I can’t do this. Can’t capture such a great spirit in mere words. Or describe the emptiness of his empty paddock. I just want to say that in his last hours he was with people he knew and trusted, on a mild night under a starry sky. He ended his life peacefully. We caught the colic symptoms early, Dr. Waldridge got there soon with pain relief and gave heroically of his efforts and expertise. Everything that could be humanely done to try and save Ogygian was done, and Ogygian was strong and loving through it all. My gratitude to Michael is beyond bounds. He made the right decision not to opt for radical hospital treatment that had little chance of working, to let Ogygian go peacefully in the paddock that had been his kingdom for so many years. To make all the caring decisions he made that night. Ogygian left life the way he lived it, with courage, wisdom and a loving heart. I will never know another like him.
Ogygian’s halter. Sitting on my dining room table, it looks forlorn and more than a little lost, just like those of us who knew and loved O became on Saturday night. In a lot of ways, his halter symbolized O. It had longevity. O was famous for cleverly ditching every halter put on his head. Four or five years ago, as my bond with O was growing and after the latest ditching, I decided to try my luck. O’s constant companion, Beth, and I deliberated over the most comfortable size and the ideal font type to use on the nameplate. Everything had to be perfect. I can’t recall the details of either, but something about this halter worked for O. With Michael’s coaxing, on it went (of course, Michael was the only one who could actually accomplish this), and we waited to see how long it would last. As it turned out the halter had staying power, just like O.
O traveled over 14,000 miles during the course of his life, until he settled for good at Old Friends. His halter looks like it’s been around the world and back, too. The nose band is a little warped, the ends of the straps are curled up, and the nameplate is scratched and worn with age. It’s a halter with character, experience, toughness, fitting for a warrior, a survivor like O. O and his halter were never separated. Until Saturday night. And now, it sits on my dining room table. I think I’m going to give this halter to the person O loved best in all the world, Beth. I think that’s what O would want me to do. And I never turned down a request from Ogygian.
For the past several years, Ogygian has been my “Saturday night horse”. After the visitors go home, Saturday evenings are spent wandering the farm and visiting with the wonderful horses at Old Friends. One horse that was always part of the nightly ritual was Ogygian. He always wandered over for a visit with Beth, Barbara, Alex, John, myself, and whoever else was out in the evening.
Ogygian was a very particular horse. Some things were only allowed if done in a special way. One of those things was the weekly application of a hoof-strengthening cream to his hooves. Beth couldn’t just go in and rub it in. Ogygian required a minimum of two other visitors, preferably female, to praise him and provide carrots while the cream was applied. It was usually Barbara and me cooing and praising as we passed carrot after carrot to him. When someone was not at the farm, we would press John in to be part of Ogygian’s “harem”.
In old age, O got an extra dinner to keep his aging body in good weight. Beth would call him and they would race around the paddock to his feed tub. I used to try to get over to the feed tub first to get the right light for photos. The sight of the old stallion with his mane and tail streaming behind him is forever etched in my mind.
O loved to stand in the back of his paddock under “his” tree. Sometimes, he would fade into the scenery. I remember bringing a tour over to see him one morning. I was looking everywhere for him and calling his name and just didn’t see him. I think he decided I must be blind as he started talking as he cantered across his paddock to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the admiring crowd.
Last Saturday night, I had to say good-bye to my old friend. Saturday nights won’t be the same for a long time to come…