"In Loving Memory of Arthur"
|Departed February 23, 2000|
"Your life was of the order true
On April 1, 1994, I moved into my first rental house on a nice horse property. At the same time I was volunteering with Equus Sanctuary. The following Friday, Linda and I drove to the then, rather small sanctuary location, and brought home the bay gelding I had become attached to. I still remember handwalking him up the driveway -- tail flagged and highstepping. His name was Arthur. His story is on the website and appeared in last year's Arabian Horse World Magazine (February 1999), plus many of you who have been AHRN supporters for the last few years have often heard him mentioned in my emails to you.
I lived on that property for two years. The front part of the land was leased to a boarding facility next door. There was a line of pipe stalls and an arena. Part of the agreement was that we, as the renters of the house, could use the arena. When that agreement changed and the large fenced in arena was removed -- and now I no longer had a place to turn out Arthur -- I moved. By then I had already started saying, "what Arthur wants or needs, Arthur gets."
Many things I have done in the past six years, whether conscious or not, were done with Arthur in mind. He owned my heart, and he knew it. A friend of mine who isn't horsey-inclined said to me the other day when talking about Arthur's passing, "He knew he was special."
In the 2.5 years of the AHRN we had one major rule to the horses that came through here -- "Arthur can do anything he wants. You hurt Arthur and you are out of here!"
Arthuer LOVED the girls -- there wasn't a mare or filly he couldn't schmooze!! I had seen him, more than once, cajole the witchiest of mares into sharing her dinner. But I do remember the day he saw his first draft mare -- he hid behind his pal who was in the turn out with him. It was hysterical! She was a bit too big for Mr. Suave.
I really don't think there was a day that I didn't put my arms around his neck and say, "When was the last time I told you how much I loved you?, or "Do you know how much I love you?" I am glad now that I did.
I could do ANYTHING to him. Once he had a disgusting injury in the corner of his mouth from getting it hooked on chainlink fence. It was during the summer so the flies were just brutal and making him miserable and not allowing the huge bloody mass to heal. The vet was frustrated because we couldn't wrap it, but I took a polo wrap and proceeded to wrap Arthur's entire head with it. He stood there quietly. (No, I didn't leave it on).
Then there was the game, "Hook the Towel on Arthur's Ears" -- went like this: You stood 3-5 feet away from Arthur and tossed an open towel toward his head in an attempt to catch it on his ears. Again he stood there enjoying the game or humoring me, I am not sure which.
Another game was, "Arthur the Cutting Horse." I would go in his stall with a carrot, show it to him but not give it to him. I would crouch down and move from side to side. He would flatten his ears and as I tried to get past him, he would back me up in to the corner as if he was about to 'attack'. So I stood straight and handed him the carrot. He always won that game.
I used to love to take him on hikes on the trail -- he was no longer rideable. In the last year it was hard to do it because where I live now is a bit hilly, and coming downhill had become too difficult on that front arthritic leg. But taking him on walks set him back 10 years ... head up, tail flagged, alert, and beautiful.
I think his favorite time was when he was out of his stall just walking around the property while I worked. It was my favorite time too. He would either go to the hay and munch, or graze if there was grass, or schmooze with the mares. When it was time to go back to his stall I could grab a handful of mane and he would follow. Once in a while he thought it would be more fun NOT to be caught, so we played that game too. However, sometimes he got carried away and I would, in a harsh stern voice, say, " OK THE GAME IS OVER!!!" And he would freeze, knowing he had pushed mom just a little too far.
Then there is Arthur the twirling fool ... anything loose -- lead ropes, towels, blankets, or my shirt sleeve with my arm in it -- was subject to being taken in Arthur's mouth and twirled. When it got tangled going one way-he stopped and got it to go the opposite direction.
One time Lydia Hibby (animal communicator), came to the place we lived (guest house at a boarding facility), and Arthur told her that Merlin was lazy and had gotten by all his life on his looks. That he loved me because I was the first person who understood his personality and humor. But more importantly, he told her he knew I was the person who he would spend the rest of his life with. He knew he was 'home'.
Sometime after that another animal communicator was on the property. She said she felt a really strong attraction to Merlin and could she go 'talk' to him? I said "Sure, but watch out for the other one. They were right next to each other. As she walked toward them she started to laugh. "Arthur wants to know who the old bag is coming toward him."
Of the horses at my place at any given time, Arthur was always the one little girls were drawn to, and Arthur turned to mush for them as well. The smallest hand with the smallest piece of carrot was safe with Arthur. I have photos of three little girls grooming him -- one standing on a chair at his side, another at his back end and another on the other side with Arthur soaking it up like a sponge.
When I lived at the boarding facility once a week a handful of adults from a special school in the area came by. They suffered from varying degrees of brain injury or retardation. I don't suppose it would surprise you to know that the one horse on the property that they could go get out of his stall, tie to the tree and groom safely was Arthur.
He changed my life the day he arrived in it -- February 12, 1994, which was shown on Hard Copy!! For six years he was the joy of my life -- seeing him made me smile. But it was not just me -- a lot of people met Arthur and just knew there was something about him.
Learning of the plight of the Arthur's of the world is what got me started on my journey of helping other horses. He truly was my inspiration. So much of what I did in my personal life these past six years was the result of what Arthur needed, or what he inspired in me. Before him I wouldn't have one of those Arabians!!!!
In the past year, I have looked at some other things in my life and have seen circles come to completion. The loss of my sweet Arthur is no exception. I thought the work of these past 2.5 years was about helping other horses find homes, and surely it was. But in the final focus I see that it really was, not surprisingly, about Arthur. He started me on this path -- he accompanied me on it -- and in the last days of his life, my work, and the supporters of this project were integral in what Arthur needed. As Trish and I stood while I had to make a decision about his life, and an expensive propostion at that, Trish said, "Roseann, there are a lot of people out there who would help him." I had to believe her -- and thus decided to go with the surgery.
So in the end the AHRN was all along about Arthur -- why am I not surprised?
He made it through the surgery. A lipoma (fatty cyst about the size of a golf ball), had blocked his small intestine. It was removed along with 18 feet of intestine. The next day when Trish and I went to see him, he looked good. Standing in a stall with an IV bag, but alert, mobile, and calling out to the mare outside (always a good sign). But that same night, a severe rectal tear occurred and a colostomy performed.
In the morning, the prognosis was not good. Toxins and waste had drained into the abdomen. Should he survive the infections of that, there was still the waiting game of his body going back to working on its own as far as the intestines. There was the possibility of adhesions in the two areas where the intestine had been cut and resectioned, there was a possibility of founder, pneumonia, AND another surgery to undo the colostomy. At 30 something Arthur was quite healthy, but this was a lot to ask and he was given a 40% chance of survival.
I drove to the clinic with Rochelle (LP Fury's mom), and when I walked in the stall he was laying down. He lifted his head to meet me and I knew what I had to do. He was hurting, suffering, and exhausted. I had always told him there was nothing I wouldn't do for him, and at that moment that promise was given the ultimate test. In six years, Arthur had never failed me and I had never failed him -- so the decision was made.
I sat on the floor by his head leaning on his soft warm chest. Rochelle walked in and burst into tears -- validating my decision. I stroked his head, "Ok, I understand." The first two syringes were connected to the tube already in his neck, "You can go Arthur. It's ok. Pick up a canter and go. I have loved you with all my heart, and I will miss you for the rest of my life, but I will not ask anything more of you than I know you can give me. Go."
The tranqs he was on must have slowed down everything, and still he lingered breathing softly. There is a line from a Springsteen song that I have always found powerful (especially in context of the song but), it is about things ineffable -- I leaned forward and sang, "And the poets down here don't write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be."
It seemed like a long long time that I sat there with my dearest friend, the horse I should have had when I was a little girl, my clown, my companion -- the source of much joy in my life, and talked him through his passage, "Pick up a canter and go toward to light. It's okay Arthur."
He took one last sigh of a breath and was gone.
The AHRN pulled and placed near 100 Arabian horses. Their plight and our work for them was the catalyst for 3 other rescues that I know of. It opened the eyes of breeders and owners, and got many to rethink their breeding practices. We made some amazing matches of horses and and new loving owners.
I didn't realize how many people KNEW Arthur was the inspiration behind this -- and how my stories of him touched you, too. The notes and letters have been astonishing. I feel like a character in a book about a girl and her horse and everyone was 'reading' as we lived it. One lady wrote, "Arthur was loved by many, but cherished by one, Roseann." He deserved no less.
Arthur died exactly one month to the date that I sent out my letter to you about closing the doors. Coincidence? I think not. I see now that all I have done these past years because of that bay gelding came back to him -- somehow it all makes sense to me now. And for me, because I loved him so much, it is as it should be because 'what Arthur needs, Arthur gets'. So true, even when I didn't know that was what I was doing. But your willingness to help me with the astronomical costs of his care showed that it was always about him.
I miss him terribly. Merlin looks odd by himself, and misses him too. The few horses we have that need to be placed will be done mostly through Trish and Cindy. I need to relax, to grieve, and figure out how to live life without my sweet, silly Arthur.
I am eternally grateful for your support, kind words and monetary, to pay the surgery costs. It all makes sense now.
With much love,
|Arabian Horse Rescue Network
P.O. Box 4603
Sunland, CA 91041-4603
Web page design by Robert Herman and Diana Patterson.