Goodbye to Ronan
Passed away, April 10, 2023
This week started so sadly, as Ronan, who had been dwindling before my eyes, wandered into Cole’s stall midday, and laid down to die. I suspected it was coming and had reached out to a vet, but not yet heard when he might come.
For the past couple of years, Ronan has been declining in weight, and not shedding his winter coat completely in addition to more and more difficulty with his feet – growing too much toe; thick hard walls. When his teeth were floated in 2020, we made an adjustment to his prascend dosage which seemed to suit him for a short time. But I will admit that I believe this move was more than he could handle. Metabolic disorders are all about balance and routine. Adjusting medications; controlling diet; reducing stress. And in the last 6 months I picked the horses up and moved them here; for 2 months they were stall bound when Ronan had been first wild, and then daily free with the TGC herd for almost his whole life; and then exposed to pasture – not a LOT of grass but fresh and unfamiliar. On top of that, between the move and the horrendous weather making us unaccessible to the farrier, I was unable to keep him on his 6 week schedule for trims. Did I miss a single thing that would mess him up?
I tried to make him comfortable with some pain medication – it seemed to help a little. His last week, I left his gate open so he could go in at night if he wanted, or stay out. He did both. I visited with him a couple times of day at his favorite spot halfway up the hill. We remembered these 17 years, as along with Laddie and Jedi, Ronan was one of my few "babies". Let me try to tell you how some of his time here passed.
In 2006, the big wealthy ranch across the road from TGC hired me to do stall cleaning and feeding. And Ronan stood alone in a huge paddock. The story I had for him at that time is noted here on our website. He seemed so lonely, and was so sweet to me – I got a fly mask on him in about 25 minutes after hearing it couldn’t be done. A big pony in a plain bay wrapper, with a silly ‘fro and a chunky build, Ronan seems like a typical mustang to me. He was rounded up and warehoused by the BLM till they sold him to a private adopter.
And when I stopped working there, and heard of his “training” difficulties, I agreed to take him. I walked over, put a halter on him, and walked him home to TGC, where he heaved an obvious sigh of relief, and walked right into the herd. And they accepted him without comment! He knew herds – was born into and lived in one for the first 2 years of his life until the BLM thugs rounded him up and took him away from his family. And TGC horses knew he was a young man at 6, with good manners, and accepted him. It was prety sweet to see.
Fairly quickly, he met Blue Bayou (“Boo”) and the two were inseparable thereafter. The two were the same age, and basically the same size, but similarities ended there. While Ronan was mother nature’s product, Boo was the end product of two long human breeding lines. And they were the very best friends, and troublemakers! Of course, I lost a lot of photos in the 2018 fire, but in almost every single pic I have today, the two are together.
In addition, over his first 10 years, I worked with him enough to know that if it wasn’t for his bad knee, he could have been a great riding horse. He looked at you with discernment – were you a friend, kind, patient? If so, he was all yours. Altho he shot one trainer to the moon a couple of times, the fact that the trainer was HUGE, and used a HUGE saddle with a broken tree (on purpose no less), Ronan never cared much about weight on his back. I rode him twice in the sense that I sat in the saddle with no problem, but he, despite the 3 trainers, had no idea what leg pressure was, or how to respond to reins and bit. In his first few years, dealing with uneven terrain at TGC, his knee blew up a couple of times, so I gave him anti-inflammatories for a little pain relief. I didn’t have the wherewithal to afford a surgery to see if removing that bone chip would help. Our vet at the time said it should fuse onto other bony structures with time, and his soundness thereafter would depend on where it fused. In his years here, the only problem he had with that knee was bending it for the farrier, which got more difficult as time went on.
He and Boo were often the first to greet new residents at TGC; he in particular loved visitors, I think at least in part because they could be counted on for carrots. He was kind with farriers as long as they would accommodate that knee, and vets; a quintessential easy keeper for me, and I honestly think I’d use the word “calm” as his defining characteristic. (Altho, me knocking snow off his roof was NOT his favorite, maybe because by that time he was failing and not sure he could deal). He lived for food, as so many do, and if not patrolling with Boo, or sleeping in the sun, he was searching out something, anything, to eat.
Mismanagement by humans defined this boy’s life. Rounding him up for no reason; separating him from his family; selling him to an uneducated person who trusted him to three different so-called trainers; and then, after 15 years of happily being what mother nature intended, my mismanagement of his metabolic disorder. Twenty three years is a decent span of time for a horse, but he should have lived those 23 years - or even less – as a wild horse. Free. He wasn’t violent but his clear intelligence should have got him a mare, and some offspring. And maybe he would have died younger, but quality of life should matter. I did my best for him for 17 years, but ….would 10 wild years have been better? I don’t know.
While I know the move here precipitated his rapid decline, I will absolutely say that he loved it here. He explored every corner; loved being able to go back in his stall if he wanted; seemed plain blissful nibbling on the little bit of grass growing, and napping in the shade of the trees. When he saw me at the stall-line, he’d come by to see if he could steal a bite off the cart. And rolling, or napping in the softer soil here. I had hopes that he could make it through spring and really get to enjoy this place. And I worried that as elders have done throughout TGCs existence, he would struggle through the horrid cold and snow and rain, and relax in the spring sun. And relaxed, slip away. And he did just that. It was a warning to me that I never saw him run here, but he felt peaceful and calm here. I just wish he could have been here longer.
Run free, Ronypony. May you find your family again...