Date of Death: January 2, 2009

Age: Late 20s

I first met Otto when my riding trainer told me she had a new horse for me to ride. He was different than any horse I'd ever seen: Underweight, 18+hh, golden-brown eyes, and amazingly beautiful. He had been given to my trainer because his previous owners found him too hard to care for and keep weight on. His huge white blaze, four white socks, sorrel coat, and fuzzy legs made him look like a smaller version of a Clydesdale. I could not wait to ride and get to know him.

As expected, riding my new partner was unlike anything I'd experienced before. His stride was huge, his trot bouncier than I would have thought possible, and his canter like a giant rocking horse. Even though Otto's looks and appearance were new to me, they were nothing compared to the incredible bond he and I would develop over the years.

Otto and I shared many incredible moments over the five years I was with him, so many that I'm not quite sure how to re-tell them all. I have never officially owned a horse, but Otto was the closest I ever came. We showed in 4H fairs, open shows, and once even the Indiana State Fair. Even though we always gave it our best in the ring, Otto and I were what you could call show misfits. We stood out, exactly the opposite of what the judges wanted to see. Instead of a low headset, Otto held his head high. His steps were huge, he was tall and bony, and his showmanship square up was never quite perfect. But none of that mattered to me. I was having fun. I wasn't concerned with taking home a blue ribbon, as long as it was him I rode in the ring. Often, show spectators would approach me and ask questions or make comments. "What breed is he?" "Wow, he's big!" "How old?" "He's so cute!" Along with the interested and polite queries, there were rude glares and whispered comments due to Otto's weight problem. My trainer and I gave it our all to try to get him to gain, but Otto always seemed to stay right on the edge. He was so picky about weather and food types, and the smallest things would send the pounds down. I showed Otto for four years, until he began to develop ringbone and could be ridden no longer. However, just because I could no longer ride him does not mean our bond didn't continue to grow.

Otto was the only horse I could ever fully trust with my safety. In the days when we rode, he would protect me. If he slipped and fell, he would purposely land as to not injure me. My love for him was great, and he loved me greatly in return. Even though he was old, for me he had no limits. At one time we were jumping 2'6" fences, though he was never meant to be a jumper. My barn friends and I knew he only tried so hard for me. He would constantly rub his huge on me. Every time we stood still together I would receive a heavy rub in the arm or chest. (This was another thing that made us not so great at showmanship.) And the look in his beautiful eyes when he saw me. If I approached him out in the field, he would stop, head held high, and stare at me with those eyes. The golden-brown color would melt and his ears would prick. It was as if he were saying, "Hey you!". He gave me this same innocent and love-filled look when I fed him his favorite treat: carrots. Oh and did I ever spoil him. Homemade treats, tons of carrots, thorough groomings (which he absolutely loved), bucket after bucket of water, and tons of forehead scratches.

As the years went on for my spoiled Otto and I, his health worsened.
His ringbone was becoming worse. Both of his front feet became incredibly swollen with hard lumps. At one point he lost his appetite, though he gained it back. However, though he ate and ate and ate through special grain, hay, and supplement, his weight became even worse. He layed down a lot because of his poor sore feet, and then would have a hard time standing back up. I was aware of Otto's problems, but did not know it was so close to the end until one of my barn friends emailed me. In his last week, I went to the barn and spent hours with Otto every day (I live about a half-hour away from the barn.). He always stood up when he saw me, and when he did lay down I sat with him. Once he even put his head in my lap. I knew the end was coming soon and hated to see him suffer.

I said goodbye to my best friend on January 2, 2009. He had a vet appointment at a clinic, and the veterinarian recommended we put him down. She explained there was nothing that could be done for his feet or pain. So I led Otto down the yard to where he would take his last breaths. I think he may have sensed what was coming because he was almost reluctant to go. I fed him almost an entire bag of carrots before the vet was ready. I was there to watch him fall, though it was almost too hard to watch.

I'll never forget my beloved Otto, and the barn will never be the same again without him there. For now I can only imagine him with wings, finally fattened up, galloping around in heaven.


Name Index
Return to Hoofprints On My Heart home.

Copyright © 2009 Hoofbeats In Heaven. All rights reserved.
Text and photos may not be reproduced in any form.