My Friend and Servant
One of the hardest and saddest things I've ever experienced, but a duty I had to perform on Monday, January 27, 2014.
For a couple of years now my old friend and servant, Samson, has gone from not being safe to ride any longer to being very crippled. Except for the neural degeneration in his spine, which made it very hard for him to stand still or move around without staggering, he seemed healthy and happy and with a great appetite, so it was my plan to keep him in retirement as long as he was able to enjoy life. Except that it was difficult for him to be steady on his feet, he seemed to be happy and not in obvious pain.
This went on for a couple years, but within the last couple of months his condition got worse and worse and it was pitiful watching him try to find a comfortable way to stand and pitiful watching him staggering around his corral. Lisa who owns the stable and who is a wonderful gal, recently reminded me that it was time to do something with old Samson. Last week I knew that the end was near, so I tried to walk Samson around the property one last time, but I was shocked to find that we nearly didn't make it back to the corral after we'd been out a while. I knew for sure that now the time had come.
I couldn't stand thought of Samson, penned in his corral, being injected with a drug, suffocating as his nervous system was paralyzed and then winched onto a trailer only to be thrown in a pile at some dump. For Samson I wanted a more honorable end at some place where we both had enjoyed the time of our lives. Thanks to my friend Jeff's generosity, I had the opportunity to take Samson to a beautiful part of Jeff's ranch that Samson knew well. Out there he could be where a horse belongs and he could swiftly die like the heroic trooper horse that he was. He could die instantly by a powerful bullet shot by somebody who loved him and who would not wish him to go any other way or by any other hand. I just could not let a third party, who had no feeling for Samson, do the thing that was my duty and responsibility to do.
When I pulled up my trailer to his corral, I was relieved and grateful that he was able to get in without much trouble and when I locked him in, he seemed to be very content (and pleased with his carrots). I slowly and carefully drove Samson out to the ranch and out to the back country we loved so much. When we got to an oak woodland on Jeff's place, I was again very grateful that Samson exited the trailer as he had done hundreds of times before, front feet first and hopping to the ground. Samson was eager and happy to be out there and I know this because he forgot how crippled he was and nearly pulled the lead rope out of my hand as he trotted ahead of me in his eagerness to get up to the oak trees. The old horse was full of energy as if he expected to hear the horn and gallop after the hounds one last time. Once we got to a tall tree with a clearing underneath, I tied him so he could get to his carrots on the ground and while he was eating them and enjoying being out in Nature, he died as only those who are blessed by the gods die, instantly, without struggling for the life he could no longer have and without suffering. We both loved the open spaces as our "Cathedral of Nature" and although I initially wanted to bury Samson deep in the ground, I finally realized that a swift return to Nature would be best and most in keeping with the Natural Order. We living creatures are made of star dust and to dust we must return.
When Samson was dead and he was lying there so quietly, I am not ashamed to say that I was suddenly overtaken by a powerful emotion and I wept. I touched him and closed his eyes and wept. It's been only a few times that I wept so hard and so long as I wept for Samson. So many memories of our life together flooded my mind. He served me so very well and for such a long, long time. He took me to the most wonderful places in the world and showed me the time of my life. He was my badge and my invitation to the most wonderful adventures I've ever had and he enabled me to meet the most wonderful people, people I never would have known otherwise. Without him my life would not have been enriched as it was, I needed his huge strength to accomplish the things I am most glad of and he gave me his strength willingly. As he lay there and through my grief, I felt strangely proud of him and glad (and maybe a little envious) that he met his end with such dignity.
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