Friday, January 2, 2015

Saving The Sand Horses: part 3

I handled western mustangs for years before I saw my first wild Corolla. I was spurred to get back into horses the same way that many adults are--I lost a great deal of weight. When I was about twelve years old I developed Osgood-Schlatters syndrome in my knees. The condition is well known now among doctors, but that was not the case in the early 1970's. Every few years when the pain would become debilitating I would go to the doctor where I was told that I had strained soft tissue and to put ice on my knees and rest a bit. By the time I as seventeen I could barely walk with out significant discomfort and could not run a step without real pain. I was correctly diagnosed eventually and was told to refrain from riding and running until the pain lessened.

That took about four years to happen. When I entered law school I could run without heavy pain. Law school was about the worst thing that I could have done for my physical and emotional health. I loved being an undergraduate at William and Mary. Law school was such a wretched nightmare that I have not set foot on the campus unless required to since graduation in 1985. My wife and I got married after college graduation. We were in all of the same law school classes together. She did not despise it to the degree that I did, but neither of us even considered attending our own law school graduation.

Attending law school was the worst mistake that I ever made. I spend little time thinking about the past, but I do often wonder how much better my life had been had I been a high school history teacher or a college professor. The only positive thing about becoming a lawyer is that  for  over fifteen years that I have prosecuted I have handled the cases with child victims, victims with mental retardation, and all of the sexual assault cases. In that capacity I have made some people's lives better and I am glad for that.

In law school I became rather sedentary and developed serious problems with my back. When I was only in my late twenties the doctor told me to stop playing church league soft ball. The MRI showed that I had the spine of a man nearly sixty years old. The best thing to do for my back was to walk. I began walking before work each morning. I saw improvement. I began adding weights to each hand which I curled and pumped while walking. I started walking at lunch with weights. By the time I was thirty five I was walking six miles every morning and four miles at lunch. I walked those ten miles with ten pounds in each hand.

My knees no longer hurt. My back was tolerable. But I was extraordinarily overweight. I was in a hurry to accomplish what I was to accomplish because I did not expect to live a long life. Neither college nor law school cost me very much money. I was awarded the Century Three Leadership scholarship as an undergraduate and for law school. I planned to work hard to do what I could to improve our foster care system and adoption laws as quickly as I could before a stroke or a heart attack got me.

And then I lost 52 pounds.

I lost the weight with the Atkins diet and since then I have always kept at least thirty of those pounds off. It felt good to feel good. I could run. I could move anyway I wanted to with minimal pain. Things that did not seem possible fifty pounds ago now were within reach.

My mother had adopted two wild donkey jennies from the Bureau of Land Management. One of them was bred and she gave birth to Nick, a large standard jack. I kept my equine related goals simple. I decided that I was healthy enough to ride a nice, gentle mule rather slowly and carefully through the woods. I thought about how much I used to enjoy training horses. Nick was about 18 months old. I decided to adopt a wild mustang mare and breed her to Nick to get a spectacular mule.

I planned to try to train the mare to saddle. It was that part of the plan that drew the most concern from those who knew me. They realized that regardless of how much weight I lost and how good a condition I was in, I was not up for a rodeo.

I decided to cross that bridge when I got to it and I set out to adopt my first wild horse. I was about to go to my first BLM wild mustang adoption. It was an event that changed my life.

(This is a picture of Ghost Dance the second BLM mare that I adopted and the first horse to hospitalize me).

No comments: