Monday, September 1, 2014

R.I.P.  Amigo(Meegy) Marsh
April 28, 1995 - August 29, 2014

My beloved pony, Meegy, passed over to heaven last Friday and I am left brokenhearted. 

I first saw Meegy as a baby colt, just a few days old.  Friends had acquired his mother, Missy, who was pregnant, and they needed to find a good home for the coming baby.  Having recently lost a horse, I was open to the idea of adopting him and, when he was five months old and weaned from his momma, I brought him home.  A year later, I brought Missy, his mother, home, too.  I wondered if they would remember each other and when she was unloaded into the pasture, the first thing he tried to do was nurse!   So funny seeing this full grown horse trying to nurse from his mother.  And she would have none of it!  

Both ponies were the Ponies of America (POA) breed, bred from Shetlands, Appaloosas, Arabians, Welsh ponies, and any other small horse or pony with a pleasant disposition.  Meggy's daddy was a mustang.  The POA breed was defined by the markings and size and evolved into a good natured horse safe for children.  I call them my "adult size Shetland ponies" and they were the absolute perfect size for me.  Not too big and not too small.  They are easy to train and easy to be around. 

Having never trained a horse before, I was diligent about studying various training techniques, taking seminars, and working with him regularly doing lots of ground work for the first two years until he was old enough to start training under saddle.  I primarily used John Lyons gentle, round pen techniques and Linda Tellington Jones' TTouch techniques.  There was no "breaking him to ride" but, rather, "starting him to ride".  And he loved every minute!

I was most interested in trail riding since I live next door to Yellowwood State Forest that is laced with miles and miles of horse trails.  I could ride out the front gate and hit the trails without trailering the horses anywhere.  With both Missy(who was already well trained) and Meegy, I had two wonderful, gentle, trail horses and spent many days riding with neighbors and family.  Every weekend and often on Wednesdays(it was addictive), I would be in the woods with the horses riding fifteen mile long trails before heading home.  This was one of the happiest times of my life.

Sadly, Meegy was diagnosed with Cushings a few years ago and developed laminitis.  This latest bout just got worse and worse and it became clear he was in big trouble.  My farrier, Darin Griffith, came out around noon and called a relatively new vet(five years out of school), Dr. Grant Minnemeyer, who could come out that day.  I was very impressed with him.  Despite having consulted three vets prior, Grant was the first to do a thorough, hands on exam of my pony.  He was calm, compassionate, and explained everything carefully and patiently.

Missy, who is now 32 and blind, kept watch over her son and the last day she would wander over and check on him periodically.  Then, when the vet was ready to give him the final shot, Missy came over and put her muzzle down to Meegy's muzzle while I held his head and he took his final breath.  Missy was with him when he took his first breath and she was with him when he took his last breath.  I marvel at her uncanny intuition to know exactly when the final moments were unfolding and walk over to be with him.  Animals are absolutely amazing and we can learn a lot from them. 

Missy, too, is starting to show signs of Cushings and I have put her on a special medication to, hopefully, mitigate the symptoms.  She is getting lots of extra attention to help her adjust to being a solo horse.  There are a couple cats down at the barn so they can keep her company, too.  Still, the emptiness is painful.  Instead of two whinnies greeting me in the morning, there is only one.  And one empty stall where Meeg would get his meals and stand patiently to have his hooves trimmed, sans halter.

My neighbor, Bob Woods, came out immediately after the vet left to dig a grave and bury my boy.  Bob just turned 82 today (Happy Birthday, Bob!) and is an amazing man.  He did the foundation for my house back on 2000 and has done some other excavating jobs for me through the years.  I remember one time he said he would not be able to make it on a certain appointed day because he had to dig a grave.  Digging graves were always the top priority because "they can't wait any longer".  And sure enough, he came out right away after the vet left (I had given him a heads up earlier in the day after my farrier left) and finished the job just as the sun was dropping below the horizon.  He told me he has had people call him at midnight and he gets up and goes.  It is something that simply must be done immediately.  

I marveled he was still working at age 82 and he said that he had noticed that a lot of guys he graduated with from the local Brown County High School would work someplace 25, 30, 40 years and then retire and do nothing.  He said he noticed that it wouldn't be too long before he was digging their grave!  He said he figures he still enjoys what he is doing so why not keep working.  He has cut back and slowed down but he still gets out there and I see him in his trucks, out and about, all the time.  I know I am very grateful he continues working and serving his neighbors who need him.  

In the end, I am very grateful to everyone who helped me through this difficult time.  I am grateful to those who helped with Meegy directly and those who helped with their thoughts and prayers.  Saying goodbye to a dear, beloved animal is never easy but being surrounded by good people makes it a bit easier.  Thank you to everyone.

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