This morning I fed the horses – its a beautiful day. In Canada we get maybe 25 days like this – clear sunny cool. Birds are singing in this constant perfect cadence – it plays like a mediation song as I go about doing my work. I fill buckets and say good morning to each of my herd. They all have very different personalities and different ways of greeting me.
Did you know horses liked music? I didn’t either, until UI had my own farm. When a horse is sick you will try anything in your power to make them feel better, and so over time I discovered that each of my horses has a certain song or types of sounds they like. Some like silenbce. They don’t want us chattering in their faces all the time. Others, especially younger ones like summer, like singing – in her case I always sang her “Summer Lovin” from the grease album – so now when she hears this song she comes running from anywhere to find me. I love that.
In the past three years my most special time I have to admit has been with Otis my overly tall gangly love machine of a quarter horse,.
Otis came to me through a friend who had kindly adopted him from Texas even after the vets there declared that he had navicular disorder. She has a huge heart and he was truly a “big gentle giant” as his sale advertising said. What the seller didn’t tell anyone was that Otis had been so gentle and SO perfect, they had overused him and probably destroyed his feet in the meantime.
In Otis’s case, he is the victim of what humans like to see as esthetically pleasing in a horse. Over time, we have bred quarter horses to have small tiny delicate looking feet- not big and clunky like they should be. Otis is huge 16″3′ meaning he needs MORE of a base to stand on. But he doesn’t have that – so the bones inside his front hooves are twisted and breaking causing him daily and now in th4e past two days ridiculous amounts of pain.
I have made the decision to have him put down tomorrow at 4:00 and today feel like hell.
Let me tell you about Otis…
Otis is my friend.
I am a rare a very fortunate soul to have had him in my life. Most people I imagine never have that kind of intimacy and absolute trust and love with another living being never mind something as awesome and created with “ALL SOUL” as a horse.
The horse of my life..the one you dream of when you’re a little girl.
I never dreamed of a “specific” horse physically.. like big and black or white and shiny…I loved them, all and didn’t care what they looked like really. I dreamed of the ULTIMATE relationship I would have with my horse – he would follow me and want to be with me all the time. I didn’t dream of riding and ribbons like the other girls and boys in my riding classes. I dreamed of a horse that would BE with me – and magical fairy tale like relationship a soulful understanding and connection. Like Bucephalus and Alexander something extraordinary.
I am so lucky. Otis was even better than all that.
He was with me through my mothers illness, problems in my marriage, being alone – Otis was there. He single handedly got me through this winter and the incredible depression – – I had Otis. His condition is what made me go outside every day, work with him, keep him moving for nearly four years now. Otherwise I may still be languishing in bed.
He loves and adores all humans but especially my mom. He would walk with us when she was in a wheelchair. He was the most gentle safe loving perfect listener. He never interrupted or told me what he thought he knew I just had to talk things out. And when I cried just TOO much – he would rap himself around me like a perfect blanket of love. God Ill miss him and our many hours spent in his stall, brushing him and just humming happily…
He is a grand champion line bred, in Texas he is Pine Zippo Bar something or other…blah blah blah – they tell me. Both grandfathers were most winning quarter horses in the history of quarter horses in USA. Why does this matter ? well because – humans bred him for humans – they were not thinking about the horse. .
I have tried meds, no meds, shoes, no shoes…walking, stall rest…all of it. I have gone as far as praying over his foot. I have held his leg on my lap and begged the sky. I must have looked like a lunatic in my field on my knees begging.
But my friend Otis is in terrible pain and so it is in my power to relieve him of it.
I wonder that we can’t do this for humans…
I saw my vet today and cried all over him. Poor guy. He has had to put up with me for so many years. But again – he is the most HUMAN of all the vets I know. He comes to my fundraisers, quietly always supporting those who would work hard for their horses. He doesn’t like killing them I saw today the years had not in fact hardened him – this made me feel good. I need only LOVE to be present when we do this to my horse,
I have not put many horses down in my life. My first horse to die was Ranger – Masters old parted. I was inconsolable for at least 6months.
BY time has passed and I am a real farmer now – not just a suburban throwback hoping to have a pony and a larger garden.
I am a real farmer now.
My hands are hard like leather. I like them like that. It hurts less when I cut them on baling twine.
My back is sore – because I did a good days work.
My feet are permanenelty black with dirt – cause that’s the way we roll in my garden.
I’d rather smell like midnight in the pastures than midnight in paris…:)
I am a real farmer now.
But my heart doesn’t seem very “tough” or farmerish today – I wish it would take a lesson from my hands…
When you work on a farm, you are CONSTANTLY in the middle of life and death.
Death and birth are the same. I feel sorry for people who are not aware of this. Death is not so scary. But living disconnected from nature and the reality of the earth like most people do – is very scary to me.
Death is an opening – a space for something living to come in.
I am not afraid that Otis is going to DISAPPEAR. Nothing disappears. If you work in nature – you know that very well. IO don’t know allot of farmers who fear death – their own or others.
We leave that to the city people who believe we are all separate living things.
But death is hardest on the living. I will be lieft5 here…while Otis traipses off to go see my mom and everyone else I love who is on the other side.
I KNOW he will be there for me when its my time to “ride off”…
But holy shit this is hard.
Thanks for reading. Please hug your animals and all the living creations you love tonight.
I love you buddy…