Goodbye my good friend

May the sun shine on you and may the pasture be lush. There are a few instances during your long life that stand out in my mind and that I need to share – Dr Marianne Thomson

The Sheik

The morning we found you in the corner of the pasture with your new, firstborn, foal next to you , having caught us, done the foaling, first time out, all on your own! The way the other mares stood respectfully in the opposite corner of the pasture. Then I knew you were a queen among mares.

Al Nitak

Then,the very next year,you had your “Fat Boy” foal. My goodness what an ugly head he had – looked like a coffin, and what a temper  he had on him! That two foals from the same parents could look so utterly different, have such opposite temperaments! Fat Boy stayed fat no matter what we tried after weaning him. He went to the sales fat, he raced as a block of a horse.

Lisa, his lady jockey, told me she was sick with fear every time she rode him! So the years passed, you never again produced such good athletes, but in your daughters we hope the magic will re-appear.

Remember the year you were sick after foaling and you rejected your foal ? Two days later one of your mates foaled and we decided to let her raise your foal and raise hers on the bottle. When we carried this foal destinied for the bottle, away on a blanket, you were just there in the camp.

You pricked your ears, whinnied and said “what have you there?” On an impulse we put you into the stable with the new, still wet foal and you took it immediately. You refused to have the one that had caused you grief when foaling, but not averse to the stranger!

That little foal used to scoot around under your tummy, between your hind legs, whilst the other mare had your giant to deal with to her befuddlement! Two years ago I had you brought in again to see if we could try once more for a Silvano. I have never in my long life had such a clear, undoubted communication with any horse as then.

You stood in the examination crush, as ever the perfectly behaved lady. As i pulled out my arm from examining your spent ovaries, you turned your long neck right back, looked me straight in the eye and said: “Haven’t I done enough for you? Please let me be now!” I got the message loud and clear my friend!

How could I not, when you had given me a beautiful Jet Master filly to take your place, the year before. You spent your last  four or so winters in the pampered “Blanket Brigade” and for this I am proud and grateful. Every night, every rainy day, in a clean stable, with a blanket plus an infrared lamp for the old aches and pains.

You missed your friend Golden Apple  (Pomodoro, Guest For Gold) when she left last year. You still had Jazz Champion (Almah, Zambomba, Zambucca) and Bacio (Buscador). Last year your old friend bacio gave birth and bled internally as old mares are wont to do.

She nursed her foal through the long night of pain, but lay down and died at daybreak. Keeping in mind how you had taken on another foal before, I brought you to the stable. With pricked ears you sniffed Bacio’s body, walked straight past and licked the foal.

You must have really loved Bacio because you  loved that little Windrush filly like your own, trotting down with her when the grooms would arrive with her milkbucket. I am so glad that you went quietly, in a green pasture, on a warm summer night, with no wasting away, no chronic pain. Rest well, old lady.

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