Saying farewell to a good horse is tough for any horseman.
I’ve appreciated having my opinions, ideas and perspectives on the equine world voiced via my blog. I try to take a candid angle and attempt to approach every topic with a bit of sensitivity, honesty, understanding and a little humor whenever I can. I am constantly learning more about this wide, equine world we live in, and I’m hungry to share my experiences with anyone who might have five minutes to read about them.
But I’ll tell you, my latest lesson has been a tough one. I’ve experienced a fair share of disappointment, volatility and even loss with all of the animals in my care. With the numbers we see and care for, it seems as though viruses, illness and injuries are just part of the territory. I always try my best to give them the proper medical attention within reason for us and our customers, make the right decisions for the welfare of the animal at hand, and very occasionally, mourn the loss when things don’t go quite right.
But until this point, I’ve never had to say goodbye to one of the really special ones.
For the past few years, we were lucky enough to own a pony we called Crumpet. He was a strong, short, 11-year-old Shetland gelding who stood at about 11 hands. He was a chocolate palomino with a little doll head and a strong hip. He was always happy to meet you at the gate and have a visit. He was a gentle, kind soul with a plucky sense of humor and a love for children. He was my daughter’s first pony and he instilled basic skills and strong confidence in her while keeping her safe in many different types of situations. And although she will miss him, it’s my husband and I who have had the toughest time hanging up his halter and saying goodbye.
When we lose a good one, it hurts our hearts. They are always more than just a horse. They are our partners and an individual that affects our daily lives. They might have been the foundation to our breeding program, or the horse who put us on the map as a successful trainer or showman. They might be the gelding who drug a thousand calves to the fire for us, and then drug a thousand more with our kids, always keeping them safe and out of a wreck. The good ones are standouts in every way — they’ve got heart and try and a love for their job. As trainers, we hope we are lucky enough to get more than one in our career. As horsemen, we know we’re lucky if we stumble across just one in our journey. They are an asset in our lives and always loved. They are often quirky and talented, intelligent and unforgettable.
Sometimes we lose them in their golden years, in a fight against time and age. It’s the kindest thing we can do to say goodbye while they still have nobility and comfort. Sometimes it’s a decline in health during the middle of their life, as we battle all sorts of different ailments and finally have to make the correct and humane call to let them have peace. And once in awhile, it’s a freak accident or trauma, and the goodbye is swift and heart-wrenching.
So, to all of you who have lost the good ones in your lives, my condolences. All we can do is continue forward, believing that we will be blessed with more wonderful equine personalities in our careers. I’m learning that it’s okay to ask why things sometimes unfold unfairly. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have had such a special little pony in my girl’s life, even though it didn’t end as we had hoped. And, it’s okay to miss our good horses for what they were, because when they leave us, we mourn the loss of more than just a competitor, a moneymaker, an athlete, a trail partner, or an animal.
We miss our friend.