Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Birthday

TC tosses his head at me as I pass him with the hay wagon. If his halter was hanging on the front of his stall, he would have picked it off it's hook and thrown it at me. Unfortunately for him, I pass by with the hay wagon. He hasn't subsisted on hay in two years, not since the choke incident, but he does pick at it. On certain days, he will chew on a wad of hay until he feels it's sufficiently mushy and then spit it out on the floor. The concrete in front of his stall looks like it's littered with smudge sticks.
E B Top Cat, or TC for short, will officially turn 34 years old on April 8th. On his 30th birthday, we had a barn party with treats for the horses and the guests. This year we'll celebrate with only a few, perhaps a horse-friendly cake so he can dive in and make a huge mess. I'm sure he'd be elated if we formed the current concoction of grain/hay stretcher mush into a rectangle and said it was a cake. Maybe that would only make us feel like we're celebrating. TC seems to think that any moment filled with food is a celebration. I tend to agree. We don't need frosting. We're not that fancy.
In fact, from the beginning, TC and I have had a very logical, business-like understanding. He was 27 years old and bouncing around the internet. I love older horses and have created a retirement sanctuary for them. I knew TC had a sway back and a weight limit of 125 lbs. I anticipated soundness issues, perhaps some metabolic problems. But when the older Morgan gelding walked down the ramp of the hauler and caught his first glimpse of my farm, I knew I'd made the right choice.
Inside that graying hide and pointy skeleton was the soul of a much younger horse. It's only been in the last few years that his maintenance regiment has increased. Two years ago, he choked. My vets pulled him through it and were surprised at how quickly he returned to his every day regiment, acclimating to his modified feedings. Then, about a year after that, he choked again. This time he coughed and dislodged the obstruction, only to aspirate it. At 33 years old, my vet was not optimistic. Earlier in the week, he'd had another case just like TC's and the horse was already gone. But we pumped the old gelding full of antibiotics and that night he was eating as if nothing had happened. For the next three days he was carefully monitored. Each day a vet arrived looking grim and each day they left smiling. TC's lungs cleared and he survived. Although I shouldn't be surprised.
After I brought him home, I started researching his past. I called numerous previous owners and heard stories that were larger than life. I discovered that TC is trained to ride and drive, was shown saddle seat, trail ridden by a novice and used in lessons for beginners. He drove one owner on a first date with his wife. He was on a trail ride with another owner when they halted over a ground bee nest resulting in the owner going to the hospital and an emergency vet visit for TC as he had been stung over 30 times. At some point, he became separated with another rider on a different trail ride, and ending up running into a car, breaking out their back window. Just last summer, he was cantering in the pasture with his mate and caught his toe, resulting in a perfect, slow motion forward roll.
I'm not sure when it happened. I don't think there was a specific moment, but rather a conglomeration of moments, that brought TC into full focus. The more stories I heard, the more I understood him. He's strong willed and a survivor. I enjoy every day with him. His impish nature and love of being groomed make him easy to enjoy. He is a war horse.

1 comment:

  1. Kim, this story brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for being the caretaker of this old horse that most people would not want. You must have a heart of gold, and the world needs more people like you! Happy Birthday, TC!