Goodbye to Cassidy
On Monday, November 3, our Cassidy left us, after a week long struggle against what we think was a snake or spider bite. She tried hard, but at her age (late 20s) with Cushings, she didn’t have the wherewithal to overcome. Just before the doctor was to see her again, she laid down, and let go.
Cassidy was a lovely lovely mare - smooth as silk in motion, who came to the Golden Carrot from a private party who had “rescued” her from an abuser. The abuser had Cassidy to breed, and indeed got one foal from her, her maiden foal, at age 20. When the private party ‘rescued’ her, she was emaciated, and her right eye was badly infected. That person kept her for about 30 days and then contacted me, indicating she needed more care than the person could give. And yes, when Cass arrived, she was still horribly thin and depressed, and her right eye had completely prolapsed. Probably no surprise, when the person also handed me 3 full vials of opthalmic ointment.
Dr. Z told me she still had infection in the eye socket, and Cass and I began the eye medicating dance that lasted for 28 days! She didn’t want anything in that eye. And you know vets, they always say, put this stuff in her eye 4 times a day. Like it’s even possible to do it once! Eventually my farrier at the time suggested hotwater salt compresses - which Cassidy LOVED, and which seemed to heal that eye up in just a few days! By that time, her quarantine was over, and I let her into the herd, only to have her pop out a strangles abscess just below her jaw on the right. Luckily, my old herd has lots of immunity, and rarely are their bouts with strangles very bad. She healed in a few days, and her life here truly began.
Cassidy was a mare who, despite her recent history, completely knew her own worth. And that meant having a boyfriend or two following her everywhere, all the time. When she first joined the herd, her very first and only female friend was Comet. Comet’s boyfriend was Sarge, who was protector to Comet and HER mom Allie. Comet died of complications from her cancer, and then Allie went blind in her only good eye and passed away, leaving Cassidy with Sarge. And those two were never far apart thereafter.
In the final year of her life, the advent of Mack, who wanted her with an irresistible passion, meant a few weeks of conflict between him and Sarge. Altho in the end Mack won, and was always by his lady’s side, Sarge never went far, and Cassidy would not willingly go into her stall at night unless Sarge was in his. If he wasn’t she would call and call until he came in, even ignoring her food until she was sure he was safe.
From this, you would be right to conclude that Cassidy’s joy here at The Golden Carrot was simply being a horse, with horses. While she was well behaved with me, she didn’t much care about human beings. She liked a cookie; she cooperated with the farrier; at the beginning and ending of her 3 years here, she worked with the vet. But humans just didn’t matter to her. I think she knew me, and we had our routines. For instance, when I threw her feed at night, she was oriented with her bad eye toward the feed window. So as I approached I would talk to her, Hay Cass, here’s your dinner. And she would move her head aside. She learned the routine quickly, and when I came with the second bucket, I didn’t have to speak any louder despite the fact that now she was chewing and rustling thru her pellets - she listened for me and when she heard me again, would move her head aside. If you’ve been around horses who are blind on one side, you’d appreciate this story - it’s very easy, even when you speak with them, to startle them on the blind side. But while routine may be the hobgoblin of little minds, it is the great comfort of horses, and Cass learned the routines quickly.
Each morning she took her boys to the back of the property to eat. Now and again we’d find her somewhere else, but that was “her” spot. She didn’t conflict with other horses; she was never flirtatious with other geldings, and after Comet, had no interest in other mares. She, Mack and Sarge were a little clique - her little world - and that’s all she needed.
Mostly, she ambled long-legged from here to there, looking for more food. The large majority of photos I have of her show her with head down, grazing. She loved her boys, but she lived for food. No surprise there - it’s a common behavior of the horses who come in after being starved. Like our Basky, who she closely resembled, she did very well on our diet here, until the very last month of her life. We decided she had Cushings this year when she did not lose her winter coat - she was very tolerant of my feeble clipping efforts, and the Cushings medication helped the rest of her heavy coat drop out. I really felt she was doing so well.
And then her bad luck returned with a vengeance. A snake or spider bite and the toxins associated with it blew up her face, and then her life. Cassidy is the third horse I’ve lost to snake bite. While the doctor assured me that many horses survive bites like this, my elderly crew, and especially anyone with an already compromised immune system, are so much more vulnerable. In the end, Cassidy saved me making the final decision, which I was gearing up to make as we waited for the second visit of the vet. She laid down .... and left. I know Sarge got it right away, but poor Mack cried and cried for her, standing a horse length away from her still body. And since then, he and Sarge have been inseparable.
I’m grateful that my girl saved me deciding for her, but so sad at what feels like an untimely demise. Mares are tough, and usually the most long lived here. I thought I had many years ahead with Cassidy. But it was not to be. There is no formula that will tell you how long you’ll have with any horse. Youngsters die of colic practically overnight. An old horse with crap knees, blown hocks, who snap crackle pops out every morning, will keep on keeping on practically forever. Sometimes luck seems to have more to do with it than anything. Cass had some bad luck. But in between, with your help, we were able to give her a good life. I believe she appreciated it.