Thursday, October 18, 2012
Via con Dios
I said goodbye to a good man and a good groom recently. Ephraim returned to Mexico, where his wife and daughter were awaiting. He had not seen his wife for two years, four months. His daughter, who turned two in June, he had never met. In the words of mi maestro (my teacher/groom), "It's time."
Ephraim taught me how to detect a digital pulse when our stable was snowbirding. He told me detection of a digital pulse is not a good sign, it means there is something wrong south of that border. This meet, he taught me how to go alpha on a horse without hitting them.
I still have yet to hit a horse.
That might be why I occasionally see zebras instead of horses.
Awhile back, a two-year-old filly under the care of mi maestro and me went from being completely sweet and pliant to aggressive and mean. Her head would snake, her eyes would bulge, her teeth would bare. She was rearing in the stall and rushing anyone who approached her. I went from cuddling and kissing this baby one week to having great difficulty even entering her stall upon my return the following week. Completely aggrieved, I sought counsel through mi maestro, our vet, my online contacts. For every person I asked, I was offered a different angle: genes, hormones, pain, stall confinment, feed.
Ephraim put it to me very simply one morning as I was trying to enter her stall without success. He walked over to me, entered her stall and started waving his arms over his head and growling at her. She switched off aggressive and became meek and mild.
I never had another problem with her.
Thank you, Ephraim. I will never forget you, mi amigo.
Ephraim would like to return to our barn next year, but the price of visas has risen to the point it is no longer cost effective for our trainer. Such a shame, because good, experienced help in the barn is mostly found via hardworking immigrants.
I have some good news to share about my Latino colleagues. Mi maestro's maestro (my teacher/groom's father) is headed to California at the end of the month to finish jumping through the bureaucratic hoops and get papers for his wife, who lives in Mexico with their daughter. This would be a family reunion of the most satisfying kind as her husband and three sons have not seen her for over four years.
Things are winding down in our barn as horses and people shift south in the annual ritual. I had to laugh yesterday as I walked into the barn and saw bales of straw stacked against the wall, remembering a time when I didn't know the difference between hay and straw. I wondered why the straw was there for only a moment, then realised it was for shipping.
I've become quite studious as of late, as I am once again commuting for work. I spend hours in the airport now and it's a perfect time to further my education. I met a Virginia breeder on one of my flights and she offered to send me some books. I was completely surprised, however, when a big box filled with books arrived on my doorstep. They will certainly keep me busy and no doubt I will learn a thing or two. I am also excited about a winter semester online course for which I just registered. The course is in Equine Behaviour and will be taught by a man who used to be a regulatory vet at a New York thoroughbred racetrack. Even more interesting, he is against race-day medication. I'm looking forward to learning from him. I plan on being his best student in the class.
Rising to the challenge...