We lost Ballindaggin yesterday. He had been having spinal problems that were significantly affecting his balance and ability to move comfortably. Yesterday he took a final van trip to the clinic, where the vets said his problems were chronic and worsening. The decision was made to euthanize him.
Ballindaggin was a big, thick-necked, wide-bodied stallion with a crooked white blaze down his face. In the summer, his coat gleamed in the sunshine with a metallic, coppery sheen that I have never seen on another horse. He was a kind and friendly horse, a favorite with everyone who knew him. He almost always welcomed visitors, the only exception being when the first tender green grass of spring demanded his attention.
Nothing much fazed him. When I think of Ballindaggin, the word that comes to mind is dignity. He was always calm, always deliberate, never one to get worked up or nervous. When his recent problems forced him to spend much of his time in the barn, he adjusted without hesitation. He learned to stand with his hindquarters braced in the corner of his stall, giving external support to his uncooperative body. When he went outside each morning to the small ring, he never tried to move any faster than his now-wobbly legs could carry him. As his body failed him, he handled it quietly and without fuss, like it was just another part of his daily routine. For the past few weeks, he developed a kind of friendship with the gelding in the next stall. Stallions aren’t often in the position to have a buddy, but Ballindaggin was the exception and Cowboy was clearly a comfort to him.
I was there when Ballindaggin left Old Friends yesterday morning. He looked beautiful; his coat shining, his head held high and the name plate on his halter catching the sun. He looked at us as he walked out of his stall toward the van with the same dignity and class he always displayed. Only his walk betrayed him, unsteady and uncertain.
Ballindaggin will be cremated and buried at Old Friends.