Column: Hard-luck horse finds new life, purpose
I hate endings. I guess I am not alone. My mother just gave up her car keys and is grieving her independence. My grandson is just finishing middle school and pretty sad about it. My neighbor passed away. And my beautiful white Arabian horse, named Pegasus, is failing. It is like watching someone in slow motion falling off of a cliff. No action can save him. Time is the thief that robs us, never to give back, leaving us empty and wanting more. He is about 28 years old and has become alarmingly thin and likes to nap most of the day, standing with his head down in the corner of his stall. We feed him anything he wants, but he is not interested. He is tired.
Pegasus is one of the "comeback" stories that endeared him to everyone who knows him. He was a show Arabian horse and at one time had the distinction of actually being in the Rose Bowl Parade. Dressed in his finest saddle and headgear, he must have looked quite handsome prancing with a pretty girl on his back as he strutted for miles through the hoopla of the festivities.
Somehow, Pegasus got tangled up in a messy divorce, ended up being sold quite a few times until he was finally found in a sorry, stinking pen in the desert in California with a drunken owner who neglected and abused him. Standing in filth, flea-ridden and covered with flies, a soldier in the Air Force saw the pitiful animal and borrowed a trailer and bought him for twenty bucks and a bottle of whiskey and hauled him to his parents' house in Arizona. This soldier was a hero.
Unfortunately, the parents had two bossy mares who did not like the new white Arab, so they had to keep him away from the other horses for his own safety. Alone and isolated, the new owners did what many "parents" do for when their kids are unhappy. They fed him like there was not tomorrow. Giving him "free choice hay," it meant that Pegasus ballooned up to one fat, sad horse.
That's where fate came into play. My lovely old mare, Angel, had recently lost her stall-mate of 20 years to a sudden death from colic. Angel paced the pasture, refused to eat and wandered around looking for her longtime buddy, Tardy, who had happened to be a white Arabian. A friend told me that there was horse in Phoenix that "needs help" and a new home.
I was warned that Pegasus will not load into a trailer and will need to be medicated by a vet to haul him. He was beaten with a rubber hose and will never stand for being washed. He will "go ballistic" when the farrier comes to trim his hoofs because he was injured in the past. He will buck when ridden, rear when tied, kick when getting too close. I was told he was "damaged." Reluctantly, I went to meet him and saw something else.
The day we drove the trailer to get Pegasus (no vet required) we opened the back doors wide and I went over to him with a sprig of lavender (suppose to calm animals). No coaxing needed, he trotted right into the trailer and into his new life. Once home, he pranced around the pasture, in and out of the barn and then took notice of the beautiful brown horse, Angel, who was to be his stall-mate. Of course, Angel was fickle and ignored Pegasus. For three days she acted as if he did not exist. She would not look at him, go near him or acknowledge him in any way. I was heartbroken.
On the fourth night I asked Angel to give Pegasus a chance. He was running out of options. Down on his luck. Confused and lonely. In need of a friend. I prayed that night for a miracle. The next morning I woke up to see two horses nuzzling in the arena. And a love was born. Something had happened and from that moment on they were inseparable.
Eventually, Angel began to falter. She was nearing 30, had cataracts and then got a terrible eye infection that would not heal. She had to have her left eye removed. She was blind. The day she came home from the Equine Hospital, Pegasus was waiting for her. When she got off the trailer, he ran to her and placed his nose all over her face and eyes. He guided her with her head placed at his shoulder, back to her stall. He led her out to the pasture and walked with her until she would venture out alone, never far from him. Angel passed one summer day with Pegasus ay her side.
It has been said that there are two defining things that shape our character. One is the patience we have when we have nothing and the other is the attitude we exhibit when we have everything. Pegasus exemplified this. He went from a show-horse to a neglected and sickly beast. He was saved. It didn't work out. He ran to a new life, going past his fears and hesitation. Pegasus never gave up. He freely gave love. He led his partner through darkness. Best of all, he was able to put all "bad things" behind and start fresh. He never bucked, reared or kicked.
Some folks might say that Pegasus's finest moment was when he was strutting in full regalia in the Rose Bowl Parade. I'd say it was when he led an old mare out of despair and darkness through the last year of her life.
My niece says that, "Pegasus's time is a comin'." Maybe it's not an ending, just a different trail.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.