Goodbye to Smokey
Today our dear Smokey has passed. Just over two years here, which were largely borrowed time, were all we could give this old gelding. During his time, he made friends, and was beloved of his girl Ashley. He had committed sponsors, who helped defray his expenses while he was here, and a chance to be a horse for once.
I don’t know much about Smokey’s past. He came in far too skinny for me to consider riding him, although reportedly his former owner, who had abandoned him with some neighbors, had been riding him even as thin as he was. He had stiff aching joints, and like a lot of elder grays, had evidence of cancer. He loved grooming, but hated baths. My Board member and friend Laurie Henkel was able to adjust him once, although he seemed deeply suspicious of the whole thing, and she speculated he was an Appy/Arab cross - two tough and independent breeds....
I enjoyed watching Smokey, thin and new, decide that he would befriend Dion and Peanut. For the first time, Dion allowed someone to join he and Peanut, and I worried that it meant HIS cancer was progressing to where he finally admitted he needed some help. The boys slowly became good friends, joined in watching over Peanut (who could not have cared less what those guys were doing). When Dion passed away, Smokey was devastated, but took over Dion’s duties as Peanut’s protector despite his own frailty.
Not too long after that, dear Ashley joined our herd, and immediately attached herself to Peanut and Smokey, becoming THEIR protector despite her new status in the herd. And Smokey was so happy to be surrounded by the ladies that he relaxed, and began to snooze away his days.
Except those rare occasions when somehow Smokey became separated from the girls, when he would run screaming all around the place until he found them again, he simply slowed down. Joint supplements and pain medications didn’t seem to help him much, his joints seemed to be more stiff and crackly each day. He started to have a very hard time lifting all of his legs for the farrier, although he always tried. His appetite remained good, but he began to lose weight, and spent a fair amount of time laying down, with the girls watching over him.
Seeing him change from a tough guy who wanted friends and someone to watch over, to being the sad slow fella being protected by his ladies, made me sad, but he came in so poor, and so tired, that I felt this was inevitable. He had a couple of years here to enjoy his herd, and hang out a little. Although he was another horse who didn’t care for people much, he did have a great enjoyment of a good grooming. And it’s a good thing, since he was one of those ‘dirty’ horses - could NOT resist laying down and getting nasty, and had a hard time losing all of his hair without help, leaving white patches everywhere he laid down.
At the end, he limped from his stall and waited quietly. I had spoken with him for several days before hand, to tell him rest was at hand, and promising to care for his ladies. He stared at me while he chewed his cookie. Always still and watching, wondering what this person wanted now but cooperative. He didn’t want much attention, and was quiet and still so much of his time here. But he is mourned by his girl Ashley, who is distraught, and he will be missed by her and Peanut and myself.