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.