Goodbye to Fannie
Died September 9, 2014
September 9, 2014, our little Fannie passed away after a week’s struggle against internal abscessing. She made a brief rally last week, but yesterday, she crashed, and here at TGC, we’re aching for our little lady, and ourselves, without her.
Little Fannie came to TGC only 20 months ago. She was thin and hairy, and had a ewe-neck (her neck seemed to be curved the opposite way from most horses’ necks). She’d been abandoned, and the kind lady whose property she’d resided on, after waiting for over a year, found TGC and asked us to care for her. Fannie had been diagnosed with Cushings, and came with a supply of the medication she needed, but I saw right away what the problem was - Fannie did not believe in medicine.
In her efforts to avoid medicine, she wouldn’t eat her food! I even got a different formulation of pergolide, a teeny tiny pill, and hid ½ of one carefully in a biscuit or carrot, but as soon as she knew it was there, she would spit it out, and refuse any further feed, lest it also be contaminated! The little stinker, so reminded me of me! Well, for a daily medication, I could foresee this could become quite a problem, so I simply stopped giving her any medications, instead, substituted chia, and lo and behold, she started to thrive! She lost her old hair; gained a little weight and lots of energy, and began to look about her for a job.
She was little. She was very old. And she was kinda funny looking with her oddly conformed neck, and her outward pointing toes, and her complete lack of anything resembling a forelock, and a mane that stood straight up. But sweet as rich red honey, and in her heart, all she wanted was to take care of someone.
How funny that this timid little lady simply decided what she wanted to do, and did it. She checked out various horses, including Laddie and Basky.
In the end, she chose Medina - ½ her age, and ½ again her size, and full of vinegar, Medina has a bum knee. If not for that, she’d be vying with Star for leadership of this herd. She’s strong minded and tough and doesn’t need anyone. But Fannie felt differently. She watched over Medina, and was her almost constant companion. She couldn’t keep up with Medina, but eventually found her way to Medina’s side every day.
She also adopted Medina’s herd - the Mean Team of Star, Medina, Daisy, Jasper and Dominic. This is the herd of most dominant horses here. When she wasn’t hovering by Medina’s side, she would take a rest beside Jasper’s bulk. When anyone was taken out for work, or the vet, or farrier, she paced until they were back. This was HER family, and she cared for them. And strangely, they accepted that! She was like a little old maiden aunt or cousin, tolerated by the Beautiful People, and as it turns out, needed by them, and most clearly missed now that she’s gone.
In her final week here, it was a measure of her illness that the first two days she didn’t even want to leave her stall. But the third day, she was perking up a little under treatment, and demanded to join her friends. I let her out and watched her slowly amble toward the main paddock. As she disappeared, I heard Star bugle in excitement - Here’s Fannie!!! - and suddenly, they were all running back to the stalls! I popped Fannie back in her stall ... she’d probably overestimated her strength ... and the herd remained - in and out of adjoining stalls, hanging with her.
The next three days she was feeling more and more herself and joined everyone in the main field, although I noticed she spent more time protected by Jasper than protecting Medina.
Fannie was a caretaker. She would get upset and investigate if ANYONE started crying. She hovered closely when ANYONE was getting their toes trimmed, or getting chiropractic or energy work; and worried if I came to the paddock with medications in my hand. Now, the other horse might not really appreciate her concern, but she was there anyway. Every evening, she was one of the first horses into her own stall, but even if her bucket was there, she kept coming to the gate to see that everyone else was coming in, and always greeted Ronan, her stallmate, with a soft nicker hello.
Plain and gentle, quiet and timid, but determined to be part of her herd and care for their wellbeing, Fannie tried hard to be a port in any storm for the other horses.
And then Monday morning, September 1, I saw right away it had all turned around.
Internal abscesses are like strangles, often even called “bastard strangles”. Treatment is massive doses of antibiotics, hoping it can reach the abscess (usually in the lymph system) quickly enough to knock out the infection. So twice a day injections, and then twice a day SMZ paste - o, how our girl hated medications!
Sometimes these abscesses will break open and flood their insides with infection and pus. And sometimes the infection simply can’t be brought down quickly enough. For a little old mare, with a compromised immune system, it was too much.
Its not like Fannie didn’t have a life, although I know nothing of her history before her arrival here. Was she trained to ride? Had someone loved her in her lifetime? Did she travel? She was quite elderly and so all of that was possible. She was brave, and accepting of her situation and her own limitations. While she watched her last human friend leave, she then turned to the herd she’d been put into with courage and aplomb, taking a deep breath and facing the mob with self-possession and calm.
She assessed the situation, chose “her” group, and never looked back. And her stellar qualities, hidden under that plain exterior, were recognized by horse and human alike here, and we valued her.
Every moment here was borrowed time. I’m so happy we were here to restore her dignity, giving her a purpose in life and freedom to pursue it. I am so happy she had friends - that she was hobnobbing with the elite here, holding her own and contributing to the happiness of others.
And that’s all crap. One thing I’m not feeling right now is happy. She was a lovely little mare, and I and the Mean Team will be missing her for a long time...