Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For Special Friends of Rick

If you are not an animal person, don't read this. You would not understand.

We lost a member of the family tonight. Rick, our 27 year old Arabian gelding had to be euthanized. He was suffering from an intestinal blockage. After two days it was clear that it was not going to get better. He had developed several melanomas, not uncommon for white horses, and with no assurance that he would ever recover, it was time to relieve him of his pain and say "goodbye".

I have never written a eulogy to a horse before. But, as noted, Rick was a member of the family. We acquired him in 1990, just after Deb's first horse was kicked by another and was put down. Rick was 7, a spirited young gelding, with personality to spare and the ability to lift Deb from the emotional devastation of losing Aladdin's Glory.

Rick soon became Ellie's regular ride as she began her Pony Club career. The photos of Rick nuzzling Ellie when she was 4 and again when she was 13 are among my favorites.

In sixth grade, Ellie's best friend Laura Sedgwick was killed when her horse fell back on her during a weekly riding lesson. Ellie was not in the arena with Laura that Saturday morning; we were in South Dakota with Deb's parents for Easter weekend. After the incident, I asked Rick to take care of my baby and keep her safe. He agreed. I thanked him tonight for keeping his word.

Rick was everyone's favorite. He was so well-tempered and forgiving, novice riders and lifelong equestrians alike were comfortable with Rick. Jon Weiss' granddaughter makes an annual pilgrimage from Atlanta each summer to see and ride Ricky. When I put her on another horse in August, she'd have none of it. One of Deb's friends loved coming to Meadow Breeze Farm to saddle up Rick and take him trail riding with one of the boarders. She viewed it as part of her physical therapy. Rick was the horse visitors to the farm were given to ride. On the rare occasion when I partake, Rick was my mount.

20 years is a long time to spend with an animal. As I mourn the loss of Meadow Breeze Farm's senior resident, I take comfort from knowing that he was well cared for and greatly loved, which is all he ever asked for in return for his gentle demeanor and nurturing disposition.


Elf said...

So sorry to hear that, Sam, but Rick does sound like one of those special critters that makes everyone's lives fuller (and safer). So hard to lose a dog after just a dozen years--20 years must be really hard.

Mary said...

Sam, We all love Rick. Walking with him yesterday was a gift I shall always cherish. Seeing his herd stay as close to him as they could said it all.

Charles Leck said...

Been there, Sam. I know what you're feeling and I can only express my condolences. It is simply amazing what good and faithful animals give to our lives and there is nothing quite so wonderful as a beautiful and faithful horse/friend. Charlie

abbsQuake said...

Oh Stern Family,
I am so sorry for your loss. I'll be thinking of you all. The animal members of our families are so dear & loving & never leave our hearts.