Saturday, October 18, 2008
This afternoon, Spirit was put to sleep.
I've been with two dogs when we had to finally let them go. I thought that this would be easier, I guess because Spirit wasn't my horse and because horses seem to come and go so much more than dogs. People trade horses, get horses specifically for certain sports, and only a few seem to have a strong connection to their horse.
Spirit, if he had been a person, would have been one of those people with a strong independent streak. The guy you can never buy a gift for because in a way, you never can know him that well. He had the distance that dominant people tend to have, the distance that makes them a leader also keeps them apart from you. Confident and bored with less confident people, but tolerant none the less.
But in the last half hour I was with him, he welcomed my stroking on his neck, acting comforted and quiet when I stroked him, pawing the ground in discomfort when I didn't. That wasn't normal for him, he hadn't liked being "petted" much in the last year. He was top horse in the herd and petting was for less dominant, wimpier horses. Yet now, in pain and alone, he was like he had been when I first met him. Accepting of comfort and companionship.
When Rudy arrived he led him to a grassy area where Spirit half heartedly nibbled at some grass. This was not normal, usually he'd fight to keep his nose in a green patch of grass. Now he took a bite almost out of habit.
As he lay down for the last time we stroked his neck and told Dr. Ball about him. About how he was great on the trail. About how anyone could ride him. About how he was in team penning for Rudy - plenty of cow sense but not the athleticism needed for the sport. About how he led every where he went.
We listened to the last shuddering breath leave him as he leaped into the sky, free of the pain in his gut, free of the halter, racing beyond the fences and into the fields that go on forever.
Spirit, we'll miss you.