Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The End and The Beginning

Yesterday was a sad and happy day. First, my old gelding Thunder (show name, Stealin' Your Thunder) went down hill last week and I made the hard decision to put him down. Thunder was between 28 and 33 (Ashley and I always called him 33 as it was cooler) and had been with me since 2005 except for two breaks where he lived with other families teaching kids to ride. Thunder taught me to jump, drive a cart, and take care of old horses. He taught Ashley to canter, ride bareback, and won her a Reserve Hi-Point 11-17 with the CEA for the Umatilla Sage Raders show series in 2007. He neck-reined for western and adored pole-bending and barrel racing. He also did quadrille practice, I took Dressage lessons on him and showed him Hunt Seat. He was also one of the best trail horses I ever met. He taught multiple children to ride. Ashley's sister, Maddy, took several lessons on him and did her first solo ride on him only weeks ago. I always knew he would never be a pasture pet, he would be galloping one day and just gone the next. I just didn't know how right I would be. Thunder did a difficult trail ride just a couple weeks ago. He was star, did better than our younger horses. Then, last week, he stopped eating all his food and was dehydrated. I moved him to a different paddock and he ate a little more, but not with his usual appetite. He spent all his time standing in the shade under his tree and no longer nickered to me when he heard me at the house. He was always the one to yell the loudest that he wanted food. He didn't run around anymore, didn't glare at the other horses not to eat his mush. He barely moved around and looked very stiff. He looked "tucked" up by his hips and started dragging his back toes. This all happened within days. Dr. Adams said he probably had kidney failure and definitely had something neurological going on since he was dragging his back feet. She said he wasn't even pasture safe because of that. She said it was definitely time to let him go. Ashley and her mother and I were there when he went. He made it very easy on us. He laid down spine-up. Like he was sleeping, his head resting on the ground. I was shocked, usually horses lay on their side and look dead. We hugged him and cried and said goodbye.

Then, I sent Ashley home for a couple hours and went into high-gear. Ashley knew we were doing a small celebration of her birthday as it was this last weekend while she was out of town. I had made cupcakes. What she didn't know was that I had gotten her her OWN horse. I went and picked up the horse and then positioned the trailer so I could tie the horse behind it and you couldn't see it unless you were in the field. I tied a purple ribbon on her halter. Grandma brought me icing and ice cream. I iced the cupcakes and got everything ready. Everyone arrived and we ate cupcakes and ice cream. I asked her what her birthday wish was after we sang. "My own horse, of course!" she said, everyone laughed. I have her a riding helmet and a pair of breeches. Her mom had told her I had a gift for her, so she thought this was it. Then, I told her she should take everyone down to see Dazzle since that is who she would be riding now. She had family there that didn't know Dazzle, so she thought that was a good idea and everyone trooped down to the paddocks. As we went by the paddocks they asked who owned each horse and Ashley was telling them, "That's Trudy's horse", and "That's Bethany's horse." As they crowded around Dazzle's paddock, I pulled the new horse from behind the trailer and walked up behind the group. I yelled, "Ashley!". She turned around. As she did I said, "And this is YOUR horse." She started screaming, Oh MyGod, Oh My god! and crying. She ran up and threw her arms around the mare's neck crying and still saying "I can't believe it", etc. It was awesome. Her parent's were crying and my grandma was crying. I teared up too, it was perfect. The mare stood there, totally stoic about the crying teenager on her neck. The most amazing part is that his mare is blind in one eye. Wasn't spooked in the least.

Ashley walked the mare around a bit and I told her about it. She is a 24 yr old reg. Appy mare. She is even chestnut. Ashley has always wanted a chestnut mare and had recently decided she wanted an Appy. She is thrilled. She gave her a bath and detangled her mane and tail. Then I took some pictures of them walking in the arena. A couple hours later the mare's former owner dropped by and signed the sales agreement and gave us her papers. She gave us her email so we can send pictures and updates. Ashley was happy she got to meet her horse's previous owner.

Next, Ashley put her horse in the paddock that had been Thunder's and showed her around. Then she had to go through the paper work with me. She is going to work off board to have her at my house and have me supply hay for her. She was still not sure it wasn't a dream when she went home last night. She is supposed to ride her today for the first time, so hopefully that all goes well.

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