Yesterday was another sad day on the farm. We said our final goodbyes to Missy. We knew this day was coming and it was planned, not a surprise, but it did not make things any easier.
Missy was a bay Quarter Horse cross pony. She spent many, many years working very hard on a dude ranch in Colorado. Her job was to make sure the kids visiting the dude ranch had safe rides in the Colorado mountains. She worked tirelessly and always brought the kids back safely.
After many years on the dude ranch she was no longer physically able to hold up to the long days in the mountains. She was repaid for her years of work and dependability by being sent to the kill pen. Luckily for Missy an employee of the dude ranch contacted a family that had a ranch in the area, hoping they would give Missy a home. This person was Missy's guardian angel as the family did buy her from the kill pen and gave her a home, a forever home.
Missy's only job in life was to be spoiled rotten by their daughters and teaching their youngest daughter how to ride. As always Missy was dependable as ever and taught her young charge how to ride.
One thing that Missy would not do was canter undersaddle. The dude ranch absolutely did not want Missy to ever canter with one of their guests' kids undersaddle. The way they taught her that cantering was bad was they essentially beat the crap out of her anytime she cantered. Missy learned the lesson well that she was never to go faster than a trot. EVER.
Her first summer as she carried her new young rider around she walked and trotted. The next summer when the family returned to their ranch her young charge was a stronger rider and that summer they learned to canter together. She was also trusted with any young friends that were visiting both on the ground and undersaddle.
A happy yet very sad picture for me. Buffy, Missy, and Harmony walking through the pasture on a summer afternoon. All three are deceased.
Eventually Missy became to stiff behind for any riding at all. Her family kept their promise to Missy for a forever home and even when she needed to be fully retired she had nothing but the best care. We had the pleasure of living with Missy for the last few years. Although stiff on her hind legs she was still a feisty little girl. She was never shy about expressing her opinions on things, either to people or horses. She was very, very attached to her group of horse friends and she got to the point where she just detested coming into the barn. She didn't want to be groomed, she didn't want to see the farrier, she wanted to hang out with her friends. We would practically have to drag her to the barn, and then jog along with her trying to keep up when it was time to go back to her friends.
passing a quiet afternoon under a nice shade tree
She never forgot her lessons from the dude ranch about not being allowed to canter. If her friends were running and being rowdy Missy would usually be lagging a bit behind, trotting instead of cantering. On a couple of occasions she forgot her lessons about not going faster than a trot and she would start galloping. It never lasted for more than a few strides and then she would come to an abrupt halt. It was as if she suddenly remembered she was breaking the rules. She would look around anxiously to see if anyone had seen her. Without question those few times that I saw Missy run and act carefree are my most cherished memories of her.
Missy and Buffy
Missy was well loved by her friends here through the years. I've written more than one post about the "pony wars" that tend to happen here, and Missy was always proudly claimed by a mare. For a long time Buffy staked her claim on Missy. When Buffy passed away MyLight took over ownership of Missy. More recently Silky and Missy were often together.
Missy and MyLight
Everyday things were starting to get hard for Missy in the last few months. It was difficult for her to have her hooves trimmed by the farrier. Her back legs were getting terribly stiff. Her daily pain medication was not enough to help her anymore. We knew the day was coming where she was going to go down and not be able to get up, and we didn't want to put Missy through that trauma. She was having trouble maintaining her weight and bloodwork revealed the early stages of liver failure. We talked with her family and our vet about Missy and we all agreed that we would let her enjoy the fall weather for a few weeks and then let her go peacefully. It was tempting to want to be a hero for Missy and increase her pain medications and aggressively treat her liver issues, but realistically the only parties that were going to feel better were the people and not the horse. One of the hardest things we have learned through the years is that sometimes being a hero is stepping up and making the hard decision, the final decision, especially when you will be fighting a losing battle.
Silky and Missy
Silky, Missy and Maisie
Yesterday was as perfect as any day can be. 70 degrees, sunny, a light breeze. Missy had a supersized breakfast and some extra treats. She was grazing with her friends when the vet arrived. I walked out to the pasture and put her halter on her. In typical Missy fashion she planted her feet and pulled back, letting me know she didn't care to leave her friends. Then we walked slowly across the pasture. All of her friends followed us to the gate and stayed with us until the end. It was very peaceful. Missy was 30 years old.
MyLight and Missy
It comforts me to know that Missy and Buffy are reunited. Being the thoroughbred mare that she was Buffy loved to run. I hope Missy is in a place where she feels like she can run freely along with her without fear of repercussions. I know without a doubt that Buffy is diligently guarding Missy and watching out for her as she always did here. Rest in peace Missy.
Buffy was never far from Missy
Buffy doting on her pony