Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's Just Time to Tell You About Gus

My blog/inspiring story.......

The "Hoose"
For the longest time, when you showed a photo of a horse to my grandson and asked him what it was, he would reply with it's sound...a "neigh".  He did not give the word for it.  After that he began calling it by it's name....a "hoose", (like loose, only with an "H").  That worked for me!  When referring to my horse who he met early on, whose name is "Mosey", he called him "Moomies" with along O.  Since then his pronunciation is pretty accurate.  He in fact has become somewhat of a cowboy...on occasion.

However, this is a story about another gray horse of mine that I owned some years ago, Gus.  An author friend of mind suggested that I write a memorable horse story, one that I had a special connection to.  She was planning to write a book which included stories about women and their horses.  While I have many, this is the one that came to mind.

The county in south central Texas where I have spent most of my life is prone to flooding.  There are two major rivers that converge, just above the actual town of Gonzales, the Guadalupe and the Comal.  At that point, in a little town called Ottine, it just becomes the Guadalupe River.  The Guadalupe runs just to the west of downtown Gonzales and through our big park just to the south of the city.

In 1998, the Guadalupe River flooded.  It was called the 100 year flood.  It started raining on Thursday, October 17 and rained through the Sunday the 19th.  It rained for four days straight, hard!  Approximately 22" of rain fell around and north of Gonzales in Austin, San Antonio, and the Hill Country.  This rain created flooding of all the rivers, streams and creeks throughout all south central Texas.  Some counties had warnings that the flooding was coming.  Some did not or it arrived before prediction.  Some 31 lives and countless wild animals and livestock were lost.  Roads were blocked with roadblocks and water for days.  It was truly frightening.  You could not drive down to our park much less drive through it.  You could, unfortunately from the road in town above it, view the rapid rushing river water that was way out of it's banks.  It flowed across the highway, the baseball fields, the play ground, and the golf course.  The highway was not visible.  You could see cows floating down the river, their heads barely bobbing above the water.  Or you could see them stuck on some small island where you could hear them calling out, frantic.  You knew they would eventually be swept away, and they were.  It was such a hopeless sight.

I was stuck in town as all the roads out of town in every direction were blocked.  My horses were at our ranch in the country, some 17 miles out of town.  I could not get to the ranch to see if they were ok. 

I prayed many prayers that week that my family, my friends, and my animals would all be protected.  For many animals, that flood water just swept everything away.  There just was no escape for them, even if they got to higher ground.  That water took everything in it's path.

There is a huge creek in the pasture where the horses were kept. When it rains a great deal, the creek gets way out of it's banks in that pasture.  It is not surpassable during those times by anything or anybody.  I only hoped my horses were on the "barn side" of that creek where they would be on high ground.  Every day I prayed.  I knew God knew how much I loved my horses.  I believed he would keep them safe...but I kept praying.
Finally, on Tuesday, one of the roads, the "long" way around, could get us to the ranch.  Driving there we could see land that was just ravaged by the flood water...truly devastating.  My heart raced the closer we got to the ranch.  Much of the water had run off by this time but so many of the roads and pavement were damaged and "gone" that traveling was still dangerous.

We arrived at the ranch and I immediately went to the barn to count and check on the horses.  Five where there.  One was missing.  One of mine!  Prayers commenced along with hollering as loud as I could "Gus.....Gus".  It brings tears to my eyes at this very moment remembering how afraid I was, how fearful I was that I had lost him.  This gray horse had had a long history of an injury that I had nursed him through time and time again.  That had made us especially close.  Plus, he was just one of those horses that just loved people and loved me, gentle and kind eyed.  The creek in the horse trap was still full, all the way to the top of it's banks.  It was very deep, probably 10' - 12' in places.  The rushing water made it almost impossible to hear anything I was sure except that surging water.  "God", I prayed, "if he is in there, please let him hear me, please let me just see him to know that he is alive...please God".  I walked as far as I could on the barn side of the creek, literally screaming his name.

All of the sudden I heard some crashing of brush and trees.  Then I saw him.   "Thank you God" as tears of joy filled my eyes.  I gently said his name, "Gus", and told him he would be ok.  He kept coming closer and I could see that he was ok and did not appear injured.  "Thank you God".  I could also tell he was anxious and that I was the only friend he had seen in days as he had been separated from his buddies.  They had been on the safe side of the water and he was on the other side, alone.  He ran all the way up to the bank on the other side of the creek.  The water was running swiftly in front of and between us.  I could see sticks and stumps and who knew what all rushing swiftly down the creek.  If you've never seen rushing, flooding water, it is powerful and frightening.  Gus stopped for just a second on the other side of the creek. He nickered loud and then he just KEPT coming.  My mouth was open as I watched him.  He jumped off into that violent running water and swam to me, literally swam in that rushing water. The creek at that point was about 12-15' wide and about 10' deep.  All I could see was his head.  He some how, miraculously and by the power of God was not swept down the creek but popped up on the other side with me, shook the water off, stopped and lowered his head, exhausted and weary.  Tears of sheer joy streamed down my face as I hugged him and petted him and calmed him and thanked God with all my heart.  He followed me back to the barn to be reunited with his buddies.  They too rejoiced to see him.  I believe I had witnessed a miracle.  Yes, he probably would have been fine until the waters receded and the creek went down and he could have crossed the creek walking instead of swimming.  But it would have been days.  I also witnessed the love between a woman and her horse, between a woman and her friend.  It was a blessing and a moment I will never forget.  

God taught me that prayer works and miracles happen.  He taught me that I was valuable enough to him to work a miracle in my life, with something that was so important to me. God knew that riding my horses was a great relief to me after working 40 hours a week in Child Protective Services.  It was my way to gain my perspective back that to know that not all of life is tragic.  It allowed me to rest my mind in the quietness of the country and refill my mind with beauty.  God showed me that if I trusted him, he would bless me.

A miraculous day in October 1998, gave me many more great rides through the pasture and the woods on that ranch in Gonzales county.  There were many great trail rides with beautiful weather and views of incredible wildlife.  There were days of fun working cattle on Gus that always brought joy to my life.  
                                                         Gus and I
Gus lives today, retired in green pastures, getting fat and loving life!  And so do I.  

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend." John 15:13
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”   Matthew 17:20

****Flood stage for the Guadalupe River in Gonzales is 31 feet.  The river crested at over 51 feet.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you, xoxo.

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