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This is in the current issue of Country magazine (all about
small farms across the USA). I read this on another forum and had to share. :wink: BEWARE~ Have kleenex handy!

My Hero
"Susie" and her unborn foal had just one faint hope after plunging through
the ice.
By Carolyn Mills-Meyer, Southbridge, Massachusetts

"Have Doc come right away!" our neighbor Doris yelled through the phone
line. "'Suzie' fell through the ice!"

Everyone called my father Doc. He was an old-time country veterinarian for
the small dairy farms that still flourished in New England 50 years ago. I
started joining him on house calls when I was 4 years old.

Suzie was a half-Arabian mare that Doris had raised from a colt.

Within minutes, we were on our way, bags of electrolyte sloshing around in a
pail of piping hot water. As Doc sped up the hill to Doris' house, I began
toweling off the bags so I could carry them under my coat and keep them
warm.

After a treacherous trek down an icy horse path, we found Ray, the head farm
hand, and his helpers desperately working to pull Suzie to safety.

Ray had crawled across the ice on a makeshift plywood bridge. But just as he
slipped a rope around Suzie's neck, he fell through, too. When his helpers
finally pulled Ray out of the water, his clothes instantly turned to ice.

Ray wanted to stay and help, but Doc ordered him to the house. "One case of
hypothermia is enough," Doc insisted. So, off he went, dazed, shivering and
protesting all the way.

While they were fishing Ray out of the water, Doc and a couple of the other
hands pulled Suzie to shore. The men told us Suzie had been fighting to get
out when they found her. But she'd gotten weaker and weaker the longer she
floundered in the icy water.

Hope Slips Away

Now, she lay on the snowy shore in hypothermic shock, motionless and slicked
with ice. "Is she alive?" I asked, scared to hear the answer. Doc pulled a
stethoscope from his jacket and listened to Suzie's heart and respiration.

"Gather wood and get some fires going around her," he finally said, "Hurry!
We're losing ground fast."

Then he told me, "We've got to get warm electrolytes in her to bring up her
core temperature. " We felt a little better when he got the IV going, then me
fluid began to freeze in the tube. We built a fire under the tube, but it
was only a temporary fix.

The weak January sun was slipping below the horizon and the temperature
plummeted below zero. We had to get Suzie to a warm place, but no truck or
tractor could make it down the steep, narrow horse path.

Suzie was catatonic. Even if she woke up, she'd never find the strength to
make it on her own. Then Doris whispered, "There's something else to worry
about. She's in foal."

"Do you have a neighbor with a team of draft horses that could pull Suzie up
on a skidder?" Doc asked.

"No," Doris sobbed. "Warren Jenks has one old half-bred, but I don't think
he's nearly strong enough to haul Suzie up this hill."

"Go call Warren," Doc said. "We'll have to find out."

I kept rubbing Suzie's limp legs with an old blanket, but my last shred of
hope followed the lonely, crunching sounds of Doris' footsteps retreating
into the darkness.

He'll Do His Best

A half-hour later, we saw the flicker of a distant lantern, followed by the
sound of muffled voices and creaking leather. Warren and his horse, "Duke,"
had come to help.

But I knew Duke. He was a scraggly old draft horse with long chestnut hair.
And he was small. Way too small.

My eyes swelled with tears as the sad-looking horse plodded by. "Whoa,
Duke," Warren said when the skidder was positioned next to Suzie. "Evening,
Doc, Miss, boys," he added calmly. "I see Duke has his work cut out for
'im'."

"You think he can he do it?" I asked. Warren could surely tell I didn't
think so, but he didn't let on.

"Don't really know for sure, Miss. But he's strong and clever 'bout things.
He'll do his best; that I know."

We rolled Suzie onto the skidder. Then I walked to where Duke could see me.
His big brown eyes peered into mine. "Can you do it, Duke?" I asked.

I can't say he answered me, exactly. But when the steamy whiskers of his
muzzle brushed against my nearly frozen cheek, I believed he understood the
task he faced.

As the old horse leaned into the harness, the skidder broke loose with a
sound like shattering glass. The moon cast harsh shadows through the bare
trees ahead, making the hill look even more foreboding.

Step by Treacherous Step

With its ungainly load, the skidder kept tipping and hanging up on the icy,
curving path. Duke was forced to make his own way through deep, ice crusted
snow-step by treacherous step.

Several times, he slipped to his knees. But he always scrambled up and kept
on, legs scraped and bloody from the sharp ice.

Duke's flanks broke out in white, lathering sweat. Steam rose from his --
back and hung over him like a shroud. His breath ripped through the frigid
air in loud, raspy gasps.

This job would wear down a team of strong, young draft horses, I thought as
I struggled up the hill behind the sled. He has to stop and rest! But Duke
pulled on, head down and fatiguing hindquarters quivering with every step.

And somehow, Duke pulled that skidder right up to the barn door.

As the men dragged Suzie into the warm barn, I took care of Duke. Sweat ran
down his heaving flanks and poured like rain from his belly. Someone threw
me a blanket to drape over him. I found a cloth to wipe his face.

As I looked once again into those placid brown eyes, I asked, "Do you know
what you just did?" He never said, but somehow, I think he knew.

Suzie lived and gave birth to a healthy bay colt. Tough stock, I'd say.

I never had the pleasure of crossing paths with Duke again. But to this day,
I can close my eyes and see the steam rising from his flanks. I can feel his
relentless determination and know the comfort of looking into eyes that say,
"I'll do my best," and mean it. ~
 

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Yep need tissue
 

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*hands the tissue aroudn to everyone that reads this*
 

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WOW what a story. Than you for sharing.
 
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