Wednesday, July 06, 2011

My Ah Hah Moment with Sunshine

There we were, Sunshine and I at the turn around point in our ‘Mule Parade’, when it hit me.

Sunshine was standing quietly looking down the road. I was sitting comfortably on her back feet hanging loosely in the stirrups.
Badger’s condition from Equine COPD has turned fairly critical. He is rapidly loosing weight and condition. I’m watching him fade away before my eyes.

I had been working with Opal of course and had been enjoying her attitude and working with her general dislike of people.
Of course 3 weeks ago part of her outer hoof wall came apart at a small crack.
She was going to need shoes if possible and there probably would be no riding of her until the hoof had grown out.
I’d turned to Siera.
She is a fine young mule, beautiful and elegant, but not confident in herself yet.

So in the morning I asked my husband if it was okay to grab Fred and take him on my annual July 4th ride.
He glanced at me and asked:
*So what about Sunshine?*

Indeed, what about her?
Hadn’t I started her under saddle?
Why had I not thought about her before?
I mean, I’ve ridden her many times, and she is a good little red molly mule.
Was it her small size?
Was it because she was not tall and fancy?

She’d been the second mule born on our place.
She was out of my old Arab-Quarter Cross mare, Cheyanne.
We’d sold her once on ‘time’ and took her back when the person who bought her never paid us [though she’d never left our property during that time].

We decided then to keep her and turn her into a kid mule after our first grand child had been born.
In fact as Sunshine grew she became what we joked as the 50 gallon barrel on legs.
But when people met us while we were riding her, they tried to buy her from us.
Why didn’t I see it?

I had been blind to her.
The moment hit me proverbially between the damned eyes. Here was the mule I’d been searching for to take up Badger’s duties. Right under my nose.
This is the mule that my girlfriend had pointed to one day when she was over and gasped ~~ *My gosh, that little brilliant red mule is absolutely gorgeous!*
I had shrugged at the time and said, *Oh no, she’s just a little red mule.*

When I got home my husband came out and asked how our ride went.
I dropped my arm over Sunshine’s neck and told him how good she was.

How wonderful it was to ride a mule that didn’t care about that she was going somewhere alone, like Badger had always done.
One who was sensible and calm.

He laughed.
*Why she’s always been that way with you. Don’t you recall who’s lap she’d been born in?*

It was true.
Sunshine had literally been born in my lap.
Cheyanne had gotten too tired to push Sunshine out all of the way.
I’d pulled Sunshine onto my lap and had gently eased the birth sack off her eyes and nose.
I’d kissed the sloppy wet nose.
For the next 20 minutes, I’d had to convince Sunshine that Cheyanne was her mother and not me.

While I will agree that this little mule has her ‘moments’ as any animal will, she had just been idling her time to shine for me.

I hope that no one things that this is an insensitive post after yesterday's post regarding Badger.

Life is hard and filled with difficult decisions. Because Badger is ill, it does not mean that I stop riding. I only have to stop riding him and sharing our precious moments and adventures together.
I've learned the hardest lesson of all, we can out live our fondest animals.
The fact that I am finding some pleasure and sense of well being with Sunshine is part of the healing process that is occurring over the future loss of my beloved Badger.
I hope you understand and celebrate with me a new adventure.


  1. Absolutely NOT insensitive. Sunshine's a lucky lil' mule to fill those big hooves of Badger's...glad you were able to see that in her. Isn't it funny how we don't see things until they 'bout knock us over?!

  2. Yes it is, ... I'm not finding a Badger such thing exists.

    But I will embark on a new adventure with a silly, beautiful, raging red headed mule who will help my heart heal and take me on new and exotic adventures.