Badger. The best mule ever in the world. Well, he is to me.
Badger suffers from ROA, Reoccurring Obstructive Airway Disease. COPD, Heaves...nasty stuff.
We go back and forth, he has terrible days, awful days...and then something happens like tonight.
We have an amazing evening.
I wanted to ride, but didn't really have time for all the saddling and messing around that I usually have to do with the 'younger' mules. Badger came and stood at the gate.
What could I do?
It was hot and humid. But.
He was standing there braying in a soft voice that broke my heart.
I opened the gate, groomed him and took out a 5 gallon bucket and .. turned it upside down in the driveway. [Badger is 15 hands and I'm just a couple of inches over that.]
I tossed his bridle on and then took the leap from the bucket.
I swear Badger smiled. Really.
He started up our steep driveway. He stopped midway up and caught his breath, wheezing a bit. I laid over his neck and offered loving encouragement. We stood for a while in the driveway. A wren
scolded us. Some black birds called and a hoot owl called from the woods. I laid across Badger's neck and wrapped my arms around him.
After a few minutes he started up the hill. I dropped the reins on his neck and put my arms up in the air.
No saddle ... no directions.. he knew what was expected of him.
We rode up to the neighbor's place on the ridge to watch the sunset.
Just like the old days.
As dark started to settle in I headed towards home.
The emotions began to flow over me. Badger was sick with COPD, Equine ROA. Yet.
He could still carry me bareback without any fault, any spook, any mistep, to the ridge to photo the sunset. Something we've done 100's of times over the past 16 years.
Badger still had a purpose in his and my mind. Our bond is something I may never achieve again in any other equine.
When I got home, I took his bridle off and left him in the yard while I did chores.
He followed me around.
I will continue to fight for Badger's health and to keep him healthy enough for these special moments.
there will never be any other equine quite like him in my life.
Thanks Badger.You ARE the best.