The Cheer Brigade

Sometimes things at CANTER are officially “not fun.”  I’ve talked about horses being euthanized before, and it sucks every single time.  Over the weekend, Cecil, who had moved to North Carolina for an adoptive home, then come back into the program, had very severe colic, and after several agonizing hours Allie made the difficult decision to euthanize him. 

I know, I wasn’t there, I didn’t have to deal with it directly, but it hit me hard just the same. Cecil was such a unique individual – the cantankerous personality, great work ethic, and unnassuming nature all sort of combined to create one of the most interesting horses CANTER has ever had.  When I heard the news all I could think of was that first time I saddled him up – he had been biting at me and being cranky all throughout his grooming that day, and part of me was thinking I was crazy for wanting to crash test this horse, who apparently wanted nothing more than to give me a concussion with his head.

But when I brought out the tack, and threw a saddlepad over his back, his whole demeanor changed.  His feet, which had been fidgeting all over the place, went perfectly still.  His face, which had been scrunched up in crankiness, went soft and relaxed.  His ears came up, and his eyes softened.  He gave no further thought to being impolite after that, and performed wonderfully for his first ride.  He stood stock-still at the mounting block.  He went happily at all three gaits, and gave no fuss at all when I wanted to slow down or turn.  He won me over completely that day, and I was so impressed with his desire for a job that whenever I thought of him I would smile.

He moved to NC and continued to make people happy – he was coming along superbly, and even learning to jump with Suzanne.  Allie positively GLOWED when she talked about how happy he was acting, once he got a steady job of his own.   Cecil will be missed by so many, and I admit that I had a hard time with this news.  He was one special dude.

Cecil The Great

When these things happen it’s hard to know what to do to move on.  I went to the racetrack – that didn’t help much, a horse I’ve been watching for some time doesn’t seem to be in the best shape and I have the feeling the owner is going to keep on racing him despite my efforts to intervene.  So I didn’t feel much better at that point. 

The next tactic, and the more tried-and-true cheering mechanism, is just to visit all the other TBs out at Funny Horse Farm.  The faces are constantly changing, and there are usually enough goofballs out there that I leave in a better mood than I was in to start with. Thankfully this tactic worked.  It’s hard to wallow in sadness when you’re getting a TB group hug.

Clayton And Bruce Give Me a Group Hug

These two are getting to be so funny – they’re the new Truckee and Bid, I swear.  I spent about twenty minutes sandwiched in between them – at one point Bruce was snuggling his head against my chest while Clayton gave me a backrub with his face.  They make it pretty impossible not to smile.   Especially considering they were both a little unhappy when they first arrived.  They’ve done a complete turnaround, both look wonderfully sound, and are ready to start training as soon as we can find a place for them to get started.

Bruce Has Pretty Eyes

One of the newer geldings, Bolt, was looking pretty miserable when he first arrived.  Sweet and perfectly sociable, he was more of a problem physically – he arrived thinner than what is normal, and as he lost muscle tone over the first few weeks looked rather pathetic.  He also had a penchant for getting into trouble – he was constantly scraped and scratched and had managed to give himself a big ugly cut on his forehead.  He is now looking much better, and has gotten so friendly he will follow you around all over the field.  He’s also starting to put on some weight, so I’m pretty pleased with how he’s doing.

Happy Muddy Bolt

In the other field, I found that our other new gelding, who I’m calling “Sprocket” is doing very well.  He’s got a touch of the skin funk, but surprised me by being eager for attention and very friendly.   He seemed nervous when I first met him the other week, but was the first to approach me in the field and just basked in the attention. 

Sprocket Says Hi!

His eye has already relaxed and he has the attitude of a been-there-done-that sort of horse.  I was expecting him to be a jumpy sort – he’s a three year old, and by all reports was terrified of racing.  But he’s already acting so mellow and relaxed I think he’ll be just fine.  He’s also buddied up with a couple of other TBs – Ocean and a new filly seem to be his best friends, and they hang out in a little clique apart from the other horses.

Ocean, New Filly, and Sprocket

Sprocket And New Filly: BFFFFFF

And another pic of new filly:

She wasn’t much for attention and didn’t want to be touched.  Of course, I made my introduction by checking her tattoo number, so that’s probably my own fault.

I walked the field and visited the other two mares, Rainbow and Ears – Rainbow seems to be sound again (when we lunged her for video, she was off on the right front).  Ears didn’t want any attention and kept walking away from me. That’s OK, I got some cute pics anyway.

After my visit I went home to ride my horse and Mikey, who also did their best to make me smile (and succeeded).   I’m going to miss Cecil so much, but having all these guys around, needing our support and positive energy, makes it so much easier to deal with stuff like this.


One response to “The Cheer Brigade

  1. splishsplashriding


    Somehow our horses…whether they are actually ours or the ones we visit….know when we need cheering up. They are our best friends and absolutely the best listeners.

    My sympathies. Cecil was just fantastic to “watch” make the transition into his new career.

    Ashlea and Splash

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