For The Love of Flash - continued

On June 18, Flash was re-admitted to Guelph for follow up post-surgery evaluation. He would return to Guelph once more on July 21 for a final evaluation. The last report was positive. The repair to his palate appeared to have been ninety percent successful. Now it was just a matter of time that would determine just how successful the surgery had been, remembering that the growth of the colt was a strong determining factor.

During his first year that took him from weanling to yearling, Flash continued to be monitored for any signs of respiratory distress. He was gaining size too, another good omen and he began initial training in voice commands and longeing. Since it was not known for certain if the cleft palate had been a result of an undetectable in vitro viral infection, or that it was somehow heredity, it was decided that gelding Flash would at least safeguard against passing on a possible problem. (To date, this defect has never been seen in Flash's siblings or any other member of his family.)

In the spring of 1988, Flash caught the eye of a prospective buyer who visited the farm. Shortly thereafter, Flash was sold with a full disclosure of his medical history. The now tall two year old continued to mature rapidly and was becoming a very pretty boy indeed. Flash bid farewell to the only home and family he knew, as he traveled to a new stable and a new life; everyone filled with excitement and promise. However, the final chapter to this story had not been written.

Just two years after his sale, and with a tone of distress in his new owner's voice, a disturbing phone call was received. She (the owner) had suffered an unfortunate accident being thrown to the ground during a wind storm, fracturing a vertebrae. In hind sight, it was an accident that shouldn't have happened. Flash, a novice horse just newly put under saddle, had become the recipient of retaliation for his part in the incident. His attacker, not the owner herself, but someone ignorant in the knowledge of horses and handling, mistakenly presumed that the horse was the doer of bad deeds and was to blame for the injuries. So in the heat of the moment, Flash had been savagely beaten. The mere sight of a saddle and bridle now evoked a trembling frenzy within the horse that was not easily calmed.

His owner was deeply saddened by the unfortunate turn of events and just wanted to have her old Flash back. It would later take the better part of two months of intense conditioning and confidence building to bring Flash around to accept his tack, let alone a rider again. And so, Flash returned to his birthplace once more.

Although the somewhat over used popular term of the day, namely "horse whisperer" congers up connotations of mystical ways, I am reluctant to attached this label to myself. Whatever title you may want to bestow for my role and method of training is unimportant. There really is nothing magical about it, suffice to say that it involves a capacity for compassion, enormous patience and simple understanding of the horse's mind and circumstance. The journey of Flash's ascension from unbridled fear and despair would begin.

Those once healing hands that soothed his incision, the soft voice that gave him comfort during his young days of recuperation, would return to instill trust once again much as a kindred spirit. It was a daunting task to restore a frightened fragile mind to its former self, or closeness thereof. But little by little, Flash began to respond until his transformation was complete. All too soon, it was time to say goodbye yet again.


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