She had several talents, including a surprising burst of speed when the gate to the road was left unattended (fortunately she always turned left to rampage on the lawn, rather than charging down the driveway). She loved water. You only had to walk towards the hose on hot days to have her come over. She would stand for you to drench one side, turn so that you could spray the other, then trot off down the paddock, flicking her tail at the drips running from her belly. She would stick her head in the water trough up to eye level, and roll and play in any large puddles she could find.
As the years passed, Bridget began to show the more obvious signs of ageing. She started to struggle with chewing hay, and became less eager to trot away after a wash, instead settling for a fast walk. She stopped itching her belly by rolling, and instead became extremely partial to tummy scratches (which were welcomed by heavy breathing and drooling). Bridget slowly sank down the pecking order until she was put in a separate paddock to stop her being bullied. She started to lose weight in the winters, and found it harder to put it back on in spring. She was getting old. A conversation with her owner revealed that she had been born in 1977.
In the last few years Bridget was a great customer of the local stockfood supplier. She would devour 40 litres of hard feed each night, and had a feed bill running into the hundreds of dollars each month. I often remarked that it would be easier just to feed her the money, as it would save on the heavy lifting. She adored her food and, when insufficiently hungry, she would tip over her 20L buckets to pick out the yummy bits, leaving the rest. This winter she stopped walking down to the gate for me to feed her, instead requiring yours truly to cart her (very heavy!) dinners down to the part of the paddock she liked to eat her dinner in. I put this down to dodgy eyesight, but having seen her make her way to the gate for her owner to feed her treats, realised that I was being manipulated. I was happy to be manipulated by her, so the waitressing continued.
In July of this year I arrived at the paddocks to find Bridget lying down. Her eyes were becoming glazed, and I couldn't get her up. The vet arrived, and was followed by her owner's brother. After roughly 45 minutes of the three of us cajoling, pushing and pulling we managed to get her up. She was a bit shaky, but practically dragged the vet the length of the paddock so that she could get into the shed to warm up. She went through every possible puddle on the way, to the dismay of the vet, who had forgotten her gumboots.
Bridget had another three weeks with us. She started coming down to the gate for her dinner again, looking over the fence with an expressive, expectant face as 4.30 approached. She began shedding her thick winter coat, in preparation for the spring that never came for her.
Bridget was put down on Sunday 4 August, at about six thirty in the evening. She had been found unable to rise at seven that morning, and despite a day of vets and injections and pleading, did not regain her feet. She was a horse who always tried her heart out, so the decision to end her life was relatively easy.
I have many memories of Bridget, most of them happy, some sad. The most bittersweet is this: In the hour before she was put down, she rallied a little. She sat up, pricked her ears at me, and looked around for her dinner. I brought over her feed bucket, she gobbled a few mouthfuls. She did this a further dozen times, and I was happy to serve such a courageous spirit.
|Bridget, summer 2011.|
Rest in peace, darling girl.