(Photo courtesy of NIki DeLancey, DeLancey Stables)
She was 24-years-old. She had arthritic front knees, and a swayed back. On Friday, she "mared up" and got into a kicking fight with younger mare. Initially, the other mare tried to get away, but the old mare kept after her. Finally, the younger mare, wearing shoes, whirled and kicked. The old mare took off around the barn, packing her hind leg. I got the herd run into the corral, and sorted into their respective pens.
I haltered the old girl, and led her into the barn. By then, she was able to put weight on the leg. She had a cut on her canon and another on her stifle. We doctored her, and put her in a pen by herself. She seemed to be improving, then she started declining again.
She was a winner in her day. She carried her older owner around the dressage ring, and through some two-phase events. Later, when her owner was in her 70s, the mare helped the lady win a season-end barrel racing buckle.
She was a trooper in the 4-H arena. Her owner's granddaughter showed her for many years, and won numerous championships. The mare earned that young girl many buckles, too.
I also rode her off and on. She had a walk that would take you to Texas, and a lope that jarred your teeth out. Ironically, one stint of my riding her involved being a lead horse for the mare that kicked her, when that mare was learning to be a saddle horse.
She finished her riding career carrying a young rider in the rodeo arena. She ran barrels and poles, and worked as a goat tail tying horse. That little girl won a year-end saddle with the old mare.
Then she was retired, living out life at the boarding barn where she had lived since she was five.
She was one of those horses that we didn't like some days, but we always loved. She had some truly stupid moments in her life, and we wondered what possessed her. She picked fights with any horse stabled next to her. She had a few little quirks, and came by the addition to her name of, "You ol' bitch," honestly.
She loaded onto the trailer this morning, not to go to a horse show or rodeo, but to go to the vet. Her final trip took her to that kindness that our animals deserve in the end.
Even though there are those that will say, "She was just a horse," she touched many lives. Contrary to popular belief, cowgirls do cry. As we've done before, and will do again, we will cry for a horse.
Don't Cry for the Horses
Brenda Riley Seymore
Don't cry for the horses that life has
A million white horses, forever to
Don't cry for the horses now in
As they dance and prance to
a heavenly band.
They were ours as a gift, but never
As they close their eyes, forever to
Their spirits unbound, forever to fly.
A million white horses, against the
Look up into Heaven. You will see
The horse that we lost, the horse we
Manes and tails flying, they gallop
They were never yours, they were
Don't cry for the horses, they will be
When our time has come, they will
show us the way.
Do you hear that soft nicker close to
Don't cry for the horses, love the
ones that are here.
#horses #sorrel #mare #riding #rodeo #euthanasia
Jennie Lawrence is the author of Soap Suds Row - The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses 1802 -1876. She also writes a regular column for African Violet Magazine, and has done freelance work. She has started to dabble in children's literature as well.