Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Goodbye

Yesterday Mike and I were out doing early morning errands in preparation for cider pressing.  The boys were home doing morning chores.  Thatcher called while we were checking out at the SoRo Market to let me know something was wrong with one of Flicker’s hind legs and she did not come down the hill to get her grain. She nickered from the top of the hill and he took the grain up to her. Thatcher told me she was just standing in one spot and occasionally lifting the leg.

Flicker came to our farm from my Uncle John and Aunt Lucy’s.   I remember having just adopted Pica in the fall of 2003 and was visiting John and Lucy as Aunt Lucy lived her last days with cancer.  Aunt Lucy suggested maybe the pony who had come from the Warner’s and kept their old workhorse company would be a good match for Pica.  Flicker was exactly what Pica needed a friend.  A couple of autumns later Maysa joined us and I had a little band of mares.  Flicker was smallest of the crew but as a pony her attitude made her the leader.  As Maysa matured she took the alpha role from Flicker but Pica would always move when Flicker pinned her ears back.

The initial vet visit when Flicker joined us revealed she had a previous hock fracture so she gave pony rides on lead when the boys were little.  As the vet estimated her to be at least 20 she was really just a companion and a critter small enough so the boys could easily love on her and lead her when they were little.  Flick’s gait was off slightly because of the hock injury and it bothered her sometimes more than others but she trotted as Pica and Maysa galloped through the pasture.

My initial assessment yesterday was one of uncertainty.  It was her weak leg; she was putting no weight on it.  We brought her hay and water debating whether it would be more stressful for her to leave the pasture and Maysa or stay there.  Checking her a little later she had gone done with her injured leg underneath her.  It was time to call Dr. Stuwe to evaluate whether it could heal or she would need to be euthanized.  When on the phone Dr. Stuwe said he had a portable x-ray and could scan it if we could get her close to electricity.  As we waited for the vet’s arrival we decided to wait for his assessment before we moved her from her comfortable spot in the field.

Dr. Stuwe. Pauline and I hiked up the hill to check her out.  He immediately knew it was a bad break and said it was good we had left her in place rather than causing her the stress of moving.   As I rubbed her head he quickly injected her, her head dropped down before he could finish the shot.

While Dr. Stuwe was evaluating and euthanizing Flick Maysa stood guard.  As we left the pasture to get Mike with the backhoe Maysa stood guard.  Friends stopped by for cider pressing and found it a little surreal Maysa was simply standing there next to her deceased herd mate while Mike dug Flick’s final resting spot at the edge of the woods.

Although Mike had offered to take care of Flicker alone I helped him load her into the tractor bucket, as I know this is part of the lifecycle for on a farm.  Maysa continued to watch.    I know the animals communicate in subtle ways we do not observe so I wondered what Maysa understood.  When the tractor bucket lifted Flicker’s body Maysa flipped out.  She began to run and neigh listening for her buddy to respond.  I then knew Maysa had not known Flicker had died.  She is our lone horse now and spent her afternoon standing at the edge of the hill looking over the valley and the pasture, occasionally calling out for her herd mate to respond.

As I walked down off the hill yesterday afternoon I realized Maysa had been with Flicker since coming here as a weanling seven years ago.   We had the opportunity to say goodbye as we knew what was coming and we know she had lived the life as a fancy little show pony and then years of retirement, Maysa knows her Flicker is gone.
Trenton and Flicker, Summer 2004
Flicker, Trenton and Thatcher
Trenton  and Flicker

Flicker a gentle child's pony