She was tough, every way. Challenging. A little crazy. Amazingly strong. Generous and effort-full.
Goodbye to Betsy, our dear Belgian Draft Mare, who died at 4am on Thursday, January 15, 2015.
What does it mean that we’ve lost this friend and fellow worker? RE: the functionality of the farm, and friendship and love and shared teaching, and hard pulling in hot weather. I try to be organized about these things- when should we look for a new horse, since Randy is also aging suddenly and too fast? Can we afford a new horse? What type and how old? How will we fit a younger horse into our older herd?These first days are dominated by a hollow feeling that has nothing to do with plowing potential. Betsy was the greatest challenge to work with, and gave the most amazing rewards. She had a layer of crazy that was deep at first. She came middle aged with some bad habits- wouldn’t lift her feet, wouldn’t allow us to catch her. Once I spent an hour chasing her in circles just to go in from the nights’ grazing. And then, over time and always during hard work, there was the rest of her. The rest was a deep, abiding, amazing core of endless willingness and effort, of super smarts and of strength. She was serious about dominance, and would take it unless told otherwise, which made me get straight with my own intentions. Betsy was one of our first two horses, with her partner Randy, and helped us start this farm and aim it in the direction we’re still traveling. We were beginners, and she helped us see our way through. I miss her sass, I miss her focus and I just… miss her.
Why do I share this in our newsletter and blog? I debated it- it is very personal and raw, but it is also insight into our farm and our relationship with our animals. For those of you who’ve had a wagon ride or petted a horse here, you’ll know that Betsy wasn’t the public horse. But you might also remember that even as I was saying “she doesn’t like people too much” and we were all petting Leo, or Pet, sometimes Betsy would sidle up and nose about for some attention. I believe she loosened up here, recovered from some of the stresses of her previous life elsewhere, and ended well. I hope I did everything I could do during the two days when she and I fought together, and I believe our vet that we did. She was the ultimate stoic, and toughed it out longer than any of us predicted. I am glad I had a friend who challenged me, pushed me and ultimately allowed me to care for her later years and at the end. This feels and likely seems anthropomorphic but again, as insight into this place, Betsy as a friend, teacher and fellow worked is apt description.