On Sunday I sadly got to experience the down side of horsemanship. You never understand, really until you experience the loss first hand. From our first pony club horses we learn the basics: how to groom and tack up, to treat boo-boos, and pick out feet. This is all part of taking care of our horses. We put fly spray on them and wave flies away from their eyes, we run to smack one of those huge horrible bomber flies off of their backs. We give them vaccinations, worm them, have their feet and teeth taken care of by the best professionals we can find. We massage them if they’re sore, and we blanket them if they’re cold.
This is all part of horse care, and when it comes to final care-giving –to decide to help them by making their pain stop, we owe it to them to give them that care. It’s a gesture coming from a place of love and trying to help them, however painful it is for US. It sucks to watch a horse suffer and its unbearably frustrating to feel unable to help them. But we CAN help them. And we helped Cecil when he needed us most.
Sunday afternoon Cecil colicked – we had just returned from a wonderful hack and on the way back to the paddock he tried to lay down as I was leading him. I knew something wasn’t right – I had the sinking feeling that we all get. I gave him banamine and had the vet out immediately.
When examined he seemed like it was resolving. The vet didn’t feel any impaction, he was acting normally and we all thought he’d be ok. An hour after the vet left Cecil went down again. I had to greet Allie from her trip to the WEG with “we need to call the vet again.” Back came the vet. More meds to help his pain didn’t help him, at all, and he appeared to be getting worse before our eyes. It came on very fast, and was very aggressive. Ultimately, the decision was made to put him down, and it broke our hearts.
As I recover from the shock of us losing him, I’ve sat down many times to try to write about him.
But before I could get to writing about this difficult reality of horsemanship, I was eclipsed by others’ writing about their own experiences and stories about him.
When Cecil first came to CANTER, he was with Kelly and she wrote about him being all grumpy and annoyed when she tried to groom him. He was all full of piss and vinegar until she laid the saddle pad on his back. Suddenly, the fire breathing dragon was proven to be a big phony and the true blue sweetheart was exposed. Although he won 3 stakes races, and nearly $400K, we have video proof her trying to get him to canter… this is priceless in my opinion!
He really didn’t want to run anymore. He was happy going for a nice swingy trot in the woods jumping logs and even piles of stones! As Allie said, he was destined to be someone’s awesome foxhunter.
Allie wrote about him going to a home in NC where he was bored and angry, and turned out with a horse he clearly thought of as inferior. And as we all know: idle hooves are the devil’s playground.
He allegedly tried to bite people, cribbed incessantly, refused to stand on crossties and head bonked people. (well, that last one is true..) He wanted to be with his equals – other thoroughbreds! So we took him back!
We turned him out with my horse ,Tip, another serious self –fancier who likes to put teeth marks on those HE decides are inferior. Tip never put a mark on Cecil and they spent days eating the same piece of grass, watching over each other sleeping, drinking out of the trough together, and taking turns eating carrots – never a cross word between them.
Cecil never gave me a moment’s worry or hesitation when riding him. Though he wasn’t the most athletic jumper, he would try so hard, and though his eyes said, ”Seriously?” the rest of him would try his heart out. On our last hack he popped up a tiny bank and felt fantastic! He felt like such a part of the family that I often forgot he was for sale. He was forgiving and honest – I believe he spent his life trying to do what people wanted him to do.
I would tell him every day that very soon he’d get his very own person. But, Cecil thought he already had found his forever people. His people were Allie, Kelly, me, and everyone involved with CANTER. It was Boo and her daughter, Carson, whose farm he lived at and who fed him bags of carrots! His was such a big personality: there was plenty of him to go around!
It was all of us whose paths he had crossed who loved his robust personality, studly little strut, and no nonsense work ethic. Yes, Cecil had already found his forever people the moment CANTER first picked him up… and we had found him. He left this world surrounded by his people and we loved him, and I think he knew it.
I already miss him very much.