Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Remembering Bess

Something made me remember Bess. Bess was a teeny tiny Shetland pony who came to us when her owner died. She was a bay and white pinto, with short little legs and an ATTITUDE!!!

I had assumed she had just been a pasture ornament as even a really small adult human was immediately bucked off and slammed to the ground, labeled an untrained old pony she lived a lavish life at EOTS.
One day a trainer tried putting a child on Bess, I warned against it, but as the trainer had her own insurance and was able to keep a tight grip on the pony, reluctantly I said Okay. As soon as that tiny person climbed aboard, I saw Bess begin to change. She squared her legs under her and stood like a stone, tucked her furry little chin, then – she showed us all – She knew everything!!

Two little girls received their very first riding lessons on Bess. When taken to the Bolton Fair horse show, she was entered in the walk-trot classes. All the other children in the class were over-horsed on their Mama's horses or big school horses. They galloped out of control or just stopped still, afraid their precious little riders might fall. Our little shaggy Bess jauntily trotted into her corners while her teeny riders posted their little butts off! They won the first and grand champion of the day!

I just stood their as proud as if I had hatched her myself- speechless and crying shamelessly! I guess she showed me!!
Two months later Bess died. She was 28 year's old. As she lay on the ground at the very end she was surrounded by deer. Wrapped in love we let her go.

Never, never underestimate the spirits and power of animals. Even after all these years, I still cry for our lost ones.

At EOTS we provide end-of-life care for those old or broke beyond repair. Horses that no one else would care to salvage, live here with us. They let us know when it is time for them to go. Until then we give them all that they need to comfortably go on living. We are, I guess, a hospice facility and they help to heal us. We are all broken too, they are our rescuers.

They all have a story. Most of the time we can only guess what it is. Then one day, like Bess, they reveal a little bit. Bess should have died at home with the family who loved her all those years ago, with the now grown-up children she had taught to ride, the ones she carried safely through horse shows, the ones she obviously loved enough to want to please them so well. They outgrew her and she disappeared into the world, only to end up with us at the end of her life. But with a last Ta-Dah she certainly showed us!! Pasture ornament indeed!

Return of Sugar Plum

After receiving a teary phone call from the foster mommy of our teeny black mini horse Sugar Plum, we brought her home. Her caregiver had developed Alzheimer's disease and could no longer keep her. This was a heroic and selfless decision for her to make as she loved the little horse very much.

It saddens me beyond words to see a beloved friend that I have known for forty years, be taken over by this horrible disease. Old age is, I believe, the worst repercussion of the sin of Adam. At some point we just fade into the masses of other aging humans and all that we ever were disappears.

Sugar Plum came to us a few years ago but was only here a little while before being placed in her new home. As usual we could never find out much about her past or where she came from. We can only guess sometimes. But Butterfly knew!! Butterfly, our little blind mini came from a herd of 600 others from NH!!! She has been with us since June 2004. When we turned the two out together Butterfly glued herself to Sugar Plum. From a horse that had always chose to be alone, who desired no friends – except Gabriel, our huge gray stallion, she could not stop touching Sugar Plum. She hugged, kissed, groomed and leaned against her all day. She followed her everywhere. These two obviously knew each other from the past, this wasn't a “Oh hello, you are my size, let's be friends” NO, this was a, “My dear best friend, I have missed you so much, I can't believe you've returned to me!”

We got Butterfly when she was 2 years old. We have had her for more than 8 years. Upon examining the teeth of the two of them I found them to be exactly the same age. I believe that when this group of 600 minis were dispersed, Sugar Plum was one of them. Not only were the two from this group but I believe they were born the same year and played together as children. And they Never Forgot Each Other!!
All over the world people are abusing, neglecting and murdering these incredibly brilliant, loyal, loving beings that are capable of things beyond our ability to grasp.
They choose to serve us stupid humans and forgive our incredible mistakes. When a partnership forms between our very different species you can almost here the click! One never, ever gets over the loss of the other.

A new family moved to the house Stormy was buried 35 years ago. I stopped by to tell them. Now that they are the caretakers of her grave, I asked them if they would please leave it undisturbed. As I spoke, tears streamed down my face. After all these years none have ever taken her place. The couple was very sweet and understanding. I can only imagine what they must have wondered when a sobbing old woman, stranger showed up at their house asking them to protect the grave of a horse that died 35 years ago.

Horses are willing to take us into their circle and love us all their lives, imperfect beings that we are – if we give them the chance. But it was also an absolute fact that they remember each other no matter how many years pass. As with Butterfly and Sugar Plum 8 years apart did not erase their friendship. Though Butterfly has very limited vision in her lefSut eye and is totally blind in the other, she recognized, somehow, her old friend. They will never be separated again.

There are so few truly beautiful moments for me in life, but this was one. For their gift to me, my gift to them will be forever, for once, a happily-ever-after.