In Loving Memory of Malika

Passed away August 12, 2006
Foaled 1969
13.3 hand Morgan mare

Malika was only green broke, she had never been anything more than a pet.  She appears to be losing her vision now.  It’s unusual to find a horse of this age with so little training, but she has a good mind and is sound otherwise.  She was Trilby’s best friend, and they would stand head to tail in the paddock every day.  She was lonely for almost two years after Trilby died, but has become the best friend of Victor.  Malika is a favorite ride for Mike, who thinks she’s “the best”.  I wait for the day she decides to run for home, and he can’t stop her   

Goodbye to Malika 

Well, it looks like for once I knew when death was close. Last night, August 11, 2006, I was awakened at 3:30 AM by Victor calling, as it turned out, for Malika. She had broken her lower chain and shimmied under the upper chain, and gone out away from the stall lines to lay in the soft dirt. I found her, obviously in some distress, but not sweating or thrashing. I don’t think she was colicking – her vitals were pretty good, her gum color was good, her respirations were a little labored but not much, she was not sweating and didn’t feel hot. I massaged her and sat with her for about an hour, but she just seemed to want to rest – so I went back to bed. At 5:45 AM, I found her back by the stall line, standing, but with her head down. Malika has always stood like this somewhat, but her stillness was a little scary. Her stomach sounds were good; her gum color still pink, and she wasn’t restive or in obvious distress but….. I advised Mike of the previous nights activities before I went to work and asked him to keep an eye on her. Probably 45 minutes later, he let the horses out, and Malika accompanied Victor back to the main paddock. She stood and nosed through the hay as Victor ate, and Mike walked over to put her fly mask on her. As he approached, he saw Victor jump away from her, saw Malika circle once, twice, staggering, and then she fell. One or two twitches, and she was gone. I believe she’d had episodes of little strokes or seizures before, explaining the peculiar positions and places she was going down and getting stuck; I am pretty sure she’d done it a couple of times and been able to get up on her own. This was the last one, and mercifully, it was quick, and she died with her friends close around her. Up until two weeks ago, Malika was sponsored, for two years, by Mickey Brown on behalf of her grandaughter. For about 10 years before that, she been abandoned by the people who had foolishly bred a favorite mare to produce her, and then never bothered to train her to be useful. For her 37+ years, Malika was basically useless, and left alone to pine. Although she was barely greenbroke, Mike did ride her a couple of times, and with her friends PC and Sunny was a reasonable ride on the trail. But she had a willful streak, and if she didn’t want to do something, she would put her head down and bolt – making her useless for small or inexperienced riders. The loneliness I saw in Malika never truly abated – even when Victor attached himself to her. She’s the best advertisement I’ve ever seen for giving even older horses a job – she didn’t even know what she missed – just that she missed out somehow. It took the whole 12 years she was with TGC for Malika to develop trust in the people around her. She was spooky if approached in her stall, fought every time having wormers given to her; was suspicious of the farriers; was cranky as a woman with PMS about 4 times a year; actively chased and tried to bite the dogs; and never made friends with any of the TGC horses until Victor came along, staying separate, but tolerating no abuse from them. (Like me, she stayed alone and lonely rather than settle for less than she wanted!) But in the last year, she was cooperative about her wormer and trims, was happy last year to get her blanket; and looked at Mike and I with a positively kind and benign eye – her whole manner so different it scared me. Just as I knew the end was near for Bobby Sox years ago when he stopped tearing his winter blankets to bits, I began to fear for her. Those of you who have received my newsletters this past year have probably noted my mention of her frailness; her casting incidents; her thinness. When I found her down last night, I thought the end was near, and it turns out, I was right. I am glad that she was able to make it through the night, and not die alone.  

Malika with her beau, Victor in 2005 Malika was a sad little horse, brought into the world by people who loved her mom, and then ignored her existence until they dumped her on TGC. And they provided perhaps $400 in donations over the approximately 12 years she was with me. She truly lived a life of quiet, unending desperation and loneliness, watching her stall mates leave one after another, for a ride, for a day, for a show or forever. Always left behind and disregarded, she withdrew into herself and never truly came out of her shell. This isolation and loneliness was partially mitigated in her final years at TGC, with the blessing of Victor to lighten her last two years. Perhaps in the usual terms Malika didn’t “earn” her retirement at TGC, but she suffered because humans so blithely upset the natural order of things and then ignore the consequences to these stoic and enduring creatures. In the world Mother Nature created them for, it’s a rare horse indeed who lives alone for almost its entire life. Horses are herd creatures, and just as dogs need their pack, and humans need the society of other humans, horses are terribly hurt by isolation from other horses. I am glad that, although she didn’t really relax enough to appreciate it until near the end of her days, The Golden Carrot was able to give her the approximation of a life.

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