Westphalian Warmblood

1977 - 5 October, 2008

In Loving Memory of Amadeous

The first day I saw you, Amadeous, I knew we were bound to be together some way, somehow. Our paths crossed by chance, really. I was not looking for a horse, but something always drew me to look at you as I passed by your stable every weekend on my way to my riding lesson. You looked quite a big horse from what I could see, but you also looked a little neglected, not in the way of food, but in attention, as you rocked endlessly back and forth, hour after hour. Then one day, a dog drifted onto the road, and I stopped to catch him. I took him to the house next door to you, and the owner was grateful. Seeing me in my riding attire, he started to tell me about you. He then introduced me to your owner who gave me permission to come and visit you whenever I wanted. From that day on, I knew we were destined to be together, and each day I grew to love you more and more.

At that time, you were approximately 24 years old, and you had been retired for about three years. You had been a jumper, apparently winning many ribbons, but it had taken a toll on your legs. Your left-hind, which had previously been operated on after an injury, was still swollen and calcification had set in around your fetlock. You were also quite lame, and no supplements had been given to ease your discomfort. You had been imported from Germany at the age of five for $20,000, which was a lot of money at that time. You must have been a grand young horse, because even now you were beautiful, with four white socks, a star on your forehead and those big loving, deer-like eyes that made your heart melt. I found out later what a big heart you really had and how your will to live kept you going.

After taking care of you for about a year, your owners decided to sell their home and asked if I wanted to take you. Of course I could not say no, since I could not bear the thought of you going to someone (or some place) that would not take care of you. You were lame and of an older age, and I knew no one would want a horse they couldn't ride, and the chances of you ending up at slaughter were too high. And so, not knowing financially how I was going to take care of you, I decided to take you. All that mattered was that we would be together, never to part.

After about a year, with the right supplements and acupuncture, you were fit enough to ride. You had come a long were now able to walk without any noticeable lameness, so I started hand-walking you on the trails, then gradually got up to riding you at the walk.  You were so enjoying our little hacks and your new-found freedom from pain. You were looking so good, with your tail held high, like the noble horse you were, that whenever local horse shows were going on, I was asked if we were competing. That made me so proud and flattered, because I knew how far we had both come and how good you now looked.

We went merrily on our way for several years without any incidents, and I was able to canter you short distances on the trails on soft ground. I never asked you to do anything I didn't think you could do, but you were always so willing and tried your very best to give me everything and more. You never faulted when seeing new scary things on the trail. And, even when an out-of-control horse came hurtling by us, you stood perfectly still, like you'd seen it all before. You always took care of me. I remember the day you took a tumble, and we both went flying to the ground. It was fast, but it was also as if it was happening in slow motion as our eyes met while all the time falling to the ground. For a second I was afraid you were going to fall on top of me. But, no, you were watching me to see which way I was falling so you could go the other way. That was the bond we had together. We took care of each other always...

Then, the last couple of years, you started to have on and off lameness issues. Then you didn't seem to be shedding as well as you should. At first I thought this was because of your age, since your hair had always been fairly long, or at least longer than other horses. I didn't want to believe you had that dreaded disease, Cushings. However, in the summer of 2007, your hair was even thicker and longer, and the depressions above your eyes were no longer hollow but filled with fat. After having blood tests drawn, it was confirmed that you indeed had Cushings. So now, my poor baby, you had Cushings Disease, a heart murmur (which you'd had when I got you), as well as the old injury to your hind leg. At that time, I never really noticed any change in the appearance of your fetlock from the way it had always been, and Degenerate Suspensory Ligament Disease (DSLD) had never been mentioned or explained to me. The summary of 2007 came and went, and it wasn't until around February 2008 that I knew something was seriously wrong with your left-hind leg. Since your hair was so long, I had to clip your leg to see what was going on. To my horror, I could see that your fetlock had dropped, at least a couple of inches, and your suspensory ligament was enlarged and twice the size of the right. I knew then that we had a fight on our hands.  When the vet came out to look at you, he told me there was nothing I could do to prevent your fetlock from dropping. Again, the word DSLD was never mentioned, although I knew now from my own research that this is what you had. I was also told to put you down because you were not serviceable. Not serviceable, I thought to a machine, a car, something you throw away when you have no more use for it. What a sad way to think about you, my beloved Amadeous.  I decided there and then that as long as you wanted to fight to stay in this world, we would fight every battle together.

It was shortly thereafter that you started to get infection after infection. In a matter of two months, you got three hoof abscesses, all of which were extremely painful; one more so because it was on your left-hind, your bad leg. Then to top it all, you got a very bad tooth infection (abscess) that came right through your bottom jaw. Again, I was told to put you down because of all your other problems, but I would not, could not, abandon my best friend. We tried antibiotics after antibiotics, but it didn't clear up. I persevered administering antibiotics to you for another two months because the x-rays had indicated the root of your tooth looked fine. In hindsight, I found out that this was not the case. I know you went through a lot, my boy, and I am truly sorry that I did not send you to the hospital sooner. I was afraid, afraid you would not come through the surgery with your heart; afraid you could not make the journey to the hospital. I had many concerns about what was best for you. In the end, when your abscess didn't heal, I decided to take the chance and send you to the hospital, since the alternative of putting you down was not an option for me. The very thought of losing you brought me much tears and heartache.

It was now June and off we went to the hospital. I had to hire a special trailer, one you could walk in and out the same way, since you were unable to back out or turn around. I wasn't even sure whether you would be able to endure the journey, and you hadn't been in a trailer for years. But you were amazing as always, and stood quietly for the entire journey, as I nervously watched from the mini-TV inside the trailer. I also wasn't sure if you would be able to recover from the anesthetic because of your heart murmur, but you pulled through like the trooper you were and were back with me in a couple of days. You also had your supportive shoes on your hind legs, and they seemed to be working well for you at this point. The surgery was a success and the hole in your jaw healed up perfectly. I was finally thinking it was going to get better for us, but it didn't.

About a month later, you got a really bad sinus infection. I was so worried about you, and when it didn't clear up, I called the vet. Well, this vet took one look at you and said: "You need to start thinking about putting this horse down." Again I was devastated at the thought of losing you. Unbeknownst to me, you also had another abscess on your hind foot and that's why you were unwilling to move in your stall. But I just sensed something else was going on with you other than it being a DSLD flare-up, and so I called out another vet for a second opinion. This vet confirmed my suspicions, you had yet another foot abscess. After treatment, both the sinus infection and the abscess cleared up. We had again come through another big hurdle together. But I often wondered how much more you could take? All the while your fetlock continued to drop.

In the end, even with all the problems you had, you finally had several weeks where you seemed so content and happy, bucking and cantering in the arena on your own, to the point where you wouldn't let me catch you; another time, running out of your stall when I forgot to lock it. It made me so happy to see you like this, your young spirit shining through. How wonderful it would have been to see you like this all the time, I thought... Even with your fetlock nearly touching the ground, you seemed to have found peace and adapted yourself to this debilitating disease. I was always amazed at how you could walk quite normally. Because of this, I thought (hoped) we had more time together, but I was wrong. After your last corrective shoeing, you didn't seem as comfortable walking, and your fetlock was now reaching the ground. I had a dreadful, ominous feeling that my time with you was slipping away.
Sadly, through my many researches, I did eventually get in touch with a vet that had the experience and knowledge of this devastating disease and who had applied slings to the affected legs with some luck. It was only then that I also found out about two other drugs that could have eased your pain. I say sadly, because it came too late for you, my beautiful, brave boy. The day I found this vet, you went down in the arena and couldn't get up. You were administered drugs to try to give you the strength to get up, but your hind legs were unable to support you as you tried and tried, but couldn't muster the strength. I would like to believe you were trying to get up for me. I know you didn't want to leave me, and I didn't want you to leave me. You nearly made it one time, with me pulling on your halter with all my might, but it wasn't enough. I had to let you go my brave, brave boy...I stayed with you all the time and even when you were gone, I laid on your neck crying and crying.

I still can't believe you are gone and I miss you so very much. But I know (I hope) you are in that place they call "Rainbow Bridge," and I hope you are cantering free of pain and eating as much grass as you can eat because I know that's your favourite thing to do. But one day soon, I hope you will see me from a distance and come running towards me, as I will to you, and we will be together again, never to be parted.

I always promised you I would never leave you, and I haven't. I have your ashes with me, and we will be scattered together in the green, green, fields of England, just like I talked to you about. Until then, my sweet, sweet boy, I miss you with all my heart and soul. There will never be another you. As every day passes, I realize how very special you were, my brave and noble boy. I was blessed to know and care for you all these years, and I will search the Heavens until I find you, until we are together again.

Your Mommy

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