We have among our herd a couple of seniors – Terry a fearless old trail blazing Morgan who looks at you with deep brown eyes that have seen it all. He has been beloved of his owner for more than 20 years and is a secret favourite of mine. His very presence can calm my boy Romy down when we’re out in a forest and a rock they have passed a hundred times suddenly looks suspicious. Those of you who know horses understand what inexplicable terror this may strike into their big hearts.
A grand old dame named Lily and a little he-monster called Pegliaro (Pegs for short) are two four legged friends I’ve had the honour to hang out with at our co-op barn. Lily is fully blind and Pegs has lost one of his eyes and they hang out together to share the one remaining good eye between them. Lily was the mainstay lesson horse every stable wants – she carefully looked after every young charge on her back for generations, until her eyesight failed and she was retired. It’s too dangerous for her to be with other full size horses now but she’s queen of the paddock with her 3 mini companions – Pegs being her shadow.
You get immersed in the more basic concerns of life while working around animals and I feel blessed to experience that at our communal barn. As you may have read here before Northern winters bring a lot of challenges to caring for horses and especially older ones like Terry and Lily.
Over the summer we do our best to fatten them up to prepare them for the cold months. They have pasture and hay on demand and as you can see Lily loves her hay! A thousand pound horse really should add a hundred to their weight to be ready for what’s ahead.
Try as we might though sometimes you can’t do enough. Terry left us Christmas Day although the vet and my friend, his heartbroken owner, did their best to keep him here. And Lily left us this week…her inflamed hooves and swollen joints wouldn’t carry her any longer. They both have lost their fight with winter and old age.
In a society that farms sentient animals like them for meat it may seem silly to some to be sentimental since they really have been among the more fortunate. But they worked with us, played with us, they’ve had their stories, their joys and challenges and a few of us will mourn the passing of these two sweet old creatures.