The Night the Horses Left

The night the horses left. A mostly true short story in the spirit of  Halloween.


I was really surprised when CJ jumped into the trailer first.  Lasaro closed the swing gate and put some hay in through the drop window on the side of the trailer.  She moved around, feeling for the space on each side of her and when she knew where the walls were, she settled into munching.

 Genie surprised me even further.  The horse that was always first in the trailer balked.  Lasaro and Vicki worked with her patiently to get her loaded.  When Charlie came, he joined in the push me pull me game sometimes played by humans trying to load a horse who has not been in a trailer for years.  I was on the side of Genie, poking her rump or her flank with my thumb, releasing it whenever she moved slightly toward the trailer.  Three times she got very close to stepping up, and three times she backed rapidly out, causing me to jump out of the way or be knocked down by this horse in rapid reverse.  Each time Lasaro said, “Are you OK?”  I didn’t know you could move that fast.  I didn’t either but old muscle memory kicked in.  Three people pushing and pulling a horse toward the trailer door was quite enough.  I walked up to the window on her side and called her name. It seemed like magic, but she was most likely anticipating some treats and she jumped right in!  Vicki swung the heavy trailer door closed. Both horses now loaded, the rain started to spit, the sky was darkening toward evening.  Lasaro came up and opened the big drop-down windows. I climbed up the side of the trailer and as CJ stuck her big nose out I kissed her right in the soft part of the nose between the nostrils.  I turned now to Genie, trying not to cry as I also kissed her in the very soft special place.  As I got down, I caught Lasaro wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. 

Lasaro, Vicki and their dog got in the pickup and drove slowly through the open gate and out our gravel drive.  I stood there, giving them a huge wave and they honked the horn.  Then they were gone.

The pasture was empty.   Too empty. I felt lonely standing out there.  I went into the house.  Charlie was gone to an event.  I felt sick.  Sick that the horses were gone but also with a sore throat and a headache. The blue couch in our living room has been a place of comfort for many years.  I lay down there and it seemed just a few minutes when Lily started baring.  Are they back, I thought?   I got up to look outside.  Standing in my front yard and looking toward the gate was a big paint horse.  I had never seen this horse before. He was very calm, standing with a barking dog at his front feet, looking towards the empty pasture.  I walked out past him quietly, opening the gate with intentions of wooing him in with a little of the hay that had been dropped.  He could stay there until I could locate his owner. He would be safe.

I walked toward him with the hay, his head perked up.  His head turned towards the main road. He wheeled around on his hind feet and galloped full speed down our drive, turned the direction that just a few moments before the trailer had passed. Then he was gone.  Vanished.  Like he had never been there. 

Thinking logically about this event, it could have been a Parkinson’s induced hallucination.  A delusion.  Yet it was too real.  It had to be real.  That horse was really there.

I was chilled.  Not only from being outside in the spitting rain and wind but inside my body.     I was shook up, like I had witnessed something supernatural.  I did not understand what it was. 

I texted Vicki, reaching her just as they pulled int the driveway at their homeplace.  The horses were quiet she typed back.  They were surprised to see Lasaro’s gelding Smokie out in the pasture on this blustery night. He usually would have taken shelter in the barn… The mares had not seen the likes of a male horse for some time, and even though he was a gelding they should have all been going crazy.  He was also silent about the mare’s arrival.  

I asked Vicki what her horse had looked like.  She said, “He was a big paint gelding.” Shivers ran down my spine as I told her about the big paint horse that had visited my house.

“You are not going to believe this:” she said.  “Smokey is standing out in the pasture, that’s unusual for him.  He has his head down, and his tail toward the wind.  OMG, he is standing over freshly dug up ground.” 

  He was at the site where months before Vicki had buried her… big paint gelding.

Published by Carol Clupny, author The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman's Remarkable Journey with Parkinson's Disease

I am a middle aged woman with Parkinson's Disease. When I was first diagnosed I spent a lot of time researching the disease. Seeing a video of a man in the advanced stages of the disease attempting to get out of his chair and then "freezing" as he tried to walk across the room got me off my butt and moving. Great adventures on the Camino de Santiago and with TEAM Pedaling for Parkinson's across IOWA, as well as the day to day adventures of life have lead me to writing. My first novel, a memoir, was published early 2019. It is called, you got it THE RIBBON OF ROAD AHEAD. Living with the degenerative neurological disease Parkinson's, ULTREIA is a word that guides me. I have chosen it as the name of my business ULTREIA BOOKS. It comes from Latin and old French and means "unfailing courage". In the old days, pilgrims would call "Ultreïa" to each other as encouragement "Go up, go further!" Nowadays we would say "You can do this thing". It takes courage to live with Parkinson's. May I face each day with unfailing courage. Ab Here is more about me; I was living an active lifestyle riding horses, hiking, climbing and snow skiing when at age fifty I was diagnosed with Parkinsons. Retiring from my career as a speech-language pathologist I decided to “take to the road” to battle the disease. My first steps, walking out her door to the mailbox, lead to trekking over 1000 miles of pilgrimage trails on the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. A dusty bike discovered in the garage resulted in four rides on the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa with the Pedaling for Parkinsons Team. These adventures inspired me to write a memoir The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey with Parkinson’s Disease. I blogs about my everyday life as a middle-aged woman in the mid-stages of Parkinson’s disease. My honest, humorous, and casual narrative style brings the reader to an intimate understanding of my resilience and acceptance. My blog, sharing the name of my book ”The Ribbon of Road Ahead” can be found at After completing a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology from Eastern Washington University I received certification in School Leadership and Administration from Lewis and Clark College. I provided speech pathology services and later became a program director completing 32 years in the wide geographic expanse of eastern Oregon. Active in the Oregon Speech-Language and Hearing Association I received honors of the association and the presidential award for work on recruitment and retention of speech and hearing professionals. Il presented numerous papers and projects at local, state and regional professional conferences. I was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to two terms of the Oregon Board of Examiners of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the state’s licensing and consumer protection agency. Since my diagnosis in 2008, I has become active in the Parkinson’s community as an advocate, an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation and support group facilitator for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon. I was appointed the regional patient representative for the Parkinson's Foundation’s Women with PD TALK study. In September of 2019 the Michael J Fox Foundation selected me to participate in the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington DC. As an attendee at the World Parkinson Congress in 2016 in Portand, Oregon, I presnted a poster session examining the decision making process for patients considering deep brain stimulation. At the 2019 WPC in Kyoto, Japan I presented a poster on vision concerns of women with PD and lead small group discussions. Myr book The Ribbon of Road Ahead has provided many speaking opportunities for Carol. In 2019 and early 2020 she visited 24 support groups in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California to share her thoughts on living well with the disease. In addition, she has presented talks for The Center on Aging in San Francisco, Parkinson's Place in Las Vegas, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation in Richland WA and virtually through their HOPE online program. In late 2020 I rejuvenated her voice and narrated her book. It became available as an audio book in 2021. As part of this project I read stories over the airwaves on RadioParkies Australia with DJ Madonna and in Great Britain with DJ Johnny Parky. She and her husband Charlie have two adult sons. They live on a small hobby farm in eastern Oregon. Contact Information: Carol Clupny PO BOX 128, Hermiston, OR 97838 (541) 720-4256

2 thoughts on “The Night the Horses Left

    1. Good story to read as the sky darkens on this rainy afternoon. It sounds like your sadness has become someone else’s joy.

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