I have read posts in some of the groups I am in, this week, about the loss of a beloved animal. Unanimously, these are responded to with an outpouring of support and telling of similar stories. I too, have had many losses over a lifetime spent with horses. Two were especially difficult. The first was an OTTB. I worked for a couple of veterinary practices at the track and saw horses needing homes all of the time- this was the first and only one that made it to my barn. He was not attractive and not fast, but he was KIND. We spent two years together, which was not the plan. I was going to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses and give him to a kid to 4-H, unfortunately his long list of pros was outweighed by his one weakness, EPM. Luckily, we were able to get enrolled in a study at The Ohio State School of Veterinary Medicine. He happily popped in the trailer for the 3+ hr. ride to Columbus once every two months for a year to be evaluated and to see if the treatment (drug or placebo?) was having an effect. He endured blood draws and spinal taps by students without so much as a foot stomp. We ultimately lost him to the disease, but not before he taught me some valuable lessons. He had more GRACE than most people I know and JOY. He had come from Nebraska , not known for being heavily forested, so when he came to my house, where half of the pasture is in woods he acted as if he had never seen it before. He ran a big loop through the trees each time I turned him out, and spent most of his time there, even when the other horses were eating hay up by the barn. Eventually, I put hay out for him in the woods; and he so very happy. He loved to trail ride, that reawakened me to the simple JOY of being in the woods! Thanks, Cedar for EVERYTHING! I like to think that he contributed to the treatment- not a cure, yet, but a treatment for EPM. The second horse was more recent, 1 1/2 yrs. ago. This one might be more profound because it kind of snuck up on me. We got Moose at 4 and had him for 25 years. He was never "my" horse. We got him for my husband, who only rode occasionally, so he spent most of his time just hanging out, though true to his breed- Appendix QH, he could and would do anything asked of him.. This was never truer than when my daughter's mare "lost it" at Fair and couldn't be shown, luckily we were able to swap Moose in. I pulled him from the pasture and brought him out. We tied him to the trailer, pulled his 18" mane, clipped him in the aisle of the barn, with spectators ( strollers and all) walking by, and got him in the ring, oh and by the way, my daughter had NEVER ridden him before! He continued to shine in his understated way for the rest of his years. From him I learned, to never underestimate anyone, be it two of four legged. Everyone has something to contribute, not just those who are the "loudest". I also, learned DIGNITY. Even at the end when he was in pain, he never put an ear back or complained about my ministrations to make him more comfortable. Moose, I miss your nicker and your head toss every time I enter the barn, and still, cannot conjure your memory without tears rolling down my face. I count you as one of the BEST men I have ever had in my life!
So much of our life with horses is about what we can teach them, hopefully, we can be open enough to learn what they have to teach us!