Goodbye to Rebel

Passed away 5/18/19


On Saturday morning, May 18, 2019, I found Weekend Rebel passed away in his stall the night before. He’d eaten his dinner. But that Friday, he’d been unwilling to leave his stall area, and his devoted friend Jordan wouldn’t leave his side. I left them in their stalls, munching on hay. Later, Rebel had eaten his breakfast hay, and was at his feed bin ready for dinner. He wasn’t sweating or disturbed, just … down. His gums were pink, his heart rate normal, no obvious signs of difficulty walking around. I checked on him Friday night at 10, and he seemed ok. But I’m guessing something deep inside was failing and he knew it.

Rebel was a race horse briefly. And somehow ended up as a polo pony. Two very intense disciplines. When he was too broke down to work so hard, his owners lied to a fellow rescue (believe me, 99% of owner surrenders come with a boatload of lies). That rescue, at the time, did adopt horses out, and there was no way they could find a good responsible home for Rebel, so they called us.


Rebel catches some Zs before dinner - see that hind pastern? It was bad by the end.

Rebel had a much older demeanor than the 23 years of life he’d had might have produced. He was calm, and that quality alone attracted Jordan (an excitable overreactive nutjob!).

Rebel and his best buddy, Jordan

For most of the little over 4 years Rebel had here, he was Jordan’s anchor – but he had a mischievous side too. He liked to mess with me, in particular. One of his very favorite things was to come to a gate, wait patiently until I made it over there to open the gate for him, and then take off. Or, stand at his own gate in the morning, and chew his morning cookie like it was beef jerky, unwilling to move till he’d finished it – Mooom, I can’t chew and walk at the same time! Or, move in ANY direction except the one he and I both wanted him to go in …. And believe me, it was deliberate mischief. He had SUCH a twinkle in his eye, and when I’d yell and flap my arms, he’d get this hilarious exaggerated “scared” look, and take off moving his legs very fast, but in very short strides (because, really, he DID want to go thru that gate, or in that direction, and didn’t want to get TOO far away) – I’d blow, drop my arms, and stand there defeated. If I had time to stand for a few minutes, he would walk slowly back, past me, and in thru the gate … all the while watching me with eye and ear, ready to take off again. Sometimes, I’d give him a punch in the butt … and he’d just amble on. He’d won, you know. Stinker.


Rebel was pretty happy here. He LOVED his pelleted feed, even tho he could easily eat our hay as well. He had a fat belly and a reasonable topline, without a lot of effort. His feet were great, but he had DSLD in the hind legs, and with the capped hock he came in with, he did need some pain relievers on a fairly regular basis, as the changed angles in those hind legs messed him up. It’s funny how people talk about DSLD. I’ve had a few horses with it, and until it’s been around a long time, and is very severe, the horse really doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. At some point, however, it does cause a lot of tendon/ligament/joint strain. And we all know how NSAIDS can cause other problems. A balancing act. Luckily, his best friend was pretty messed up too, so they matched in physical disabilities, and complimented each other emotionally/mentally.

Here Rebel considered if he should approach our watering station. Always a thinker.

I always felt bad for Rebel tho, as a hard working horse, in at least two very trying disciplines, both of which generate or involve enormous amounts of money, dumped on a rescue with no support or concern for his future. These are the horses we help here at TGC, and because of horses like Rebel, I really hate the racing and polo “industries” for their money grubbing self-aggrandizing ways. And you see, while I have some years of memories of Rebel to cherish, I also remember muscling his remains out of his stall for “disposal” – the second time this sweet individual was “disposed of”. To see these great creatures of grace on the ground, helpless, with that huge empty void around them, when you’ve felt their presence 4 feet away, and watched even these older creaky guys dance on a cool morning, is a memory no one needs. And I have so many….

Normally I'd think those circles were something on the lens. But... taken a week before he passed.  Was he already feeling it coming?

Rebel had, I think, the best possible ending to his life, and thoroughly deserved it. And I thank his spirit for choosing his time and leaving quickly …. For both mine and Jordan’s sake, it would have been hell to make that decision for him. But why did he have to end up here, and all his effort disdained? He didn’t earn a lot of money as a race horse, but not every TB can. I don’t know if he was a “good” polo horse, but I bet he kept his rider safe, wasn’t that worth something? He was smart, had a great sense of humor, and was so kind to his skittish friend Jordan. For those things alone he deserved better. And maybe he couldn’t stay with his racing or polo connections, but they could have helped Polo Pony Rescue, or The Golden Carrot, to care for him. Even a little would have meant they remembered him, and appreciated him.

Rebel, with bff Jordan, stall mates Bo and Trace, and wierdly, Dominic using him for a flywhisk. He was cool.  Horses wanted to be him, or at least with him.

Well, we will remember him. I know Jordan, even these 3 days later, still mourns for him. I miss him – I made a bucket for him twice after he was gone. It’s hard to look in to see if he’s ready for dinner, and not see him. And weirdly, I already miss our almost daily interactions, and that twinkle….