Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Sad Ride

He started out okay...higher than normal respirations and a slightly elevated heart rate. But as soon as we got half way out to the back valley, he began 'heaving' and coughing.

I could feel his ribs bellow out.
I dismounted and walked feeling like a complete shit for taking him out.
We walked down the 'hazard' trail, where he gamely jumped a downed tree and followed me to the creek bottom where I sat on a rock and let him eat grass.

The creek noises helped sooth my thoughts, but they kept straying back to Badger and his COPD.
It has been dry and dusty...this may have added to his difficulty in breathing. He hasn't been exercised much, this could keep him from being in good muscular shape. Hard to exercise a mule with lung problems.
Although, looking at him, he has not being losing body condition. His hair is glossy, he is not *ribby* or 'flat eyed'.
His eyes are bright and he seems eager to go with me.
Ever the faithful mule.

And somehow this thought even hurts more.

Eventually I get up and lead him up through the brush to the valley road. We rest often and I finally mount up as we get to the top of the ridge. It is downhill most of the way home now...

As we stop once more for a 'breather', we see a magnificent buck.

But I end the ride on a sour note.
I take Badger's heart rate and respiration.

...and I wonder if this is once of our last rides together or will some cooler damp air relieve him.
I know this disease is a slow progressing disease. I am not ready to let my friend go...but I cannot let him get to the point where he will suffer ~~ read here: His disease will eventually cause him to suffocate.
Yes, not a pretty thought is it.
For the first time in over 20+ years of riding, I felt tired and sad.

I put Badger away.
Was it me and my mind playing tricks, or did he seem to know that he had disappointed?
Must of been my mind.
He brayed for supper, then coughed.


  1. :(
    Oh Badger, you're such a willing boy. Don't think you disappointed your Mom, she just worries about you. Even me, who has never met you, worries. We all want to see you gambol about through the fields and happily plod the trails. Maybe, if the winter months are easier on you, you can become the "snowmobile" mule?
    Take care of yourself, Badger, and give your Mom a big old mulie hug for me. She needs one right now.

  2. I absolutely hate hearing that Badger wasn't up to snuff. Trying not too jump to early conclusions is so much easier said, than done. I know how much you want what is best for Badger! Isn't it possible that part of his trouble with hearth rate/pulse were just due to the fact that he isn't ridden as often? Hopefully this is just a bad phase in his chronic illness, and that the cooler/colder weather will help him to breathe easier. Nevertheless, my heart goes out to you, and like Jennifer, I send you a big hug for all the obvious reasons! I will continue to think positive thoughts for Badger.

  3. I will admit that this event really threw me in to a tizzy. Yes, he will have better days and worse days.
    This is the nature of the disease.

    It breaks my heart to see him 'want to' and not be able to.

    Today was better for him.
    Waiting for cooler damper weather to do some easy road rides and keep him healthier.