We wanted to share with you that Frederick, our horse, passed away. Many of you knew of him since we love sharing about all of the residents here. It’s not exactly positive news, but we ask you to try and not be sad- at least not for him. When we arrived at the property, Frederick was anxious and untrusting. His old owners used him one last time, to round up the cows, and they had to lasso him. He literally tried running through and over people. He had sores from an improperly fitted saddle and scars in different places. He didn’t want to be touched; he simply wanted to be left alone- so initially we gave him space.
Slowly he started coming around, showing interest in the two new humans on the property. We tried numerous different horse treats to help build a relationship, but he didn’t like any of the usual goodies. One afternoon, I jokingly offered him a pringle, and it was the first snack he took from us. It was then I realized he was my boy (I have salt issues), and things progressed from there. Frederick would hang out, outside of the porch, waiting for a snack (we shifted to senior horse pellets), and huff when he saw us in anticipation of something good. It will always be one of our favorite noises. He started allowing us to touch him and began to realize we had no intention of harming him. We let his mane grow out, and he seemed very proud of his long hair-he carried himself with a new confidence. He went from an unsure, reclusive horse to the big man on campus, who wanted to make sure everyone saw how fantastic he was.
His trust in us grew, and he began to allow us to brush him, to tend to his old sores, and to pick burrs out of his beautiful mane-something he learned to enjoy. We would often do it at the end of the day, and Frederick would fall asleep, bottom lip loosening and becoming jiggly, as we used our fingers to comb and pick through his hair while the sun went down. It was a sweet time for all of us. His mango eating technique was slightly atrocious- he wouldn’t eat the pits, just chew on the mango as juice and bits poured out of his mouth while he made lip-smacking noises. But it clearly brought him joy and made us laugh many an evening when we would go on walks with the dogs.
Frederick owned the property. He knew it better than the both of us, acted as if he was the mayor, but would still come to the house every morning for sunrises and breakfast with Scott. We often saw him throughout the day, especially once the African barn started being built. Once again, he thought he owned the place. But Frederick was an old man. By his owner’s account, he was at least 25 when we moved onto the property, which would make him 30 now. He was grey and cute, but never lost his independent streak, which was fine with us. It was part of who he was, and we didn’t need to change that. We never attempted to ride him; he clearly showed he didn’t enjoy that part of his life. He just ventured the property, grazing on endless pastures, coming for love, care, and food when he wanted, living the ultimate retirement for a horse.
Five years ago, we shyly asked if we could keep ‘the horse’ that was on the property, doubting the old owners would say yes, but we are so glad they did. Frederick was lovely, and trying to help him heal brought both Scott and me serenity to our hectic days and kept our hearts open when we were struggling to find ways to make things work, and at times, felt like emotionally shutting down. Not only was he grounding, but it was hard not to smile when you were with him, and later laugh at the silliness he shared as he began to blossom. Our hope, as is with all of the elephants, is that we can give back just a fraction of what they give to us. We will miss him, but we are not sad for him, we know how lucky we all were to have each other.