In Loving Memory of Josh “Governor Grant”
Died June 23, 2008
16 hand Thoroughbred gelding
Dark bay Josh is a mental case – he has great training and was a consistent winner on the hunter circuit – but he’s just a lonely boy at heart – he needs lots of fussing and love. He initially bonded to Simply Red and could not be separated from him without becoming hysterical. He was adopted by Shawnee, who was lost when her friend Domino died in August of 2003, but still tried to be Red’s friend too. He has given lessons to children in 1999, and in 2001. He liked it – the attention, the grooming, light exercise and lots of carrots, but in the last few years has become so crippled by his arthritis (cause partly by age and partly by conformation defects), that being Shawnee’s guardian is about all the work he can take. But in that area, he is diligent. Josh was very OVERweight when he came to me and the stress of a new environment dropped weight off him that I have not replaced – he doesn’t need to carry weight with those aching joints. He is responsive to medication but resists taking it. Whatever you do, don’t change anything on this guy – adding medicine, or vinegar (which he really likes when he gets used to it again) or anything to his feed except carrots just makes him crazy. Josh is the only horse I have who needs emotional support and can’t seem to get enough from the herd situation. He’s adjusted well to the herd now, and has a high position in it. He is beautiful and has contributed with the children – he’ll get what he needs as long as The Golden Carrot stays open.
Here is Joshie proudly carrying his new sponsor, Cooper (also known, now, as Josh II). Just exactly what this sweet horse has needed. Since Josh is very arthritic, he can’t carry a rider very easily, despite his size. So having this little man to care for is exactly what he needs. When Josh came to TGC, he was needy – and Simply Red took care of him; but he’s grown, first to be Red’s caretaker, then Shawnee’s, and now, he has his own little boy to care for.
Goodbye to Joshie
On Monday, June 23, 2008, Josh passed away. Josh was registered with the Jockey Club as Governor Grant, foaled 1/28/82 by Clove’s Factor, out of Lucy’s Toy. He was 16.2hh, dark brown, with a distinguished handsome look to him. Josh was the only horse who has come to me with complete medical records, his birth certificate, and an “Owner’s Manual” – his former owner Leslie really went the extra mile! His Manual included her thoughts on his “Personality and Disposition,” “Things he likes”, “Things He Doesn’t Like/his quirks”, “Feed and Health”, and “Josh – the riding horse”. I’d had the pleasure of watching Leslie and Josh in several community horse shows, where they always placed in the top two, partly due to the pretty picture they presented, and partly due to Josh’s impeccable manners and polished performance in the show ring. Leslie had owned Josh for 8 years before he came to me, so she got him when he was 7. She’d had him in special shoes, on bute for ringbone; adequan and flex-free for severe hock arthritis, and he had a special ‘double wide’ stall at Portuguese Bend with an inner portion at least 2 feet deep in shavings. So you know he had pretty bad arthritis when he came to me in 1997. Leslie did everything for him, and he was groomed and fat and fairly happy when she sent him to me, as it became clear that even the little hunter jumps were too much for him. Leslie provided some support for him for 2 years. She knew him pretty well, describing him as sensitive and calm, and yet a worrier. But his life was very different at TGC – he was like a little kid at camp, and not happy about it at first. He was NOT easy to please as she suggested. Josh was bothered for years at the stark nature of his life at TGC. He’d lived the posh life, you see. I did my best for him – whenever I could afford shavings, he got some; he got his blanket earlier in the year than other horses, and wore it longer; always an extra carrot in his bucket; next to Mitey Nice he got more massage than the other horses, and I always made sure he got hosed on the hot days, despite his girlfriend’s reluctance to approach the water. But although he always appreciated the extras, until Domino died in 2003 and Shawnee chose Josh to be his successor as her consort, Josh was lonely and sad. He depended on Simply Red for several years to be his mentor and friend, and Red was happy to help him.
Then, Shawnee chose him to be her boyfriend, and I saw the miracle occur. Josh grew up. That lonely unhappy little kid disappeared, and Josh became The Bodyguard …. never mind that Shawnee was completely sound and Josh more crippled every year, he was in charge, and she couldn’t do without him. The two were a cute couple – him so manly, she so feminine. But each morning I’d laugh at her racetrack charge for breakfast, and his slower, controlled, careful canter behind. She wouldn’t eat until he caught up – but they were so mismatched in soundness. On the rare occasions when he lost track of Shawnee for any reason, he would sing for her, the sweetest, most melodic whinny on my lot, so distinctive I could pick his voice out of any chorus. And she returned to him …always.
First, due to his unhappiness, and then due to his attachment to Shawnee, Josh didn’t have too many duties here at TGC. But because of his good mind, I was actually able to put even tiny kids on his back, whereas the wild Shawnee is an advanced ride. His arthritis was very patent, each step uncomfortable, and clearly worsening with every passing year. It was VERY difficult to get medicine down him, as ANY change at all to his feed bucket would have him turn away from it, stubbornly refusing to eat the poison! What a drama king. He hated change of any sort. He took it this far – while carrots were always his favorite treat, if I had to go more than 4-5 days without giving carrots, he would carefully inspect the next one that I gave him, to be sure it REALLY was a carrot. And ate it with tiny bites to be sure… C’mon! The first time I gave him a massage, it took ½ hour before he started to relax; then I had to change sides, and he stiffened up again! Three times before he would accept a massage with happiness, and then couldn’t get enough of them. His poor shoulders were so stiff and aching with the effort of keeping up with Shawnee on those bad legs. Leslie was right that he always tried to cooperate – but as time went by, it was harder and harder for him to hold up his legs for the farriers. His second to the last farrier visit was marred when he almost collapsed – it surprised him too. One foreleg was over at the knee so basically he was a three-legged horse. And he was waaay too big to be holding himself on just the one foreleg, and aching hocks. And whether he never felt safe, or simply couldn’t put the effort in to get back up, I never saw Josh lay down, so those joints didn’t get any rest. Each of these problems, which existed from the day he came to me, just got worse and worse. When I could get bute down him, it would provide a little relief. But more than a few days of bute would always seem to affect his appetite adversely. Leslie’s Owner’s Manual indicated she’d been giving him 2 bute a day for most of the time she owned him, without adverse effect. That was not my experience with him. He did seem to do better for a year or so on Arthri-Soothe (donated by NaturVet) but eventually, even that didn’t seem to help. And I came to the same conclusion with Josh that I’d had with Mitey Nice – I was no longer providing a reasonable quality of life. At age 15 this guy was already arthritic to the point that trail riding and light arena work was too much for him. Having given him another 11 years to be a horse, I felt I’d done all I could do for him. In the last months of his life, I watched him slowly follow Shawnee out for breakfast, only breaking into a canter once or twice; I watched his hobbling progress stiffen up more and more each day; I ached for the exhaustion I saw in his eyes, and how often he would eat his carrots, and then turn away from his feed to rest, after what had appeared to be a day of dozing on his feet in the paddock with Shawnee. Age and pain had taken their toll on Josh … and it was time for me to step up and provide him with the last service at my disposal. Josh was not one of the abused horses (at least for the 19 of his 26 ½ years), although he was completely crippled in every leg/joint. Nevertheless, he was willing to do what was asked of him still, and would have, in another home, continued working to his best ability only because he had that kind of integrity. Because he gave his best efforts during his working life; and because he was willing to do more if asked; and simply because everyone deserves it, I am grateful I was able to provide him with a normal relaxed and sociable retirement, and bring his life to its end in a dignified way. Despite his disabilities, I never pitied Josh – his pride would not allow that. He was strong in determination, with heart forever. I dreaded a day when I would find him down in his stall, frightened and struggling to rise, unable to do so. Why let those be his final hours? So, on Monday, I stepped up. And Josh is now gone. He will be missed by myself, Shawnee, and his special fans, Sue Friley and her grandson Cooper.
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