Sunday, January 5, 2014

A New Year, A New Friend

Please allow me to wax poetic this evening instead of talking about my books.

This past fall was, by far, one of the worst I've experienced in my life.

In the span of 6 1/2 weeks, my fiancee Jen and I had to put down two of our horses. Cheesi, short for Parchessi, was 35 years old: an ancient age for a pony. We put her down on the morning of September 16. Three weeks later, J.R. suffered a horrific hoof injury. And while we thought he was out of danger two weeks later, he developed an infection in the joint and we realized that he would never recover. We put him down on November 1, and the pair are buried practically next to each other in our deep backyard. I've owned several animals in my life, but I never cried more when J.R. went down, coughed several times, and finally went silent. I'm sure that I will feel inconsolable when we have to put Alex, their companion horse, down whenever that happens to be. I hope it's not soon.

Since the middle of October, Alex, a 20-year-old retired thoroughbred in the bloodline of Northern Dancer (1964 winner of the Kentucky Derby), has been alone. He has wandered around our paddock, taken his meals in solitude, and has had his fill of hay.

Earlier today, we changed that.

Meet Jesse.

Jesse is owned by a friend of Jen's, and she has loaned him to us in order to give my fiancee a horse to ride. Jen rode him back in the middle of November, and we finally were able to get him here today.

Jesse, having a nip of hay before he heads into the paddock.
Alex, left, wants a little bit of that hay that Jesse is nibbling. 

Jesse is a 13-year-old Paint. He is a little larger than J.R. was (J.R. was 15.1 hands, Jesse is 15.3), but the first thing I noticed about him was how much he looked like J.R., at least in the face. The eyes are an exact match, at least by my reckoning.

 J.R., getting attention from Jen after his injury. I miss the Bubba.

While I know that Jen is uber-excited to have a new horse to ride--Alex is retired because his right front hoof is flat, shall we say, akin to a human collapsed arch--I think Alex is more excited to have a new companion in the paddock. When Jen brought Jesse into the yard, Alex trotted over to the gate, and the two sniffed each other's muzzles. Once he got into the paddock for the first time, they sniffed each other some more before they trotted and cantered together. And what I find to be a refreshing change, they shared each other's hay without the other getting snippy: J.R. was protective of his hay, let me tell you. 

This is a great day for this family. I want to thank Wendy and Jim for loaning Jesse to us. He will be loved here at the farm!