As you probably know from previous posts, I have been hauling water and feed to horses through the summer. Only one of the horses actually belong to me, the other two belonging to my daughter, but it hasn't made sense for both of us to have to take care of horses separately, so I have been taking care of all three.
Monday evening, when I took the feed and water to the pasture, my horse, Thunder, was not feeling well. He seemed tired, lethargic and a little disoriented, not at all like the day before when he was energetic and actually trotted to the feed trough. Even more unusual was the fact that he wanted to be petted. He has always been willing to be petted but has never asked for it. With all that, there was nothing to indicate what might be wrong and he didn't seem to be in any pain, so I hoped he would be better the next day.
Tuesday evening, Thunder didn't show up to be fed. I found him in a wooded area where he would often stand on hot days. He had simply laid down, stretched out and quietly passed. Still no sign of what might have been wrong other than the obvious fact that when I fed the night before, he had been saying goodbye and preparing to die.
I had bought Thunder from my son several years ago but had never managed time to work with him (he wasn't broke to ride and breaking horses takes time and devotion that just wasn't available). Thinking back on the amount of time I had had this horse, and even farther back to when a neighbor had tried to sell him to me years before, and how long it had been since that neighbor had passed away, it seems that Thunder would have been at least thirty years old. In disbelief I went through the time frame again. Sure enough, the neighbor in question passed away well over twenty years ago, and I had considered buying the horse a few years before that. Time passes so quickly and is so easy to loose track of.
It seems that the summer heat, dust in the dwindling pasture and his advanced age were just too much to overcome. The only bright spot is that with hay scarce and feed prices rising, I won't have to worry if he has enough to eat. Even though Thunder was not a working horse and did not officially contribute to the farm, he was always there, a good friend and at times a playful nuisance. He will be missed terribly.