Your Turn: On letting go
Sometimes when you say goodbye to a special horse, they take a piece of your heart with them to the other side. Joy Seymour shares her story.
Top: Vegas and Joy playing mounted games, summer of 2012. Photo by Equistar Photography.
I’ve been very fortunate in the more than 40 years I’ve owned horses. I’ve only had to bury two. The most recent was just over a year ago. It’s never easy to make that decision, to let go of an animal you love. I just buried a goat (well, to tell the truth, my husband buried her) and little Paprika actually made the decision for us. She was down when I went to bring them in, and she never got up. I’d called the vet, wrapped her in a blanket, ready to drive her to the clinic, when she died in my arms. That was easy.
Vegas was not. Vegas was not my kids’ first pony, we went through a couple that didn’t work out, but we ended up calling her our first pony, because she was the first best pony. And she was the best pony. OK, she wasn’t the best jumper in the world, she sort of jumped like a frog. She was a 13.2 hand Arab cross, possibly with Welsh. She looked like a little gray Arab. She wasn’t young when we got her, maybe 13, but it’s easy to be wrong about their ages when they hit those teenage years. Annie, my oldest, was 8, almost 9. Vegas was our do-everything pony: Pony Club, trail rides, lessons. I could put a beginner on her one minute, and send her out on cross country with a more experienced rider the next. But Vegas and Annie really clicked when it came to mounted games and they played together for years, until Vegas slowed down enough to become my Fossils mount.
Life with Vegas wasn’t all fun and games. She seemed to have some sort of immune deficiency, and would develop infections easily. When we first got her, she was bitten on the rump by my old event mare and developed a huge abscess. A couple of years later, she had a massive sinus infection and had to have a tooth pulled. She had a wave mouth, and couldn’t chew well. She had to have beet pulp and hay cubes and senior feed five times a day. She was prone to making nasty faces and pretending that she hated everyone. She had ulcers and would go off her feed. In the last year, she developed melanomas, in the worst possible places, like her girth area.
We think it was probably the melanomas that got her. By the fall of last year, she’d had a couple of serious colics. When our vet came out that mid-December evening, I knew we had to let her go. We couldn’t get her through a New England winter, and it wouldn’t be fair to her. So we put her down, with her best friend, the second best pony in the world, Sassy, standing by her side. Because sometimes when you love something, you have to let it go.
Joy on Sassy on the left, Annie on Vegas on the right. Spring, 2012.
Vegas and Lizzie walking their D-1 Stadium round, fall 2004. Photo by Joyleen Seymour.
Vegas and Mike, Tetrathlon, fall 2005.
Joy Seymour is a former event rider who has also foxhunted, shown jumpers and dressage, and done lots of other things with horses. As J.E. Seymour, she writes crime fiction. She lives in the seacoast area of New Hampshire.
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