In Loving Memory of Charra

Charra was given to TGC by a young woman who admitted she could not afford to keep her, but promised to volunteer twice a week at TGC exercising horses. As she lives right next door, it seemed likely that she would actually live up to her promises, so I took Charra, who has a very swayed back, and a large tumor on her vulva.   She can carry little children, but she is an old mare (based on her teeth, I’d guess her at late 20s, early 30s) and with her swayed back, I probably will not put her to work. Perhaps because of the tumor, and the very probable internal problems of a similar nature, Charra didn’t make friends in our herd until we lost Belle, and Lucifer adopted Charra as the next mare he wanted to protect.  She sort of tolerates it, but I think she’s happy to have someone following her around.   As you might guess, and as so often happens, the young woman who “donated” Charra simply disappeared after about 3 days of volunteering, during which days she would lunge one or two horses for about 15 minutes each.  Since she lives right next door, and has no job, I consider her behavior to be particularly offensive.  But, sadly, this sort of behavior is more the norm than you might think – people will say anything to get “rid” of these sweet creatures.  I just wonder why they have them in the first place…     


This is Charra’s tumor – it’s ugly and since it itches and she scratches it on the fence enough to make it bleed, it’s a real maintenance hassle. But Dr. Zadick estimates a minimum of $1,000 to take it off (it’s got two new ones beginning underneath/next to it) and he predicts it would only grow back, and for this old mare, the surgery itself might be more than she can take.   So, we have several sessions a week of cleaning and medicating it … and she just goes on as though it were not there.   


Charra Dies November 25, 2006 

So here I am today, the day after Thanksgiving, waiting for the truck to arrive to carry away the mortal remains of little Charmin’ Charra, an ill fated pinto pony mare who had a whole 14 months at The Golden Carrot before old age and cancer took her away. I’m particularly down about this because today is the two year anniversary of the day I lost Orion too…and because I just got her on the website… Poor little Charra …. a sweet, quiet, well trained, swaybacked elderly pony with a cartoon face and a resigned manner. She was dumped on TGC by an irresponsible woman, who I am sure told herself that it was better to dump her, than put her down where her child would see, and where she would have to bear the financial cost of disposal. I think differently. I think the child who rode Charra for over two years should learn that old friends pass, and that the least we can do for those who gave us so much fun, is be there for them as they slip away. Charra was thrown away like trash – as though an old ATV had been taken to the dump. That’s the lesson that boy remembers about her, and throughout his life, he will simply dispose of those for whom he has no further use. And of course, I think the person who had some use out of Charra should have stood up for her and borne the expense of her death, in repayment of her effort on their behalf, but her misfortune was to have her efforts disregarded and unvalued. God, I know how that feels. Charra is another TGC resident about whom I knew so little. I do know that the person who dumped her had her 5 year old son riding Charra in the local playdays. How good does a horse have to be, to carry a solo-riding 5 year old safely? Although I never used Charra, I would have put a small child on her back, as she had impeccable manners. Charra knew her own name and always perked up and looked when called. She behaved perfectly for the farrier and for the vet; every other day I had to clean blood from the tumor that itched so much she would scratch it bloody on the fenceline, and she stood still for all of it when it would have been easy to kick me to the moon; she loved treats of all sorts and although always quiet and reticent, she seemed to enjoy massage and grooming. She never demanded anything from anyone. She never seemed depressed as Malika did for so many years, but she never put herself forward, or expected anything good to come her way. Why, o why do we use the good horses so hard, that they come to believe that is their only fate? Why don’t we show them how much their hard work matters, how much we appreciate it? Is a carrot or an apple now and then so much to ask? She quietly wedged herself with her sweetness into my heart; how hard were the hearts in her past, that she ever had to find her way here? In the last few months since Belle’s death, Lucifer had attached himself to Charra. Lucifer has a protective streak, and loves the ladies, so Charra was an obvious choice. She seemed befuddled to find him next to her, behind her, following her everywhere. When I took her out for her cleanings or the farrier, Luc would pace the closest fenceline, calling for her. She’d cock her ears to listen, bemused at his distress. But she wasn’t bothered – this little mare was perfectly able to chase off anyone who irritated her, and with Lucifer, she just tolerated his hovering. Sometimes you see a mare with this ‘macho’ attitude – and like a lot of macho guys, deep inside she was pleased at the attention. This little taste of a horse’s life is the one thing I think TGC offers to older tired horses – and I’m glad she could enjoy it for a while. I don’t begrudge Charra’s final expenses – it’s just got to be done. I wish so much I could be spending that money on feed for her instead. But Charra had cancers which were growing and multiplying – and that’s just the part we could see. Like a lot of pintos and paint horses, and like redheads such as myself, she was susceptible to cancers, and I’m sure during her lifetime no one thought to put sun screen on her pink skin. In her last three days, Charra’s appetite disappeared – she would eat apples and carrots for the first couple of days, and then not even that would tempt her. On her final day, she traveled around the entire facility with mysterious purpose – from the stall line in the back, to every inch of the main paddock, all the way to the back where the hotwalker stands. Was she saying goodbye? Looking for the place she wanted to die? Or was she simply disoriented – hallucinating – leaving? I tried to get her to come back to the stalls when everyone went back for dinner – but she resisted. So I went to get her feed to bring to her, only to find her trucking steadfastly back on her own – a little ‘don’t tell me what to do’ attitude on her last day! She died in her stall, surrounded by the little homey sounds safe in the heart of her herd.

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