We make commitments to each other in our marriage vows, to our children when we decide to become parents, and to the animals that share our lives. Dogs and cats sometimes live 15 years, but horses can live 25 or 30 years. Marriages end through death or divorce, as mine did. Commitment to my animal friends has been more enduring.
Today’s blog is about the horses that have “peopled” my life. My husband loves horses. He was the driving force to buy our first horse. The Appaloosa mare was pregnant. She gave birth to a big spotted foal. We provided a home for Jody and Cheyenne until they passed about twenty years later.
Our next horses were another mare for him named Rose, and an old gelding for me named Blue. Blue was old when we bought him, but he was just right for me. He was tough to catch, but very gentle to ride. My kids and many friends enjoyed riding Blue. He lived until he was over thirty-years-old
Rose gave birth to six babies over the years; two fillies and four colts. One of the foals died after a few weeks, but the rest grew into big beautiful mares and geldings. The last addition to the group was an Appaloosa gelding for my son. My son was 13 years-old, named his new horse Apache (even though the Appaloosa breed is associated with the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho, it seemed right to name him for a brave Native American nation) and broke him to ride. https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/appaloosa_horse_breed/#.W46IqPZFyUk
When my husband and I divorced, we divided the horses. He took four and I kept three. Apache, one of those three, belonged to my son. Apache was the “go-to-horse” for new and inexperienced riders. Like Blue before him, Apache taught many people to ride. In the drought year of 2012, grass was sparse and dry. The horses pushed their noses under trees and bushes searching for fresh greens. Apache punctured both eyes on sharp grasses or tree branches. We treated his wounds as much as he would allow (a month in the barn alone, inserting lotions in both eyes is a challenge when the horse patient doesn’t cooperate). We finally turned him back to pasture with the other horses. He adapted wonderfully, even running blind across the hills with his mates. He came to the feed bunk when I called him, walking carefully till he first touched the bunk with his nose. [Apache is the mostly-white Appaloosa in the center of the photo below]
This summer has been a tough one for Apache. He lost weight, became unsteady on his feet, and as Labor Day approached, went down and couldn’t labor to right himself. The wonderful veterinarian (the same one that treated his eyes six years ago) said his heart was barely beating. She gave him something to peacefully end his life . We said goodbye to this faithful friend of twenty-five years this weekend and buried him on a grassy knoll.