Sunday, November 28, 2010
Black Tuesday: November 18, 2008 (Thursday, Nov. 18)
Tuesday, the 18th, I had to do some things up at our East Brow house on Lookout Mountain, and I took Zephyr with me. It meant I would have to drive back to Chickamauga to take her home before I went back to Chattanooga for my belly dancing class that evening, but I didn't mind the drive. I pulled in our driveway, put Zephyr in her crate in the house, and drove on around our house to go out Kara's road on the other side by the horses. And then I stopped--WHERE were the horses? I called, hoping they might be behind the run-in shed, but the field had an empty, desolate feel, and I knew they weren't there. Since the main gate was closed, I ran down the road to the far gate, checking fence as I ran. And there, clear at the far end of the pasture (just about where I stood to take the above photo), was an open gate. I was so stunned to realize that Angel and Brandy were gone that it took me a minute to realize two things: First, although they might have pushed the gate open and broken its chain, they could NEVER have swung it backward and wedged it wide open; and second, they could NEVER have neatly cut the chain in half. That was when I realized they had been stolen.
A sheriff's deputy told me over the phone that of course my horses hadn't been stolen, no one steals horses--they had just gotten out. But when she came and saw the cut chain and the trailer tire tracks into the field, she agreed incredulously that someone had, indeed, stolen my horses.
After a nearly sleepless night, I woke up the next morning feeling dead and dull. Herb had left me the Beast (our SUV) "just in case," but I had no illusions that "in case" would happen. Then suddenly my cell phone rang. One of the people I had called the night before had heard through Luther's local radio Lost and Found that someone near Chickamauga had three horses in her yard. My phone rang again, and it was the sheriff's office telling me that my neighbor Judy had lost my phone number, but had called them to tell them the same news.
After only a week living near Chickamauga, the trailer park where the observant lady lived was about the only place I knew how to find! I'm glad no deputies were around that morning as I covered the four miles of back roads. I found her house, but the horses had gone. From her description it didn't sound like they could be Angel and Brandy, but I had to keep trying. Determined to check every road in the county, I drove on to the next road, "Hawg Holler" the sign said. I bumped down a rugged dirt road past a decrepit trailer and a "No Trespassing" sign, ending up in a hollow where a long-haired man in an orange jumpsuit was revving a chainsaw, while something was smoked in a barrel nearby and six pit bulls came running toward me.
It's an indication of how desperately I wanted to find my horses that I had the courage to get that far, but God had a pleasant surprise and a lesson for me. The long-haired man, who looked like an extra from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," was one of the kindest, politest people I have ever met. He and his sweet wife had seen the two stray horses with their own gelding and had tried to catch them, but they had run away. Being actual horse people, they described them as a black mare and a buckskin mare--and I was pretty sure they were my girls! He knew where he thought they would be, so we drove over there together--and there they were, flirting over the fence with a stallion! I won't even try to describe my joy and thankfulness to God and to all the kind people He had sent to help get my horses back. I led them to Hawg Holler where they were received royally by both humans and gelding alike until I could go home and get my trailer.
For the next month, I refused to leave the property unless Herb was there, until we got gates installed across both driveways and a security camera pointed at the barn and the front gates. (To paraphrase Paul Harvey, in another post you'll hear the rest of the story!) I felt a lot happier with the horses in the Back Pasture where we could see them from the house--and I looked out frequently!