I haven't mentioned this before because we were still deciding, but now that we have...
Two days after we started building our barn, I got a call from Paint Creek Ranch, where Cash is retired. The owner, bless her, left me a message that started with, "Cash is fine!" and then proceeded to ask me if I could please call her back. I did and we chatted for a while, and she told me that she's selling her farm and moving to Dallas.
Ok, so it's not as bad as it sounds. She's bought a new place near Dallas and offered to take Cash there if I would like that. She also recommended a boarding facility about 30 minutes away, but I looked at their site and they want to "get into" geriatric horse care. Um, no thanks, I don't want to place Cash somewhere that's not accustom to dealing with older horses. Or, of course, I could bring him home.
I've mentioned before the reasons why I left Cash at Paint Creek even after we moved here. The biggest reason is because it's perfect for him - he's fat and happy and healthy and has buddies that don't beat up on him too much (he's a wimp). He's got hills and grass and his own swimming hole, and Claudia (the BO) is just AMAZING with older horses. She takes care of him better than I think I could, and that's why he stayed.
So, after lots of discussion with the hubby about all the possible alternatives, we have decided to bring Cash home. The funny thing is, when we were planning the barn we actually talked about what we would do if Paint Creek were no longer an option, and we ended up building a slightly bigger barn... just in case. And lo, just after we started building it - Cash needs a home.
Sometimes it's hard to believe it's just all a coincidence.
I am both excited and anxious about having him with us. Excited because I really miss him. I wish I could see him more often and I feel guilty that I don't (and yes, I know that he doesn't care as long as dinner is delivered on time). Excited because I might get to ride him occasionally, bareback in the back field. He's my heart horse and even if we can just go for a walk, just a little bit, it would bring back so many of my old memories of us flying together.
But anxious because he's really high maintenance. He's accident-prone - he once managed to hang a hind shoe in a v-mesh horse-safe fence, and in the ensuing flailing pulled the cap off a t-post and stuck it through his neck, missing his jugular by an inch. He's ripped his back open on a low tree branch, and shredded his face on a bois d'arc tree that was three feet on the OTHER side of his pasture fence. He's super colic-prone - until he went to Paint Creek, he colicked about 3-4 times per year, and when he was 17 I almost lost him (like, we drove out to the vet to put him down. We're still not sure how he pulled through). He gets sunburned easily and needs a fly mask (with a nose) every day. He has no eyelashes on his pink eye and it gets goopy, so that needs to be sponged regularly with warm water and sometimes treated with ointment. So I am afraid I won't be able to take care of him well enough and I'm going to do something that will... well, kill him. Of course I know all creatures have their time, but still. I'm afraid I'm not up to the job.
Too, when you have an older horse who's got a medical history, and who you don't see often, you say goodbye every time you visit, because you know it might be the last time you see him. I guess I've tried to distance myself from him - and now that he'll be in my backyard, I'll be allowed to get close again. I'm looking forward to that, but I'm also afraid - because it will just make it that much harder later.
There's also the question of how Red and Saga will behave towards him. Fortunately they are both pretty low-key, but Cash is really only pasture sound and won't be able to get out of the way quickly if something goes badly. I can feed them each separately with the new barn, so at least that won't be a hassle. I'm considering taking Saga out to pick Cash up, so that they'll hopefully be best buds after the hour-long trailer ride home. And of course, Cash and Red knew each other when they lived at the same barn, before I retired Cash. But still, I'm worried.
OK, enough of the maudlin stuff and back to planning. We don't have a date yet when we're bringing Cash home, but we will definitely have the barn COMPLETELY finished before we do. We have some fencing improvements to make too, and there are a number of spring cleaning projects I want to get done to the pastures to make them even safer than they already are. I'm guessing a month or two at the minimum, which is OK since I have 2-3 months before I have to move him.