Memorial – Chance

Chance – 1995 – August 13, 2019

Today we unexpectedly said good-bye to Chance. Animals come to our sanctuary from various situations and for various reasons, some come to stay for many years and some for just a short time. Chance had only been here since November 2018.  He came here to live out his days as he was not doing well in the herd where he had been living. He arrived here thin and very difficult to put weight on. But over the past several months, Chance thrived here. He became the picture of health. So, today, we didn’t expect that we’d be having to make the decision to help him out of a body that suddenly failed.  While it was a shock to us, it actually was in keeping with how Chance wanted things to go. He didn’t want a big fuss made over him and he wouldn’t have been a fan of lots of nursing care.

Chance was his own man. He did things his way and had things the way he wanted them. We kept trying to buddy him up with several of our other horses but he wanted no part in that. He just really didn’t care for other horses. He liked being in a barn full of horses and clearly got comfort from that. But any kind of one on one activities with another horse was clearly not his thing. When we’d turn him out in our arena to walk around, he would cause trouble with each and every horse he could over their stall doors. He took a certain delight in doing that. There was this quiet side to Chance but he liked to stir up a little trouble when he could. Otherwise, he was a very nice horse and was good with people.

Chance suddenly had a colic this morning that at first seemed rather benign. We called our veterinarian anyway because Chance also had a cardiac issue and we wanted to be sure he was ok. But Chance actually was hiding from us the severity of what was happening inside of his body. He had a twisted gut and we couldn’t do anything to help him other than to help him out of his body. Moments before we said good-bye, Chance took one more walk around the arena to cause a little trouble with all of the horses just one last time.

We are blessed to have had the opportunity to know and love this one of a kind horse, even though it was for a short time. Chance needed a safe place to live out his final days and he found just that in our sanctuary. He made sure life was just the way he liked it and we are honored to have given him that final opportunity in his last months.

I’m sure as he passed into Spirit that things lined up for him just the way he wanted them to be. He left his body as quietly and unassumingly as he did when he walked in our door. While sad to see him go, we were honored to have given him a place to call his own.

Happy trails Chance.

Memorial – Viva

Today is a milestone in the history of Spring Farm CARES. Today we said good-bye to Viva, the horse responsible for starting this all. Viva was born March 20, 1985 after co-founder Bonnie bought her very first horse, Kazinka, only to find out later that she was pregnant. Viva arrived 3 weeks late as Bonnie slept beside Kazinka in the barn in sub-zero weather awaiting his arrival. His birth changed the course of Bonnie’s life and planted the seed that became Spring Farm CARES. Viva and Dawn arrived at the farm exactly at the same time. Destiny brought all of the ingredients together, and 34 years later it is amazing to see where we are and who we’ve become. And one stubborn, obstinate magnificent horse set the course and loved this farm as much as anyone ever could.

Viva lived his whole life here on this farm. He was loved since the day he was born. And he lived a life that very few horses get to live. By all accounts, Viva should have died two years ago when we discovered that he had a huge mass in his abdomen. He later had other medical complications on top of that. But, he made it clear it was not his time to go. He pulled through enormous odds and kept on trucking. Each winter, we thought it would be his last. But he lived for spring and the hope of green grass. In the end, it was his legs that gave out. He squeezed every ounce of usefulness out of the body he was born into.

It was clear that Viva never actually really wanted to go. He loved his life and this farm with all his heart and soul. From the hilltop on which he resided for the past 34 years, he could look over the entire farm. He watched enormous changes and growth over the years. He was proud of what we have become. He felt he was a part of it all and indeed he was.

Viva lived with three mares for over 20 years. Two of them, Story and Harriett, both passed in the last few years. That left Viva and Belle as the last of the hilltop herd. Sadly, Belle now finds herself the sole survivor. Our hearts ache for Belle today as she said good-bye to her last companion, the pesky gelding who the mares constantly had to keep in line, but who was her friend and companion nonetheless.

Just after Viva was euthanized, Belle came close to pay her last respects. As she fully understood that he was gone, she suddenly spun around and looked up the hill to the pasture on the hilltop. Ears perked, nostrils flaring, and watching with wonder at something we couldn’t see. It was then that we realized, the ghost herd had come to pick him up. She knew they were there. She could feel them. Belle herself is not in good health. We will find a new buddy to join her on the hillside. We know it won’t be the same. And we also know that Viva and friends will be watching over her, and the entire farm that he helped create.

He told Dawn before he left, “Look, it’s gonna have to be up to you now to carry this forward. Don’t drop the ball now. My energy will still be here forever with you. But don’t mess this up.”  No pressure there. The dream will continue. The mission will move on. And the stubborn gelding that always from day one did things in his own way on his own time, will always be a part of the very heart of this mission.

Memorial – TLC

TLCToday, most unexpectedly, we lost one of our beloved horse friends. TLC was born here on the farm in 1991, before Spring Farm CARES was officially founded. We consider him one of our founding horses. It is always hard to say good-bye, but to have him with us for all of his 28 years was an honor. He watched SFC be birthed and he knew he was a part of that process.

TLC or “T” as he was most often called was not an easy horse. But he was a horse who taught us much and who was a favorite among many of his caretakers over the years. TLC spent his whole life with another gelding named Meloudee. They were born just a couple of weeks apart and spent their time playing as foals together and were stall neighbors and pasture mates their entire life. Meloudee has had many health problems and TLC always stuck by his side. Any time that TLC had any issues or concerns, Meloudee stood watch over him. They were half-brothers by breeding and best friends without question. The two of them lived in their own little world together. In the pasture they would go off together from the rest of the herd and do their own thing. They stayed out of trouble that way. But they also didn’t really connect with people all that much. They weren’t mean or nasty. But they had no particular interest in buddying up with people either.

In the past couple of years, both of them started allowing themselves to work more with their caretakers. And both of them became more connected and participated more with grooming and handling. As a result, they developed stronger and more meaningful relationships with their human friends. It was great to watch them grow and expand their worlds.

Our hearts go out to Meloudee today who lost his best friend and herd mate. We understand that no one can replace the love he had for TLC. As TLC took suddenly ill this morning, Meloudee stood in his stall with his head hanging over to his friend trying to let him know he was there. TLC had a twisted intestine and nothing more could be done for him. He was not a surgical candidate for many reasons.

TLC was not one for mushiness. He was generally more reserved and matter of fact. But he was also very grateful for his life here at SFC and for the love he received from his caretakers. And mostly, he would like to thank his friend Meloudee for all the years of friendship and companionship. He will run ahead now, but he will wait for his friend to one day join him and once again they will run off through the fields and do their own thing – together.

Rest easy T and thank you for all you taught us and shared with us over the years. You will forever be a part of the miracle of Spring Farm CARES.

Animal Memorial – Jake

We lost our beloved dog Jake on November 1st. We write memorials for our animals to share with you, not the sadness of our loss, but the celebration of their lives.

Today ended a nearly 14-year journey with a dog who was found at 8 months old sitting on our manure pile and who came into our lives and made a tremendous impact on so many people. Jake was a lab/chow mix with the most fantastic heart. I’m not going to go into all the reasons Jake ended up spending is life here with us.  Many people would have labeled him a “problem” dog. But to us, Jake was just a dog who had a problem. And it wasn’t really a “problem” to Jake. For good reason, Jake did not like men in uniforms of any kind and he would grab and bite them whenever he could. For that reason, he could not be adopted out. But for us, it just meant being vigilant to keep him away from men in uniforms. Because with everyone else, Jake was a most kind-hearted and loving soul.

To be loved by Jake was a gift. And there are many people out there in the world who received that gift. Jake was special to all of his caretakers, and, they were special to him. He loved unconditionally. He expressed his love freely. And he had that special knack of knowing when someone needed a little more of his love and support than the normal day’s worth. For those of us who were loved by Jake, our hearts are filled today with that love and the many memories we shared over the years, but our bodies are missing the ability to reach out and touch him.

In recent months, Jake’s health started to decline. We watched him start to fade and we all knew this day was drawing near. But Jake just kept on loving. He appreciated every effort by his caretakers to make his life more comfortable. Our hearts ached to watch him slow and have trouble walking. But the light in his eyes never dimmed. The love in his heart only grew stronger. And Jake walked all of us through the process of saying good-bye.

You see, that was Jake’s message in life. It was his lesson that he taught often. He taught us that one should never close their heart to loving someone even if it means it would hurt to say good-bye. He believed that love came for a reason and when it blessed your life, it was a gift that was to be opened and not stored away or pushed aside for fear that it would one day be gone. Because Jake understood that love indeed never is wrong. And that love never dies. He understood that when two hearts connect there is a powerful force that is formed, grows, and lives eternally. Jake spent 13 years teaching us that we really never needed to say good-bye at all. And he left us knowing that it was far better to have loved and lost him then to never have loved him at all. Thank you, Jake. You touched more hearts than you will ever know. And we shall miss you.