Tuesday, June 23, noon: Wahoo! Rocky is mine! I love him, he's perfect, he's wonderful, he feels like riding an octopus on roller skates and can't turn right with a gun to his head, but he's a genius and I love him and I can't wait to get him home. So I call a couple of transport companies, and because it's the off season, only one of them has a truck going up 95 with any regularity, but they assure me that he'll get on the van by the end of the week. They'll call me when they know when.
Thursday: (chirp, chirp.)
Friday: (you got it.)
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.: I call the dispatch office to learn that—no kidding—he's not leaving this week. I am annoyed, because I'd stopped calling around once I'd been assured he'd leave by the end of this week; I get on the phone to every hauler I can think of and, naturally, the only other one who's leaving Florida anytime soon left yesterday. Had I known, I could have gotten him on that van, but I didn't. I'm a horse professional—I get that the plan virtually never goes according to plan. But would a phone call have killed them? Oy vey.
They promise me that he'll leave the beginning of next week.
Monday: They call! He'll leave Wednesday!
Wednesday: They call! He's leaving Thursday! (close enough.)
Thursday: They call! He's finally on the trailer. This particular company has a fleet of little goosenecks that go picking up the individual horses and taking them all to the big van, and then they have a second fleet up in Virginia somewhere that takes them off the big van and distributes them to their individual destinations. It spares them the joy of getting a semi down country roads, and while I know it means that he'll be in transit a little longer (straight-through, Ocala to my front door is about a 14-hour trip), it's all going to be great.
They tell me I'll see him between 6 and 7 Friday morning. Whoopee!
Friday, between 6 and 7: Yeah. Not so much. But again, I'm a horse professional. Stuff happens. It's all good. I get a call around 6:45 that they've pulled him off the big van and are coming 'round the D.C. Beltway, and that we'll see him at 9 a.m. Whoopee!
9 a.m: And here they are! And down goes the ramp. And down goes the coconut mat. And there's my paperwork, and there's his blanket. And there's my horse!
He's bright eyed and bushy tailed, a big smile on his face. There's also a star on his face. Funny, I don't remember him having a star. And his weight looks great, but… gosh, he's gotten really sunbleached. His papers say black, and he wasn't quite black two weeks ago, but he wasn't this brown either. He looks bay.
This horse is bay.
This horse has a star. And no white socks.
Rocky is black, with four white socks.
This is not my horse.
9:15 a.m.: I don't know what this horse is or does, but he's definitely supposed to be in Pennsylvania, and he's going to someone named Maria. I know this because that's what's written on the tag attached to his halter. And sure enough, when this driver (who is awesome, by the way) calls the driver in Pennsylvania, and they pull over and look at the tag on THEIR cargo's halter, it says Lauren Sprieser - Virginia.
9:30 a.m.: The trailer en route to Pennsylvania is going to turn around and come to me, and this bay horse is now on his way to Pa. The driver reassures me over and over that someone from headquarters will call me and tell me when to expect Rocky to arrive. And she's off.
I have lessons to keep me busy through the morning, but I tell them all, "Guys, I'm sorry to be so rude, but I need to keep my phone on and near me."
10:15 a.m.: Next lesson. No call.
11 a.m.: Next lesson. No call.
Noon: It is now two and a half hours since my not-horse left the property, and no one has called. So I do. And I'm pissed. But I know that staging a nutty will not bring my horse back any faster. So I take a big, deep, slow breath, and I call headquarters. And I say:
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Ha ha! Actually, I say this: "Hello, my name is Lauren Sprieser. You were supposed to take my horse from Ocala to Virginia. You tried to deliver the wrong one. That was three hours ago. No one has called. And I have no idea where my horse is." I swear on the life of my father that I was not nutty, not yelling. I PROMISE.
And Headquarters Man replies: "Ma'am, I have a heart condition. Hang! On!" And puts me on hold to get someone else.
I am not calm anymore.
2 p.m.: I'm teaching offsite, as I do on Fridays, and I Finally, FINALLY get the call that Rocky, like Elvis, has entered the building, 27 hours after he got on the van in the first place. Just to be sure, my staff texts me a picture. We're good.
He is, miraculously, no worse for the wear, and other than trying to dump me just a little yesterday, just for fun, he's been perfect. I, clearly, need to make sure I always use my first-choice of long distance transit, the amazing Kevin Hennessey of Nobody's Business Horse Transport, even when he tells me there is no way he's going back to Florida in June; I need to rough him up or blackmail him or something.
And the next time someone tries to deliver me the wrong horse, I should probably check to make sure that he's not a multi-million dollar show jumper or something first. I could have had quite a scheme going!