Wednesday, November 18, 2009

That Ole Yellow Horse

That Ole Yellow Horse
A Tribute To
This Beaus Eligible

There are times in our lives when we just put all reason aside and do what our heart tells us is the right thing to do. Many, many years ago when we were young and impulsive, we happened across a horse tied to the bumper of a pick up truck with a big logging chain around his hind leg. His coat was faded, his leg infected, his body, frail and his spirit seemed broken and we brought him home. All we knew about the horse at the time was that he was a stallion, he was a Palomino and he was in desperate need of attention or he was most likely going to die. What we didn’t know was that he would change the course of our lives forever.

Today is my birthday and as I sit here at my computer early this morning, I can’t think of a more fitting way to start my day than by telling you the story of This Beaus Eligible or Beau as he became known as to so many people. You see, Beau is not just any horse, he is the heart of this family, the center of how we raised our children, the glue of what has kept Bear and I married for the last thirty years. He is the horse version of those people you meet that have “it”, that indescribable something special that just makes them stand out and draws you to them. He is the subject and inspiration of not one but two of my books and although there is a chapter in The Horses We Love, The Lessons We Learn that tells the story of how we met Beau, it is not the whole story and certainly not the story from the very different perspective that I have this morning.

Beau was so sick that October day when we brought him to live here with us that we thought he was only going to be with us a short time. We had no idea looking back that he would survive the winter much less grace our lives for fourteen years. Beau is almost 20 years old. I remember his first day with us as though it was yesterday and today, I feel his last day as though my heart will break into a million pieces and I will never survive this day. You see, Beau has been diagnosed with cancer, a malignant tumor which has the high probability that it has gone to his lungs as well as his glands. It is a high grade malignancy with necrosis, hemorrhage and inflammation, which is what the pathologist found. The vet palpated him and found that it has spread to his glands as well. What we have found is that the tumor has doubled in size in less than a week, it is causing him pain and the light in his beautiful eyes is fading. He picks at his food here and there and when I go into his paddock, he gently lays his forehead against my chest as if to say “I’m tired and it hurts”.

As I said, there are times in our lives when we put all reason aside and do what our heart tells us is the right thing to do and after careful consideration, our hearts tell us that this horse has lived his life with dignity and grace and if we truly love him, we have to find the grace to let him go before the cancer continues to eat away at him, remove piece after piece of him until there is nothing left and possibly give us another month or even a year with him but we would be doing that for us, not him. We know winter is coming and they are tough on him and we know that cancer grows and spreads. Today is about doing what our hearts tell us is best for him and today is about honoring his life.

Our Beau has brought so much joy to so many peoples lives. Through his presence, the babies he has produced, the accomplishments that he has to his credit, the memories of Christmas morning going out to feed him while everyone anxiously waited to open presents, his curiosity as we brought one of his new born foals out to introduce him to his new son or daughter, hauling him 17 hours to Oklahoma to place at the World Show, laughing as the tornado sirens sounded while we were collecting him one spring day and rushing in the pouring rain to put him away before the hail started, side passing him down the rail of the front arena as he moved with grace and speed. The stupid man who cracked a bullwhip in his face while I rode him in a demo at the North American Horse Spectacular and the way Beau didn’t even flinch when it happened. His first Grand Champion ribbon, the way he would entertain me in a class tipping his head from side to side and flexing the muscles in his beautiful neck for an approaching judge if I tapped him gently with the lead rope. I walked out to say goodbye to him and tapped him as I had done so many times before and tipped my head to the side and he still remembered.

The first time he mounted the phantom mare for breeding and got so excited that he passed out and we thought he was dead. The way he lines up at the fence to be sprayed with fly spray and actually turns around when I ask him so I can spray the other side. All the friends we have met through our travels, the fact that he is listed in the very first stud book of the National Foundation Quarter Horse Association, greeting people at various equine events and our favorite little corner of the state fairgrounds during Equine Affaire. The way he would stand and tolerate the little barn cat that used to crawl up on his back and sharpen her nails on his wither. The way he smells. OH my God! He smells like I would imagine heaven to smell and the way he shines like no other horse I have ever met. Riding Beau was something that we kept for ourselves and to date, no one has ever ridden him except for us. That horse has moves that literally take our breath away. The way he would stand on his hind legs to look over the concrete wall between his stall and the one next to him just once, to see who his neighbor was. The way he stood quietly while I hugged him and cried during the time that Bear was so sick and having his second open heart surgery. The way he seems to listen when Garrett, our grandson talks to him, he loves children and he loves other animals. Having him in our lives has been like having a buried treasure in your back yard that no one knows is there and now the thought of actually burying him is more than I can comprehend.

He is the subject of two horse books, various magazine articles, is triple registered and when breeding mares, is always a gentleman. He actually poses for photos when he sees a camera and will stand quietly for hours while we bathe and clip and brush him and ya know, I think he actually enjoys it. He has been a huge part of this family through births and weddings and illnesses and deaths and everything in between. Yes, Beau is more than just that ole yellow horse, he is a celebrity in his own right and our lives are blessed to have known him and love him the way we do.

Our hearts are broken and as the sun rises on his very last day, it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our beautiful ole yellow horse who has left his mark on this world in a big way. This family is still together through all the tough times in part because of his love and the lessons he has taught all of us. As I look out my window and see him standing off in a corner with his head hung low, I don’t doubt that it is the right decision but I must admit that it is going to hurt so badly to look out my bedroom window as I have done for 14 years and not see him there at the fence calling for us to get our asses out of bed and come out and play. I wonder if all his babies, some now grown horses themselves, aren’t feeling the pain that is in our hearts today as we say goodbye to this awesome creature.

God speed Beau, you ole yellow horse, to greener pastures full of mares and free of pain. You leave the way you live… with dignity and grace. We love you.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Beautifully written Tena. I am sitting here bawling.

It has been almost a year since I lost my precious Lucky and I still hurt when I look at her picture or go out to the barn. It took me 8 months to clean out the stall where she took her last breaths.

I hurt for you my friend.