Yesterday evening Ogie was absolutely fine, he came cantering up for dinner along with the rest of his group. This morning Ogie was lagging far behind everyone as I called them up for breakfast. He was unable to walk in a straight line and was attempting to stagger his way up to the other horses. He seemed to have no idea where his legs were. We’re still not really sure what happened to Ogie but his neurological symptoms were severe. He staggered around in circles trying to remain upright. He fell down once but managed to get back up.
After the vet examined him she said that she did not think it was an option to attempt to treat his symptoms, especially since it would have taken several days to do extensive tests to try and determine exactly what was going on.
Ogie and Alex last April
The vet ruled out encephalitis, west nile virus and Potomac horse fever simply because all of his vital signs were normal and she said any of these typically present with a very high fever. He had no signs of injury anywhere, not so much as a hair out of place, and no areas of heat or swelling. His symptoms were so severe he was a danger not only to himself but to any horse or person around him. He could not be transported to the clinic, nor did the vet feel he would be safe in a stall. He also would not be safe to stay in the pasture. There really were no options except to end his suffering.
Euthanizing Ogie was one of the hardest experiences I have had on the retirement farm. Watching him staggering around, trying with everything he had to stay upright, was heart wrenching. While waiting for the vet I couldn’t put him in a stall as I feared he would fall down and get wedged and never get back up. I also didn’t feel like I could turn him loose in a paddock or leave him in the pasture as I was scared he would collapse on a fence and get hurt. So I walked with him, trying to stay out of the way while at the same time attempting to steer him away from fences and other immobile objects.
I never knew Ogie in his prime when he competed in eventing. I met Ogie after he had been abandoned and starved while in his 20’s. He was on the upswing when he arrived at our farm but we had the pleasure of watching him continue to come back to life. He gained weight, he grew in normal looking hooves, his coat went from dull to shiny. He never regained a top line, he had a swayback and he was a devoted cribber, but for some reason when I looked at Ogie I was always able to see the horse he once was. He still had incredible power from behind and a beautiful, huge gallop stride. It was so easy to envision a young Ogie making short work of a cross country course.
Ogie could be very aloof and do an excellent impression of a grumpy old man. But when you would least expect it he would wrap his neck around you and give you a hug, or rest his chin on your shoulder. He was very bossy and demanding towards his people and he expected his wish to be your command. I’ve always said I never wanted to ride Ogie. I have no doubt he would have taken me around any cross country course safely. But I also have no doubt I would have had very little say in how we got around the course!
There was something about Ogie that made other horses see him as their security blanket. Quite honestly I’ve never understood it as Ogie tended to act like he could take or leave other horses. They certainly couldn’t leave him though.
The first horse to fall in love with Ogie was Mister the Mini. Mister was 36” tall and he became obsessed with Ogie from the moment they met. Mister quickly decided that he was in charge of Ogie and took control of his life immediately. Ogie could not go anywhere or do anything without Mister's approval. One time I saw Ogie make the mistake of trying to hang out with a couple of other horses and was not anywhere near Mister. Mister marched over to Ogie, reared up, grabbed Ogie's lip, and lead him back over to a place in the pasture he approved of. If only I'd had my camera with me at the time! I’ve wondered a few times today if Ogie and Mister have been reunited and Mister is once again in charge of Ogie.
Mister standing watch while Ogie napped
Ogie and Mister
The next horse to fall in love with Ogie was B-Rad. When B-Rad arrived at the farm he immediately latched onto Ogie and for months he could not bear to be more than a few feet away from him. We joked that Ogie was B-Rad’s security blanket. After a few months B-Rad branched out and became BFF with Alex but he always had an affinity for Ogie.
Ogie and B-Rad
The third horse to latch onto Ogie was Darby. Once again Ogie served as a security blanket and Darby could not function if Ogie was more than a few feet away. Darby’s attachment to Ogie was still very strong and I worried how Darby was going to handle life without Ogie. Interestingly after looking for Ogie for awhile today Darby latched onto B-Rad this afternoon and was carrying on with life.
Darby and Ogie
The story of our time with Ogie cannot be told without talking about Karen. Karen is an amazing horsewoman and talented rider. I’ll brag on her here and embarrass her a bit. Karen competed at the top levels of eventing for several years and has galloped around Rolex. To put it mildly Karen is a really good rider.
More impressive than her equestrian skills, Karen is one of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever met. Jason and I both find her to be an inspirational person and anytime I would see a message from Karen in my inbox I would start smiling. No matter the topic at hand, anytime you talk or correspond with Karen she always manages to make you feel good about yourself. The world needs more people like Karen in it, but at the moment I’m not thinking clearly enough to truly convey what an amazing person she is.
After being told about Ogie, turned loose in a pasture, abandoned and on the brink of starving to death, Karen became Ogie’s Patron Saint. Thanks to Karen Ogie had the chance to remember what it was like to have food and water. She had the vet out for him and she had a farrier work on his horrendously neglected feet. When she was confident he was stable enough to make the trip from Northern Alabama she brought him to our farm.
Ogie has been living in retirement with us for over four years and Karen has happily paid his bills. He wasn’t her horse. She didn’t ride him, show him, or enjoy any of his talents during his younger years. She just took him into her fold and became responsible for him when everyone else had literally abandoned him. Karen never gave us the opportunity to ask for anything. She was always asking if Ogie needed anything. “How are his blankets holding up Melissa? Should I buy him new ones?” Thanks to Karen Ogie never wanted for anything in the last few years.
As I was walking back to the barn after saying goodbye to Ogie I was feeling overwhelmingly sad, inadequate and helpless. The tears were flowing freely. Miracle spotted me as I walked near her paddock. She flipped her tail up over her back and started prancing around and whinnying. This is what she does when she wants attention. In spite of myself I smiled. It seemed so appropriate when I thought about it, one lost soul making me smile as I mourned another lost soul. Ogie came here as a lost soul looking for a place to thrive. He did, and he left a hole in our hearts with his passing. I will always think of Ogie as the mighty steed he believed himself to be. I miss him so much.