Pig Pen

Twenty-three days.

Chance spent exactly 23 days on injured reserve after a mystery object (probably corn stalk stubble) pierced the soft flesh of his coronary band while we were fox hunting.

About a week ago my vet deemed him rideable. But the ugly, craggy wound made me balk. What started as a tiny blemish widened, creeping across the front of his foot.

Then this week the creep ceased and I realized that if I waited for the wound to heal, Chance would flounder for months. So I retrieved my saddle, still spotted with mud from hunting, and zipped on my chaps. I hooked a halter and lead over my shoulder.

Horses are intuitive… they sense when something’s up. Before I lifted the latch on the gate, Chance knew the jig was up. But instead of fleeing he stopped, dropped and rolled.

As if the clods clinging to his coat would chase me back in the house.

I peeled off his blanket — revealing the only unspoiled real estate on his frame — and plunked the saddle on his back.

Unfortunately, 23 days of inactivity + 23 new cattle, does not a smooth ride make. As Chance and I trotted Chet’s hay field, the neighboring black angus galumphed across their pasture, mashing along the fence to get a closer look. Chance’s head shot up like a periscope and the stare-off commenced. Mesmerized, the cattle gazed intently and Chance returned the behavior, refusing to turn his back on the herd.

It was not a pretty ride. But Chance’s foot held and I stayed in the saddle. Only one of us walked away muddy.