Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rest in Peace, my dear sweet friend...

A little over a week ago, I went out to the barn to find blood all over the ground. After inspecting all of the alpacas, then my mare, Belle, I finally found the culprit. My old barrel racing horse, Squirt. He looked to have cut his self and was bleeding. I called the vet and he came out that afternoon.

Dr. Wallis checked out Squirt and showed me what appeared to be a very large tumor inside his pelvic area. He let me know that it didn't look good. Because of the location, Squirt would need a specialist to go in and see if the tumor could be removed. The location is around a lot of blood vessels, and it isn't something my vet hospital felt comfortable doing. Due to Squirt's age, surgery didn't sound like a very good option either. We didn't know how long the tumor had been there, so we didn't know how fast it was growing. Dr. Wallis gave me some antibiotics to give Squirt and gave instructions to "clean" out the area once per week.

After a week had passed, I again came out to the barn to find lots and lots of blood. The tumor had torn again. The tumor must have been painful, because Squirt was actually biting at it and flicking it with his tail. Dr. Wallis gave me the horrible news. It was time for me to let Squirt go. I could prolong his time in this world with pain killers, but that would be selfish.

You see, I purchased Squirt 18 years ago, before I had kids. I had only been married a year and had moved out onto our property recently. It was a "no brainer" for me to get a horse. I had already gotten a sweet mare that I had been trail riding on.

I had a female boss at the time who ran in the National Barrel Racing Association (NBRA). She encouraged me to get involved and ride with her. Out we went on the hunt for a barrel horse for me. A friend of hers contacted her to let her know that her daughter was heading off to college and needed money. She was selling her gelding she had raised from birth. She had already been riding him on the barrel racing circuit and had been doing quite well. He was only five years old and was quick as a bullet. When we went out to visit, it was the typical horse owner situation. The horses had an absolutely gorgeous barn to live in, while the owners lived in a run down trailer home. Horsey people usually put all of their money into their animals. Sound familiar? Well, it was love at first sight. I tried out Squirt on the barrels and he was a natural. So, I plopped down my money and my heart. I was in love.

Squirt and I rode in a few competitions and did very well. I met all kinds of friends through my horse buddy. I met many people in the area who were looking for friends to ride with. All of the area around Southfork Ranch was farm land and open pastures. We would meet up and run through the pastures as fast as our horses would take us. Squirt was SCARY fast! In an arena, I knew he was fast on barrels, but hadn't experienced his speed until we got in an open space. He made my heart race and I felt exhilaration when we rode together. It felt as if we were "one" body. We were connected. He knew what I wanted and I knew what he was thinking. We were best friends. Only animal lovers can understand that.

Years passed. I remember my last barrel race out at the Collin County Youth park. Squirt ran so fast, he almost dropped me out of the saddle! Because of my own stupidity, I stopped him early before he crossed the time barrier. We still got second place. It was days later that I found out I was six weeks pregnant. My racing days came to an end. That didn't stop me from riding, though. When I was only weeks from my due date, my husband and I went on a cattle drive through Parker. Mr. Donihoo, a long time resident of Parker, needed some cattle moved and called upon the Parker residents. My vet informed me that if I went into labor, he would NOT assist in the delivery. After all, he is an animal vet, not an OBGYN. Tee hee!

As years passed, I met more friends through my beloved Squirt. My good friend, Cindy Martin, brought her horses over to my barn to stay for years. It was then that I added my third horse to the mix, Fancy. Fancy was a Rocky Mountain horse and had a smooth, even gate. Squirt got a rest as I spent my days training this horse. We began breeding horses at that time and then added Belle to the herd. Horses came and went from the property, but Squirt would remain. He was special. There are just some animals that you never let go of. Squirt was one of them.

Over the years and with the addition of three children total, Squirt would teach each of my children how to ride. Hailey really loved Squirt. He was so good with her. He didn't know what the children were asking when they rode him. He was leg pressure trained. Each of the kids took their turn learning to figure out how to express to him what they wanted. All the while, he remained calm and patient. My youngest, now six, has been riding Squirt ever since he was little. I believe he started riding Squirt when he was two. Hailey's friends came over and rode him, Harrison's friends, the stream of kids never stopped.

Squirt spent his life loving the ride. He always perked up when we would load up the trailer. What exciting adventure would we experience together on that particular day? Would it be Lake Ray Roberts? Lake Lavon? A day with friends out on the trail.

The bible doesn't tell us where our beloved pets go after death. A recent article from Focus on the Family was titled, "Do All Pets Go to Heaven?". In the article it says, "A man once asked Dr. Billy Graham whether his dog would go to heaven. The great evangelist answered: 'God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there.'...The book of Isaiah (11:6-9) offers a stirring image of what Heaven will be like, and it does suggest there will be animals, all living in beautiful and peaceful coexistence." I choose to believe my beloved Squirt will be in heaven when I get there (ask me how I know I'm going to heaven and who my Savior is). I know he is running through the pastures of heaven in a new, healthy body.

So, as painful as it is to be living without my dear sweet friend, I say, "Happy trails, my beloved friend. Until we meet again one day. Happy trails..."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Culprits caught!

In the past month, we have caught and released three different possums.
In the nineteen years we've lived here, we've only seen one other. This past month, THREE! The new developments seem to be bringing more and more animals out of their natural homes and into our "yards". I don't mind the possums here except that they eat the chicken eggs and some of them carry a disease called EPM that is devastating to horses. So, we use a large animal trap to hold the possum until we can get it to a new home. We take them far away and release them back into a wooded, creek area. Hopefully, our chicken egg counts will begin to go back up. Only time will tell...