Rene Redford

I wasn't looking for another horse on that August day in 2002. I was just enjoying browsing the horse classifieds on the internet.

Then I saw the ad for Rene Redford, an AQHA chestnut mare bred to Therapy. Therapy is a double superior western pleasure son of the greatest pleasure horse sire of all time, Zippo Pine Bar. He had also placed twice in the to 3 at Congress, and I had always admired him.

Well, to make a long story short, I bought Rene and arranged to have her hauled from Ohio to NY. I not only had a broke trail mare, I also had a futurity champion brewing in her oven. :)

Everything went well. Rene got bigger and bigger. I kept her up to date on all her shots and vet visits, to the point of being anal. So, when she was about 9 months along and started coughing, I called my vet. He came down and diagnosed her with heaves. I was a little doubtful, for she had never coughed before that. I thought it may have been the way the baby was sitting inside her. So, I called a different vet and got the same opinion.

I did as I was told - I took Rene off hay and gave her alfalfa cubes and her Mare and Foal grain. My farrier thinks she may had foal foundered before, making her more susceptible to the devastating founder that followed. The switch to the rich diet is, I think, what set her off. I didn't know what was happening at the time. Rene was a little ouchy, but I attributed it to her weight and the frozen, hard ground.

Rene had a successful delivery May 16th, 2003, giving me a beautiful black bay filly. She also stopped coughing on that day.

I had Rene x-rayed a few days after she delivered. The rotation was bad - 40 degrees on each hoof, yet she was getting around with barely a limp. Still, my farrier immediately quit, so I hired another. Unfortunately, this one wanted to put shoes on her, which I allowed. At the time, I didn't know any better either. Those shoes, so painful to nail on, crippled her immediately. When I called my farrier and begged him to take them off - he quit.

Meanwhile, I had joined the equine-founder group on Yahoo, and my education begin. I found another farrier who was willing to trim correctively every other week, and he did so for a year. Unfortunately, he was not doing what he was told, and Rene was not improving. She could barely walk, and her tank of a body became pathetic and scrawny. She was covered in bed sores that I could not get to heal. I weaned CC at 4 months, hoping Rene would put on weight, but she didn't. I know it was because of her chronic pain.

Rene loved her baby CC, but could never play with her. She learned to lay flat and lift her back leg up so CC could nurse.

Finally, I found a farrier who was willing to do the type of corrective balancing trim that Rene needed. This was in May of 2004. He had me take x-rays, which did show a tiny improvement, but there was a lot of degeneration of both coffin bones. We didn't't know then that it was already too late. We didn't know that the demineralization was due to a cancer-like bone infection.

Towards the end of October, Rene got even worse. She was down more than she was up. When she was down, it was for hours at a time, and getting up was painful. I could tell she was always hurting, even when she was off her feet. She did not want to get up. and could barely walk when she did. With another winter coming up, I opted to get another set of x-rays done.

Doc came down November 13, and the pictures were not good. The rotation had gotten worse, not because of my farrier's hard work, but because the coffin bone heels were reduced to an oatmeal-like consistency. There was nothing holding them up. The infection was now easy to see, and there was no hope at all.

I would have battled along with Rene if only there had been some hope. I had been caring for her for 20 months; my life revolved around her soaking and boots and pads and wraps and meds. I would have gladly kept on nursing her if there had been a light at the end of the tunnel.

She was in so much pain the Friday after the x-rays. She hurt so much she could not lay down. Her entire body was shaking with the effort of staying up.

I called Doc and made the appointment. Friday evening Rene got a huge tub of the sweet feed she loved but had been deprived of. Saturday morning, she got the same, along with baby carrots, smarties, and animal crackers from my daughter.

Rene willingly followed us to the back of the barn so she could finish her meal. She had about an hour to hang with her baby and eat grass before the vet came at 7:00 am.

I could not be there, but my son-in-law was. He said she went very peacefully, and that as soon as she passed, a sereneness and peace enveloped the area. He said it was an almost palpable aura.

Rene is buried beneath a big oak tree way in the back of the pasture by the creek. I know some people like to bury their beloved horses free of any human mechanisms, but I felt differently. I had Rene buried in her royal blue sheet and leather halter. If someone ever came across her body years from now, I wanted them to see that someone loved this horse a lot.

I miss Rene every single day. She was my warrior princess; no matter how much she hurt she always wanted to please me. I will always love her.

Rene Redford, I am so sorry it ended like this. I would never have put you through this if I had known we could not win this battle. Run free with the beautiful and loved Hoofbeats in Heaven herd, and know that I am taking the best care I can of your baby. If she has a quarter of the heart and soul you do, she will be a winner.

Pax vobiscum, my sweet, sweet Rene.


My daughter wrote the following poem for Rene...

Lament for Rene

They all say it was for the best, the right thing to do.
They tell you it will get better, even as more grief washes over you.
They tell you they understand, and they were there before.
They tell you they admire your strength and her courage even more.

But can they tell you when your suffering and tears will end?
Can they tell you why this had to happen to such a valiant friend?
Can they explain away your doubts and comfort you in the night?
Is it their words or her nickers you remember when you turn on the barn lights?

Can they tell you she didn't suffer as she took her one long breath?
Can they tell you honestly that they know where she is after her death?
Do they know what her big dark eyes saw as her light went out?
Did it all fade to grey, or did it just blank out?

The pain and loss goes deeper than the moment it all went down.
How long I wonder will it be till I stop searching for her mound?
I look for her bent shape whenever I pass and think of her whenever I take a breath.
Why did I think the suffering ended with just her death?

For the best? Well I guess that must be true,
or else how could you do something like that and pay for it too?
I feel like this is some nightmare that we are all a part of.
That this surreal feeling I have will go away
and I'll look out the window to see Rene walk another day.

But as it is I know that it isn't true.
I have to be content will well wishing, poems and sympathies sent to you.
I have to know the end has come and let myself cry.
Try to remember her expression and scent the best I can and stop asking myself why.
Because it truly was the best that we could do for Rene.
Although it pains us this and every other day.

Smile for the mare that could barely take a step,
relieved her pain is ended though we are so upset.
Take comfort and turn your gaze to look upon the sky.
For now our Rene no longer walks, now that mare can fly.

Darbi Kenyon-Schneider

Rene's Support Group Honoree page.

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