The Shoeless Horse, Episode 12:  The Weight of Responsibility

Hogan, who might have been a pinto in another life, had multicoloured hooves.

A couple were white, a couple darker. Fine cracks ran up all four, both dark and pale, but Bonnie, busy with her last year of high school, wasn’t worried about them that winter. Hogan lived on a grassy pasture and wasn’t being ridden often, so there wasn’t much stress on his feet.

Once the snow was gone, though, Bonnie noticed that the ends of her horse’s hooves were damaged to the point of having pieces out of them in places, right where they connected with the ground.

“No hooves, no horse,” she murmured to herself. Though the horse was ridden lightly, never galloped on hard ground now, he was clearly in need. Bonnie began to feel pangs of guilt.

She called around to ask about a ferrier. She had no friends with horses, but someone suggested she call the local riding stable, which was located in nearby Coquitlam and had a good reputation.

“Well,” someone who sounded authoritative said on the phone, ” you are in luck. We have a ferrier coming here next weekend to do several of our horses. I can ask him if he can do your horse when he’s done. Be here on Saturday afternoon at two.”

The voice gave Bonnie the address, and she prepared herself for a long ride. Without a trailer, she’d have to walk her little steed all the way up Burke Mountain.

“It might be a good thing if he is tired when he gets there,” Bonnie told her mother in the kitchen afterward.

Bonnie’s mother was bone tired herself, home from a tough shift at work and about to make dinner.

“Being tired doesn’t put me in a great mood,” she said.

Ada had hoped to spend more time decorating the new house and maybe teaching an art class after they’d moved to Port Moody, but somehow the family kept running low on cash.

She felt she had to put in the hours. Working at a trendy restaurant in the heart of the city as a lunch-rush server, along with the forty-five minute commute, was wearing her pretty thin.

Her oldest daughter, swept alternately by hormones, depression, worry over her animals and fits of jubilation, was almost no help. When the laundry for six people rose toward the ceiling, Bonnie’s idea of helping involved yelling impotently at her brothers to fold it.

At least, Ada told herself, her eldest had a couple of nice friends, reasonable grades in school, and managed to keep a job. For these small mercies, she was grateful.

“How long will it take to walk Hogan over there?” she asked.

In a few days, Ada had her answer.

On Saturday, Bonnie put the pad on her little horse, slipped her wallet into her jacket pocket, and set out on what was to become the longest trip of her life.


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