Goodbye to Hershey
Arrived TGC 6/2009
Passed Away 1/16/15
Last night, finally, Hershey admitted to me that it was too hard to keep going. As I would expect, you could tell he was apologetic. He wanted to do his job. But his body was no longer willing or cooperative. I hugged him and told him it was ok, he’d done enough. We’d miss him, but knew he needed peace. And today the world has a Hershey shaped hole in it... However, we shouldn’t grieve for him - despite a bump in his road, and whatever came before that, Hershey had eight years here, with friends, and plenty to eat, and his needs were simple. Hershey is just exactly who we want to help here, and I believe we did. And despite his condition at death, I held out long enough and let HIM make the choice. Always how I hope it can be....
If you’ve followed us for a while, you might recall Falcon - my perfect pony. But Hershey also qualified as a perfect pony, and Hershey had bad times in his past that Falcon never had to face. The pictures tell the tale - when he arrived, he was skin and bones. Yes, he had a popped knee, but it wasn’t much of a problem for him at that time. He was a maintenance issue - he came from a situation where he had to compete with 7 other younger, stronger, more dominant horses for his feed. Hershey was not a fighter, even for food. His owner brought him here, and from day one, he began to improve.
Sometime in his past Hershey was well trained, and he had miles and miles on him when he arrived here. He was bombproof - nothing surprised him, and he’d clearly been there, and done that, and maybe even just stopped questioning all the crazy crap the apes wanted from him. His philosophy was "get along, and go along, and with luck, there will be cookies”.
Despite his horrid condition on arrival, he was still kind and cooperative, and so obviously thrilled and grateful for his 5 meals a day. His eyes would brighten and ears perk every time he saw me - o, more food? After just a few days, he was already waiting in the back for his next meal - I could set a clock by him. And it wrenched my heart to see him standing, hopeful, waiting for that next bowl.... A trusting boy, always willing to do his part, always grateful.
This was him just a couple of months after that above photo!
Here, Hershey and Brave chill out - Hershey's wearing his beads-n-bells to help Brave locate him.
Despite being bottom dog in a herd, the fact is Hershey was well liked, and he was smart enough to cultivate other horses who could help him. I can just imagine his first conversation with Brave. Brave approaches him - ‘dude, I’m almost blind, can you help me out?' Hershey responds 'well, sure big guy, but I’m not very fast or strong and smaller than most out here'. Brave says, ‘don’t sell yourself short dude, you’ve got eyes. Lend me your eyes, and I’ll help keep you outta harms way, what do you say?' And of course, sweet and self-effacing Hershey said yes, and a friendship was born that lasted until Brave’s death. And frankly, I don’t know that Hershey ever got over that death.
Hershey stood alone, and seemed so lonely to me, after Brave’s passing. Many many times he went to their old stalls, maybe hoping that Brave would be back. I despaired of him finding another friend - this was years later and his knees were beginning to fuse, and he was that much older.
To my surprise, and maybe his, he was approached by Shawnee, a older but sound TB mare, highly excitable and not at all Hershey’s style. But she was needy. She needed a protector. And Hershey’s giving heart made him calm her down and promise to care for her. Similar to Brave, Shawnee was big enough, and unpredictable enough to other horses, that she served as a bodyguard for Hershey, and he was just plain and simply her rock.
When Shawnee passed away early last year, I worried - but having broken the barrier, Hershey waited a few months, and then was very happy when Princesa (another large excitable TB mare) approached him.
They were close, but this time, I could tell that Princesa was taking care of him. And it was when she started moving away from him that I realized he was sliding down to his end.
Hershey always gave as good as he got. For our care over these years, he was happy to carry riders, experienced or not, at least in his first years.
He took care of his equine friends. How many of us can say we’ve had the privilege of knowing a seeing-eye horse?
And his gentle predictable steady ways made him a joy to be around. He was thrilled to see Dee Gleason and get some energy work from her - and as always, said thank you for it.
Even in his last year, when it was all he could do to lift a leg for the farrier, he was a favorite with them - we could all see he was trying.
A horse like Hershey is one-in-a-million. He was cute, not too big or too small, trained beautifully, and with a personality full of forgiveness and cooperation. I couldn’t give him enough cookies. I couldn’t do enough for him in our almost 8 years. He gave so much to all who met him, equine and human. I said not to grieve for him, but instead celebrate the end of his pain and his spirit’s return to freedom. But I’ll grieve. I will never forget him.