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Sometimes expectations take me by surprise

June 16, 2017

It seems like nothing in our lives goes as expected.

I love the statement, “We plan and God laughs.”

Whether you believe in a higher power or not, you can probably think of a time or two when you thought nothing could go wrong, until it did.

Sometimes our expectations are emotional ones. The birth of a child brings us tremendous joy, until we think of what might have happened instead, and the tears fall. We go to a funeral expecting to wallow in our grief, and end up in a corner, laughing at a memory of our loved one.

I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that I was having to retire my horse, Snoopy. My horse trainer and I had decided to take him to one last show, a farewell engagement. In the weeks leading up to the event, I was constantly on the edge of devastation. I couldn’t even talk about Snoopy without tearing up.

Everyone around me was warned that I would be a weeping mess for four days. It would take all my grit to get through the show weekend without blubbering constantly.

How constantly? I bought two boxes of tissues.

And then the weekend came and I was surprised. Where I expected tears, I was instead focused on the work involved, laughing with my friends, and not thinking about Snoopy’s last ride, at least not in concrete terms.

We were scheduled to ride once on Thursday and once on Saturday. Thursday’s ride came and went without any emotional outbursts. I felt sad, but peaceful, as I took him back to his stall and tried to tie him up so I could unsaddle him.

Snoopy had a better idea, according to him. Even though I was tying him in front of a feedbag full of hay, he wanted the hay on the ground instead. I pushed him to the hay bag and reached up to clip him to the tie.

He pushed back – right onto my foot.

If you cannot imagine what it feels like for a 1000-pound animal wearing metal shoes to thrust all its weight on your toes, then lean in (to get at the hay), let me try to describe it: I now know what the Wicked Witch felt like when Dorothy dropped that house on her.

The foot swelled immediately. There was a mad search for ice (we found some), ibuprofen was dug from my purse,and everyone else did my chores while I kicked myself for being stupid enough to put my foot in harm’s way.

The rest of the day was spent wondering if the foot was broken. I convinced everyone it wasn’t. If nothing else, my denial had some evidence to back it up. After all, I could wiggle my toes, and I could walk. I had to ride on Saturday, and that meant my foot was not broken.

Two days of ice, ibuprofen and rest, and I had a colorful foot that could be stuffed into a cowboy boot. I rode Snoopy in the show arena for one last time.

That’s when the tears came. It wasn’t an ugly, sobbing cry, just rivers of water pouring down my face, like a dam breaking. We packed up and I drove home, weeping all the way.

My expectations were eventually met, just not the way I expected them to be.

Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer wizard and horsewoman. E-mail her at

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