As much as we want to keep our pets with us forever, we simply cannot make it happen. The beauty of horses is they get to live much longer than dogs. Our horses are now well into their 20′s and healthy. But our show horse, “Tuffy”, the one who my daughter Carly got all her blue ribbons, all her trophies, and a lot of her self esteem and confidence, came from this wonderful horse. We actually sold “Tuffy” years ago when Carly went to college and by a stroke of luck, he came back to us from the family that purchased him from us. Seems their daughter, too, had now gone off to college and they loved “Tuffy” enough to let the people who loved him first have him back. We were thrilled to take him back. It seems that the daughter of the family that purchased him from us, “Tuffy” helped her through her parents’ divorce. And the boy, Andrew who came to ride him once a week, “Tuffy” helped him adjust to the bullying he was getting in his first year of high school. Being able to ride “Tuffy” gave Andrew a sense of control and let him know that he had something none of the other kids had—mental strength. Because getting a horse to do what you want when he outweighs you by a thousand pounds is a powerful statement to your mental strength. If the horse thinks your weak, he will not go forward. So “Tuffy” and Andrew went forward for several years and Andrew’s hard days of high school are now behind him and according to his mother, it was the access we gave to him to “Tuffy” that helped him through the rough times.
And then, of course, there’s Reagan (our granddaughter) and we were so blessed that “Tuffy” got to be the first horse she ever rode and he was, in the end, Reagan’s horse. He would trot across the pasture to meet her and her basket of carrots on the other side of the fence and take each carrot so gently. So how do you prepare a four-year-old for the lose of her pet, a dog, a horse or a cat, any pet that they’re attached to? I started months ago telling her how old “Tuffy” was and that someday, not today, but someday he would go to “Angel Mountain” and get his wings and join her dog “Rudy” and become an Angel Horse. Reagan rather liked that idea but wanted me to assure her that it was “Not today, right?” and I told her, “No, not today, but someday soon.” And that was all I said.
As the weeks drew near and we were down to our final week with “Tuffy”, I told Reagan that on Monday, he was going to Angel Mountain to get his wings. And don’t we all wish we could see this through the eyes of a four year old child? We were having one of our popular “Bark-BQ’s” with our student dog friends, which was a Sunday, so other people came over to also say good-bye to “Tuffy”. One of my clients was aware of the situation with our cherished horse and she asked Reagan “Is that your horse?” and Reagan proudly replied, “Yes, that’s ‘Tuffy’, he’s my horse and he’s going to to get his wings tomorrow! Boy, oh boy, oh boy, he is ONE lucky horse!” Everyone just laughed, and cried, and I would have never thought that our four-year-old granddaughter would some how make this easier, this “letting go” process. But she did.
Monday morning we woke up early. “Tuffy” had a bath the day before and he was brushed up and looked beautiful. Reagan was the second one in the barn, the first being our barn manager, Karen, who opens the barn in the morning. Reagan exclaimed upon seeing Karen, “Isn’t this the MOST exciting day, Karen?” and Karen said, “What’s so exciting Reagan?”, to which Reagan replied with this voice of excitement, as if she were going to Disneyland, “‘Tuffy’ is getting his wings today! He’s going to be an angel and fly in Heaven!” We all had tears in our eyes but had to hide those tears from Reagan who had the most positive outlook on the situation and honestly, to see it any other way would have been so sad. And then I thought it over and “Tuffy” really is one lucky horse! He has never had a bad day, he’s never been sold to an auction or to abusive people, he was an angel on earth and helped, not just my child, but many children along the way and he deserves to go with grace and dignity and without any suffering. Reagan is right, he is one lucky horse and we are one lucky family to have taken this journey with him and it was a gift to us that we got to be with him in the end.