Friday, March 6, 2009

Goodbye, sweet old girl.

I drove up to Millington today to have Silky put down by the vets I really trust. It was a 95 mile round trip, but it was worth it. I just didn't feel very confident about the new vet place.

The vet and tech both reassured me that I was doing the right thing. I've known them both for a couple of years (the tech a little better than the DVM) and I got hugs from both. The vet sedated Silky first, and she almost fell down then. I held her head and told her what a good girl she was. When he gave her the final shot she went straight down and didn't even twitch.

I was really worried that Champ was going to be super pissed when I came back with the trailer and without Silky. Fortunately, the BO was dropping off two round rolls as I came back, and Champ didn't even notice me. I know animals live in the now and don't have great memories and all that... but he was really attached to her.

So... In 2006, I finally talked my husband into letting me get A HORSE! Like everybody else who will ever read this blog, I had always wanted a horse. I figured it was something that would have to wait until I a) won the lottery or b) retired to the country - horses in the city have to be super expensive, right? But then I met a girl who worked in the coffeeshop next to our apartment building who had a horse in Frayser (the low-income suburb just north of downtown Memphis) and it turns out they're not nearly as expensive as I thought. I rode her horse a few times and discussed the issue* with my husband, and in '06 he gave me $2000 to buy and equip a horse.

*groveled shamelessly

I got Champ, the World's Best Horse, in exactly all the ways you're not supposed to get a horse. He came from an ad in the newspaper; I didn't bring an experienced friend with me; I didn't get a vet check; and I didn't know what the hell I was doing. He was, however, exactly as advertised: a very calm trail horse. I didn't even get screwed financially - I got him for $1500 with tack. I still think that's a steal for a horse of his temperament and training.

I rode EVERY DAY. We had a lot of ups and downs at the beginning - the rearing up and the almost backing into a semi on the highway, plus the stumblyness. But mainly we had A LOT OF FUN. So much fun that I rode Champ probably 55 days in the first two months I had him. I started to think that was too much, that I was wearing him out.

(Maybe I'm right and no horse should have to pack somebody out on 1-3 hr trail rides 6 days a week. Maybe I'm not right - people like Andrea and Stacey work their ONE horse 6 days a week to really good effect. I don't know!)

I kind of thought maybe I needed another horse to split the burden with Champ. I wasn't really interested in any other horse at my stable... except one. She lived in the same barn as Champ and she looked a lot like Champ and she always LOOKED at me. I swear to god she always gave me this "save me? please?" look. She was very thin, standing knee-deep in manure, with a 5 month old filly still nursing on her and eating her mane and tail out of boredom. I mentioned to somebody how I didn't really want another horse except maybe that Silky on the end and he told me she was for sale. I called her owner, That Fucking Jackass, about her, and he wanted $500 for her. I haggled (for the first time in my life!!) and got her down to $450. Four hundred fifty dollars for a very thin horse with manure matted in her fur, no Coggins, no halter, 5 inch long feet, and no mane or tail. And That Jackass had the nerve to ask for her ($20, heavy) shoes if I didn't want them!

Here she is, a couple days after I got her. The farrier hadn't come to pull her shoes yet, and I'd brushed the caked manure out of her fur.
Skinny and very wary

So I had not one but TWO horses for the bargain price of $1950! Isn't that cool!

Well, yeah, except that one of them was challenging. She was a bit freaked out about everything. My entire riding experience was limited to my friend's dead-broke QH and my own dead-broke TWH - tie saddle on, affix bridle, clamber on to horse, thump in ribs to go and pull to stop. Silky was my first taste of a "normal" horse. She wouldn't stand still. And she was about two inches taller than Champ, so I had to bounce around just to get my foot in the stirrup.

How not to do it, part one.
So your horse won't stand still for you to mount, huh? Well, there's a bunch of different things to try - from ground work to just asking a friend to hold her head every time you ride - but here's what not to do! Leave the halter on under the bridle. Leave the horse tied to the hitching post and climb on while she can't jig too far away, then lean waaaay forward and unclip the lead rope. Ride away triumphantly into the sunset!

Yes, I did this. I did this for about two months until she finally realized I wasn't a heavy-handed unbalanced clueless dude, and I wasn't going to spur her or yank on her mouth.

This post is getting pretty long, so I'll just promise more "how not to do it" excerpts tomorrow. She was a sweet horse and she taught me so much, without once trying to kill me. Here's a set of her pictures on Flickr, if you want to see them. :)


  1. Funder,
    You are one tough-as-nails lady. My thoughts are with you.

    Godspeed, Silky.

  2. Peaceful rest, Silky. You did the right thing, and I know how hard it can be. I love hearing stories.. it's a great tribute to a grande old dame.

  3. I've spent the past day pondering how to reply to this, but nothing seems proper.

    Thank you for the post, and farewell sweet Silky.

  4. Rest in peace, Silky. And live in peace, Funder. You did a good thing.

  5. Happy Trails, Silky. Go find Turbo, the bay QH, he'll lead the way for you. And Ana will be happy to romp through the fields with you, kicking up your heels.

  6. Thank you guys. She'll always have a special place in my heart, and I'll keep sharing funny stories to keep her memory alive.

    I think the next one in the mental queue is "How not to sink your horse, and what not to do next."

  7. Lovely Silky mare. She will be missed.
    I am glad that you will share some good timesyou two had with us too.
    Take heart

  8. Here is a secret-- I dont know anyone who has not pulled that stunt with the tie him til I am on him deal

    We are mostly still alive

    I am sorry I missed this about Silky. I know how hard it is

    Hang in there


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