Photo& Poem: Go Fish


Mom took us kids in the station wagon to the
church bazaar. Homemade women’s goods for
sale; boring cross-stitched aprons, jars of choke-
cherry syrup, crocheted doilies as fine as snowflakes.

A long table with lemon meringue pies and scratch
yellow cakes with chocolate frosting lined up for
the cakewalk. I walked past game booths, a ring toss
with holy card prizes, all the way to the booth where

I was sure to win. Go fish, a white sheet hung
across the booth, construction paper fish randomly
pinned to it. I traded my only nickel for a fishing
pole with cotton string, a clothespin tied to the end.

I cast over the curtain on the second try, holding
my breath until the string jerked twice. I retrieved a
doll-sized tea set with silly flowers. The boy next
to me was equally unhappy with his plastic horse.

(in action)

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm

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Anna Blake

21 thoughts on “Photo& Poem: Go Fish”

  1. Last year I commented on “the long goodbye”, saying how I could relate because I have a 28 year old with expired teeth. Then life threw me a curve ball when out of the blue, March 18, my beloved Morgan developed laminitis. She was 24 and had been the best partner I could have dreamed of for 21 years. She was diagnosed with Cushings 3 years ago and had been on Prascend to help manage it along with a careful diet and almost daily exercise. She looked and felt great. Late winter, with no changes in our routine, she suddenly added mounds of fat on her neck and hind quarters. Then there were two days when I thought she seemed a bit stiff. By the night of that second day, she could barely walk. She had acute laminitis. For three months we tried everything we could to help her. She never felt good, and three times she was in horrible pain. The last time, she had enormous abscesses in both front feet, which drained through her soles. She felt better after they drained, but my understanding was that this wouldn’t be the last of the abscesses, and she was more than likely to suffer more bouts of laminitis. Her digital pulses never quieted down. After seeing her pain with the abscesses , I couldn’t put her through another time like that while hoping to grow new healthy hooves. I made the decision to euthanize her to spare her another likely round of agony. One of the last things I whispered to her is that I’m so sorry if I am wrong. Without a crystal ball, it was the most agonizing decision I have ever had to make. I will never know whether she could have successfully grown new feet with good laminar attachment, but with the odds against her, I couldn’t risk putting her through that excruciating pain again. I just hope and pray I did what was best for her. She will forever live in my heart. Meanwhile, my 28 year old is healthy and glowing on her mostly mush diet. My long goodbye turned into a short, very painful goodbye. Horses just don’t leave us in chronological order sometimes, do they. It is times like this that I realize that I am not really in charge of many of the events in my life. All I can do is make the best of what life dishes up. I am left making extra sure to thoroughly enjoy every minute with the two horses that are still here, because you never know when the dance will end. Though it has been just over a month, my heart is still hurting. I miss all that we had together, but am thankful that Esce will know no more pain. Thanks for listening.

    • Cindy, I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I agree 100% with Anna, a bit too soon is better.

      I’m facing that myself right now with one of our “healthy as a horse” 21-year-old geldings right now. He developed a random mild cough, lost tons of weight seemingly overnight. I diagnosed heaves prior to the vet doing so…. $1000 later. Turns out there really haven’t been any advances in treating heaves since I dealt with it almost 30 years ago in a horse in the barn I managed.

      Our horses are on 24/7 turn out with a huge run-in, fed wonderfully put up round bales from our own fields, free choice. The vet suggests stalling Harry, soaking his hay. Round bales are terrible. I challenged her to go over and grab some hay to check it out. She declined. We have panels and gates to make stalls from the run-in, we do that for vet and farrier appointments, so making a stall isn’t an issue. But Harry is our herd boss. I could be projecting, but I truly believe it would upset him terribly to be confined away from his herd.

      So I’ve done some research and am trying some essential oil blends to see if they help at all in addition to stalling him in the run-in for an hour 3 times a day to eat soaked hay, and feeding some senior feed with CocoOmega supplement.

      But I’m not confident.

      • We do our best, Shelley, and you are. For me, I think a lot about what it means to be a horse and I won’t take that away… I’ll negotiate it, but not deny it. It’s a line we all try to balance on, good luck.

  2. OHMIGOSH!! That poem (and situation) are hilarious. Did you ask the little boy to swap prizes with you? I would have been disappointed with the tea set and covered the plastic horse. I still have most of my childhood model horses and regret the few I gave away. Sigh….

  3. I never went to such an event as you describe Anna, but your words [ainted the picture perfectly.

    I too would have been terribly disappointed at the tea set. How useless… though I imagine I would have made the teacups into feed buckets for my plastic horse herd.

    What a shame that the little boy who got the horse wasn’t a prissy girl you could have traded prizes with!

    P.S. I’m turning 60 in October and just bought myself a Breyer at a thrift shop a few weeks ago. My mom gave my very extensive horse collection away when I was away at college.

  4. Most likely one of your defining moments, and I’ll bet you never gamble.
    I was about 2yo and won a (very short) footrace at our pre-school fete, only 50 metres across the park from home. Prize was an awful cellophane kewpie doll, which disintegrated like potato crisps before I got it home. (Devastation and tears) All I know about my age was I was not yet attending the pre-school, my older brother was, so could not have been 3. Never ran another footrace.
    Just up past the pre-school remained an anachronism for many more years, a dray horse kept in a yard, an old man still working the dray with local council jobs. Bread (still hot) and milk (bulk, ladled) arrived separately every morning by horse and cart, horses strolling up the road and stopping at all the right houses while the men ran the goods. Maybe I always knew that horses are brighter than we give them credit for.

  5. Anytime someone (usually my husband) says they have a surprise for me I always ask if it’s a pony! 🙂 So far not.

    • Didn’t we all wish for a pony EVERY birthday and Christmas? I was convinced we could keep one in our suburban Detroit 1/2 acre lot.

      A few years ago I found a greeting card with a cartoon of a woman standing in the doorway of her house looking out on the lawn at about 100 ponies. The caption was something like “Every birthday and Christmas wish Agnes ever made finally came true.”

      I bought all 11 copies the store had and sent them to all my horse folk girlfriends.

  6. Now I have a reason to stop at yard sales and flea markets again. I am 70 and do not need a thing. As a matter of fact I seem to generate a big pile of things for Purple Heart at least once a year. Not sure how that happens. But this precious pony toy would bring a smile to the face of my friends who are looking back at memories of our “horsey girls” past.

    I want to thank the readers who shared their stories about the tough decisions we need to be prepared to make. And for the reminder to trust your gut about what your horse needs for quality of life. You know your horse better than anyone else. Anna thank you for the reminder that too soon is better than too late. I had to make this decision many times in my life and the ones that haunt me are the times when I felt I waited too long, never that I made the decision too soon. It is difficult to know at the time. We do the best we can. Love to all.


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