Goodbyes. They're inevitable.
With love, comes the possibility of loss and with our animals(/teachers/supporters/friends/confidants), it's almost a certainty.
I've been extraordinarily lucky with all of my animals. I've only ever lost one dog (he was ancient and perfect and ready to go) and a few cats (some to age, one to cancer and a couple presumably to coyotes).
I've never lost a horse.
I've sold horses, and I've lost track of horses who I spent years with. I suppose some of them have probably long since gone onto greener pastures, but not knowing is different than knowing, and yesterday I had the new experience of knowing that my dear, sweet (sorta mean), wise old pony was indeed ready to go.
In her grand old age of forty-something, her body finally betrayed her age and after suffering from a few seizures, yesterday she had a bad choke.
Nothing was able to clear it, leaving surgery as the only option.
A surgery that she probably wouldn't survive, and even if she did - what for?
So, one of my oldest and best-friends made the call. She let me know what was going on, and since I was still hauling Prairie back up from our lesson, there was no feasible way for me to get to the pony without delaying her relief - something I couldn't even begin to ask of her.
Star hasn't been part of my daily riding life since I was 14. But she's always been a part of who I am as a Rider, an Owner and a Person. Some of my best moments and biggest achievements were on that pony. She was the first horse I stayed up with all night during a colic. The first horse I ever gave a bath to or braided for a schooling show. She was the first horse I fell off and the first horse I qualified for nationals on. She taught me pretty much everything I know about not getting bit, or kicked, or scraped off on a tree on the trail.
She professionally refused to acknowledge any previous training and taught me to teach her. I'll never forget the first Prelim cross country fence I took (or rather, she took me over) and I'll certainly never forget my first Musical Freestyle. More importantly, she was that perfect friend and supporter through adolescence and gave me the unconditional affection that every 12 year old girl needs from somewhere.
One of my favorite memories was one night after a fight with my parents (presumably about making my bed or math or something equally epic) and I decided that I was running away. I thoughtfully packed a backpack of snacks and books (I was really going to be prepared), but then after slipping out my window and making my way to the barn I realized books weren't as important as grain for my pony, so I dumped out my backpack, filled it with Star's grain and then legged up and trotted away bareback.
I'm pretty sure I was only gone for a few hours, but for those few hours I had my pony, some granola bars and enough grain to keep Star motivated for a couple of days. It was all a 13 year old really needs.
So I'll miss her. Even though I wasn't the one making her mashes every morning or bringing her in from her pasture every night, I'll miss knowing that my old, cranky pony was tootling around enjoying her retirement. And I'll miss the occasional text with a picture of her doing something absurd.
But I'm glad that the last time I saw her she was trotting around a giant field and scratching her rump on a pile of lumber.
And I take (almost) total comfort in the fact that she was a strong, healthy, happy pony for the last 20 years of her life that I had the pleasure of knowing her.
So Star - I thank you for all of it (even the hard parts) and I'll never forget you.
|One of my first rides on the lady.|
|and one of my last visits to see her.|