Moving Day

Two of my favorite people moved today. Well, actually one of them is a horse who thinks he is a person, and the other, my father. The horse, Norman, is a twenty five year old Lipizzaner who has been a family member for nearly seventeen years. Bred at Disneyland and born in May of 1988, Norman’s “fancy name” is Siglavy Deborah II, and he was raised and trained in a small but elite band of Lipizzaners stabled in Anaheim, California, their sole purpose in life to pull Cinderella’s carriage. When Norm was five or six, being a very smart horse, he figured out that if he leaned back in his traces, the other horses would do his work, and if he nipped at a guest, he didn’t have to go to work at all. And thus he was sold. He came to San Diego where he was retrained under saddle, which he evidently preferred. At her dressage trainer’s on a fine spring day, my daughter took one look at him with his pure white countenance and flowing mane and tail, and fell in love. What little girl wouldn’t want to be Cinderella? We’re still waiting on that prince.

 

My daughter grew up, and went to college, and then to medical school, and now is starting her internship in Internal Medicine in Boston. When she went away to college, we sold Norman with an iron clad buy back agreement to another young girl just starting her dressage career. When SHE went to college, we bought him back. At the time, having lost the paperwork, I couldn’t remember the price I sold him for. As it turned out, I paid more to buy him back than the girl’s parents paid for him. That joke was on me—but he was worth every penny. For the last several years, this highly trained dressage horse has been out to pasture in my back yard. He may be twenty five, but like my Corvette, he’s got low mileage.

 

A month ago my daughter finally agreed that his talents were being wasted, and we started to look for a person to be Norman’s person—to ride him, love him, groom him and fuss over him the way he deserves. She called her old dressage trainer, Tina Caldwell. Tina came over and rode him and despite his long vacation from saddle and bridle, he performed like the good little horse he has always been. Over the weekend, Tina called and said she had the perfect client who had just moved to town, and wanted to take some dressage lessons and have a nice horse to ride on the trails. She knew just the horse. Norman left today in an eight horse trailer, all alone in the big rig. He whinnied a few times for his buddy Dash, but loaded like a pro. He will never be sold again—he’s out “on lease”, but if he can make another person happy trotting down the trails and doing his rocking horse canter in the arena, he will honor all the years of his training, and after all, it’s not every day a girl, or a woman, gets to feel like Cinderella!

 

Coincidentally, today was the day my father had arranged for his movers to come. He has lived with me for the last six months, since my mother died and since he had an aortic valve replacement at the ripe old age of eighty seven. His condominium in Snowmass, Colorado is under agreement, and he has arranged to live at a lovely senior community very near where I work, called La Costa Glen. I am happy because he will be nearby, and given his recent health set-backs, this is a good thing. In horse years, my Dad is only a little bit older than Norman. Like Norman, Dad is far too young at heart to be put out to pasture yet. He is going to go where he can play a little bridge, a few holes of golf, and just possibly, take up painting again—a boyhood love put aside by the demands of an intense career in plastic surgery. Tonight I looked at the membership roster at La Costa Glen. It included four retired Admirals, and twenty five retired physicians and I pointed this out to my father, who decided immediately that it would be fun to do a weekly doctor’s lunch.

 

Though I will miss having them both at home, there’s life in these old boys yet!

8 thoughts on “Moving Day

  1. Love it! It must have been sad to see beautiful Norman leave. He was always a special horse. Glad he will get the attention he deserves.

    In contrast, it must have been nice to see your Dad settle in with his new-found friends and start a great adventure with a new social group. How could anyone not love living in Sun Diego?!

    • Linda, you said it–Norman and Dad will BOTH get the attention they deserve. From what I hear from the trainer, Norman already has a fan club and many new friends, and Dad was bragging about the gourmet meal he had tonight with new friends at La Costa. From the description, it was certainly better than the fare he was getting at my house! M

  2. Good for you, Mary Ann. One less horse mouth to feed! Now are you going to place your last horse? Or find another one to keep him company?

    What is with these long horse relationships? I bought my Thoroughbred when he was 8. Sold him when he was 12. Bought him back when he was 16 and took him back to college where I foxhunted on him. Gave him away when he was 18 to someone else who continued to use him on the foxhunt. Got him back when he was 22.

    He finally died when he was 26.

    Considering how many places I lived (New Jersey, England, Michigan, Ohio, and back to Michigan) and life events that occurred during those years, it’s amazing that he always bounced back to me.

  3. What a fabulous post, Miranda. You are simply a wonderful storyteller! And oh, I wish I were that young girl and could wrap my arms around Norman’s neck, bury my nose in that indescribable horsie scent.
    ( and give your dad a hug as well, for his amazing courage at living life!)
    Amrita

  4. I got behind in reading your blog and just now caught up. If there’s an award for doctors who write funny, moving, wonderful stories, you have my vote, you’re my favorite blogger.

    • Thank you so much, Vicki! I’m just happy a few people read my blog. It gives me courage to actually consider writing a novel. M

      • Don’t necessarily just think about writing a novel, Miranda. These vignettes are well worth buffing up and publishing as a book. I always prefer memoir-type books over novels. Most novels (with a few wonderful exceptions) just make me gag and bore me to tears.

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