Goodbye to Sassy
February 2018 - January 19, 2019
What I dreaded after a week of rain, in fact occurred, to the nth degree. Friday morning, I let the horses out after three days confinement. And it cost Sassy her life. She took off like a racehorse, Manny couldn’t catch her as long as I could see them go, and she didn’t even look at her cookie that I offered. And two hours later, I found her down, dead. I honestly can’t tell what happened. Did she over strain her heart or cardiovascular system, in that joyous run? One eye was bleeding. There were no real skid marks near her, although there was a sign that her legs moved briefly once she was down, perhaps as her body gave up. I recall, as I was tractoring, seeing Manny run from the front area where I eventually found her, to the back, and laughed that in his goofiness he’d lost track of her. O no, later I realized that he’d probably stood with her body, wondering why she was laying there…. All I can really tell you about her death is that I believe it was very quick. And this very elderly mare, with a heart murmur, and hardly any teeth, spent her last moments running like she was young. Let me tell you the very little I knew about Sassy….
Sassy was the name she came with from the shelter in LA. She was skinny as hell, and reasonably depressed about it all. But right away I could see that she had been loved in her lifetime. She loved to be groomed, and had perfect ground manners. She was thin when we picked her up at the shelter, but had gained weight while there – and still walked quietly and willingly away from there with our transporter – when you’d think she might not want to leave. If I’d named her, I would have gone with something like “Gentle” …. Because this tender quiet well behaved mare never, until maybe her last morning, showed any sass at all.
She was immediately grabbed by Manny, who had lost his love the day he was transferred here. And he’s a little excitable and reactive, so Sassy’s quiet demeanor was an anchor point for him. And they were a really cute couple. Her kindness lay in the fact that I believe, given her choice, she would have attached herself to the Redheads … often in her early days when she and Manny came back for dinner before the others, she would call and call until Joyful and the girls came back for their dinner as well. She followed them in the field, with Manny in tow. She liked the ladies – having girlfriends seemed to be a dream for her. But she never gave Manny any trouble about him following her everywhere, like a limpet, and in the evening, when he swirled around and couldn’t decide if it was safe to go in, she would position herself so I could put a rope around her neck, and walk her in, casting a glance at him as if to say, see, I’ve gotta go in – come with! And he would. She would not leave him until I did that – but she made it easy for me to do it, you see? Kind, and gentle.
As many of you may know, at end of May I lost decades of my photos, including the photos I took of this lovely lady in her first 4 months here. I can’t tell you how much I regret that, since her time here was so limited. How can I show you what a lovely little mare she was? Long legs. She was very elegant, but walked so often with her head down that she wasn’t really eye catching. Black as coal except for the sunburn on her mane and tail that was the most unusual burgundy color – not the ugly orange that some horses get … burgundy! And her hair was like silk, fine and soft. When she came in, she was so poor that while she obviously improved and gained weight before summer, and was glossy and soft, I really thought that this summer would be her ‘coming out’ …. Some supplementation was going to really let her shine …. But she didn’t make it that far.
Manny cried for over an hour when I put him in his stall that night, and he realized she wasn’t there and maybe 15 minutes the next night. But, he’s attached himself now to Renee and RJ. I think I may have helpers tomorrow, and our assignment will be to move some horses around, so he can be next to her. I don’t think it’s that he’s forgotten her. Just that he doesn’t want to be alone, and he needs a mission. Almost all the pics I have of her, she’s at least partly blocked by Manny, who consistently put himself between her and any perceived danger. She was his rock; but he fancied himself her protector. I think she liked that too…
Just short of a year. That’s all she got. But I take comfort from knowing that she did enjoy the interaction with the other horses; having a cute boyfriend; Joyful to chat with over the stall fence; plenty to eat, and yes, that final wild run full of high spirits and three days of rest. I feel a little as though it was a perfect time for her heart to fail, or a major vessel to burst and take her away, in a wink. Maybe she went directly from a fast run up that little hill, to a strong bucking run thru heaven’s meadows …. Free of aches and pains, head high at last and tail flagged, young again. Maybe in that last moment, she became “Sassy” again…. But I’ll always remember the tender soft mare who put Manny’s, and the Redheads’ needs before her own….