Jersey Girl, our horse, derived her name from the home of our friends who are from Jersey. I was describing our new horse to them when I commented that her color was similar to the brown in their dining room wall color. My friend said that was the color they had in their home in New Jersey. We were originally from New Jersey as well, so I commented that the horse must be a “Jersey Girl” and the name stuck.
It is fitting that our horse decided to create some drama while we were away visiting our family in Jersey. Jersey Girl is a sweet natured but high spirited quarter horse. She frequently runs circles around our five acre pasture, maneuvering the palm trees and oak trees with swift, graceful turns. Her incredible speed and ability to turn on a dime will someday make her a great barrel horse if we ever have the money to pay someone to train her properly.
So, like I said, we were in Jersey visiting our family while our neighbors in the 55 and over trailer park were looking after the goats, dogs, cats and Jersey Girl. I have wonderful neighbors who’ll do anything for us. In fact, I knew that the entire neighborhood would be watching over our farm in our absence because they all loved to come over and hang out on the porch or in the barn. Most of them grew up on farms and they often tell me that our farm brings back fond memories for them. I knew that the animals were in good hands.
The phone call came in the early afternoon. It was my neighbor, Anna. She was speaking so rapidly I had to ask her to repeat herself several times.
“It’s Jersey Girl!” She yelled into the phone. “She’s down, Betty! She’s down!” My heart jumped a beat as I heard the words echoing in my ear (which was now permanently deaf). I switched ears.
“Anna,” I said as calmly as possible, “what do you mean she’s down?”
“She’s on the ground.” Anna screamed breathlessly into the phone, “We can’t get her up!”
“Okay,” I spoke quietly hoping that Anna would get the hint. “Is she laying on her side?”
“Yes, she’s... on.... her side.... and Jacob..... can’t get.... her... up!” Anna’s words were coming through the phone in labored breaths as if she were either running a marathon or giving birth.
“Who’s Jacob?” I asked.
“Betty!” She yelled, “I.... think.... your horse is.... dying!”
“Anna!” “Get a grip!” I yelled back into the phone. Both of my ears were ringing by this point and I could feel the beginnings of a raging headache squeezing the back of my skull.
I asked again, “Who’s Jacob?”
“My son!” Anna screamed. “He knows horses and he says she’s in bad shape.”
“Can you put him on the phone?” I asked hopefully.
“Hello,” I heard a calm man’s voice come on the line. “This is Jacob.”
Jacob explained to me that he believed our horse might be colicing. A colicing horse is a serious problem because it means that the horse could have twisted an intestine, but she would have been thrashing or rolling. I instructed Jacob to watch the horse for a bit since, according to Jacob, she didn’t appear to be in any pain or serious distress. I told him to call me back in about a half hour if she didn’t get up or seemed to worsen.
Fifteen minutes later my phone rang. It was my neighbor, Maryanne. “Betty,” She began breathlessly, “You better get the vet out here. Your horse is colicing and we’re all here trying to get her up.”
“Who’s trying to get her up?” I asked.
“Well, let’s see.” Maryanne said. “There’s Benny, Jacob, Sonny, me and Anna. Joe’s here too, but he’s just watching. Oh, and here comes Bill with Anne. I think that Bobby is making his way over too.”
I could picture the scene in my head: A gaggle of senior citizens swarming around Jersey Girl. The pasture was probably littered with golf carts and three wheel bikes with Joe’s oxygen tank perched precariously on the edge of one of them. I had no idea how they were trying to get Jersey Girl up but I bet it involved a golf cart which was worrying me immensely. I could picture Benny, who consumes a six pack of beer before breakfast, stumbling over Jersey Girl’s hooves while directing everyone on the proper procedures for horse lifting. All I could think of was one of them breaking a hip or something else in the process of attempting to lift a 1200 pound horse off the ground.
I asked Maryanne the same questions I asked Jacob and got the same answers. Jersey Girl did not appear to be in any distress. She was just lying down but had her head up. She didn’t seem to be agitated by all the commotion going on around her. Maryanne didn’t know how long she had been lying down but she reminded me that she was a horse expert having worked as a “hot walker” at a race track fifty years ago. “I know when a horse is colicing!” She informed me in a very stern voice that did not leave any room for argument.
“Ok,” I said. “I’ll call the vet.”
I called the vet and the secretary said they just happened to have a doctor out in the area not far from our farm. I told them to send him over ASAP because I was more afraid for the people trying to lift my horse than I was of the horse being gravely ill.
I called Maryanne back to get a report.
“Oh, it’s bad!” she said nervously. “Benny has his arm stuck under the horse!”
“What!” I yelled into the phone. I heard some commotion in the background. Joe was saying something about getting a big piece of wood to use as a fulcrum. I heard Benny moaning and Sonny telling him to lay down flat next to the horse.
“Tell Anna to bring the rope...” I heard a voice yelling.
My brain was screaming at me; Oh God! The horse is going to roll over on Benny and kill him!
Then I heard someone yell, “He’s free!” Maryanne got back on the phone. “He’s free. I think he’s going to be alright.”
“Maryanne, please tell everyone to just wait for the vet to arrive. He’s on his way.” I said as I rubbed the back of my throbbing head.
An hour later I got the report from the vet. He told me that, upon his arrival, he wasn’t sure who he should treat first. I was perplexed and told him that we only have one horse.
“I know,” he said, “but there is a guy passed out cold right in front of the gate.”
“That’s just Benny.” I said (perhaps a bit too callously).
“Well,” the vet continued, “Then there’s the guy with the oxygen tank that fell on the ground and isn’t working. He’s looking a little pale.”
“That’s Joe. He’ll be okay. He has more oxygen tanks at home.” I said, “Tell Anna to get him home right away!”
“Is Anna the short skinny lady?” The vet asked. “Because she has a big splinter stuck in her hand from the piece of wood they were using to get someone’s arm out from under the horse. I’m going to get the splinter out now. It looks like a war zone out here.” He continued, “There’s all kinds of tools, rope, wood scattered everywhere. I’m surprised someone didn’t shoot the horse!”
“Speaking of the horse,” I said, “how is she?”
“Oh, she’s fine.” The vet said. “I gave her a shot of muscle relaxer.” “She’s up now and Jacob is walking her.” I heard Joe in the background asking to speak to me. The vet handed him the phone.
“Hi, Betty.” he began. “You know we used to have a goat but I don’t think it ever got colic so I’m no expert on colicing but I don’t think your horse had colic.”
“Joe,” I scolded “get home and get your oxygen tank!”
I hung up the phone and pictured the scene that was playing out in my pasture. The vet driving by Benny passed out in front of the gate. The three wheel bikes and golf carts being loaded up with various tools and ropes. Everyone patting each other on the back for a job well done. Jacob walking Jersey Girl. This will be something that the entire neighborhood will be talking about for years! And to think that all the entertainment for the whole gang only cost me $350.00!