughbred – the size of a walnut. Visiting time is at 10:30am, so I’ve packed up some special cookies and a big juicy apple for her. And though I know she needs to be in for a few days to get over this thing, I can’t wait for her to come home. In the meantime there’s Seabiscuit, or I could even finish Black Beauty.

(Yes, I tried to add a photo of Sara, but managed to crash my computer three times. Clearly still technologically challenged.)


  1. I was always a complete basket case when one of my pets got sick. Wishing Sara a speedy recovery. How do horses get sinus infections?

  2. I hope all goes well with Sara and that she feels better immediately.

    I once got a sinus infection when my sister and I had to take a synchronized swimming class and I kept forgetting my nose clip. I certainly hope that that is NOT the cause of Sara's, because no horse should have to do an Esther Williams imitation, ever.

    Black Beauty still makes me weep.

  3. from Jacqueline

    No, she didn't do an Esther Williams. Before I bought her she'd had a tooth extracted, which I was told had healed perfectly. She vetted just fine, however, within a couple of months of buying her, she began to get a runny nose. My trainer suggested putting her on an immune booster to avoid having to submit her body to an onslaught of antibiotics. It seemed to work for a while, then last week her whole cheek just swelled up, with a golf-ball sized lump in the center. I'll cut the yukky bits, but I have been playing Florence Nightingale to a horse who now needs several days of sinus flushing with antibiotics. Mind you, she is a spirited horse, very much of the southerly wind - I am hoping she can kick this thing without it becoming a chronic illness.

    She may not swim, but she can dance - Sara is a dressage horse, so has pretty good rhythm!

  4. Black Beauty is a book and Sara's real.Does life imitate "art?" Point being, whatever has happpened in a book, be it truth or fiction, has little to do with what Sara's outcome shall be.Take faith and have hope, as do I, that Sara will just fine.

  5. I've been travelling so missed your blog last Friday. My teen sniffles were over Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague series, The Black Stallion series, Phantom Stallion, My Friend Flicka and sundry other older obscure ones from Australia and England like Tam the Untamed, etc.

    My best wishes for Sara to recover and for her caring two-legged Mama to keep it together. :-D


  6. Dear Jacqueline + Sara

    I have been battling with my horse's sinus infection for 2 yrs now. (+ her multiple other illnesses such as liver failure and cushings). It all cleared up during summer, but now it is winter again its come crashing down and alot lot worse than before. The hole in her gums (from what no one knows) has made a clear path into her sinus and she is now breathing through that because she is so "clogged" up. When we booked her for surgery last year, she was refused because vets didnt think she could handle the anisthetic. I was wondering if you know any suggestions that we could try because we are running out of things here... She's perfectly well except for her breathing troubles, and is on antibotics.

    Please email me with ANY suggestions...

    Thank you so much.
    Yours sincerely,
    Jess and Belle (Fabila Belinda)