We had to say our goodbyes to Fuzzy Punch, more affectionately known as Fuzzy or The Fuzz, on Tuesday. Fuzzy had been with us for a little over two years, and it had become apparent in the last few weeks that the issues that had led to his retirement were catching up to him. Since he was just shy of 22 years old it made saying goodbye even more sad at his relatively young age, but everyone on Fuzzy's team knew it was the right thing to do.
With Fuzzy it was not one of those situations where everyone was in a panic as we had to make "the" decision right now. The downhill slide had clearly started but I guess you could say he had more room to slide. Several years ago we would have made the (wrong) choice to keep him going a few more weeks or a couple of months thinking we were being nice. Thankfully Fuzzy had the benefit of our years of experience in dealing with end of life issues and we made the decision to let him go when it could be peaceful for all involved. Saying goodbye is never easy, but it was a lot less stressful for Fuzzy, his mom, us and his attending veterinarian to honestly assess Fuzzy's outlook a little bit in the future and say goodbye to him now without panic and without surprise.
a winterized Fuzzy
Fuzzy's mom had owned him for over 17 years when he passed so they had a very long relationship. Fuzzy and his mom met when he was just four years old. The Fuzz was a big boy at 17.3 hands and one would not normally think of pairing up a huge, young and green off the track thoroughbred with a young rider. However The Fuzz was nothing like your stereotypical hot thoroughbred under saddle so Fuzzy's mom began riding him some for her trainer. Eventually she convinced her Dad that the tall, handsome gelding was the perfect partner for her and she has owned Fuzzy ever since.
Fuzzy and Chili running through the pasture
Fuzzy and his mom showed in the Children's Hunters, and then in the Amateur Hunters when she aged out of the juniors. She then handed the reins to her sister-in-law for awhile and Fuzzy taught another family member. He took his mom's sister-in-law from the Long Stirrup division to the 3' ring.
Fuzzy and Renny
After a nice career showing with two family members on the A circuit a soft tissue injury led to Fuzzy's retirement. We had the pleasure of welcoming Fuzzy to our farm almost 2.5 years ago. We quickly learned that Fuzzy did not lack for opinions on anything. As long as everything was to his satisfaction and standards he was happy and laid back. The minute things were not up to par The Fuzz let us know, usually by pacing in his stall or along the fence.
Fuzzy with his friend Clay
Once The Fuzz was ready for group turnout he joined his group quite seamlessly. Jason and I were patting ourselves on another job well done as we watched Fuzzy hanging out with his new friends. Then we saw the other side of Fuzzy, the one where he let you know all was not right in his world. The pasture next to his was home to several calves at the time and Fuzzy decided they were aliens and they were here to get him. The rest of the horses would be quietly grazing by the fence near the alien cows while Fuzzy drew himself an Invisible Line in the pasture. He did not cross this line even with the other horses did. Instead he would pace at the Invisible Line, back and forth, while the other horses grazed away. As soon as the horses moved to a different part of the pasture Fuzzy would immediately revert back to happy and grazing. Fuzzy did not cross his Invisible Line in the pasture for two days, and just when we thought maybe we would have to move him The Fuzz decided the cows had no malicious intent and joined his buddies on the other side of the Invisible Line and all was fine in his world.
Fuzzy and Renny
When we moved Fuzzy's group to our new farm we definitely wondered what The Fuzz was going to think of things. Specifically we were not sure how he was going to feel when he heard the large band of donkeys that lived across the road all start braying loudly, in unison. As we watched them happily grazing in and exploring their new field the donkeys began their loud braying. Jason and I looked at each other. We didn't have to say anything to each other as we were both thinking "uh oh, what is Fuzzy going to think." Fuzzy's head came up immediately and he began looking around. He kept his head up for a minute, listening intently, and then he put his head back down and started grazing. Jason and I high-fived each other.
Fuzzy and friends emerging from the woods
During his time with us Fuzzy seemed to have an affinity for two things. His particular friends that he spent the most time with were always chestnut in color like him, and he really liked Jason. Although he got along with all of the horses in his group he was especially fond of Clay who predeceased him, Chili and Renny. All three of them are chestnuts. Fuzzy was also quite fond of Jason. I'm not quite sure what the attraction was to Jason since he most definitely is not a chestnut color, but nonetheless The Fuzz loved Jason.
Fuzzy and Jason
I can honestly say that Fuzzy loved his life with us. Fuzzy was never a horse that could live happily with individual turnout, the companionship of other horses was very important to him, so he really thrived with us. At times he could be quite frisky and playful which was always fun to watch, and he was never far from his friends.
Fuzzy and friends
Fuzzy went very peacefully. The weather this week has been nothing short of spectacular and he left us quietly with his pal Renny grazing quietly by his side. Fuzzy did not like change to his routine so he left us while he was grazing with his friend. It was our final gift to him. The day we all made the decision that it was time Fuzzy's mom happened to be in the middle of moving. She happened to pick up a photo album and one lone picture fell out of it, the picture below of her and Fuzzy in mid-air over a jump. I started to cry when she told me that story because both to me and to her it seemed like the universe sending us a message that we had made the right choice. We needed to let Fuzzy go now before something catastrophic happened, and we needed to remember him for the partner and friend that he was.
We are glad we had the opportunity to get to know The Fuzz and his mom these last couple of years. Knowing both of them was and is a pleasure. Rest in peace Fuzzy. You are missed by many which is the sign of a life well lived.
I'm pretty sure I took this picture when Fuzzy heard the donkeys for the first time
enjoying a good roll
Fuzzy and Renny waiting for breakfast a few weeks ago
Fuzzy and Chili
a classic Fuzzy pose
Fuzzy and friends on the move through the pasture
peeking out of the run-in shed
Fuzzy and Clay
Fuzzy napping hard with Chili and Sam grazing nearby
Fuzzy on the move with Murphy and Dutch
Fuzzy and Murphy hanging out
a happy Fuzzy trotting through the pasture
Fuzzy and Clay on a snow day
hanging out with friends