Mr. Happy Grump

Foaled ???
16.2hh Appendix Quarterhorse Gelding
Black w/white blaze
Died April 15, 2011

Happy (left) gives his usual comment, August 2010  

This is Mr. Happy Grump. Happy came to me with the unfortunate name Mr. Grump. I hate to change a horse’s name, so I figured, we’d give him a first name more appropriate to how I hoped he’d be here at TGC. Happy likes his new name and responds to it. Happy loved attention when he first arrived. In the photo above he gets pets from KC Bradley in early 2008.   This guy is so old I don’t believe I’ve ever seen teeth like this. Even Phoenix’s teeth were just misaligned – A horse’s front teeth begin to angle outward, more like a beak, as they get older. Happy’s teeth on one side are almost pointing straight out, and as a result, his tongue pokes out often, and he drools. This guy needs senior feed and pellets almost exclusively, but loves to noodle around in a flake of alfalfa.

Happy is self-possessed and spent some time exploring all the areas of the Golden Carrot’s horse areas. He’s already spent a lot of time with other geldings, saying Hi and introducing himself.  He is so well behaved – after about 10 days here, Laurie Henkel came up to adjust him, as his hips were badly misaligned, making him painfully short strided on the left, and we had a crowd of about 30 people here to watch. He moved slowly and carefully, and allowed Laurie and I to position him next to a straw bale, and slowly and clearly became aware that we were trying to help him, giving more cooperation and showing great patience and a quiet demeanor that impressed me. He has a kind eye – although he simply does NOT want company while he eats! In his clever use of himself, he reminds me of Jet – like Jet, a tall Appendix QH, he has a good mind to go with a badly damaged body. I hope we can make his final years comfortable. Like Queenie, Happy was abandoned by former owners, and housed for a year or two at the Norco Animal Shelter.     Originally, Happy was attached to Queenie, as you see to the left.  Then Star came, who had been with Happy and Queenie at the Norco Animal Shelter. Like so many men, he abandoned Queenie for the younger glamourous Star! (Luckily, Queenie became Jeeper’s love, which has worked out well). As time went on, Star became enamored of Swing’s Lew and left Happy – to his obvious distress.  However, his stall is next to Star, and during the day, he divides his time between his gelding friends, Buck and Falcon, and seems to be ok.

Goodbye to Mr. Happy Grump

On April 15, 2011, Mr. Happy Grump died. Sometime in the night, he laid down in his stall, and rolled over too close to the wall. He ended up in a position where he could not get his legs underneath him, to get up. Oddly, there wasn’t a lot of sign of struggle. In all his years here, I’d never seen evidence that Happy lay down in his stall at night - always he lay in the fields sunning during the day. So I suspect that perhaps he had a bellyache, a colic that, added to the fear he felt when unable to get up, caused his old heart to fail. I believe his passing was very quick.

Happy was a horse with LOTS of attitude. He came to me as "Mr. Grump", named by the Animal Shelter employees in Norco. Mr. Grump was found tied to their gate one day, abandoned there by his former owner. He was with the Animal Shelter for a year, but due to his age and obvious disabilities, was not placed. The Shelter contacted me, requesting that I take him and Queenie in, which I did in April of 2007. I don’t like to change a horse’s name, but felt that "Mr. Grump" was so negative, that I’d give him a "first name", a stable name, and he was Happy to me until the end, only "Mr. Grump" when he was misbehaving. He was mischievous, like a little old man playing pranks, and was most happy cruising his herd. He was polite when caught .... but catching him was no picnic!

Happy was tall, and thin, and he drooled, due to loss of several of his lower left incisors. Between the loss of those teeth, and obvious injuries in his spine and hip on the left, we concluded he’d had a very bad accident, and owners who, rather than get him help, simply tossed him out like a broken bicycle. In his first week here, he was able to adjust some of his spinal problems with the simple joy of a roll in the field. (The Animal Shelter had a tiny area, crowded with cows, llamas, sheep, goats, and several horses, which didn’t allow Happy freedom and room to lay down). A week after Happy arrived, I had Laurie Henkel come out and she was able to make a big difference in his hip, allowing a more normal gait, although he always threw that leg "out" to the left when he ran. Happy LOVED to run, and considering his age and problems, was pretty darn fast. He was always slow to lose his winter hair, and ‘tetchy’ about being groomed. With his funny tongue hanging partly out of his face, and his expressive ears, and all the mischief of eluding capture for dinnertime or the farrier, Happy was truly a character here.

During his time with The Golden Carrot, Happy enjoyed being a horse, and part of a herd. He wanted to have 2-3 mares of his own, but didn’t have the physical chops to make it happen. He loved Queenie, who came in with him, until the day some months later when I brought Star home. Star had been at the Shelter with him and Queenie, and clearly, like every man born, he loved the gorgeous youngster over the faithful older woman! (Don’t worry, Jeepers stepped up for Queenie and has been faithfully hers ever since!) Happy leched after Star for months, following her everywhere, which she was initially happy to tolerate. But then, with the advent of Swing’s Lew in May of 2009, Star ditched Happy for a younger studmuffin. (A clear case of what goes around, comes around). Poor Happy was at a loss, and mooned around for a while. I moved him into a stall next to Star, so he lived the rest of his days pleased to get her crumbs of attention.

He was a horse’s horse. He was always well behaved once he was caught, but up until his last couple of months, Happy avoided people, and would scamper around at dinner time waiting until every last other horse was in their stall before he would go into his own. He would go stand at his stall gate, and when someone came to open it, he would turn and walk off! If you followed him, to turn him back to the stall, he’d speed up just enough to stay ahead of you, laughing as he went. He relished his freedom here, dashing out of his stall every morning as fast as he could go. He returned to his stall after staying loose as long as possible, only because, I believe, he needed his pelleted food, and simply got hungry in the field. If he’d thought he could do without his pellets, I believe I’d never have got him to go in his stall! Despite his physical problems, his mind was sharp and made him very agile and creative when it came to avoiding capture!

Running out to meet his friends on a brisk winter morning in 2011.....

Happy was on my "short list" - the list of most elderly, most frail - almost from the day he came in. But he was like some of those older mares, they just keep on ticking.... I started to worry more about him in December 2010, when it was clear to me that he was getting thin under all that hair. It was a terrible winter, and at that point had been bitter cold at night for months, so in addition to his blanket, I began increasing his evening buckets. I thought he was doing better, but in the last couple of months of his life, the next warning sign came .... Happy would be back at the stalls early every night, anxious to be in his stall FIRST, not last. Just as when Bobby Sox started accepting a winter blanket, and not ripping it to shreds, I felt sadness at this sign that our feisty old man was feeling vulnerable.

It may sound odd, but a part of me is grateful that he got cast. It seems to me that a quick strain, a moment of stress, and a sudden heart attack was a good end for the boy. I wouldn’t have wanted to see him get so frail he couldn’t join his herd, or feel that being with the herd was a stressor for him when it had so obviously been his great joy. But after four years of laughing at his antics, I do wish I could have said "goodbye, you old booger....."


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