We had a sad day at Willow Tree today. We knew it was coming because the signs of decline were evident, but that didn’t make it any easier. RT was a member of what I humorously dubbed the “Broken Down Thoroughbred Club”, which included Billy and his good buddy Bounty. RT could have been Billy’s older brother, they looked so much alike. I think they were both from that old Thoroughbred stock before the Thoroughbreds started looking so lanky and croup-high. But no matter what they looked like, all received the same care and loving attention from my trainer Karin, who, as you know if you’ve been following this blog for long, has done wonders rehabilitating Billy.
So it was with heavy hearts that Karin, Wendy (our barn manager) and I assembled to say the final goodbye to RT. Others had stopped by to extend sympathy and tears, but did not stay for the final curtain. Karin and RT headed our little procession out into the field where the barn owner had already prepared a burial spot. The vet gave him a little sedation first, and Karin hugged him and cried. I hugged Karin and then whispered something in RT’s ear, which shall forever remain our little secret. Then Karin handed RT’s lead rope to Wendy, and the vet did what we had agreed she must do.
Putting a horse down can be an ugly thing. They often stagger and fall awkwardly and your heart just wants to break. I’m comforted to say that RT went down quietly and did indeed look like he had just lain down for a little nap. We caressed him even though we knew he was gone, then slowly found our way back to the barn.
I spent the rest of the day giving Billy an extra-careful grooming and cleaning, and working with him a bit in the ring. Afterward I gave him one of my friend Jan’s special horse cookies and took him back out to the herd. He’s always been impatient to get back to his friends, but today he stood by the gate even as I told him to go on out. He started to go, then turned around and came back to the gate. He’s hung around by the gate before, but he’s never started to leave and then done a U-turn back to me. I like to think he knew…