Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hope (and ponies) Spring Eternal

The other day I got a call from my good friend up north who, among her other talents and endeavors, is the caretaker/custodian/miracle worker who has kept Star (the ancient pony) not only alive, but happy, fat and appropriately cranky.

Since Star is (by our best estimation) pushing 40, every time there's a bump or a bruise, or a stiffened step, we reasonably prepare ourselves for what is sure to eventually be the downfall of such a sturdy little champion.  In fact, over the past four years, we've had at least once annual scare, which has resulted in D making the dutiful call that this might actually be it, and to inform me the vet will be coming out tomorrow...

I can distinctly remember one call that came while I was in the middle of teaching a three day seminar.  At the time I was reviewing some tools on identifying our personal roles, missions, and impact when I just totally flipping lost it.

Trying to coach a room full of our (fantastic) contractor folks on putting pen to paper about their hopes and dreams is not nearly as futile as stereotypes would make it seem, but all my mushy, gushy, encouragement about where we've been, what we've done and how we'll be remembered was enough to send me into a tail spin since all I could think about was my damn cute pony and how she'd probably accomplished more in her 30+ years than I will when I reach her age.

Of course, in brilliant pony form, she righted herself and set about to several more years of terrorizing the big horses around her and conning anyone close enough into giving her treats

But this week I got another call.  Same story, same worries - this time might actually be it.

I mean , Star is 38 (by my current count, but who knows, a lady never tells her age) and even I can admit that she's got more than a few aged tells that belie her mischievous little face - But in every previous instance, she's always (ALWAYS) pulled out of it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not delusional.  I understand that most people don't have pets that were born in the 70's (parrots and elephants excluded..) and I also am entirely supportive of D letting her go whenever it is that she's no longer enjoying her daily life.  I get it.

At one point we figured out that Star was alive when my mom was in college.  That's insane.  Not only has this pony had significantly more careers than I have, but she's laid witness to some interesting political times, progress, and development.  That deserves some serious respect (which she clearly demands) and is a little mind blowing to think about.

Somehow it makes it both easier and harder to think about her being gone.  I've lost other horses and pets over the years, but somewhere, rooted deeply in my 12 year old brain, I still feel like Star will just always be there.

It almost feels like the certainty of a first love.  That notion that it will never-ever (even if he goes to college before you) disappear.

As a kid, I never thought Star would disappear.
As an adult, I consciously *know* that she will, but there's still a lingering shred of adolescent that hopes she won't.

Of course, I will always have my favorite photos of our first cross county run, our favorite spot out in our woods, her galloping in the pasture, me sleeping on her back and the first time we scored 70% in a second level test. For such a small little thing, her extended trot was something of glory.... the lateral work? different story.  Her dressage progressed steadily in our years together, although I could never be certain if it was because Star became more willing to acknowledge how much she actually knew, or if because my approaching 5'11" frame could dictate where her balance was a bit more effectively :)...

This time, it looks like she stabilized again... at least for the time being.  I'm sure Star's still not out of the woods, but I'm never surprised to get the follow-up call saying that she's on fluids and anti-inflams and seems to be fine.  That little pony is probably perfectly preserved in her 38 year collection of piss and vinegar.  Not much else explains it quite frankly.

Regardless, she's still my first love, and always will be even if her little gray nose finally gets beyond my reach.


  1. This was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. Such a sweet, sweet story. I would love to know if the first pony that taught me to ride is still around.

  2. We lost my "Star" - her name was Virginia Dare, aka Ginger - last spring at 34. I knew her as a youngster, but didn't get the pleasure of riding her until her 27th year. She was in charge of my re-rider education, and she did me right. :)

    If we weren't so darn far away from equine vet care - I have no doubt she'd still be here. She beat the pneumonia from her choking incident, but her throat was ultimately too damaged.

    I hope your Star pulls through again, and that when her time comes, she goes peacefully and comfortably. :)

  3. What a touching post. I hope Star can pull through yet again. It is mind boggling to think about how much that pony has lived through.

  4. Lovely post!
    We have a little 12 hand pony, "Napoleon" who I am sure I will end up growing old with (and I am only 30!).
    Star may be around for quite some time... I have a friend whose pony, "Pepper," lived to the ripe old age of 47!

  5. To have a pet from the 70's? That is amazing no matter the animal; Star is older than the oldest parrot in our family (She is in her twenties).

    70% at Second Level! She is a wonder pony! I would love to see her extended trot.

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes. My childhood pony turned twenty one this year and I miss her so much. I still sometimes wish I hadn't given her to my friend four years ago. She's only an hour away but I wish she were still here where I could see her every day. When I was a kid I always tried to imagine what it would be like when we'd be in our thirties together. Very heart warming post. Thanks for sharing.


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