1990(?) - 2010
I had been looking for a dead-broke, child-safe pony since I got married in 1997. It took 3 years, then my horse-trading friend called me up. "I have found the *perfect* pony for you - but you might not want him." "Oh? Why?" "Well.....he's blind in 1 eye, and can't see very well out of the other." "Huh......well, let me take a look"
See, I didn't want something the kids could trail-ride on - I wanted a pony that could be their best friend. A pony they could go sit with, or on, and I wouldn't have to worry that he would hurt them. Riding lessons could come on Dusty (who is a perfect gentleman, but he's big..too big for a child to climb all over) - this pony was just to get them used to the whole horse world.
So, we went and looked. He was a pretty thing - with a full mane and tail. Very Victorian-pony-ish, in fact - the Perfect Child's Dream Pony. He didn't flinch when I sat my still-carrying-the-baby-weight self on him, he didn't flinch when I crawled *under* him (I wanted kid-safe, remember?), so I cheerfully handed over the $400 and didn't even flinch when my friend said "The only reason I even called you was because I knew you'd keep him until he died. I didn't want someone to buy him that would get upset because he went totally blind".
When horses come live with me, they stay here pretty much until they die. (I've sold 3 horses in my life - 1 because he was insane and tried to kill me 3x, and 2 because a friend of mine wore me down. I still go and see them every now and then. :grin:)
Bullseye came home, and became Dusty's pet. The kids never really became horse-crazy (which breaks my heart, but you can't have everything!), but they aren't afraid of them, either. He was always there, ready to accept pets and skritches and alfalfa cubes (the only treat he'd accept - carrot and sugar cubes and peppermints and jelly bellies were ignored, but alfalfa cubes were snarfed up as quickly as he could get them in his mouth.) He was ridden maybe 6 times total in the 10 years we've had him...but that's OK. He babysat all the foals we had born here, he kept Dusty company - he well earned his keep.
About, oh, a year ago, he started having really runny poops. I checked him over, didn't see anything wrong, so went the Kaopectate and pancake syrup route. It worked for a bit, but he kept scouring. I poured over my books, checked him over, and even called the vet (I don't usually - it's hard to arrange things so I can meet the vet; he doesn't have regular office hours, he got rid of his staff 2 years ago, and he's the only travelling horse vet in the area. I try to do as much as possible myself). We determined that it was his age - see, he NEVER lost condition (he was still nicely round!), he was eating like normal, and he was still rambling around his familiar pasture like he always did (we never let him out with the others - since he's almost totally blind it wasn't fair to him to try and navigate an unfamiliar area. Better to keep him in, where he knew where everything was). So, life went on.
Until Sunday. I noticed that his tail was *covered* in bright red blood. And he wasn't doing much - he'd move to the water trough, then he'd move to the feed trough. That was it.
And I knew it was time.
My vet concurred. He said it sounded to him like a tumor, and at this point there really wasn't much we could do. Surgery, yes - but would it be worth it? I don't mean dollar-wise - he's worth a lot to me - but life-wise. No. He's 20+ years old, he's almost totally blind now, and he's not enjoying himself. He's still eating, but.....it's not fair to him to keep him alive just because I don't want to lose him.
The vet will be at the house at 9....and we've made arrangements for someone to remove him. The kids aren't handling it well, even though they knew it was coming..and neither am I. I am selfishly glad I had to work today - I'm crying now, and I'm not even there! At least I can remember him as he was this morning - looking for his breakfast. Or last night, when he happily scarfed down 2 alfalfa cubes. Or standing by the fence, puzzled by the noise the goats were making.
I took some photos last night, but can't bring myself to post them. This one was on my PC...it'll do. It was his normal pose when he heard someone walking up...sort of a puzzled "huh? Who's that? Got food?" look. We're gonna miss the sweet guy.