Friday, June 16, 2006


Because I just haven't done enough lately to make this The Most Depressing Site On The Internet, and because if I don't talk about it I'll have a nervous breakdown, I'm telling you what's going on with my dear old Montrachet. He's a horse, a stallion, and he's made it to the age of 25, which is nothing to sneeze at for a horse. He hasn't always had the best life, and in fact did a leased stint in Oklahoma which very nearly killed him in his early teens, and from which he never really recovered, not to his former glory, which was considerable (this was at age 10):He and I have been together 3 times longer than I've known my husband, and 5 times longer than I've had Bella. So yeah, we've got a history. We also have an understanding, and I promised him the day I finally owned him (thank you, Mom & Dad--so much) that he would live easy for the rest of his years, and that those years would be with me, come what may.

He's been failing of late, and despite being fed astronomical amounts of high-quality food, keeps losing weight, while his young pasture-mate and concubine, Kate, gets tick-fat on the grain-mash bounty that they share. Doc has checked everything from his teeth to various blood panels, and not found much amiss, and yet there it is, right in front of my eyes. So tonight, all the alarm bells in my head and my heart went off when I saw this: To many, that's just a picture of a horse. But for me, the person who knows this horse best, it's a portrait of pain, and worse, of beginning to give up. I can see it in everything from the ears to the worried eyes to the stress in the tensed jaw, to the pain-wrinkled nostrils and fixed lips. He's thinking of quitting, and if that's what he wants, I have to be prepared to help him along. I owe him that much--I owe him more, Heaven knows, but this I can do, if I can only be strong enough.I find myself caught up in sorrowful thoughts of no longer having that wide white blaze to stroke; of missing that soft pink muzzle tickling my neck, looking for treats...even the fake bluster and stallion-bravado that he puts on when mares come to be bred. No more. I'll not have another stallion, for there aren't any more like this. Horses, yes, but stallions, no. He had the bursting-from-his-skin macho vitality to stand out in a show-ring with me riding, then could turn right around and carry a 3-year-old girl in a leadline class, looking for all the world as if he were walking on eggshells, such was his caution with the wee one.

I sat out on the ground tonight, waiting for the vet, with his head in my lap, stroking that broad cheek and scratching gently between those familiar ears...the ones that our coach, Nancy, used to ask me if I was going to bite, when I was perched too far forward in the saddle for her liking.

So now that the vet has been out, here's how it stands. This brave beast is failing. Something inside him has broken, but we don't know what, although he is mightily jaundiced. So for tonight, Doc gave him plenty of drugs to make him comfortable, and the morning will tell the tale of the bloodwork. If liver enzymes are off the chart, then that makes the decision for me, and I will do my part to ease him on to the proverbial Greener Pastures. Is it wrong to hope for that, to hope for something so obvious that it makes my part in this easier?

Because this I can say about Montrachet, to borrow a line from Anna Sewell's "Black Beauty": He is a good and noble horse; there is no vice in him. And in trying to explain to my husband what it IS with this horse--the bond between us may not be precisely what it is between Misha and myself, but the thing about, the essence of Montrachet, is that he is honest. Can non-horse people get that? I don't know, but it's the best I can do. I've always known what to expect of him, and he of me, because we've never lied to each other, neither of us. An honest horse is worth his weight in gold, and this one is definitely worth at least that.

So those of you who would pray for such beasts, do that for me, please, and for me, as well, that my hand would be guided to do what is right for him, should it come to that. If it is time for my friend to rest, I'd have him rest well, and with no further delay.


  1. Oh Belinda
    I have 2 phobias, horses being one, so I certainly won't pretend I understand, but even I can see the pain in his face, clenched jaw, pursed lips... and being empathetic as I am, I hate to see any living thing suffer. I think it is natural to hope it's something decisive so that the decision can be made without room for doubt, you've loved him so long. Besides, based on your history of honesty (and oddly I get that, even as a non-horse-person) I hope that this goes in a way that you can both trust that it's the right thing.


  2. Oh, sorry to hear about this. I'll certainly say some prayers for you and the noble stallion.

  3. Belinda, I'm so sorry. I'll keep both you and Montrachet in my prayers. I'm sorry.

  4. I'm so sorry, Belinda. I know your love for him will guide you through this. Huge hugs,

  5. Belinda, my dear Belinda. I have never had a horse, but have always loved horses. So much so, that in some horrible, confused moments of my life (right when I turned 21) I took lessons. In my darkest hour, I found myself at a nearby ranch learning how to pick dirt out of a shoe and comb and ride. It was strange to everyone around me, who knew that I had never asked as a child to take lessons, or collected horse figurines or anything. But they didn't bother me about it. So while I worked out my problems, I went every morning at 6am, 30 miles away to tell my troubles to a stable filled with listening ears.

    I don't know what it is about horses for me. But for you, it's obvious. You've thrown your life into them. And you've cared for them at a level I was never lucky enough to reach.

    You know what is right to do. You know what he wants you to do. You know it. He knows it. You will look in his eyes and he in yours and all will be well.

    Deep breathes. Hugs. Tears from California.

  6. Hello Belinda, what to say, what to say, i own/ed many horses and love them more than anything in this world, i can imagine what your going through...but then maybe not, everyone deals with things differently to others, you said Montrachet hasnt had the best life, but does he think that?? he has had you to care for him all these years and he probably has decided to abandon his thoughts about his past and only focus on his future and life with you...the photo's of him dont look the best but it may only be cosmetic, not physical damage, maybe he's sulking because he doesn't look like the stud he used to be, :) one of my oldest horses is 28 nearly 29 years old and he's still kickin', he went over a rough patch when he was about 23, but we still got another 5 years + out of him *smile* all i'm tryong to say is that he will come through, maybe looking a little different and maybe not performing the same, but there's plenty of years to spend with him yet. xoxo
    GoOd LuCk

  7. oh jesus lady, i'm so sorry. that's just... heartbreaking.

    fingers crossed for you both, that everything works out in the way that is best, and that you both get to rest and be at peace.


  8. I'm not a horse person, but I had this same dilemma a year ago with my 17 year old beagle dashund, Sherlock. It was a hard week and a sad day when I made the decision I knew was best for him.

    Thinking of you.

  9. I was already on the verge of tears after making a confessional post of my own, but this put me right over the edge. I looked at the pictures first and when I saw the head shot alarm bells went off -- he looks like an old man ready to die, even in a photo.

    I love how you describe him best as "honest." There's no higher praise. Here's a big virtual hug and I admire you for doing what's best for him. I'm sorry for you, though.

  10. Oh Belinda, I do so get it, although I have never had the honour of loving a horse, "only" cats and dogs. I am praying for him and for you.
    Life is sad; animals always die too soon for us. I often wonder exactly why this is, and what we are meant to learn from it. I feel there is more to it than "to everything there is a season". These bonds with animals have a purity to them that cannot be put into words.
    Thinking of you both,

  11. Dearest Belinda, my heart is aching for you and for Montrachet. Two poems came to mind as soon as I saw his pictures, and they are things that have helped me when I've been faced with this awful decision.

    The first:
    May I Go?

    May I go now?
    Do you think the time is right?
    May I say goodbye to pain filled days
    and endless lonely nights?
    I've lived my life and done my best,
    an example tried to be.
    So can I take that step beyond
    and set my spirit free?
    I didn't want to go at first,
    I fought with all my might.
    But something seems to draw me now
    to a warm and living light.

    I want to go
    I really do.
    It's difficult to stay.
    But I will try as best I can
    to live just one more day.
    To give you time to care for me
    and share your love and fears.
    I know you're sad and afraid,
    because I see your tears
    I'll not be far,
    I promise that, and hope you'll always know
    that my spirit will be close to you
    wherever you may go

    Thank you so for loving me.
    You know I love you too,
    that's why it's hard to say goodbye
    and end this life with you.
    So hold me now just one more time
    and let me hear you say,
    because you care so much for me,
    you'll let me go today

    Written for a beloved pet & friend by Susan A. Jackson

    The second, from the end of A Pet's Prayer:
    hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest - and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.

    -Beth Norman Harris

    You will know what is right, for both of you.


  12. Belinda, you know how much I love horses and how sad I am to read about your poor boy. He looks both sad and ill, and like he doesn't know how to ask for the help he needs. When I was a kid, we had my dad's very ancient Percheron, Molly, who lived to be over 30. Her last years she often looked like she was just too tired to go on, but she often rallied enough to make it out to the far end of the pasture to bake in the sun. But she didn't look like she was in pain, as your stallion does.

    I'm so sorry. You made me tear up just thinking of how sad you are and how hard this decision is. Pets do it to us again and again. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth all the pain to fall so in love with animals.

    Hugs and kisses to all of you, and especially to Montrachet.

  13. Belinda, I am so sorry. I am certainly praying for Montrachet. He is a beautiful horse.

  14. Oh, I am so sorry Belinda. My praying is a little rusty, but I will do what I can.

    I know that when the time comes you will know what to do, and that it will be the best choice.

  15. I'm so sorry. I had a horse named Stevie. I loved him more than anything. When he finally passed, it was horrible, but I knew he was no longer in pain and was able to run around free and strong once more.

    I will pray for your beloved horse.


  16. Belinda, I am so sad for you. I know what is like to have to watch a beloved animal suffer and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. You and your best friend will be in my thoughts, prayers, and heart. I'm so sorry.

  17. I love horses, tho' I've never had one.

    I'm so sorry. He was, and is, a beautiful horse...but, I can totally see the pain on his poor, sweet mug.

    I hope that the vet can sort this out for the best, but if it's bad, I know you'll find the strength to let him go.

    I'll keep you both in my thoughts.

  18. This post was beautifully written, albeit heartbreaking in it's topic. I could see exactly what you meant about the "portrait of pain". He does look worried.

    I'm so sorry you have to lose your companion, but I know you want him to have his peace at rest. You are the most compassionate animal owner I have ever known. I don't pray, but I'm thinking of you.

  19. Dear Belinda

    I don't really know what to say. I'm sorry. He looks like a lovely horse, and he's blessed to have such a wonderful person to cuddle with in his last days. Stay strong friend.

  20. Belinda, I'm so glad that I've had the honor of knowing and riding such a wonderful, magnificent horse. I'm crying right now..because I know exactly how much he means to you and how hard it is to let go of anyone or anything that you love. Will be praying for him and for you.

  21. My heart is full of sadness for you. Montrachet is a lucky fellow to be blessed with such a loving and understanding human. May the love you share strengthen you both through what lies ahead.

  22. The bond between a person and a "soul" animal is stronger than any tangible thing that can be described with mere words. Your post brought back so many buried memories for me, especially that I am now living in the place where those memories originated.
    Honest horses, you bet. My MOP would buck and fart and snort like a wild bronc on the lungeline, but in his ENTIRE life, he never bucked with me astride, EVER. His honesty in jumping infuriated my competitors at shows, when maybe our jumping style was not the best, but we never had refusals, whereas they did.

    And even over the distance of 1200 miles, when we moved to AR, and I had to leave him behind in PA, (but with the intention of bringing him with me then when we found a place for him to live comfortably) the unbreakable bond we shared compelled me to create the one and only oil painting I have ever done, framed and displayed in my home, just six weeks before he took that eventual agonizing decision you're facing out of my hands. For no apparent reason, (by virtue of necropsy) he passed peacefully, and just at the age of 15.

    I struggled with it for a long time, I wanted to give him the "retirement" he so deserved. And I will be forever grateful to you, for hooking me up with the animal communicator, who brought me the peace I carry to this day, she said, "His job was done."

    Montrachet has given his best to you, in body, heart and spirit. You have a gorgeous new colt that is his image, and also your beloved Misha. I know that when his job truly is done, you will be able to do what is best for him.
    God bless, and give you strength.