In Loving Memory of Hava

Foaled 1982 (approx.)
Died 3/15/08
16h Running Quarterhorse
Chestnut w/wrench shaped white blaze
16.1 hand chestnut QH mare

Like her good citizen companion, Buck, Hava is trail wise and affectionate in the extreme. She is a little hyper and excitable, but fully trained and responsive under saddle. She’s athletic, but has some signs of arthritis, and hopefully, TGC’s open paddock will provide enough exercise to keep it from progressing too quickly. Hava is the kind of mare who will NOT be separated from her friends. More than once, when Buck was defeating all of our gate possibilities, going walkabout when everyone was in their stalls, Hava would simply barrel right through her own gate to be with him. Surprisingly, she never actually injured herself, but she caused a lot of cursing from Mike and I as we attempted to rebuild her gate, sometimes in the dark! Hava fell deeply in love, in Spring of 2005, with Falcon.  Falcon and Buck were always friends, of which Hava was jealous – apparently she took the path of least resistance.  Falcon doesn’t seem to care either way – he’s still friendly with Buck – but his caretaking of Hava leaves Buck some time free to socialize with the other horses.  Hava is an experienced horse, far too excitable for a beginning rider.  When her former owners had her, they rode almost 40 hours a week, and she was wonderful on that much work, but with age and arthritis sending her here, and too much time lazing around at The Golden Carrot, she’s become a handful to ride.  However, if I ever get a student who can advance to her level, I’m sure she’ll be happy to have a job again, as long as Falcon can be there with her!

Goodbye to Hava

3/15/08Today, after a 10 day long bout with the worst case of colic I have had to witness, dear Hava is gone. The struggle was an unbearable roller coaster ride, and Hava fought hard, but in the end, this 27 year old mare, with all Dr. Zadick and I could do for her, couldn’t win. Throughout her struggles, Buck was by her side, steadfast, and I believe a comfort to her.  Buck and Hava came to TGC in 2001, ages 21 and 20 respectively. Hava was a healthy Quarterhorse mare, with two white hind feet and a distinct wrench-shaped blaze on her face. She was good looking if not “gorgeous” – for instance, her coloring was odd, a strange liver-chestnut kinda color and she had no real mane or forelock – and was healthy and obviously well loved when she came to me. She had excellent training, and miles and miles of experience that made her easy to handle most of the time, and we can give her credit for that as well as former owners Misty and Jeff. She and Buck had been together most of their lives, owned by Misty and Jeff in middle-California. During their many many years with M&J, they traveled thousands of miles of trails together; took their owners in parades and poker rides, search and rescue missions and every kind of show event you could imagine.

M&J retired Buck and Hava to me when they couldn’t spend the same amount of time with the horses, and the arthritis Buck and Hava both were showing made ‘ weekend riding’ more difficult than enjoyable.  When Buck and Hava were getting about 30 hours a week of action in their former home, Hava was brilliant, just as Buck was. But in her retirement here at TGC, this ball of fire was only relaxed in the herd. When I took her on the trails a few times with Buck, I had the not-quite-pleasure of riding this pogo stick until I felt like a limp noodle. She jogged the whole way, and I truly believe I would never have got her out there at all except for her rock, Buck. She watched him constantly, circled around him if he stopped, and altogether was a complete pain to ride. I might as well have not been there! She stood by Buck’s side for the first year here, and we learned early that we could not let Buck out of his stall first – if we did, Hava would crash through her gate rather than let him get a few strides away. O yes – a strong and willful mare!  Like my other “lead mare” personality, Chacha, Hava didn’t hang with anyone. She was always in sight and close proximity to Buck, but he could play with other geldings and talk to mares, she didn’t care. Just as long as he stayed within a certain distance of her, she was fine.

And then one spring, for reasons not clear to me, she fell in love with Falcon! Falcon could care less, but she followed him for the rest of her life like a puppy dog. At first, Buck was pretty happy – finally, some free time! But he didn’t like being ignored, and became buddies with Falcon, playing ‘bite my face’ for hours, and in the end, these three became my only other threesome consisting of one mare and two geldings. (The other is Sunny, Victor and Shine). Hava stood a little distance away all the time, just watching over her ‘boys’. No one messed with her – if anyone crowded her, they found that Hava could run backwards as fast as they ran forward, kicking at them as she came, and she never hesitated to lay back her ears and lunge at anyone she thought was misbehaving or pushy. Even Ronan respected this grand old lady. Hava was our first case of strangles last July, and during the whole ordeal, never missed a meal or showed in any way that she was sick. If it wasn’t for the abscess, I’d never have known. Except for a wheeze that she came with and which never left her, and some obvious arthritis, she never seemed the least bit unsound. Fat, healthy, easy keeper. A bit tempermental with her Buck-obsession, and then the Falcon-obsession; sometimes pushy or over-excitable, but she was very well trained and well behaved if you knew your business. Not a horse for a beginner, but good as gold. Although she was startled at first with the idea of sharing Buck with a herd of horses, once she was sure she still had his devotion, I believe she began to enjoy the herd and her position in it as Grand Dame. Hava will be mourned for a long time. I will worry about Buck – so devoted, and even older than Hava. She leaves a wrench-shaped hole behind…

Sometimes people laugh at me for “making a commitment” to my horses. Sometimes people look away, embarrassed, as I grieve another lost friend. I never cease to wonder at the cement headed self-centered people who can’t see the person behind the big liquid eyes. Who can’t open their hearts enough to love someone just because they have four feet. Whose imagination is so small, they can’t feel the loss of a person like Hava. I feel pain each time a beloved friend dies, but I have an additional, almost unbearable burden. I don’t just lose my friends. I kill them. Whether I have the vet out; or my neighbor uses his gun; or I pull the trigger myself, the decision is all too often mine to make. I look into their eyes – I try to see what they want. Shall we try longer? Another shot of painkiller? Some more massage? A little more time? And I have to weigh the strong urge to live that we all feel, two or four footed people alike, against the chances of success and some quality of life. This ordeal that Hava went through was an ordeal for me too. Each day, I had to assess her condition; look for any sign of improvement, holding steady, or deterioration. Each day I looked in her eyes, and saw that she wanted to try. And finally, 10 days later, I had to look in her eyes and tell her that I had given up. Tell her that all I could do now was end it all, to end her suffering. She’d lost so much weight; was unable to stand; her knees were swollen from going down on them so many times. Each effort was more difficult and less productive, and medications were doing her no good. People will tell me, don’t worry, it was the end of her life, you made it easier for her. But I challenge you – imagine killing your loved one, be it horse, dog, child, or spouse. Could you pull the trigger, no matter how great their pain? And if you were strong, and did what needed to be done, would knowing that their pain was over make yours any less? Would you cry at losing a dear one you knew so well, with your sobs echoing in the emptiness once filled by them? Would your heart ache with guilt, that you didn’t do more or have the answer? Would you cringe, that one day you may see them again and have to explain what you did? Would you wish that you could have put that bullet in your own head, before you had to do such a thing?  People wonder how hard it is. They do die quickly you know – whether a bullet or an injection. I believe there is no fear or pain. Their minds, their personality, their soul are gone like that. You can feel it. You can see it. But their heart beats on for a while. I’ve knelt beside so many big warm bodies with my hand on their girthline, my forehead on their satin sides, feeling the beat beat beat beat of that strong heart. And each time, even knowing they are already gone, when that giant heart stutters, I feel as though my own will stop too. Inside I wail – NO! Just a minute, NO! One stutter, maybe two, and it stops. It’s all over now. But it’s as though the pain I tried to end for them is now lodged in my own chest. Am I insane? Do normal people feel this way? I suspect that more than one person reading this remembers the loss of a loved one, and knows the pain I feel. How can I feel this for “just an animal”? Because they are NOT “just an animal”, they are people too. And today, as the snow falls over her still form and Bucky calls hopelessly, the world is less for the loss of Hava.

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