After over fifteen years, my beloved and now geriatric mare might no longer see Dr Xie. Dr Xie has performed Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine upon her bi-annually since I got her in 1999. She is a cob-sized mare, and had been slowly starving for years before she became mine.
She is also my first horse, but--maybe unlike some first-time horse owners-- I had worked in the horse industry for years by then and knew to get her vet checked, to get farrier and dental work, etc. It was around this time that I heard about Dr Xie, who was fairly new to the area then. This began a relationship which is not as typical these days as in the past--that of a health-care provider who sees years pass.
Dr Xie is an unpretentious person. When we three-- we two humans and my mare-- first met, I was boarding her, and the first treatment took place while I held the lead rope and we all stood under a live oak tree. My mare, Fancy, and I were new to each other then. She was somewhere between 12 and 16 and very thin. In the intervening years, I learned exactly the slow heart ache of having a hard keeper--she never got round and glossy, but did dapple in grass season. All those years of abuse by neglect, and physical abuse, could not be erased. Yet, Dr Xie gave her acupuncture, and prescribed many herbs as the years passed.
Then, my life changed and I was finally able to bring her home to my new house. It was a first for me, having lived my life in rentals. I was thrilled I could go out at midnight and hear my beloved, and in a good moon night, see her.
Dr Xie continued treatment for Fancy, and the other horses who came to me, by coming to my house. After awhile, the practicing veterinarians who accompanied him changed to students. Still, Fancy got her her herbs to aid her comfort as she developed Cushings.
For a two year period, our area endured a record number of hurricanes. These play barometric havoc, and many horses seem sensitive to such violent environmental changes; Fancy foundered.
Dr Xie was out of the country, and I had to rely on regular USA veterinary care. At one point, one vet told me Fancy might not live much longer. I looked at her, and she turned and looked at me through her eyelashes...a look I had come to know as an opinion on her part.
It took a long time for Fancy to heal, and the angle of her feet changed. She is now somewhere around 30 and still thin despite offerings of grain, soaked hay cubes, hay and grass-- she literally walks away from food she isn't interested in.
Last week,Dr Xie came out to my home with the news that he is retiring. I said to him while he was near Fancy that he would be saying goodbye to her. He agreed and looked into her profile. Once, he said he had dreamed of her and once, I dreamed she would live into her 50s.
I am hoping that somehow, the people he has trained all these years will be able to attend to Fancy as she lives these years as an elder. She owns my heart far more than I could ever, as a human, own her.
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