Some horses connect with each other on a level that goes far beyond pasture mates. Some seem to hit it off from the start and never look back. Two senior mares gave me a heartwarming, yet heart wrenching, firsthand look at just how deep some equine bonds seem to run.
There's no other way to describe it: Shasta (a little POA mare) and Brandy (a small Morgan mare, not to be confused with my Mini horse Brandy) were best friends. Where ever Shasta went, Brandy followed. And whatever Brandy did, Shasta followed suit. It was like they were in a continuous game of Monkey See, Monkey Do. They were just inseparable.
Brandy and Shasta gave me a heartwarming, yet heart wrenching, first-hand look at just how deep some equine bonds seem to run.
Although I'm not sure of their exact ages, both mares were well into their 20s, likely approaching 30, and for their ages they were in good shape. They were sound and maintained good weights, and both were still able to comfortably carry small children. We used both for lessons—ones comprosed of 98% walking with the occasional jog down the long side of the arena—and both were fabulous for helping timid children gain confidence on the back of a horse.
Eventually, though, it was clear that both old ladies were quickly approaching their well-deserved retirement. Brandy started having narcoleptic-like episodes, in which she'd drop to her knees—sometimes even all the way down—inexplicably. And Shasta started looking less enthusiastic during lessons, trudging slowly around the arena. The management decided it was in both mares' best interests to usher them into retirement.
Fortunately, both mares already had retirement homes lined up. Shasta would go live with a former farm employee and act as the occasional mount for her young sister. Brandy would go live with my good friend Meghan, another former farm employee, and her other horse Buddy at a local boarding stable. The mares left the farm a few days apart for their new lives.
By this time, I had moved on from the farm and received all my updates from Meghan. She said Brandy had settled into her new live really well and, although she seemed to miss Shasta, she'd become good friends with Buddy. She also told me Shasta had settled into her new routine and was enjoying her big green pastures.
A few months later, however, Meghan called me in tears: The boarding farm staff had found Brandy dead in her pasture earlier that morning. It was a hot summer day in Michigan, Meghan said, and she suspected the high temperatures might have played a role in Brandy's sudden death. Understandably, she was devastated.
Here's the weird/eerie part: A week later, I received another call from Meghan: Shasta had died. No one could figure out why the little mare passed—she apparently seemed fine in the days prior and had adjusted well to her retirement. I was sad to hear that, just like that, two of my best lesson horses and kindest ponies I'd ever dealt with were gone.
Then, Meghan said something that I couldn't argue with: The girls had to go together. Yes, I'm anthropomorphizing
a little a lot, but when two old soul mates died within days of each other, I couldn't help but agree. Meghan actually said the thought made her feel a little less distraught over Brandy's death, knowing she was back where she belonged with Shasta in horsey heaven. Sometimes you can't argue with that.
Have you had a similar experience, or a horse with a lifelong connection to another animal? I'd love to hear your experiences.