My Favorite Star
We brought our first miniature horses home the summer of 2003, thus beginning our journey. In the local classifieds I came across a 4 in 1 package: a cute pinto mare, her current year colt and the stallion she was possibly bred back to. The colt was full of spit and vinegar; he was always exploring his surroundings with curiosity and was totally independent from his dam. The stallion was regal and breathtaking in the way he carried himself, displaying the typical proud stallion look.
But the mare . The mare was the one who stole my heart. Her 50/50 coat coloring, her bright bay set off with white markings and those big, brown doe eyes melted my heart. She was affectionately called Star because of the white star upon her forehead. I loved her attitude and personality. She was laid back and easy to work with, yet still had this air about her that made me stand and watch in awe. Whenever she saw one of us outside she would toss her head high, ears would perk forward, bright eyed and give out a welcoming nicker. She loved to be scratched on and if she could have had her way, shed stand for hours on end while someone gave her the attention she craved.
I never knew I could have such a connection with an animal as I did with this mare. She was my best friend. I knew I could count on her being there for me when I needed someone to listen, when I needed a shoulder to cry on or just an ear to vent to. I cant even begin to remember how many times I shed tears into her mane or how many times I had gone out to the barn, flip over a bucket and sat in her stall with her. She passed no judgment; she would stand contently beside me or with her head on my shoulder as I shed tears, let out a laugh or just needed some peaceful down time.
She delivered her first foal for us in 2004, just a week before my graduation from high school. Of course I missed the birth but none-the-less was ecstatic to find a healthy mare and a bouncing baby girl. In 2005 she delivered a gorgeous golden buckskin filly who had her mommas big eyes and gentle, but independent attitude. 2006 brought us a handsome, long legged buckskin pinto colt. She foaled without a hitch, was a great mother, and her foals were extremely independent.
In 2007, she blessed us with a gorgeous chestnut pinto filly two days after my brothers high school graduation. The foaling went smoothly and I missed it by just a few minutes. My mom and I headed out to the barn to tend to the foal and to make sure everything worked and she found the milk bar. As the little gal nursed I cleaned out the wet straw and replaced it with clean. Star had always been a hog and began rooting through the straw. All of a sudden she raised her head and hunched up like she was gagging. I found it odd, but she continued to root through the straw and tend to her filly. All seemed fine and we headed back into the house to clean up. When we went back out an hour or two later, she began to cough and hunch up like before. I remembered reading an article on choking in a magazine and recognized the signs. I was so scared I was going to lose my girl. I felt helpless. A few vet calls and a couple vet clinic trips later (her filly got to visit the OSU vet clinic when she was just barely a day old), she seemed to be in the clear, with the exception of being on stall rest and not allowed to graze. In the beginning we took her for hand walks, but finally found a grazing muzzle for her and we were able to makeshift so she could have free turnout but still not graze. Months of soaking her feed passed and finally she was past the duration of no grazing and could finally be on limited grazing. Things looked promising for our gal.
Im now away from home during the week to attend college and only get to go home on weekends and breaks. I had had literally the week from hell at school and was venting to my mom over AIM. Out of the blue she sends I know you havent had a great week, so dont get too upset, but when we went up to do chores we found Star down in her stall. I think shes colicking. We called the vet and shes on the way. Colic, a horse owners worst nightmare; no matter how prepared you think you are for it, it comes as a hard blow. As mom talked to me about the shape she was in, I told her, if it came down to her being in too much pain, or the option of surgery, they needed to put her down to end her pain. As hard as it was for me to say those three words, end her pain, I knew it would be the best thing to do.
She made it through the night and by morning seemed a little perkier per my moms report. Vet had called to check on her and advised them to continue the Banamine if she became uncomfortable again and she would stop out later that afternoon. The last update my mom gave me was around 4:30-5 on the evening of October 18th; she let me know that she was still holding on, wasnt rolling and the vet was on her way out to check her again. At 6:00 pm my phone rang. When I saw my brothers name I knew it wasnt good news. I held my breath and answered, trying to fight back the tears. He told me that my beautiful girl had gone into shock. The vet advised my parents that putting her down would be in her best interest as she felt our girl would never make it off the table if we did opt for surgery.
I hung up the phone and sat numb at my computer. A million questions ran through my head: how did it happen so fast? I had seen her the weekend before and she was her bright-eyed typical self, what had caused the onset of colic? And most importantly, why her? Hadnt she been through enough? As much as my head tried to reason she was better off, my heart still ached. What hurt the most was that I wasnt there when she needed me. She was always there when I needed her. Not being there to say good-bye will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Perhaps telling her story and what she meant to me is a tribute to her, my way of saying goodbye. Shes the one who fueled my love for miniature horses and forever I will be grateful. Every time I walk out our back door I see her grave on the hillside where she was laid to rest. Have I been back there? No. I know that beneath the soil is her body, not her spirit. Her spirit lives on in the love we share and memories we made. I believe as long as I hold onto these, she truly isnt gone, so theres really no need for a goodbye, right? Maybe she is one of the stars that are shining down on me, watching over me like she has always done.
"Stars are like friends; there's always some around, you just need to find your favorite one."
Lucky C Acres Miniature Horses
This article was printed in the August 2008 Edition of the Miniature World Showcase Magazine