Tetley   Leave a comment

Yesterday morning Mum’s old Shire horse, Tetley, had to be put down.

When she arrived at the field he was down, and couldn’t get up. He just didn’t have the strength in his legs to stand, and one of them didn’t seem to be working properly. The vet was called, and they tried to help him, but shifting something the weight of a Shire horse is not an easy job. Even if they’d succeeded in getting him back up, it would have happened again soon enough – and you don’t want to leave a horse lying helpless in a field. Fortunately he wasn’t in any other distress, and was fed a lot of polo-mints and horse treats.

Mum got him a bit over twenty years ago when somebody she knew pulled him, half-starved, off a meat wagon. He was probably between two and four years old at the time; when Mum talked to The Shire Horse Centre they said the oldest shire they’d had was twenty-five, so he didn’t have a bad innings. This was despite having a fairly major colic operation some years ago, probably because somebody fed him a crab-apple. You should never feed other people’s horses; considering the number of things they can have go wrong with them it’s astounding the animals survive in the wild, and even innocuous-seeming things can cause a world of pain and suffering for the horse, and massive expense for the owner (or the animal’s death, if the owner can’t or won’t pay for treatment, which can easily be thousands of pounds). So don’t.

Other than that he had a happy life with his friends, generally being a big, soppy, friendly dobbin. Big horses usually are gentle and friendly. I suppose it’s amusing when a pony the size of a large dog is an evil, spiteful little sod, but when a horse is six feet at the shoulder, weighs a good half a ton, and has hooves eight inches across, it is more likely to be fatal than funny.

I feel sorry for my mother, though. The horses have been pretty much her life for over twenty years, and she’s done most of the caring for both her and my sister’s horses. Unfortunately, my sister’s lost interest, has little time – working twelve-hour shifts – to spend on them, and has been advised against riding since falling off her youngest horse. So she wants rid of hers (or at least for somebody else to do all the riding and paying) to save money.

Mum generally went out for quiet rides with one of her friends on two of the horses, leaving Tetley and Wilf together in the field. Unfortunately that’s not possible for the time being; you can’t leave a horse by itself, especially one that would certainly try – and probably succeed – to jump the gate and follow you, and my sister’s not keen to allow others on Wilf, for some reason.

So I don’t know what will become of that. All Mum wants to do is look after her horses and go for quiet rides around the village. My sister didn’t really want to be bothered any more, even before her recent accident. The pair of them don’t get on, so any sort of civil solution to the problem is unlikely (it doesn’t help that my mother can’t really understand others’ point of view). I don’t have the time, money, inclination or car required to look after a horse properly, so aside from being the very occasional heavy-lifter or weekend-rider there’s not much I can do. I hope Mum can sort something out with her riding friend; it would be terribly sad to see what is effectively my mother’s reason for living fall apart, and I don’t know what she’d do without it.

So it goes.


Posted 22 July 2011 by Colthor in Diary

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