Beautiful Barney died today. It all happened so fast! One day he was healthy and playful, the next he was super sick. The vet diagnosed an immune disease (that I can’t remember the name of) and treated him for it, but said he was afraid he’d also developed cancer. The treatment helped for a few days and Barney was completely back to his old, playful self, but then they stopped helping at all. The vet came out today to put him down so he wouldn’t have to suffer anymore.
I spent an hour or so every day out with Barney after finding out that he was sick. Before that, there were days I missed because I got busy, but I didn’t want to lose any moments with him. Once he started the medication, he was about the same as before he got sick, so we were able to play and cuddle. Yesterday, though, it was like he knew he was going to die. He kept coming up to me and putting his head against my chest for cuddles. He nickered at me a couple of times and gave me several horse hugs (he would put his head behind my shoulder and pull me in with his neck).
Barney will definitely be missed around here. He was Isaiah’s favorite horse. Before he got sick, we’d been talking about how he’d be able to teach Isaiah to ride in the next year or so because he loved Isaiah, too. He was so gentle with Isaiah and seemed to understand when Isaiah was intimidated by his size. He’d drop his head to the ground, like he thought it would make him seem smaller. It seemed to work because Isaiah worked up the guts to pet him after that!
I spent a lot of time in the pasture with Barney. The other horses picked on him a lot, so he usually grazed in a different part of the pasture. That made it easy to spend time with him without interruptions. Barney was such a friendly horse. He seemed more like a cross between a puppy and a human than a horse sometimes! He would have happily followed Connie right into the house if she’d let him. He was absolutely spoiled and loved to follow people around in the yard.
I only got to ride Barney once before he got sick. I’ve never ridden a better horse! He paid attention to what I asked him to do and was so comfortable to ride. He was pretty picky about who got to ride him. If someone rode him that he didn’t like, he’d get into an awful mood for days and let Connie know how mad he was that she let someone else ride him. I’m so glad he liked me enough to let me ride him. We’ve been buddies since the day we met, so I’m not too surprised that he was happy to let me ride.
Before Connie got Barney, he was an international English style show horse. He’d been shown so much with no time to just relax and be a horse that he’d reached a point where he hated being in an arena at all. Since he obviously didn’t want to be a show horse anymore, Connie made it her goal to make sure he got as many chances to “just be a horse” as possible. She introduced him to the concept of trail riding and eventually managed to teach him that there was no such thing as perfection on the trails, so he might as well relax. He reached a point where he absolutely loved going out on trails because he was free to look around and enjoy his surroundings and his rider, instead of worrying about how he was performing. She taught him to do some basic team penning and took him to some relaxed “play days” events where he got to ride some fun Western style events. He really loved team penning once he figured out what he was supposed to do. Once it clicked, he was so proud of himself and just didn’t want to stop!
In between various fun riding events, Barney was a spoiled pet. He spent more time “mowing” Connie’s yard than he did in the pasture with the other horses. Any time she was outside, he was always close by, watching. He’d follow her around, looking for any chance to get a scratch or pet. When he heard her coming out of the house or pulling into the drive, he’d come running to see her and whinny.
As hard as it is to lose Barney just a couple years after meeting him, I’m so very glad that he ended up with Connie. In the time she had him, he was the happiest horse that ever lived. I watched him go from a stressed, over-shown horse to one that just loved living life. He was from good bloodlines and absolutely gorgeous and knew that full well. He was so very proud. Now, thanks to his years with Connie, he was also very, very happy. She and I both loved him so very much. I already miss his hugs, silly antics and cheerful greeting.