Saturday, July 13, 2013

Update Since Buckshot's Passing

It’s now been six months since Buckshot’s passing, and I still miss him terribly. The first few months were a blur of tears, sadness, disbelief at losing my riding partner, friend, light of my life, Buckshot. I printed out many photographs of him and put several in frames around my house. I created a thick scrap book of many of his photos as well. Sometimes I just look through them and remember what a wonderful horse he was. I looked on the internet for help about losing a horse and found some comforting poems that I printed out and read occasionally. I think he is in heaven with my mom (who passed away fifteen years ago) and a sister I lost last year. I love the poem about the Rainbow Bridge and envision he is there as well. Sometimes I look at the sky and know he is up there, cantering around happily.

I kept going out to the farm he lived at, on Saturdays, with my other sister. And after a few weeks I rode a school horse, but after just a few minutes, my tears started and I got off of him. I waited a few more weeks and was able to ride a school horse and do okay. I brought all of Buckshot’s tack and gear and tools home – that was a sad thing for me to do but I had to do it. Now my second bedroom looks like a tack room . I know that I am still grieving him and so don’t want to look for another horse yet. At some point, I’ll know when I ready to do that, and I think I will. Loving Buckshot, looking after him, fussing over him, the absolutely wonderful bond and relationship that we had, and how wonderful it was to ride him, was a gift and treasure to me. And maybe I’ll have something akin to it again with another horse. I really loved him and I loved that he was my horse. And he was such a treasure to me. I valued my time with him so much.

I have kept riding horses since his passing. For a few months, as I mentioned above, I rode school horses at the farm I boarded Buckshot at. But I knew that I wanted to go somewhere else. Partly due to my memories of him there, it was never the same there after he died. So I found a new riding stable much closer to my home, where I have riding lessons now. They have a lot of good school horses, and have adult riding classes, and they offer leasing and boarding, in case I want to do that in the future. They teach hunter jumper, which means I have transitioned from riding western to riding English. I have an English saddle that I bought years ago when I first got Buckshot. So I dusted off this saddle and took it with me to the new stables. I have gotten breeches, and paddock boots again, and also some bicycle shorts I wear under my breeches to pad that area (a great idea that has helped me a lot). The other students are very nice, the instructors are very nice, and I am relearning English equitation and have even learned to do some beginner jumps! Imagine, me, at 57 years, I have now jumped horses!

I think Buckshot would be proud of me! And he taught me a lot, so it is an extension of his training. He taught me a lot- how to trust your horse, and because of that, to have self confidence, how to treat your horse with gratitude and dignity and attention, and if you’re lucky, your horse will respond to you. I think that in the months to come, I will realize even more about what Buckshot taught me while we had our five years together. But it is taking me a while. I’m not hurrying myself, or trying to “get over it” or “move on with things” because I realized shortly after Buckshot died how huge a loss it was for me. So I have been moving slowly, enduring the sadnesses along the way. And remembering what a sweet, wonderful horse he was (and is, in the heavenly pastures). And I am also growing a little bit, learning English riding, and getting to know some very nice new people and horses. I’ll try to write more on my blog going forward. But for now, thanks for listening….

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Dear All,
Thank you for your kind words of comfort. I have been grieving Buckshot tremendously and it is a very difficult thing for me. The suddenness of his death, without any preceding illness, or even being "out to pasture," is one thing that makes his death very hard for me. In addition, he was the light of my life, one of the best and most wonderful aspects of my life, and his loss is huge. So I am trying to find comfort and holding onto the memories I have of Buckshot, and navigating the hard, slow, dark road of grief. I will be taking a break from my blog for the time being. Thank you.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Buckshot is Gone

I don’t know how to write this. I am in shock and grief. My beloved, sweet Buckshot died yesterday. It was colic, severe colic and there was nothing that could be done. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe he is gone. I am shattered, stunned, crying, sobbing off and on. I hardly can move my fingers to type.

It came on quick, as you probably know colic does. Wednesday night he had a tummy ache, and the BO gave him banamine. By Thursday it was severe, the vet called and determined how very severe it was and on Thursday he was euthanized. I was there and got to hug him and say goodbye to him and cry on his neck. He was buried in his pasture, by the persimmon tree.

I can’t bear right now to go over the timeline or the details, as they are too fresh and raw. I am filled with a huge deep chasm of pain and sorrow over my sweet Buckshot. He was the most wonderful, patient, kind horse and the very best horse for me. I had him for just over 5 years. I loved him so very much, always saying to myself he is the light of my life. I adored him. I know he was old, at least or around 25 years old, but I wanted another 10 years with him, at least. And the suddenness of it is hard to bear. Riding him just last Sunday, and four days later he is gone. My tears are starting again. My heart, so filled with love for this most wonderful horse, is breaking apart with losing him. I will miss him and his dear personality so much. I’ll share more thoughts and memories later.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Last Weekend on 2012

Happy New Year to all of you!

First, an update on Buckshot’s chin. On Saturday, it looked much better. The patch of hairless skin on his chin, just below his mouth, was dry, and clean. A small sore was still there in the center, but no draining of any kind. I showed it to the BO and she agreed it is healing and just needs an occasional application of Tricare, so I gingerly put some on it. I looked in my horse vet book and couldn’t find any condition that matched it so I don’t know what it is. But it looks better, and I continue to monitor it.

On Saturday it was very rainy, but once the rain stopped I decided to ride Buckshot, even if just for a short time. The footing was pretty wet, so we would be limited in where we rode. Buckshot was in good spirits, with a little trotting, as I walked/ grazed him over to the main barn and groomed him. The BO got her horse tacked up, and after I mounted, Buckshot and I followed them down the road to the field arena. Buckshot walked happily down the road. Once at the arena, it was quite wet so we trotted in the grass perimeter just outside of the arena. This grassy section is very springing and Buckshot loves to trot here- I can feel his floating, energetic trot under me! He even offered some cantering on the grass. I took him into the arena, and we did a few patterns at the walk. I asked for his extended walk and he did a wonderful extended walk! They were fun patterns for both of us. He did great!

After riding, we headed down the road, and the BO wanted to stop at a barn for a moment and check on a horse there. I hopped off of Buckshot so I could hold both horses reins’. I then decided to remount Buckshot from a big bathtub that sits by the fence – it is a large planter, and it is firm and stable underfoot. I got Buckshot located next to it, and put my left foot in the stirrup and pushed myself up. However, I didn’t get quite enough push, and at the top, felt I needed to go back down and push up again. Unfortunately, as I lowered my right foot, it slipped and went into the tub, and I fell back, and down, right into the tub and dirt, lightly hitting my head on the wooden fence behind me. I kept my feet pulled up so they weren’t under Buckshot’s feet, but dear horse that he is, he didn’t move a muscle. He probably just thought, What is she doing down there? Anyway, I got up and wasn’t hurt at all, and decided that a wet bathtub doesn’t make a good mounting block after all, and I walked Buckshot back to the barn. What a funny picture!! And what a wonderful thing to have a helmet on! My helmet performed wonderfully!

On Sunday, Buckshot and I rode with the BO and BOH and had a nice, uneventful ride. It was very windy but all of the horses took it in stride and did great. It was Monday’s ride that was the most eventful for us.

Yesterday, Monday, was one of those rides where you start off with Plan A, then find you have to go to Plan B or C! LOL!

It was a partly cloudy day, no rain, no wind, with comfortable temps in the 40’s. No one else was riding so I would ride Buckshot alone. We started out in the partially-usable arena, doing our walking warm up. It was soupy and puddley (a new word?) along the edges so we used the inside portion of the arena. After a few minutes, and tightening the girth, I thought we’d go into the trail so we rode over to the trailhead, and Buckshot let me know he didn’t that was such a good idea. He planted himself like a statue. I turned him and reversed our attempt several times and he wasn’t cooperating. So I decided we wouldn’t go into the trail, at the moment, and I thought, but didn’t say “We’ll try again later. Just not right now.”

So, I changed to Plan B and we headed down the road instead. Which went pretty well for about thirty feet, and then Buckshot changed his mind again. Nooooo, I don’t think I want to go this way either, he said. But I said, I think we will. And so I urged him with my legs, tapped him with the crop several times and didn’t make much progress forward. Several times he turned around, trying to get me to see the message, after which, I turned him around, trying to get him to see the message. I stopped several times and counted to 20 in my head. A few times I laughed, because at a time like this, laughter is better than frustration, or an “I’m going to show this horse who’s boss!” attitude. I made him turn small circles in the road several times, and at one point, I backed him up down the road, hoping he would tire of that and just want to move forward. He wasn’t agitated or nervous, just determined. I wasn’t agitated or nervous, just determined also. Finally, he moved forward and we ambled along. I stopped to untie a horse in a nearby barn(he was tied temporarily so that he wouldn’t take feed from his elderly pasturemate, a mare who was eating her lunch. She had finished her grain so I could let the gelding free from his halter. ) Then I walked Buckshot to a nearby barn with a mounting block and got back on him. We started walking (wonderful!) and then he stopped again.

I tried all of my techniques all over again, including counting to 20, and at one point I burst out laughing, at the incongruity of it! He was stronger than me, he was bigger than me, and he seemed to be very determined not to cooperate with me. And here I am, with my little tiny goal – to get to the field arena and ride – not giving up. Not giving in. And also not getting mad. But just getting determined to get this 900 pound sweet, aggravating animal to cooperate. By hook or by crook, but not in anger. So I laughed heartily at myself and the situation! Must have mystified Buckshot – what is she laughing at? Then I said outloud, we just have to find some way through this impasse, Buckshot – and voila! He started walking!

Whew!! What a ride so far! What a test of wills! What a training ground for me, to have lots of techniques to get him to go forward. We went up to the field arena and rode for a while, doing nice trotting and a tiny bit of canter, in the grass, as the arena itself was still a bit wet and soupy. After a particularly nice bit of trotting, I headed Buckshot back down the road, and turned him into the woods at a turnoff. He went willing and we started in the woods. Then a heard a whoooosh, behind me, then another whoosh, in time with Buckshot’s feet. I looked back and he had gotten a large branch around his hoof and was dragging it with every step. Luckily, he didn’t spook about it. So I hopped off, and removed the branch, then walked him out of the woods and back to the field arena where there were buckets that I could use as a makeshift mounting block. We returned to the woods and had a nice ride back to the barn.

Even though we didn’t work much on the riding skills I had in mind, it turned into a good obstacle training day for us, obstacles to going forward, that is. And both of us passed the training tests!

In reflection, I’ve had Buckshot for five years now, and I adore him. He has taught me a lot, an enormous amount, about horses and riding and taking care of the varied and miscellaneous and endless little things to care about with horses. He is worth his weight in gold to me, since he is a calm, usually cooperative, older horse that is perfect for me. I have learned a lot of horse handling skills from him, and a lot of riding skills. I have learned how much I worry about him, normal worrying, about any little or big health issue. I love the relationship that we have built, the partnership that comes from spending a lot of time with one horse. I love that I can feel his responses under me, and know his moods much better than when I first got him. For me, he is my dream horse!

Happy New Year to you and yours, and I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for all of us!