GOODBYE SWEET FALCON
The Perfect Pony
On St. Patrick’s day, as the rain began, dear Falcon passed away. Although he left his stall that morning normally, 4 hours later when I put the horses back in their stall just ahead of the storm, Falcon could barely walk. Once inside the gate of his stall, he took a drink of water and just stood, lower lip hanging, appearing exhausted. I made him walk into his covered stall, but he had no interest in his food bucket and just stood where I left him. That was 11AM. He didn’t seem to be in actual pain or distress - no sweat, respirations quiet and regular, not laying down, gut sounds mild but present. But when I came out to check on him and feed at 3PM, he was laying down. When I checked him, again - no sweat, normal respirations, in fact he seemed almost asleep, with his legs thrashing as though running in his dreams. His eyes were open a little but not focused. His head and neck were partly propped on the wall, so I tugged him around to lay flat, and as I stroked his neck to be sure there was no cramping, I felt him die. His gums were blue - like Princess Picadilly - and so I believe his heart simply gave out. Falcon was at least 38 years old (he’s been with me for 18 years and was "20-something" when he came in).
Falcon was so lovely, so sweet, so un-aggressive but completely self-possessed and able to defend himself in a big herd of big horses. I know there are many people out there who had their first ride on Falcon, because he was truly bombproof and kind. He had amazing training, which included a fair amount of dressage work, but many horses come in to TGC with good training and become a pain in the butt pretty quickly, as they don’t get a lot of work and handling here. He never did. I think he was just a kind cooperative horse, never alpha in nature, laid back, willing, and friendly but never demanding.
He was beautiful, just about 13.3 to 14 hands high - a big pony, evenly dark brown, with a thick long mane and tail and a perfect star perfectly centered on his wide forehead between his big soft eyes. He stood like a statute while children and adults groomed him; loved carrots and treats but was NEVER pushy about getting them; never made me chase him in the field, stood for vet and farrier like a perfect gentleman, and consistently tolerated all the human antics around him with aplomb. The only time he ever hurt anyone, he knocked over volunteer Jan when Star lunged at him. He didn’t run away, just jumped out of Star’s way and stopped. And he couldn’t have been more surprised that Jan hadn’t run too!
This sweet pony was owned by a woman who begged me to take him, insisted, bugged me and even wrote up a contract promising to pay specific amounts. I had known and loved Falcon and watched him for a couple of years - and her insistence and promises overcame my reluctance at the time (when I was just starting The Golden Carrot and supporting the horses largely on my own dime). I have never regretted taking him for a moment, and have always felt very lucky to have him here. He was a wonderful boy, who deserved the best and gave his all.
For almost 18 years, Falcon has been a resident at TGC. He was friendly, and social, but never had a particular friend. Like most geldings, he would play with the other geldings, ‘bite my face’, sword fights, and other games, and despite his smaller size, he held his own and tolerated no disrespect from other horses. But he never seemed interested in the mares. However, cute as he was, it was only a matter of time before a mare decided she liked him. One day, we took a little trail ride with Buck and his lady, Hava, and Falcon. Buck and Hava had been trail buddies for over a decade before they came to TGC, and Hava clearly resented someone else joining them. While Buck and Falcon walked calmly down the road, she fussed and danced and tried constantly to position herself between them. She was a complete pain, and I was exhausted by the end of our hour long ride. But unbelievably, within the next few days, Hava started following Falcon around the paddock! Buck was concerned at first, but when he realized Falcon couldn’t care less and completely ignored Hava, he was happy to have some "Hava-free time" and began to play with the other geldings himself! Hava’s infatuation with Falcon, and his indifference about it, lasted until her death - but she did eventually let Buck and Falcon hang together, while she watched close by. And from then on, Buck and Falcon were best buds trading "Hava duty" tasks. I moved Falcon into Hava’s stall when she passed away, to be near Buck. I think, from what I know of Buck’s history, that Falcon was his first male buddy. And he is hurting with the loss of his small friend.
Sometimes, The Golden Carrot ends up with a true treasure. So often the horses who come here are so damaged, either physically, emotionally or both, that the best we can do for them is give them some time to be a horse, and watch while their horse friends heal them a little. And I don’t use the word "perfect" casually. Sometimes, people throw away the most wonderful horses, for reasons which will always be a mystery to me. Falcon’s only "flaw" when he came in was an undefined, and never seen, ‘stifle problem’. He seemed perfect from the day he came in, and that never changed. Even at the end, he left us looking gorgeous and healthy, and in his own time without asking for my help. I won’t deny that he should ideally have been some little girl’s dream pony for his whole life, but TGC was a good substitute and I think he was pretty happy here. I surely hope he was because in his interactions with people and with horses, he was perfect. He deserved the best. He contributed much to the human-horse experience, for many people including me, and is, and always will be, sorely missed.