Posted by: clemscritters | November 22, 2009

Horse reincarnated

When I was a child of 9, my dad took me to a riding academy on Long Island to look for a horse of my own after much begging and pleading on my part.   He was looking for a horse that would teach me a few things because my experience was limited to say the least.  We waited 4 hours for Cheyanne to come off the trail, and when he did it was love at first sight (at least for me).  His silver plated breast collar, still hanging in my barn, saddle and bridle, cost more than he did, but Labor day weekend in 1962, he came home to Bayport.  What ensued was a partnership beyond description.  We went everywhere together… piano lessons, babysitting, swimming, racing, running away from home (ah, teenagers); and then we moved upstate to a farm where he could retire.

As my skills were sharpening by that time a new horse came into my life; a buckskin quarterhorse, green broke, cut late so he had a lot of studly issues.  I named him Mr. Cass after a friend of my dad’s who I greatly admired.

But I digress.  Advancing age and a poor start in life (Cheyanne was a branded mustang range horse) took Cheyanne’s vitality and health at age 23, but, as a child of 16 I believed if I loved him enough he’d live forever.  I couldn’t bear to see my friend put down, so I nursed him over the winter with warm oatmeal and ground carrots, massage and constant attention.  Come spring, my dad couldn’t stand to watch him suffer anymore, and insisted he be put down.  I was told and then sent away while dad took care of it.  I still have a lock of his mane…..

Fast forward 30 years or so, and I have met and fallen in love with Don, we are looking to buy a couple of horses.  The search leads me to a horse trader who had a beautiful appendix quarter horse, plus a barn full of others.  The appendix (Savvy Boy) is the deal of the day and perfect for Don.  I am drawn to an overweight bay in the corner who the dealer calls Paco.  Says he is a mustang from the west, he picked up in Pennsylvania from a guy who had him standing in the paddock and he hadn’t been looked at in years; overgrown feet, etc.

I was transported back to 1963; love at first sight again. Another mustang. Paco looked exactly like Cheyanne except he was fat.   We brought both horses home.  A suitable name was Romeo because:  I had just moved to Lowville from Rome; he looked like a shakesperian jousting horse he was so fat; he was the animal love of my life at the time! 

It took a year to get him to really love and trust me; a year for us to have more fun than should be allowed, and a year for him to die.

Romeo developed uncontrollable diarreah and after many tests by two separate vets, many months of medications, daily prayer, reiki, and tears, I was 16 again, faced with an ungodly decision.  I knew that I couldn’t love him through his illness.

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This time,  I knew I had to be the grownup; daddy wasn’t there anymore to make the decision for me.

Horses being what they are (wonderful helpers) Romeo went down in his stall a few days after the decision was made and we were waiting for the vet and the backhoe.   I sat with him while we waited for both, cradling his head and crying, telling him how he’d meet this great horse Cheyanne once he got to horse heaven; that they’d both be cared for by the greatest horseman I’d ever known (my dad).   I was relieved when the vet arrived and put him down; his suffering was over, and I had finished something which started when I was 16.

Savvy Boy and I developed a bond in our grief; but I can say that no other horse since has been as special.  I think you get a few in your lifetime.  I’ve been very lucky to have found mine.

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