My sweet Lady

Us, in better days. She's peeved because I won't let her graze

Her official quarter horse name was Reb’s Flashy Cat, but we just called her Lady – because she was.  She was the kindest, sweetest, most generous horse anyone could imagine and I didn’t know that when I when to the barn where I boarded her last Wednesday, it would be the last time I’d see her in good health. It was a beautiful fall day -warm, dry, and clear.  The weather was supposed to turn to cool fall rains on Thursday and since I really hate to be cold I wanted to take advantage of it.  We had a lovely time together.  I have not been able to ride her in a couple of years because she didn’t have a good leg left, but we enjoyed our time together with grooming, baths in warm weather, and gentle massages.  It was horse heaven on earth.

I had just settled down at my drafting table to finally spend some time on the latest painting after a rather hectic 10 days when the phone rang.  It was the barn manager, who is a friend,  calling to say Lady had shown evidence of a disturbed night and wouldn’t settle down to graze in the pasture.  Because colic is always a danger in an older horse, the vet was called.  Over the course of the day we determined that Lady had most likely had a stroke and become blind and irreparably  anxious.  I decided to let her go. As tough as these things can sometimes be, it turned out to quiet and simple.

My memories are all good ones.  She taught me so much that I never would have known otherwise.   First of all, she had a wonderful sense of humor.  I remember when we kept her for a few years in a timber frame barn that my husband built on our property.  We had a barn cat to keep her company and reduce the rodent population.  She loved to sneak up on him (and I do mean sneak for a 1000 lb horse) and touch him on his upright tail.  Merlin would jump straight up into the air as only a cat can do and run off at top speed.  Lady would laugh and laugh watching him race away.

In myriad ways, when I handled and rode her, she would make me laugh, asking “is this what you want, how about this, or surely you mean this”.  She was a kind and gentle companion but capable of great passion in her work.  I learned piaffe and passage along with her, the use of my outside leg, and once even an inadvertent airs above the ground.  She was capable of great delicacy of movement not normally associated with a short legged, long backed quarter horse if  asked with the proper light touch.  Once we went to that other place where we were truly as one. It was an indescribable a moment I will treasure as no other.

Lady was part of our lives for 17 of her 28 years.  She enriched it in ways unimaginable before we got her.  I am going to have a small basket made from some of her tail as a cherished memento of a cherished soul.  I miss her.

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DixCutler
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 13:20:12

    My sympathies — I still miss my mare and I had to make the same choice for her some 20+ years ago. With all our pets — large or small, is very hard to let them go — but sure worth it to have had them share our lives.


  2. ruthsartwork
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 13:52:07

    Thanks. It is worth every minute we had.


  3. Cindy D.
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 14:13:44

    Ruth, that was a wonderful tribute to a beautiful horse. I am so sorry. It sounds like she had a long and happy life. I love that image of her sneaking up on the cat! I just hate the fact that our animal friends have such short lives compared to our own. Of course, that means they come and go throughout our lives, stopping in to teach us wisdom and insights we would never get if we only had humans for company.


    • ruthsartwork
      Nov 05, 2011 @ 15:16:47

      I laugh every time I think of her and the cat. He didn’t quite think it was so amusing though. One thing I never knew before I had my own horse was that they could be so joyfully funny. She knew I liked to laugh with her and I swear she did some things on purpose just for fun.


  4. Joy
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 14:19:24

    My heart goes out to you at this time. Having pets I know how hard it is to say goodbye. But what beautiful memories and life lessons they have taught us.


  5. Sandy Lewis
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 14:55:55

    What a beautiful piece you wrote for the blog. Even though it made me cry, it also made me smile. Wonderful times for you to remember to help ease the hurting.


  6. Patty Harrongton, Fern Hollow Finds
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 15:30:36

    Last night I had a dream about one of my late equine friends, greeting me with a gentle whinnying as I approached the gate. God bless our late companions, I know that they are in a happy place bringing joy and companionship to those around them.
    I am sorry for your loss.


  7. Touch of Silver
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 16:39:36

    I still have my kleenex in my hand. Your blogpost was a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to what sounded like a cherished relationship. We had a 16-2 chestnut quarterhorse (looked very much like Lady) who was wonderful in dressage – he carried my two children through years of eventing and was such a wonderful teacher and companion….bold and courageous. We had him for 13 years. Hold your memories close, and she will continue to be with you.


    • ruthsartwork
      Nov 05, 2011 @ 17:28:07

      Barbara, I had my kleenex in hand as I wrote it – and now as I read all of the wonderful comments. She was only 15.1 but a perfect size for me. I was always afraid to jump because I don’t bounce well, but I am sure she would have tried for me if I had asked.


  8. jcstrong
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 16:59:20

    Oh Ruth, this is a wonderful heartfelt post about a member of your family…
    Thank you for sharing the love you felt for Lady….


  9. ruthsartwork
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 17:21:49

    Thanks Joann. I didn’t know how special she was until after I got her. I always called her my sweet girl.


  10. handpaintedpetals
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 19:59:31

    Ruth, you have beautiful memories and she was so sweet. Horses seem to be very spiritual animals and I understand that feeling of “as one” with an ‘animal.’ Very powerful, and indeed, a cherished moment.

    May your sadness pass soon, and the light return. Hugs to you and your family.


  11. ruthsartwork
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 21:00:29

    Thanks Sheryl. She was a very special horse and a lovely soul.


  12. Sarah
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 13:46:51

    Thanks for sharing your precious memories. She was well cared for and loved by you, & she will probably be looking after you from where she is now. ❤



  13. ruthsartwork
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 15:19:16

    As she is grazing, I am sure. She always knew that treats were of the utmost importance.


  14. Sonya Johnson
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 20:11:48

    I’m so sorry to hear of Lady’s untimely passing, Ruth. She clearly had a wonderful life as your equine companion for all those years, as lovingly described in your blog post.

    I often wonder if our beloved pets and animal companions have any idea how much they enrich our lives on so many levels, and how much they are missed when they are gone?

    Thanks for sharing your tribute to Lady here on your blog.




  15. ruthsartwork
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 21:44:33

    I think they know that they are family in every sense of the word. Most people who have never had a close relationship with a horse don’t appreciate how funny they can be if you let them. I certainly didn’t before I had her. Before I had her, I don’t think she knew she could have opinions and I think of it as something I gave to her. Fortunately for me, her opinions were usually on the generous side. I like to think we enriched each other’s lives.


  16. lesliepaints
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 13:35:34

    Hugs to you, Ruth. I remember the joy of all my horse family as I read this. Their lives come forward once again through the soul of “Lady”. Thank you. Now time for a tissue………


  17. ruthsartwork
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 20:07:38

    Thanks Leslie. It’s been a week and I miss her a lot. It’s been hard not to look at the weather and plan my week abound the barn.


  18. Trackback: More pet portraits | Ruth's Artwork

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