|Rebel Fall 2014|
This was written about a bird dog , but I think it's fitting regardless.
The perfection of life with a gun dog, like the perfection of an Autumn, is disturbing because you know, even as it begins, that it must end. Time bestows the gift and steals it in the process"
George Bird Evans
"An Affair With Grouse
On Thanksgiving morning, I found my long time friend Rebel acting colicky. We hauled into the vet clinic. The exam did not reveal anything conclusive but we decided to start with treating him for an impaction. We spent the next 48 hours working on trying to get him through it with fluids,electrolytes, pain killers and hours of handwalking. He rallied by Friday morning, his gut sounds improved, his appetite improved, and he had passed some manure. We thought we were through the worst of it but by later that day, he started becoming symptomatic again and his pain was quickly becoming unmanageable, even with pain medication through out the day on Friday. His gut sounds were practically non existant again, and elevated respiration. At this point, It was most likely a right distal displacement or possibly a lipoma . Either way, our conservative approach to treatment for an impaction did not seem to be working. It was not going to resolve on it's own. Rebel was , as best we know since he was never a registered horse , about 28 years old. Surgery was not an option. We had come as far as we could in treatment options and I was now faced with making that difficult decision to say goodbye. He had fought the good fight and I could not bear to let him suffer any more pain.
Its hard to even write this post. The wound is still raw.
Rebel was the first horse I got when I moved to Montana . He was also the first and last horse my dad bought for me. Rebel had a rough start in life and was mistreated, beaten and neglected. Once he was mine, we spent the next several years learning about each other. I learned about building trust with a horse. I learned about patience. I have had many horses come and go in my life , all of them I liked, some I loved, but Rebel got into my heart like no other horse. Rebel and I had a bond that doesn't come along all that often. At times, it felt like we read each others mind.
Over the years, we saw endless miles of trails, experienced hundreds of adventures. He would do anything and go anywhere I asked of him.
As he aged , and his arthritis became an issue for him, and as a result our adventures lessened and lessened. Our time together in the last several years was easy trail rides, and his favorite , belly scratching sessions. Every evening he would greet me at the gate with a nicker and his pawing at the feed pan to tell me he was ready for his senior mash.
Even into his golden years, he taught countless people to ride. He even became a solid archery mount for several horseback archers. Anyone who met him loved him. In spite of his rough start in life, he learned that not all humans were quite so bad as he once thought. He was a kind gentle soul. Only a select few of us ever find our heart horse. Rebel was mine and I knew it from the first time we met, over 20 years ago.
He is now buried in our pasture under a tree. My heart aches and there is such a sense of emptiness for me. I miss our evening talks and scratching sessions. I miss hearing his nicker when I walked into the pasture. I miss the way that when I would give him a hug, he would wrap his head and neck over my shoulder as if he was hugging me back. He was my best buddy for so many years, a true privilege that I am grateful for. I hope that he is running somewhere in green pastures, free of any pain or discomfort and looking down on us , keeping a watchful eye.
He will be greatly missed.