Passed away Friday, September 16, 2012
On Friday, our dear Sunny died. I, Victor and Shine are devastated. After a hopeful summer when she perked up astonishingly on pergolide, she got cast in her stall, and when I found her, she’d given up. For me, she made one more effort to get up, once I repositioned her. But she wasn’t able, and nothing I could do encouraged her to try again. For her to refuse my request said it all. She had the same look in her eyes that my Inch had - she said clear as day "I’m done".
Sunny has been here at The Golden Carrot for so many many years. Years ago, before I was a 501c3, I was given Sunny and Mitey Nice by a woman who had no use for them, and in fact, from her comments when I picked them up, simply didn’t like them. She had to be brain damaged - these two were the most wonderful mares you could imagine. They both had a ton of training, and like so many well trained quarterhorses, had a great work ethic. Neither ever for a moment considered bucking anyone off, running away, or misbehaving while on a lead. Both were purported to be in their 20s. Now, at that time, I didn’t realize just how much people can lie, and I didn’t have a vet check them right away, but over the years, their age was confirmed by my vets. This would make Sunny approximately 32-36 years old when she died.
When Sunny came in, she was sound, but at least slightly arthritic. I think The Golden Carrot’s setup allowing 8-12 hours of turnout every day helped her a lot. And at least for the first few years, we rode Sunny out on trails. She was always willing. The previous owner alleged that Sunny was an "ex-posse horse", by which she explained Sunny had been ridden out on lost hiker searches and such under authority of law enforcement. Certainly Sunny gave every impression that she’d been there, and done that, as nothing at all fazed her.
Once I was clear about her training, I used her as a lesson horse, and believe that she truly enjoyed that.
Smaller riders were easier on those arthritic joints, but she still had a job to do, and loved getting hugs and being groomed and fed carrots after.
She was a great horse from my point of view, because she quickly caught on to my teaching style, and basically listened to me! For beginners, this was perfect, as it made us all safe and happy, and made the riders feel like they really did something in the saddle. I never worked her hard - even 20+ is getting up there - but since she clearly enjoyed it, I used her as long as I could.
In the herd, Sunny was "mom". She attached to PC right away. In her years with him, they became the couple another horse came to for comfort - among others, Prophet joined them when he lost Ladyhawk, and Victor joined them, never to leave, when he lost Malika.
When PC passed away, Victor and Sunny became the new comfort couple - Shine was briefly attached to Chacha, and when she passed, he joined them, never to leave.
For the final years of her life, Sunny was the grande dame with her entourage of Victor, Shine, and Shine’s friend Spencer. When she moved, they moved.
When she charged out of her stall every morning, they went nuts - if we were stupid enough to let her go first, they would bust down chains to go after her! And each night, they wouldn’t go into their stalls until she was in. They were part bodyguard to her, and she was part bossy mom to them. Their distress as her passing is painful to watch, and Victor in particular is showing deep depression.
Sunny was sweet to people too. Her golden eyes would look right at you, and while she wasn’t pushy, she was always RIGHT there if you had a carrot to offer.
She had a real salt jones too, and if I wasn’t putting enough in the feed, she’d LICK a sweaty person! That startled more than one visitor, believe me. She behaved for farrier and vet, and loved grooming. I never had a horse who grew such a thick winter coat each year, and the tons of hair that flew every Spring were truly astonishing.
Now, in that regard, I was behind times. I should have had the vet look at her sooner than I did. But when Victor was having problems with his skin, and I had the vet look at him to see why my efforts to help it were only successful to a point, he said, o, this horse is Cushings! I laughed and said, wow, I thought you’d say that about Sunny here, who grows so much hair and is losing less every summer.
He agreed that she WAS. (Victor was too, the Cushings was inhibiting his immune system, making the skin condition hard to heal). So last summer the two were on pergolide.
And what a difference! Sunny’s whole manner perked up so much, and she lost a TON more hair in August. She picked up weight. She seemed so much like her old self. I was so relieved, and feeling that my girl would be here for more years, and would make it through another winter no problem.
Making Friday’s surrender more painful, surprising and inexplicable.
Bottom line, Sunny’s again is another story of a kind, hard working, good hearted horse, with good training and a good will, being thrown out by the human race. And yet, she never held it against us. If asked, she did her job. When her life was her own, she gave to others of her own kind.
She was quiet but personable, strong but gentle, and gave me, and all the people who rode her or visited with her, even more than she got. With her subdued but elegant coloring, she stood out in the herd, but was clearly respected by most of the other horses, and beloved of many of them.
I've spent two days going through pictures of over a decade. Sunny was so much a part of TGC, I can't imagine us without her. These photos, this little tribute, is a tiny representation of all she gave us, of her participation and involvement here. I could write a novella about Sunny, if I could stop crying, but it still wouldn't bring her full impact to you. She was truly extraordinary, in a strong, quiet way.
Thanks from my heart to all of you, and in particular her sponsor of so many years, Kathryn McDonald, for helping me to help her. You know I think all horses deserve a chance to be a horse, but Sunny more than some others had earned it.
RIP Sunny Bunny ..