Truly came into my life on my birthday two years ago, and what a present she was! She had been shipped from Michigan courtesy of her co-rescuers, Doris Bennett and Barb Deale. Doris had contacted me asking if I was interested in a mare with APHA halter points that was sound to breed only. One look at Truly's pedigree and I jumped at the chance! Her sire is the sire of Magnificent Heir, the APHA stallion whose get have been sweeping up awards at APHA World year after year. Truly's fully brother is an APHA Champion. Truly herself received her ROM in youth halter and totalled 40 APHA halter between Open, Amateur, and Youth. She was even used as a youth lesson horse before her injury left her too crippled to hold any additional weight.
Since I got Truly so late in the year, the anticipation to be able to cross her with Eddie in the spring made the winter seem even longer than usual. Truly shared a roundbale all winter long with Sunny, a gorgeous 16H palomino mare I had rescued earlier that year. They became good friends and because both had soundness issues, were always kept together, even when we tried to see if Truly could make it out on pasture ok. She just couldn't keep her weight up out there, so we brought her home and she kept the babies company.
Truly was bred in the spring and then my divorce occured, and with it an opportunity to move down to Texas. I couldn't bring everyone with me, so I advertized to lease out a few, and Sheri Hagen (World Champion producer) contacted me asking to lease Truly and Mercedes, I jumped at the chance. I knew Truly and Mercedes would get everything they wanted while at Sheri's and they did. She foaled them out and then decided that she wanted to ease her workload to do other things, she asked if it was ok to send the girls and their foals to some trusted people not too far from her. Trusting her judgement I agreed.
I met Sandra Layton and her mother under stressful circumstances. Mercedes is always a bottom-rung mare in a herd, but for some reason she knows she can pick on Truly and takes advantage of it, something that Sandra was not aware of (neither was I--I had never known Mercedes to not get along with any horse). Merc ran Truly through the side of their barn their first night there (and in her defense, that night they had two tornados touch down very close by) and Truly cut up her good leg badly. Even though Sandra treated the wound Truly got a full body infection. Sandra called me and I went down to Joplin, thinking the worst. When I got there I found a very sick, but very strong horse so I switched her antibiotics, took off her shoes and thankfully the next day she completely turned around. We were so relieved, and Truly was a trooper through the whole ordeal.
All summer long Truly enjoyed being a momma (she loved her filly so much) and got to share a pasture with her 33 year old friend--a gelding that the Laytons have had since he was 10. Unfortunately he had a stroke last week and had to be euthanized.
She got the very best of care, the best pasture and the best shelter. I tried to make plans to keep her safe as the Laytons don't breed horses, so there really wasn't any use for her there. My friend Darlene kindly offered to be a back-up home for Truly, so we could keep her "in the family" and I could know she was safe until I could get a place where I could keep her (this was before I found my place). The Laytons were so kind to keep her up so well during her stay.
I was going through pictures of when I first got her and it really hit me how much worse that leg had gotten since then. I called Sandra and she said they had put Mercedes in with Truly because Merc was being picked on in the other pasture, and somehow Truly got hurt again--they couldn't say it was Mercedes but they did seperate them and let Truly be by herself. Whatever had happened, Truly's tail wasn't working anymore. Her walking was more labored and she had became sunken in on her back end. It wasn't good news.
The day I made the call to Sandra I already knew what the answer was, but felt I needed to have the talk. After speaking to her about Truly there was no doubt what the right thing was to do.
I drove down yesterday, the second time driving down there worrying over Truly, but this time I knew what the outcome would be. I arrived a bit early and as soon as I saw Truly I was even more certain that I was there for the right reasons. Her body was already shutting down. She had acres of pasture to herself, all the hay she could eat and she was getting grained twice a day, but her topline was pulled down some and even the hollows above her eyes were caved in like a 30 year old horse, not the 13 year old mare that she was.
I tried to spend some time with her but she was in so much pain her personality had changed. She didn't enjoy being scratched. She looked away when I walked up to her. She would grind her teeth as I brushed her. She was in so much pain. So I left her alone to do what she wished. She hobbled out to the best spot in the pasture and ate the most tender blades of grass she could find. I watched her from afar, to give her peace and to admire her. Even in her condition she was still so beautiful. I took the picture above, not to remember such a sad day, but to remember what a beautiful mare she was.
The vet said "it's your mare's turn," trying to make the words sound as sympathetic as possible. I grabbed a halter and put it on Truly--she was back in her barn by now. I gave her a hug and turned her to walk out the door. She stopped and looked beside her at the mini--her next door buddy, as if she knew what was going on and wanted to say goodbye. I let her take her time walking to the spot in her pasture, next to where her old buddy was buried, and gave her a few last pats. Sandra's mom held her for me and an audience of horses gathered at the fenceline. Sandra moved over by me, seeming to sense how weak my legs felt. The vet put in the catheter and adminstered the shot and Truly fell gracefully back, Sandra's mom easing her head to the ground. I was so thankful that she went so peacefully. Truly took her last breathe, closed her eyes and all the horses around the farm let out a whinny. I guess they knew she was special, too.
Sunny passed away earlier this year, along with my old gray mare Larry (Paula and Ringo's dam). I'd like to think all of them are together now, without any pain, along with Truly's old appy gelding friend. Below is a picture of Sunny, Larry, and Truly all eating (what they did best :) It makes it easy to imagine they are all together again in a better place....