On February 27, 2007, Im
A Skip went on to greener pastures. Despite 2 1/2 years of trying to get
him sound and keep him sound, the painful decision to ease his pain was made.
Though Tom could not bear to be present, I stood by Skip as he quietly passed
on. He has been cremated and has been reunited with Tom. A beautiful wood
box urn will be made for him, his last set of shoes will be cleaned up and
painted gold and placed in the box along with a lock of his tail.
To say we are devastated
is an understatement. Skip was a part of our family. He leaves behind not
only us, but the other 4 horses, Finder's Dream a.k.a Kohl (Appaloosa), You
Cant Imagine a.k.a. Nutmeg and She's A Rainbow a.k.a. Annie (both Quarter
Horses) and Indio Joe (Paint Horse), all distantly related to him. He also
leaves behind our other four-legged 'kids', Casey (our dog) and Presto and
Shadow (our cats).
Skip came into my life in
January 1999 when I purchased him as a companion to my Thoroughbred mare,
Cree's Tom Boy, a.k.a Tomi, which ironically was just a few months before
Tom and I started dating. Who was to know at that time how much he would
play in our lives, but as the years passed, we found out.
Skip was a quiet, gentle
soul. A very green 4, coming 5 year old, but he developed into a wonderful
mount and joy to ride. As Tom and I grew closer in our relationship, I also
noticed the bond forming between Tom and Skip. Though Tom never had a lot
of experience with horses and was rather unsure of them, he spent time helping
me, willing to learn. He would help me clean the paddocks, feed them and
even learned how to muck a stall. When it looked like I was going to have
to move away in October 1999, as I had lost the rental at the farm were I
was at, Tom openly expressed that he did not want me to leave. He was upset
that we would not be able to see each other that much, if at all, depending
on how far away I moved and that his plans were affected. It was then that
he asked me to marry him. Tom got his parents to allow for me to move into
their house, and made comfortable arrangements for me in the basement. He
went with me to check out farms to board the two horses and when I told him
that I may have to sell Skip, as money was getting tight, he refused to allow
me to sell him and stated he would help cover his board. He became an active
participant in the horses' care.
I decided to give Skip to
Tom as my wedding gift to him, as I had seen over time just how much Tom
loved Skip and vice versa. I had made the decision in the beginning May of
2000, as we had planned on breeding Tomi, and everything was set on the breeding.
I would have a foal from her. She was to be bred to an Appaloosa Stallion
named Sleepy Native via artificial insemination. Everything was all set when
tragically, three days before she was to be inseminated, she died of an aneurysm
in front on my eyes. I was devastated. My dream of Tomi having a foal was
gone and I was without a horse. Tom at the time did not know I had decided
to give him Skip and I would not take him back now, Skip was his. I had not
been prepared for the loss of Tomi and though I had wanted to have her buried
at Abby Glen Pet Cemetery, I did not have the funds to do so. In an effort
to easy my sorrow, Tom put up the money to have Tomi privately buried at
Abbey Glen. He also said he would put up the money for me to get a horse,
one of my choosing when I was ready. In July 2000, Indio Joe, a yearling
Paint Stallion, entered my life.
Skip continued to be a shining
star in our lives. I taught him to do lower-level dressage, to jump and to
do western pleasure and trail. Tom learned to ride him in his own way and
I never once had to question if Tom would be safe on Skip I knew Skip
would baby sit him. I took Skip to several shows over the years and he always
came home with ribbons. Tom came along always in the role of the proud father
at the show. Skip also became a great lesson horse, teaching many children
and a few adults how to ride. Tom and I went on several trail rides together
after Joe was broke. Skip even did "pony" rides along with Nutmeg one year
for the Marines at the Picatinny Arsenal. A student's father was stationed
there and asked if we could do it for them. Skip and Nutmeg never fussed
for a minute as kids and adults took turns for 3 hours that day.
Though Skip had had some
health issues, mostly allergic reaction to the yearly vaccines, he had always
been an easy keeper. In August 2004 that was to change. That year I had attended
equine dental school in Virginia and had decided not to take Skip, or anyone
for that matter, to my yearly round of shows which included going to the
NJ State Fair. On my way home from the fair one evening, I decided to stop
by the barn where the horses were boarded, and here to my horror was Skip
standing in his stall with his feed bucket hanging off his right nostril.
The S-hook of the bucket had pierced his nose. The bucket, which was originally
attached to the stall wall, was on his face. Frantically I called the vet
and called Tom. Little did I know when I made the calls that Skip also had
injured his left hock. Tom and the vet arrived quickly and soon Skip's nostril
was sewn-up, but the hock puncture wound was not. The vet was not 100% sure
if the joint capsule was punctured or not, only time would tell. At that
time also, we were not aware that he also suffered damage to his suspensory
ligament in his left leg. When it became evident that he had sustained those
injuries, I had him moved closer to home where I could spend more time on
Slowly, as the month passed,
he got better. Then without warning, he injured the leg again in September
2005 while being turned out, even with sports medicine boots. Again I worked
at his recovery. The vet gave a guarded prognosis stating his sunken hind
ankles were not a good sign. I did not listen. For Tom and Skip I would not
quit trying to get Skip sound again. Time passed and he seemed to recover,
his legs got better, but to prevent him from hurting himself again, I would
not allow him to be turned out. He was doing well until August 2006 when
he not only injured the left hind leg again but also severely coliced. The
vet was pretty sure that part of his intestine had flipped over his spleen.
It was recommended that he be taken to a clinic, but we said no, he was not
a surgical candidate. Tom and I spent the night with him, taking turns monitoring
him. Skip magically pulled through the colic, his intestine went back into
place and he recovered beautifully, but the injury to the left hind leg involved
the superficial flexor tendon now with a horizontal tear involving almost
1/3 of the tendon. The suspensory tendon show massive thickening. The vet
discussed options on what we could do to keep him comfortable, but he was
slowly breaking down. Again I did not listen; I did not want to give up hope
for Skip or Tom. How could I tell Tom that his horse was breaking down and
despite all my efforts, I could not stop it from happening.
Again we went back to the
beginning on his rehab, he seemed to get better, and again I thought Skip
will recover, but slowly he started to decline. It became hard for him to
pick up his back feet to have them cleaned, he laid down more, and he developed
sores on his elbows and hocks. He was not comfortable; he rested the injured
leg more, putting more weight on the better leg, though it too was showing
signs of breaking down. This past weekend he nose dived. He went lame on
the leg again, holding the leg up and favoring it.
The most painful decision
could not be put off any more; I had to tell Tom that Skip was breaking down,
I could not stop it and I needed his permission to put him down. My wedding
present, my third horse, given in love, now had to be taken. Tom was hurt
beyond words, crushed that his Skip would no longer be a part of his life.
I asked him if he wanted to be there, he quietly said no. I did not ask him
what he wanted to do with Skip as accepting his death would be hard enough.
I too was unsure.
Making the phone calls Monday
morning to the vet and to the transportation company was hard enough. I did
not tell Tom when it was going to happen, I could not bring the words to
tell him. My hope of us having Skip until a ripe old age were shattered as
well as my dream of taking him to any Appaloosa breed shows as I had hoped
to once do.
I called a few close friends,
those who had the joy of knowing us and Skip over the years. We talked of
Skip's life, his bond with Tom and how difficult a time this was. One of
our friends stood by my side as Skip passed on.
Though his is gone on to
be with Tomi, he lives in our hearts as she does. His spirit will wait as
Tomi's does at the Rainbow Bridge...