(August 15, 1989-January 30, 2017
In 2011, I posted "The End
" about the death of my elderly mare Cupcake. Now another end has come—this time for Melody—and I am left horseless for the first time in 40 years. Here's how the two looked in their heyday.
While I'd seen Cupcake take her first steps, I didn't meet Melody until she was five. But I have a picture of how she looked as a baby following her mother Tippy Lou at Breezewood Farm in Staunton, Virginia.
When I first met Melody, this is how she looked.
After I'd ridden her and dismounted, she put her head against my chest. I knew she was mine.
Melody was a big mare—nearly 16 hands. She was a powerhouse and could move out when asked. But, despite her wild eye, she was gentle, well-mannered, and cooperative.
I didn't ride her much the last several years—she had a bout with Lyme disease a few years back, a bout of founder, a hoof abscess. And I had health issues of my own.
My cousin Mary sometimes rode Melody down the road and on the trails on our farm. You can see pictures on this 2008 post, "Melody Rides Again
," and this 2009 post, "Late October Ride
In the last few years, Melody was mostly a pasture pet or a lawn ornament.
In her sunset years—her mid-20s, she started losing teeth and couldn't chew very well. I added water to her pellets to make them chewable. She still tried to graze and eat hay, though, but often spit out "cuds" she couldn't swallow.
The last year, she started losing weight so I upped her watered-down pellets a couple of times.
Every morning and evening at feeding time, she'd wait by the fence where I fed the barn-cats. As soon as they were fed and I'd gotten into my golf-cart, she'd hurry to her shed where I'd feed her. That's what she did the morning of January 30. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground and she moved out faster than usual to go to the shed. As she came down the hill, I noticed how thin she'd gotten, but I was glad she could still move out.
As usual that morning, she ate all her watered-down pellet breakfast.
But late that afternoon when I went to feed, she wasn't waiting with the cats. She was in the stall part of her shed where a beam of sunlight shone on her. She didn't come to her bucket and demand to be fed, so I went to her. The light was gone from her eyes, and she didn't respond much as I petted her. Something was horribly wrong. I went back to the house and called the vet. He was there within 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, she'd walked to her bucket but hadn't eaten. The three barn cats—Twiggy, Spotz, and Sherman—came down and sat in a line and watched her, something they'd never done before. While I waited for the vet, I groomed her.
To make a long story short, the vet couldn't detect gut sounds on her right side. There was no manure in her lower intestine, and no fresh manure anywhere around the shed. When he ran a tube to her stomach, foul stuff poured out from what should have been an empty stomach. There didn't seem to be anything we could do but give her a merciful exit from this world.
She was already tranquilized, so she went quietly and peacefully.
She's buried in the pasture beside Cupcake.