Friday, July 31, 2015

On the Homefront: Bugs (1982-2015)

Yesterday I had to put my wonderful old Appaloosa gelding down.  He was 33 years old, and since last fall his health had been declining.  He managed to get through the winter, but in early spring he had a badly abscessed foot that required much effort from both of us to heal.  Once again he rallied, and seemed to be doing well over the summer, but I noticed that he was having a harder time getting up when he laid down.  His back was rather long, and had been getting weaker over the years, but this year it seemed much worse.  A little over a week ago he got cast in his stall and cut himself up pretty badly.  HIs hind leg lameness also became worse, especially in the left hind leg, and it became even harder for him to lie down and get back up.  Last Sunday he had another episode where he struggled to get up, and yesterday the same thing happened, only much worse.  After over an hour, and with my help, he managed to get up once again, only to stumble and fall about 10 minutes later.  The vet had arrived by then and we had to make the decision to let him go, as once a horse can no longer get up it will deteriorate rapidly.  His will to survive was still so strong even at the end, but it would have been cruel to let him keep struggling like that, and so I had to say good-bye to this wonderful horse.

My Bugs was such an amazing boy.  I got him as the horse I could let anyone ride, and he did not let me down.  He was careful and considerate of novice riders, but would come alive for more advanced riders, full of energy and ready to move out.  He rarely spooked, and never with a rider aboard.  He was such a calm and laid-back fellow that it was a pleasure to just sit in the barn with him and watch him while he ate.  On occasions when I was feeling overly stressed I would sometimes do just that, and he never failed to bring me back to a calm state.  As he got older he needed more medical care, but never fussed about oral medications or injections.  He always seemed to know that I was only trying to help him, and he trusted me completely.  He dealt with pain stoically and had a remarkable ability to bounce back from so many ailments, from lameness to inflammatory bowel disease and even a couple of small tumors.

When he developed inflammatory bowel disease in 2003 I was told he would not live long, but he still managed to survive for twelve more years (most horses don't live much longer than two more years).  Unfortunately, there was not much we could do about his back issue except try to keep the pain and inflammation to a minimum with medication as it progressed.  Were it not for his back, he probably could have gone on for years.  I will miss my sweet boy, but I know it was his time, and he is together again with my old mare, his buddy from Colorado, both of them now pain free forever.

I will take next week off from blogging as I mourn my beloved Bugs, and will return the following week.


  1. Most people cannot understand how it can hurt so very much to lose an animal - my tears and thoughts are with you, again. Bless you for being the person that you are.

  2. Thank you so much, Pat and Katie! Sorry it took me forever to reply, but I recently moved my other horse from his boarding stable to my barn and it took some time to get ready for him. I couldn't bring him here until Bugs was gone because it would have been too stressful for my old boy. The main reason I was able to keep Bugs going for so long is that I really worked hard to keep his stress levels down -- I think only another animal lover would understand, but he was worth all the effort I made to help him survive.