Many years ago, a man who did not know me exhibited the most unconditional act of love one could witness. I have blogged about this in the past. He had a horse named Radar. Radar was the 1986 World Champion Spotted Saddlebred Trail Horse. Radar would do ANYTHING a person on his back asked of him. He was awesome.

His owner found out he had cancer and after treatment, knew he had a short while to live. He also saw me everyday in the corner lot with our Trusty and our babies and he stopped to talk to my husband. Trainers in that particular area had already pegged me as "crazy" because once I got a good horse, I refused to sell it. Thus, Trusty lived out his elder years on my watch. David had made this promise to his Radar but it became evident that he could not survive to live to that commitment.

David had sons- two of them. Radar despised one of them and would never let him ride. What is the most incredibly gentle horse in the world would simply not let this son on board. The other had little interest in Radar short of his "book value". David begrudged neither son for their lack of understanding regarding his commitment to Radar. But, out of his love for a horse that had taken him down many a trail both in shows and in the real world, he sought a promise. I made him that promise and he delivered Radar to my barn in 1996. We joke that Radar and Trusty have ridden more miles in a trailer than we have ever ridden on them. They have been from TN, to NE to MS and now to South Alabama where we laid Trusty's 34 year old body to rest last year.

Radar is now 30. Horses are like people, they live long lives and they give you experiences you cherish. They also grow old, senile, forgetful and needy. I last rode Radar two years ago and it was bittersweet. I knew his body was beginning to deny him, his bones were beginning to show and his agility was waning but he gave me one last ride, stepping his high step, spinning, turning, even one last "hi ho silver" rear up that he used to always give me on command. Oh, how I miss our rides. I have other horses but I am growing old as well and Radar and I have known one another for over ten years. He just "fits".

Last night when I got home, Radar was laying next to the garden. As with Trusty, he has earned his right to roam about freely and the front yard has become his favorite place to "hang out". The other horses are beginning to walk away from him, just like they did Trusty. That must be a herd instinct as a horse grows old and endangers the rest of the herd with their weakness. Before, Radar was the leader, now he's just a lonely old man hanging in the front yard with the dogs and cats - just like Trusty was.

But, for him to be laying down so close was alarming. He didn't move when I got to him, just layed there looking at me. So, I tested him and he got up - whew. Like I said, I KNOW the day's coming, but one is never prepared. A little while later he laid down again. This time when I went to ask him what was wrong, he rolled over on his side and grunted. One tends to panic when a gazillion pound horse rolls over and grunts. I retrieved a halter which sent Joe under the house for fear of going to the vet and Spin under my feet for joy of being lead around and I put it on Radar and once again got him up. This time I did the only thing I could think of - I began walking him around the farm and talking to him.

We walked to the woods, we walked to the old barn in the back. We walked to Trusty's grave and I fought back tears as I let the drama and fear overwhelm me. We walked back to the house to retrieve the vet's number and call for advise when Radar blew the biggest "blow" a person could ever hear. This wasn't typical colic as I had suspected. This was simply errrr- gas and more gas and even more gas after that. It was probably the onset of what could have been colic, but my husband reeled over at the hilarity of the situation. The dogs had separate reactions. Spin ran, Brutus barked. The other horses who had now begun following Radar and I jumped and Lucy began sniffing the err....area.

All in all, Radar was greatly relieved and we have added cooking oil to his diet just in case the little situation returned. He set about grazing again and was still grazing this morning and trying to eat all the dogfood when I fed the dogs . My husband says he now has full "old man" status. I am just thrilled that this became yet another entry into the story of our lives together. I hope there are many more.


"JEANNELLE" said...

Very interesting for me to read, as I have spent very little time around horses. You have great compassion for them......I'd say Radar is one fortunate horse, to live out his days at your farm. When a cow gets old, we take her to the sale barn.

Saddlegait www.gottabeacountrygirl.blogspot.com said...

POOR COWS - you must send them to me and let them retire! My Dad hated my "loyalty" towards farm animals - be it cows, hogs, chickens, etc. I figured they gave us their best years, we have to give them their final years. He always said that was a waste of good food. Somewhere in that premise is the conflict of being a good farmer and being compassionate for those things around you.