There was his face on a
rescue website. He was supposed to be sent to slaughter. He looked like he
had mud caked all over his body.
I knew I had to go get him.
He was not sound, and they couldn't promise he'll ever be a sound riding
horse, but it didn't matter to me. I knew I had to have him come live the
rest of his life with me.
The day I walked into his
pen, put the halter on him, and whispered in his ear, "Let's go home.", he
marched right past me until he reached the end of the leadrope, turned around
and looked at me like he was saying, "Well, what are YOU waiting for?". I
knew I had found an old soul.
It took me 2.5 hours and
1 bottle of Cowboy Magic to get his mane and tail untangled, and we had to
cut some of his fur off because he was so matted. Poor guy, until he shed
out, he looked like a kid who got a really bad hair cut from his mom...he
had about 2 inches of mud caked onto his hooves that even with soaking, it
took the hoofpick to get it off.
Gem Dandy was with me for
3.5 years. He got me through a major surgery and a bad marriage that ended
in a divorce. He was always there for me. Every time I walked out in the
pasture, he walked up to me, as if he knew I needed a hug.
He was never 100% sound,
but he was sound enough to take me bareback down to the mailbox every day.
That was our little fun time we had. He went to a few fun shows and won ribbons
in every class he took. Was he the best? No, but the judges always said we
had the most fun, and he looked like he really enjoyed himself.
In the winter of 2006, his
feet had gotten worse, and by spring he was diagnosed with Accute Lower
Laminitis. In June of 2006, I had to go out of the country on business. I
called home and was told he wasn't doing well. My vet, whom I called right
away, went to check on him and said that she could make him comfortable enough
until I got home a few days later. I came home on a Thursday night. He could
barely walk and had been laying down a lot. But he still had that fight in
On Sunday, I walked out
to him and we had a chat. I told him that as long as he was fighting, I was
going to fight with him. But if he was ready to go, he would have to let
me know, I was going to be okay. I told him that seeing him in pain hurt
me more than if I had to let him go.
I had just 2 weeks earlier
gotten another rescue (Arrow) delivered, and to this day, I'm sure Gem waited
for the right horse to take his place. That afternoon, I walked back out
to the pasture to check on Gem. He was laying down, and when I called, he
didn't lift his head like he usually did. I looked him in the eye and knew
it was time. We had to say goodbye.
The vet was out within the
hour. Arrow, the new rescue, was at Gem's head the whole time, nuzzling him.
I have never seen horses say goodbye until that day. I layed with him for
a little bit, just wanted to get that last hug in.
We covered him up so he would
not be bothered by any coyotes, put the other horses in the barn. And while
I was looking at Arrow, who was now in Gem's stall, I saw a shadow outside.
I looked out, didn't see anything, except some dust in the air (it was a
hot, no-wind day). I knew then Gem was okay, that was Fathers Day, June 18,
I still miss him, I still
cry when I talk about him. I know he had an awesome rest of his life with
me, and I know I had the best 3.5 years of my life with him.