Blitz

A few years ago I woke up from a terrible nightmare of a carriage horse in the city falling down, it was just a nightmare, but it was so visceral I called Emerson and told her to drop what she was doing, we were going to Boston. We went to Boston to see the carriage horses and the people I knew who worked with them, to make sure they were all alright. On seeing this horse, we call Blitz, for the first time, Emerson broke down crying. Most of the carriage horses are kept in good condition, but he was visibly struggling. He is old, broken, covered in sores and struggling to keep the weight on. We let the workers there know that when he was ready to retire, to call me before bringing him to auction. Luckily his caring driver remembered me when the day came that he was ready to ship out.

Our barn was full when I got the phone call, we had no spare stalls and winter was rapidly approaching. We only had until Saturday to figure something out, but we all knew we had to make this work. So we went out and found a pre-built shed 12x16 and got them to deliver it before the week was up! The ponies, Punk and Marshmallow, got their own love-shack with their own little track paddock. This emptied a stall for Blitz to move in, just in the nick of time! We picked him up that weekend. While he still had some sores he was looking better than the winter when we'd seen him last, but still substantially underweight. After a thorough vet-check we discovered he's missing most of the teeth on one side of his face, explaining why it was so hard for him to keep his weight up. So now he gets soup! A mix of timothy hay pellets, beet pulp, and rice bran along with his ration balancer. He put the weight on nicely and is beginning to open up.

As Blitz settled into country life, we realized that during the time he spent in the city, he was rather shut down. He taught me a lot about how much a horse can bury their feelings, he worked very well in the city, never spooking, but he was actively not in his own mind. He was just so overwhelmed, he clocked out. Once allowed to have emotions again and express himself, he's actually, genuinely afraid of almost everything. With his blinders off (literally and figuratively) he is re-learning to experience the world. He is learning to be curious and enjoy play, rather than cautious and nervous.

He has a few wonderful young friends who are helping him learn to love life!

Going strong...
When Blitz arrived several years ago we weren't sure how long we would have him for. He was old, broken, and defeated. He had lived a long life, been loved by many people, been let down by many more, and he came here to rest. But when he arrived something magical happened. He decided life here was pretty sweet and it wasn't time to retire yet!
He came to us from a carriage company in a city where he had worked. He was going to be sold and at his age and losing weight fast, it wasn't likely he'd land somewhere safe. Luckily his driver who loved him knew about us and gave us a ring, but we didn't have the space for him - our barn was full. We couldn't let this guy down, when Revel retired he was the horse that took up his burden, he suffered the job a long time, and Revel was dying. It was fitting and appropriate we take in this horse. With less than a week to prepare we found someone who could deliver a pre-built shed and quickly moved our ponies into it. It was the fastest shed and fence installation we'd ever done! But now we had a stall for Blitz.
The first priority was to address his medical needs, he was starving because something was wrong with his teeth, he couldn't chew food. So needles, bloodwork, and dentists. The vet sedated him and opened up his mouth to do his teeth - then she laughed, "what am I supposed to do here?" There were no teeth left on one whole side of his face! We don't know if he had an accident or an illness or what, but what few teeth he had on the other side most didn't go together. So soup it is! He is able to manage hay if it's in a net and he takes small bites. He also gets hay pellets soaked with all the vitamins and minerals added. He quickly regained his weight and was feeling better than ever. A quick shoe removal and some chiropractic work and he was ready to reboot his life!
Just a few short weeks after his arrival a new volunteer came in, his own, personal cherub to make all his dreams come true. They were in love, and it was mutual. She has spent several days a week for the last several years doting on him, just as he likes it. She grooms him, snuggles him and feeds him treats. At 33 years old he's allowed to have anything he wants, no limits! So she has bought him his own personal tub full of treats to enjoy whenever he wants. She grazes him and plays clicker training games with him.
While he had worked in the city we thought he would be bombproof, but it became apparent that when the blinders went on, Blitz hid behind them. He chose to see nothing because it was all too much. He was so afraid of everything when the blinders came off. If a person was grooming him and swung their hand too fast he would startle. He was afraid of the grass and the flowers and the chickens, anything that moved or looked at him wrong. Bright colors and strange noises would send him galloping off. He was so afraid.
His cherub came to his rescue again, giggling and cheerfully showing him new things. Making sure he learned quickly that exploring new things brings great rewards. She chatters quietly like a bird in his ear reassuring him that it's just a flower or a toy, that if he checks it out he'll see it's safe. He trusts her because he knows she only brings things that are good. She brings him new toys to explore, twirling garden decorations, light up Christmas lights, squeaky dog toys, funny pianos, and other strange and delightful things. He knows the game will be fun and he will earn many treats.
We learned that he has touched many lives like this, a friend from his past came by to see him. She knew him before he went to the city, when he worked at a school teacher children agricultural work with horses. He pulled plows and carriages, he worked hard but enjoyed when the young people doted on him. He disappeared without her knowing, she found him years later when he appeared on our rescue's page. She came to visit and told us about his past, he had done pulling competitions and pretty much every job a draft can do, before he went to the city and his age couldn't keep up with the labor asked of him.
He is thriving still today. Some days are hard, his joints don't slide like they used to. Some days he's just not up for eating, some days it's too hard to pull his massive body off the ground, some days he's tired and just wants to watch the world go by out his window. But he has help, and we will tend to him, holding him up as he has held up so many before him. He has spent many years taking care of children, babysitting young horses, and working very hard, while he has loved every minute of his time here, he is getting tired. He says "soon it will be time to rest, but not yet, I still have things to do".
So he carries on, teaching the baby mustang, Oro, just how to kick up his heels and play. He shows princess Taina how to find the best patches of grass and how to trick the humans into feeding you, just by walking over a few obstacles in the agility ring. He grooms his wifey Taina and laughs when she squeals. He shows off for the draft mares, so they'll all fight for his attention. And he rolls in the mud daily so he knows he'll be sure to be groomed by the kids when he comes in for dinner and sleep.
He and his cherub will treasure these memories for eternity, he has shaped the world in his 33 years, influencing so many lives, horse and human alike. When his day comes we will assure him a peaceful passing, but as he says, that is NOT today.
I can't believe it's time to say goodbye already. It's always too soon. Blitz's age has caught up with him, his body is giving in, even if his mind isn't ready. His pain is too much, he can't lay down and can't sleep, he's become a bit delirious, confused and unbalanced. He can no longer stand for the farrier and he's not interested in food (but there's always room for a few treats). He knows when he goes down he won't be getting up, so he stays up and puts on a brave face, he smiles at his friends as he tries to squeeze out a few more days of love.
 
He has done so much in his life, made so many dreams come true for so many people. He worked farm labor and did pulling competitions, how many fields did he tend? How many ribbons did he win? He moved on to an agricultural school where he taught so many young people how to work horses on a farm. How many kids fell in love with him? When he retired from there he went to the city where he gave carriage tours. How many people got engaged in his carriage? How many couples made special memories with him? How many city kids did he show the gentle power of horses?
 
Here he enjoyed a wonderful retirement. Surrounded by little people who love and spoil him rotten. We always say "at his age, he can have anything he wants!" and so we make sure everything he wants, he gets! He has always wanted a child of his own, someone soft and sweet to show him love and make him feel special. His dream finally came true, his little Cherub has spent as much time as possible ensuring his days are full of love and joy. They clicker train, do agility, and take beautiful photoshoots together. They made each other's dreams come true.
 
We hope to squeeze a few more days of bliss for this sweet old man, we are going to help him pass on Sunday, a gift for this special horse. He deserves to sleep in peace before the pain becomes too much, before he falls or gets stuck. He should never know another bad moment. He will be buried in our garden with the rest of our herd and have his own special fairy garden dedicated to him, where we can plant flowers every spring as we remember his sweet presence in our life.