Earlier this year, the my Arabian mare suddenly passed on. On Friday, just before the last weekend of January 2007, Pentessah (Tessie) colicked during what passes as a cold snap around here. This sort of colic in horses seems to be a seasonal one, often lethal and I have learned that several acquaintances had such a loss this year. Bad year for our horses! All were otherwise healthy horses and the deaths were sudden.
Tess had plenty of water but due to the chill and her light-duty life of happily grazing and enjoying the sunshine, there was no working up a sweat. So for a critical period of time as the cold moved in, she never got thirsty enough to guzzle sufficient water for her internal hayburner metabolism (she was not on grain, just grass and hay). So it seemed sudden to us... Friday, she was rolling and kicking in agonizing pain. She had bed herself down in her favorite snoozing area of her open box. We got her up and walking which is first aid for horse colic. She was cooperative but never really focused on us. She did accept a small piece of hard Holiday candy from me at one point but wouldn't take any more. She became increasingly remote. We got the vet out to see and tubate her as soon as we could. He thought she might have a chance. There was no evidence of sand colic but he found that her packed cell volume was too high. She was seriously dehydrated and wouldn't drink. So he tubed and gave IVs and handed us some Banamine for her. We did what we could do but we were too late, hours passed and we lost her. It all happened in about 24 hours. Such a shock.
She was only twenty years old and had never been sick other than a case of strangles as a yearling. That is twenty years that she was a part of my life, representing a good chunk of happy times and many other changes. A foal from my first Arabian mare, she was symbolic of several childhood dreams come true. In those sad weeks that followed, the weight of her loss was a terrible toll for me. I discovered that I was not only grieving for her but many more things -- I came to realize she was an icon of a special era in my life. It is still taking time. I found it very difficult to write about.
Here's a pic of her as a baby. She was born at a small boarding stable owned by a wonderful retired cowboy who also had filled his past with beautiful working Arabian Horses. Blue Book, he was excited to tell me, sharing what he could about my mare's bloodline. I didn't have my own horse property then and boarding was fine -- but after little Tessie was born, before the year was up, we had moved to our current place, and in almost no time, Tessie was playing on our property with her mother, Saleeb.
Isn't she cute? That's her mom walking out of the picture.Pentessah, only a few hours old
The photo above is a little damaged with glowing pinkish color on the left. This pic is still one of my favorites of her. I kept it in my office at the lab for years and I think a bit of hand lotion or soap got leaked on to it.
She was born black, looked like a dark bay during her first year, but gradually became a dappled gray. Her mane and tail got so long! At one point, she developed a habit of rubbing her neck on on the fence or pipe corrals so she could scratch an itchy spot. From that point on, the one section of mane there was either always broken off or curled into knots. But still, she was always beautiful. :)A pic of Pentessah at about 6 years when she was a steel gray.
Life was pretty busy crazy due to the work schedule I had back then and I didn't get to ride her or her mother very often.
She was such a mischievous horse! She came when called. Loved to cuddle and mooch for scritches and treats. Always gentle. Fireworks, backfires, tarps and plastic (or paper) bags blowing around didn't faze her. She followed me around when I did chores in the paddock and corral. Mischievous? A self inspired pet trick she liked to do... She'd sometimes go to the wheelbarrow and rock it back and forth with her teeth while I pitched muck into it. She had quite the sense of humor... cos if I were in a hurry and ignored her or didn't react fast enough and yell at her (she WANTED to get a rise out of me), she would wait til the wheelbarrow was about full, then deliberately tip the wheelbarrow over and dash off... with her mane flying out behind her and tail arched over her back. She was an equal opportunity brat, cos she'd do the same thing to James.
With me. She'd first go tearing around the paddock, then come in really close, finally flashy trotting almost in place with her head turned toward me. Her neck arched, shaking her head in my direction as if to say Nyah nyah! It really was such eye candy, with her nostrils flaring, her ear tips turned inward then pointed at me as she watched me laugh. She was showing off, strutting her stuff in that magnificent way Arabian horses have. It always made me laugh. She'd even roll the whites of eyes at me sometimes. There isn't any doubt that she'd done it on purpose. :)
She'd then walk up with her neck lowered and come in for scritches and pats with her eyelids half shut. Definitely a character. :D And she had other games like this too. ;)
She had a sweet friendly greeting nicker. The word 'cookie' got her attention as much as that of any of the dogs. :) She yelled when her supper or breakfast was late (it always was, in her opinion). And she'd kick up her heels and toss her tail over her back and charge around spiritedly, encouraging who ever was feeding her to be quick about it and get the hay into the feeder!
In the last ten years we had her, I had gone completely deaf (idiopathic). She would nicker, and I could 'feel' her greeting. Her nostrils would flutter and the sound would come to my memory. I'd be beaming and calling her name. We'd greet and exchange slow breaths with each other, me blowing at her nostrils and she blowing back. If I were in the paddock, I could give her some chest, belly, ear, neck and head scritches. She'd wiggle her lips happily, with her eyes half closed, head down and ears relaxed and her lower lip drooping... Bliss!My little mare and me
Tessie, you are missed.