Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)
TITLE: A Hymn for Barbaro
By Teri Wilson
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At first, the pain had surprised the great bay colt. After all, it was his right hind leg that had broken all those months ago at the Preakness. Since that awful moment, his remaining three hooves had borne the weight of his powerful form on their own. Now, in some cruel twist of fate, his front legs were giving out on him too.
Barbaro knew things had changed. The aching in his hooves brought with it worried glances on the faces of all who cared for him. His hospital stall, once a place of such hopefulness and optimism, was now the subject of much worry and concern. Dread hung in the air like a heavy wool blanket.
On this, the last morning, he had even tried to bite the kind doctor who came to feed him his morning apple. Barbaro felt badly about his behavior. The doctor had always treated him with tenderness and patience. Usually his eyes lit up and he tossed his head and nickered as the doctor approached. Barbaro hoped beyond hope that the man in the blue scrubs with the gentle demeanor knew he had never intended to harm him. The bite was the only way he could think of to speak to the man. His way of saying, “Help me, please.”
Through the dark fringe of his eyelashes, Barbaro could see all those who loved him whispering about him in hushed tones. He wished he could offer a sign of encouragement for them. But even the tiniest whinny proved too much for him to manage. His head hung low and he tried to understand the words which were passed between the people gathered in front of his stall.
“We’ve just done all that we can do. The laminitis has progressed now to his front two hooves. The poor guy doesn’t have a good leg left to stand on.”
“He’s a different horse than he was a few days ago. I just can’t bear to see him this way.”
“I think it’s time.”
Then in they came. All at once, Barbaro was surrounded by the people who cared about him most. They stroked his neck, tangled their fingers in his mane and choked on the goodbyes they murmured in his ears. In their eyes he could see an end to his suffering and he was finally able to relax and shut his weary lids. He felt a sprinkling of cool water on his muzzle. Holy water, someone called it. It felt cool and refreshing, like the first day of spring after a very long, cold winter.
Barbaro heard a woman gasp when the needle went in. Then, as the warm sensation spread through his body, he was struck by how quiet the room became. Not a word could be heard, just the muffled sniffles and sobs of his people.
Then, from somewhere beyond the syringes and the strange medicinal smells, he thought he heard music. It started out as a faint humming that tickled his ears. He tried to open his eyes and look for the source of the melody, but by now he had become weak and the light in his eyes had already begun to dim.
As the beating of his heart slowed, the pulsing rhythm of the music swelled and grew in power. It was the most glorious sound Barbaro had ever heard. His soul danced while the pain in his hooves slowly slipped away and he felt himself rise above the earthly world of pain and suffering.
The pounding drumbeat of the music grew louder and louder until Barbaro realized it wasn’t a drumbeat at all. Rather it was the thundering of his hooves, completely restored, as he galloped through a field of grass as green as a sparkling emerald. He was surrounded by other horses, running free, with voices as beautiful as angels singing to the heavens and soon his voice joined them in their song.
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Oh, praise Him!
Oh, praise Him!
In memory of Barbaro, 2006 Kentucky Derby champion, who was euthanized on January 29, 2007, eight months after shattering his right hind leg in the Preakness Stakes. Barbaro suffered his catastrophic injury a mere two weeks after winning the Derby.
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