Losing a horse can be one of life's most traumatic events. Horsemart reader and blogger Melsi writes about how she lost her beloved Show Cob Bob and how another big Cob, George, helped her ride again...
The loss of your dear friend hurts like a pain in your heart that won’t go, not just with a horse, but if you are an animal lover, with any pet. I know I am a tad overly soppy, as yes I am a very emotional lady, (could be down to the hormones), but I have always been this way. I am someone who cries if someone else is crying even if I don’t know why they are crying. I cry at adverts, happy and sad stories, and don’t get me on War Horse or the advert with the father when his daughter leaves home. (Melsi brews up again).
After the loss of my Show Cob Bob, I pretty much accepted it was time to hang up my worn out leather riding boots! I was after all pushing fifty. I had gone back to the saddle after a twenty-five year break, something I thought would never happen and I had stored up some amazing memories. Owning a horse can be a rollercoaster ride at the best of times, but I had my devotion and feelings tested more than most with Bob. The up’s and down’s not only in the Show Ring, but also at the stables made me wonder sometimes if I was of sound mind when I decided to go back to horses.
At the start of our relationship it was like trying to befriend a temperamental teenager with all their knuckle dragging, grunting strops and mood swings. As all horsey people will know, a six year old horse will guarantee a need for a lot of patience, tons of unconditional love and a never ending dollop of dedication. Many a time I came back from a ride and threw the reins at my blissfully unaware beast crying, “That’s IT – YOU ARE GOING”!!!! Bob could be frighteningly strong and horribly bolshie. He could be neurotic and spooky, and he could be SO frustrating, but he could also be fun, proud, gentlemanly, exciting, and loving to. More than all that, he was mine and I was happy to put the work in, if he was.
I was lucky to have had Bob in my life, and to this day believe that we found each other for a reason. I am just upset that he was taken too soon, and too young. At nearly thirteen we had finally got to learn about each other, we had got to understand each other’s foibles, likes and dislikes, and we trusted each other. I didn’t’ think I would ever have that again with another horse, especially at my age. You can’t rush or push a bond like that, it comes with time and hours and hours of effort and trust and care. I loved my boy Bob, we had a connection and there was not one Show I went to that I left without a trophy or a rosette. Maybe that was my time, my special time and I should just be grateful. Then along came George.
When Bob had his first operation for a tear in his tendon sheath, before having his annular ligament cut, he was on box rest for nearly a year on and off. In that time a good friend of mine spoke to me about a wonderful Cob called George that needed some love and work, as he was just standing in a field, hairy and bored with nothing to do. As I said earlier, sometimes you just find each other, and I think even then George was secretly calling to me. However, I ignored the offer of George.
Part of the reason was because I felt I had a sense of duty to my darling boy who was standing day after day in a stable on box rest. Bob was so patient and accepting, and he took many of us by surprise at his sensible understanding and attitude to his situation. After all, Bob could be quite highly strung, yet I was so proud of his golden behaviour, never letting his pain or boredom sour him. We had such a connection I felt that it would hurt his feelings if he watched me ride out on another horse, and show love to another horse. Yes I know, he was only a HORSE, and I probably sound pathetic, but after all we had been through together I owed him my 100 % love and heart. (Melsi’s hubby reads this and wishes the same)!
There were many times I nearly lost Bob, but he was a lover of life and a fighter and we battled through one kick down after another. Eventually, he was nursed back to good health, (did I tell you the magical quality of Mannuka Honey for wounds that won’t heal), and Bob came back into work. With my move to our sanctuary, (Rachel’s yard), we began to enjoy or hacking together, and the first time I watched him roll in his paddock I cried.
Sadly, and so unfairly Bob then developed laminitis. My big strapping handsome boy endured more box rest and a summer away from his friends and paddock. While the other horses enjoyed the sounds of summer, Bob enjoyed the sounds of Radio 2 playing on the radio all day outside his stable. While his friends went out hacking, Bob’s eyes would glaze over while I chatted and groomed him into a shiny conker.
Through the years we had become so close, and I absolutely knew him. We nearly won the fight, but eventually the big field and stable in the sky called. Maybe Heaven had called years earlier when Bob was almost put to sleep, and God listened to my prayers by giving us another couple of years and that final hack through the bluebell woods. Bob cantered away to the big field in the sky at such a young age when I always thought we would retire together, but I guess that’s animals and life for you! You just never know.
Not long after Bob’s passing the phone went. George was still standing in his field, wanting love, a bath, and a new home. My friend who knew George well went on about how he would be perfect for me, another big Cob, my type of boy, was I interested? Strangely enough, all my thoughts about hanging up my riding boots, selling my tack, giving away or ebaying horsey and riding things started to fade. Well, maybe I was not ready to stop riding after all. Yes I have arthritic knees and hips, and sound like a crisp packet when I roll over in bed, and yes maybe it would be nice not to always smell of horse hair and manure or to pull on normal clothes instead of jods and wellies, and yes maybe I could savour some extra sleep in the morning, but I kept thinking about George.
I missed the camaraderie of my fellow horsey friends, I missed the touch of a horse’s muzzle, the riding, in fact dare I say it, and I missed my broom!! So to now.....I have had George for six months so it is relatively early days, but just enough for all those new horsey quirks’ to come out. George has not replaced Bob in any way. He is own person yet actually very similar with his little Cobbie quirks’ that are exactly the same as Bob’s. Maybe Bob had something to do with all this and approved of George and maybe it was part of the ‘plan’. Destiny can lead us along many paths and I know I have stepped off and on my path numerous times, but this with George feels right, we feel right.
I love and adore George, and I would like to say he feels the same way about me. I no longer have guilty pangs about feeling that way either and I would like to think that George and I will eventually retire together. The way my old codger body feels sometimes, sadly that could be sooner than I had hoped but just know this: If you find yourself in this situation and if you can hand on heart say to yourself how much you miss all the horsiness, do it, go for it.
Don’t let age stop you, don’t let the scales or other people with their words of wisdom stop you, because if that was the case, I would not have cantered across the fields this morning on George. I would not have watched him scratching his vast backside on my broom handle nearly doing himself an unexplained injury, and I would not have kissed his giant sized schnozz as he dozed in the sun’s rays. Think about it, think carefully, but think about it.
Pictured: Melsi with Bob
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