Friday, November 8, 2013

Missing Maple

On March 24, 2012, Blue Skies Riding Academy rescued six horses from a slaughter holding pen. This is Maple, a Thoroughbred mare who made it onto our trailer at the last minute. As you can see by the photo, she was a mess. Her tattoo was faded, illegible in fact, so we named her Maple. With her expressive and deep brown eyes it was a a good fit.

Maple's best buddy was Sparky, the worst of our Super Six rescues.

These two spent hours enjoying the green grass and healing love we offer at BSRA. Unfortunately, Sparky's health was very fragile given the extreme malnutrition he experienced. He passed away in June of 2012. Maple was heart broken, but soon found friends with others in the BSRA herd. She grew stronger, more playful, and a little pushy when she wanted attention.

Unfortunately, the abscesses in her front right hoof Maple brought with her from her days in the slaughter pipeline didn't heal as well as her body, and a trip to Auburn University Large Animal Clinic resulted in surgery. It also meant months of confinement until the hoof healed. Through it all Maple was an impatient patient. When she wanted our attention, her favorite trick was to bang the pasture gate.

Eventually the accident prone mare cut her heel, resulting in more stall time. By the time it was agreed - our big girl was a klutz. But through it all she was a model patient, always letting AJ work on her without any ear pinning or sullen attitude. Maple just wanted to be involved.

Of course, Maple found a girl to bond with. Olivia found a kindred spirit in Maple and even though the mare was un-rideable for quite some time, Olivia didn't care. She simply wanted to be with the loving bay. Having that connection made the rehab time seem shorter. Then durn it if she didn't go and knock the dang heel again! Not as bad as the first time, but enough to keep her in the stall for a little longer. We all decided if she hurt one more thing we were wrapping her stall in padding!

Time heals all wounds, visible and unseen, and soon Maple was road worthy again. She and Olivia began their long awaited rides. Her movement was graceful, and it was obvious these two were going to make a great addition to our show ponies. She was even learning how to jump, just starting to work on crossrails when the unexpected happened.

They were in their lesson when Maple took a misstep transitioning into a canter. She fell onto her left shoulder. Though our vet wanted to put her down then, BSRA elected to send her to Auburn to see if it were a treatable injury.

It wasn't. According to AULAC, her shoulder was shattered, more than likely weakened by osteoporosis from malnutrition during her life prior to arriving at Blue Skies. There was nothing to be done. Maple was cremated, and will be buried next to her Sparky.

This is how I want to remember Maple. My heart bleeds for Olivia, because I know the pain she is going through and there is no shortcut to lessen it. Other horses will come and go, but Maple will always be Olivia's first loss. It is a pain unlike any other. She has lost a partner, a confidant, a willing listener and a warm heart. 

Farewell Maple, the unknown Thoroughbred. Perhaps it's better she was only our Maple because it was as Maple she found the happy ending she deserved. The world is a little less bright today because of our loss. Run free, and run fast; I know we will meet again on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.