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Heaven for the Show Horse

As most of you know, I had to make the ultimate decision to put my show horse, turned broodmare, down this week due to kidney disease. I still don't quite have the words to sum it all up, but, oddly enough some words did come to me in the form of a poem. I used to write a lot of poetry, and I haven't for quite some time. In my last moments with Lady, I chose to braid and take off her tail myself. I pictured us standing in the Claresholm arena, which was where she showed her best, I pictured letting it down, before she was about to enter the arena to show. In those moments before the vet came, I kept thinking about what her heaven would look like, and I thought it would probably look like that arena gate, except the gate would swing open to a big lush pasture with a mare she could quietly boss around, maybe Chilli or Katie, and that I would stop by every day with grain, and an unlimited supply of cookies and so, from that, came this.

Photo Credit: Sandy Hansma

Where does the show horse go, when they leave us for the sky,

Do they go to a pen of deep dirt, where their joints no longer lie,

The cowiest ones, do they get an arena where they can stop and turn,

Where all the training is done, and they have nothing left to learn.

Is their back no longer sore, do their hocks no longer ache,

Is their rider right there in tuned with them, for once, - for goodness sake,

Is their time in the loping pen just the amount they need,

and after, do they get their perfect amount of grain and feed,

And for some, do they never have to show at all,

When autumn comes, can they instead enjoy the leaves of fall,

Can they lavish in a quiet turn out with no saddle, and no bit,

Can they be fat and sassy and hear no word of fit,

And perhaps for some heaven is a compromise,

They enter into an arena just the right shape and size,

And when the buzzer sounds they know their day is done,

They walk out to a lush green pasture, in the shining sun,

Do the stallions have a band of mares that never squeal or kick,

Do the broodmares have the strongest foals that are never weak nor sick,

Do the yearlings get to play and buck and get their daily grain,

Do the retired ones get a quiet stall with no more aches and pains,

Is heaven for the show horse a place with endless treat supply,

For there must be no colic in the lush green pastures of the sky,

Perhaps heaven for the show horse is the moment right before,

Before the arena gate swings open and and we ask them for just a little more,

It's when we put their boots on, and brush out their tails and manes,

It's when we pat them on their neck as we prepare to take the reins,

It's in the quiet moments, when everything stands still,

When we ask them for their heart, their try, their will,

It seems heaven for the show horse is different case by case,

But I have a feeling I know where each and every one will race,

Because when it comes time to meet their rider at the gate,

They will be there, every time, to stop and turn and wait.

Heaven may be many things but this I know is true,

Heaven is a place where they can have their rider too,

And so whether that's an arena, or a pasture, or a stall,

They will be right there waiting, they were our partner in this, after all.

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