Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Now I Will Believe That There Are Unicorns."

The quote is not mine, it is from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, but I know there are unicorns. I saw one leave us last night and my heart will never be the same for having known him.

Several weeks ago I wrote about BSRA's sturdy, grouchy Arabian Sneaky, who had fallen in the pasture and was in difficult circumstances. Sneaky had surprises galore amassed for us, walking everywhere he wanted to be, eating everything in sight and living the country gentleman's life. The hematoma in his chest and belly began to lessen and his winter coat was shedding along with everyone else on the property.

Last Saturday I watched from barn all day as the grand old man stood in the sunshine of the new pastures, eyes half-closed with contentment, chewing the new spring grass. So full of himself and so full of passion; every time I headed for the food, magically he would appear from nowhere to taste test anything which might have value as a treat. He stood patiently by the refrigerator and told me in no uncertain terms that he knew there were carrots inside and it was his prerogative to have one whenever he desired.

He stood in the midst of the front hall, farting with excellent and enjoying the discomfort of any soul unlucky enough to be caught in the back draft. He nibbled hay from every bale around the barn and searched stalls to see if any horse had left their breakfast undone. Sneaky's mane, which had been unceremoniously trimmed several years ago by an unsuspecting and well meaning volunteer, was back to his high Arabian standards. Thinking even now about his indignation over the accidental hair cut I must smile. Sneaky didn't need words to let us know his opinion of the whole experience. His hair was the center piece of his breed, the one vanity the old gelding took to heart. Without the mane, in his eyes, he was just another horse. To anyone who knew him, he was more than his hair.

"We are much stuff as dreams are made on", also from The Tempest, best describes this proud stallion. His space was his space and in his younger days taught many children the basics of riding. With his head and tail held high, if Sneaky liked you then he would allow you to ride. If he did not, then it wasn't going to be a good experience. When he met his girl, D, then he changed. He considered D his person, his other half. Their relationship was another piece of his unicorn magic.

For D, he would allow himself to be painted multiple colors and then washed, dressed up for Halloween and anything else; all he needed was her company and the days were complete. Of the rest of us, he liked some, tolerated others but could always be won with a treat. When Redwood was born the old man willingly took on the position of grumpy grandfather. As we worked to save Red last December, Sneaky was the one who stood nearest the fence, watching over the dying yearling.

Last night we gathered around him and told all our favorite Sneaky stories. We told him it was OK to let go and be at peace. We held him and reminded him of the young one waiting across the rainbow bridge, and to not stay just for us, we would be alright. With large sighs and long in-depth looks we knew he understood. Minutes later he was quietly gone and the world seems a lot emptier now.

Every barn has its wise old man, and Sneaky was our. There is no one who can take his place. As I left the barn last night, tears dropping freely from my eyes, I looked up at the quarter moon and smiled. It looked like a Sneaky smile. The sky was clear, stars brighter than we see them here in the midst of civilization. At the barn, it shone like the nights of our childhood. A perfect sky for a priceless horse - it seemed fitting.

There is an Arabic proverb that states, "A horse of good breed is not dishonored by his saddle." Sneaky honored his saddle, his breed and his people. The Blue Skies family were honored to have been those people.

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