Today I said good bye to my girl, Tess. We had two and half sweet years together, but they were two and a half years of pain and discomfort for her and anguish for me. Last week I made the difficult decision to end her life before she got to the point of complete agony. Some have told me it was the brave thing to do, I just know that hard as it was for me, it was right.
Tess came to me at age 16 with a long history of hard labor behind her. In her 19 years she was a rodeo horse, a pack horse, a dude horse, and my horse. For me, she was my very first horse after over 40 years of wishing and dreaming of having one. For me, she was my girl...the only other girl on Three Boys Farm. She was sweet and calm and expressive. She'd say hi to me every morning when I came down to feed her her breakfast. She'd rub my arm with her lip when I massaged her back. She'd blow warm air onto my face when she sniffed at me to say hello.
I could tell you the whole long story about what was wrong with her and how these past two and a half years were mostly spent in search of the treatment that would heal her poor feet. But it's technical and honestly, I don't have the energy to do it. What I want to tell you is that having her in my life was a blessing and I am only regretful that she had to live so long with so much pain.
Tess tolerated the donkeys, but she loved our old guy Weed, our gentleman border horse who came to live with us two winters ago specifically to keep each other company. They fell in love over a fence and spent the last two years like an old married couple. Every evening I'd let him out of his side pasture (where he was fed his high calorie diet) and he'd romp into the main pasture (where she'd eat her low carb diet), go straight to his girl and usher her into the barn shed for the evening. "Go home, Woman," you could practically hear him say. They were both chestnut quarter horses (though she was a papered Appaloosa...however without any spots!) and they looked like bookends. He would move her around the pasture whenever he wanted...go here, go there...he was her boss.
Tonight he walks the pasture calling and calling for her.
It breaks my heart to hear him.
We'll all adjust, Weed will adjust, but it will take time. Weed will remember the donkeys are there (he seems entertained by them) and will bond more, maybe even usher them into the shed, if they'll listen. I'll miss my girl every morning when I go out to feed and clean. I'll miss her whinny and her soft sweet hay smelling breath, her dark copper coat and her beautiful long tail that swept the ground. I'll miss seeing my horse, the one I always wanted, when I look out my window. But I'll be comforted in knowing it never got to the point where her feet hurt so much she couldn't get up. That is a good thing.
Tess earned her Pegasus wings. She worked so hard in her life and she endured a lot. Our two and half years together were a peaceful end to that life.
(A big thank you to Mark and Joanna for being right there with me at the end...and to all my friends and my sister, Mara, for checking in with me and making sure I was ok. I love you all!)