Tuesday, September 8, 2015

In Memory of Dutch

We had to say another goodbye a couple of days ago. Dutch's passing was very unexpected and very sudden. That being said, Dutch, had a nice long life as he was in his early 30's when he passed.

Dutch


Dutch was a bay Dutch warmblood gelding. He and his mom first met each other ten years ago. His mom had been taking dressage lessons and she was looking to purchase a horse and start a partnership. One of her husband's coworkers was dating someone who would regularly go to the local horse auction and purchase horses to train or retrain and then resell. Dutch was one of the horses purchased from the auction. Dutch narrowly avoided a one way ticket to Mexico to a slaughter plant when he was purchased from the auction. It was also a fateful day for him as it set events in motion that led him into his mom's life.

this is how Dutch looked when his mom met him


an after picture of Dutch and his mom taking a lesson

When his mom went to the farm to look at Dutch what she saw was completely different from what she was expecting to see. She was expecting to find a reasonably cared for horse that had a dressage background that was about 11 years old. What she found was an extremely skinny, mid-20's horse that desperately needed an upgrade in life. She immediately went into rescue mode and made sure that Dutch came home with her. 

Dutch and Murphy

Murphy and Dutch


Dutch and Wiz


From the little bit of information his mom has been able to piece together of Dutch's history, the only "crime" he committed, which led to him being dumped at a low end auction, was that he had gotten older and could no longer hold up to the demands of his former job. Dutch was a nice horse in all areas, temperament, conformation, movement and training. He didn't have any holes aside from his age. His Dutch warmblood brand on his left hip helped to give her some clues as to his identity and former life.

Dutch (front left) galloping through the pasture with his friends

Murphy, Dutch and Wiz hanging out

Dutch and Renny

His mom took basic dressage lessons on Dutch and they also trail rode together. She had hoped to take him to some shows but unfortunately they never made it to the show ring. Dutch suffered a minor ligament injury from which he recovered. However she found when they were back to work his respiratory rate would get quite high very easily, regardless of fitness level. So his mom changed her goals to fit her horse and they mainly did a lot of trail riding together. Dutch's mom deserves a huge round of applause for all that she did for him.

Dutch and Renny snoozing

Dutch giving me a goofy look

Dutch napping with Renny hanging out

After spending about five years together, and slowly retiring Dutch from any riding at all, his mom contacted us about sending him to Paradigm Farms for retirement. After patiently waiting for us to have an opening, Dutch traveled to our farm from Georgia in August 2010. He made the trip with two other retirees with which he would remain friends, Murphy and Fuzzy Punch. Sadly Fuzzy Punch preceded him in death three years ago.

Dutch and Murphy

Dutch (far right) doing some early morning grazing with Renny and Murphy

Dutch showing off his trot


Although Dutch was already an elderly statesman when he arrived, to him age was only a number. Dutch had the spirit and tenacity of a three year old. He did things on his terms. He was very serious about keeping the people and horses in his life in line. Whether he was a chow hound in general or thanks to his days of being hungry, Dutch was highly food motivated, even by horse standards. Whenever he thought he wasn't getting fed quickly enough Dutch would do what I called his heavy breathing. He would start breathing louder and louder and louder, all while staring you down, until you fed him. Dutch expected large meals, served promptly, and settled for nothing less.

Sam, Johnny, Dutch and Wiz
 

Murphy and Dutch

Dutch in front of some fall leaves


Dutch's self confident manner seemed to inspire some of the horses he lived with. He always had at least one horse that was dependent on him for making the majority of their life decisions. Wiz and Renny especially both looked to Dutch to run their lives for them. Whatever Dutch was doing was exactly what they were going to be doing, whether he wanted them to or not. Dutch was also quite attached to Murphy, although their relationship was one of equals instead of one of co-dependency.


Wiz and Dutch

Wiz and Dutch having fun on one of our rare snow days

Murphy, Dutch and Sam

Dutch's mom always made sure that Dutch had nothing but the best. Whatever Dutch needed was exactly what Dutch got. As of a couple of years ago Dutch had officially outlived the majority of his teeth. He had to come in every day and eat large amounts of hay cube mash. He needed certain supplements every day as well. Whenever we asked his mom for any of these things we never got anything but a yes. 

Dutch and Mick

Dutch and Murphy

Chili and Dutch


This weekend I was preparing to feed the horses in Dutch's pasture one morning. Everything was normal and all of the horses were at the gate waiting to be fed. As I did every morning, I was preparing Dutch's mash of senior feed and hay cubes. He was impatiently waiting for me to bring him in to eat, letting me know of his displeasure by breathing at me more and more loudly.

Dutch grooming with Chili

Dutch, Sam, Murphy and Renny

Murphy, Dutch, Wiz and Renny

I had my back turned to the pasture as I was preparing feed. Suddenly I heard a commotion and what sounded like some scrambling, and then silence. Whatever happened, it happened so fast that by the time I had turned around and surveyed the scene, Dutch had passed. He went down a few feet from where he had been standing, I can only assume he had a heart attack or something similar. The one thing I do know is that his passing was quick, painless and instant. All of his friends surrounded him to see if he was ok, and then they quietly said their goodbyes.

Dutch, front right, going for a run with Murphy, Johnny and Sam

Dutch and Renny

Fuzzy Punch, Murphy and Dutch

Dutch and Wiz

As traumatic as his passing was for me, it was about as peaceful as possible for Dutch. I'm glad he never knew a moment of pain, and he kindly spared us from the possibility of ever having to make "the" decision for him. He was Dutch, full of life and in charge, telling me to hurry up and feed him, literally until his final moment.

I'm thankful we had the opportunity to get to know Dutch and his mom over the last five years. I am so thankful to his mom that Dutch's story continued to be written over the last ten years, instead of ending at a slaughterhouse in Mexico. Dutch wasn't finished telling his story ten years ago, and his mom let him keep him writing it.

Rest in peace Dutch, we all miss you.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a grand old soul. I extend my sympathies to his Mom on her loss, and my respect for her loving him enough to put his life first. How fitting that a horse who made life on his own terms, was able to pass quickly in the midst of anticipating another delicious meal and happy pasture day. We should all be so lucky.

Kate said...

We should all have such a good end - quick, painless and while waiting for breakfast. Kudos to his family and to you for making his retirement years so good. Always sorry to hear about your loss of another fine horse, but he had the best from his family and you.