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Dance Line, the Tree, and Me

Dance Line and I were out riding a few days ago, training for our next 50 
mile endurance ride.  The weather was damp, slight drizzle, a little chilly, 
and my horse was loving every minute of it.  He had on new shoes and was 
flying down the trail, wanting to show them off to the deer and local 
raccoons, who watched us whizz by.

One of the many deer had the courage to cross the trail, right in front of 
us, and proceeded to do a 15 foot leap over some tall bushes to our left.   
What a high jumper; a thing of beauty.  How can they lift their legs so far 
off the ground without even grazing any part of the bush?  A magical, surreal 
moment; what a gift life can be.  As I watched, I reasserted my vow to never 
kill a deer, no matter how hungry I get.  What makes man so arrogant as to 
think he has the right to take away a life such as this; a creature who is so 
magnificent to watch, one who runs, leaps, and appears to fly?

The drizzle turned to rain and the temperature lowered.  Dance Line didn't 
seem to notice or care and neither did I.  Away we went, further and further 
down that trail.  I was hoping to see another high jumping deer before our 
day was through.  Or a bear, I've seen only one out here, and I'll never 
forget watching him lumber through a cleared out treeless patch of land.  He 
was in the bear's version of a canter, and it was quite a thing to watch, as 
he traversed the open plain area and gave Dance Line and me a show that I 
don't think I'll ever forget.  I remember thinking, as any normal endurance 
rider would, "What would it be like to ride such a creature?"

After two hours, we proceeded home.  As we got closer, Dance Line picked up 
the pace.  He's in love with my 3 year old Painted mare and I knew she was 
calling out to him, "Come home, Dance Line, come home quickly.  We need to 
frolic in the pre-dusk light."  I let up on the reins and away he went.

As we cantered along a route we have traveled hundreds of times before, we 
continued along a blind curve, not once did he break stride.  I, normally, 
slow Dance Line to a trot or walk here, but for some reason, I let him fly. 
It was our version of barrel racing on a creature whose back and neck are way 
too long to participate in such a sport.  As we made our 130 degree turn to 
the left, instantly, I remembered why I usually slow down in this area.

TREEEEEEEE, and Dance is headed right for it.  Damn big one toooo, must have 
a diameter of 5 feet or so.  This is where we always slow down to a walk so 
we can go by, to our left of this wooden monster.    It's off to the right of 
Dance, but no room between the tree, my right leg, and his right side.  

Smack goes my right leg, the knee hit dead on, leg pulled back over the 
saddle.  If it had been my head, even with the helmet, I'd be dead, 
instantly.  I feel pain so intense I think I just lost my leg!  I scream out 
in agony.  How the heck did that happen?  Am I gonna die today?  My last 
conscious thought is that deer, leaping beautifully in the air, with her 
white tail flashing, and a vision that could only be created by God.  I'm 
thinking God might want to chat with me today, right here, right now.

Someone or something is nudging my head, my shoulders.  I awake, looking at 
Dance Line's sad face, his incredibly large and long body standing over me.  
And then I feel the pain.  Do I have a right leg?  Is it there?  I look that 
way, but can't see anything.  My head becomes dizzy, I'm nauseous.  I try and 
sit up, but my mind, numbed by the pain,  won't allow it.  I scream again, 
like a soldier who's been wounded in battle, calling out for morphine.  
"Medic," I scream.  Dance jumps back a bit from the noise, but doesn't leave 
me.  Somehow I am able to keep a hold of his reins, knowing that there's a 
killer road between us and our house.  "Don't leave me Dance Line, I know 
she's calling you, but you cannot go.  You might need to drag my lifeless 
body home today."

Looks like today hasn't turned out so great after all.  I sit on the ground, 
trying to take the pain (not that I had much choice in the matter), 
contemplating on how I'm going to get home.  I look down at my right leg and 
am amazed that it is still there.  The right knee of my riding pants are 
ripped, exposing some torn off flesh and oozing blood where I would normally 
see a kneecap.  I try and think of something funny, to compensate for this 
ugliness, this part of life I hate to witness, especially when it's part of 
me.  I turn my head to the left, face down, and give a dry heave.  I feel 
like I'm going to pass out again.

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