Friday, August 26, 2011

Shy Coni Fadda April 28 1980-August 23 2011


   My heart is broken, a raw wound inside of my chest, I lost my sweet Coni on Aug 23, after too short of a battle for her life.  This is our story:

       On a bright Sunday morning in 1980, my mare Peni Fadda was heavy with foal.   I checked her before heading to church ( it was my sister's confirmation Sunday) and low and behold, Peni was waxed up!  I couldn't wait to get home from the service thinking I would see a baby that I had waited so long for!  After church I scrambled out to the barn, no foal... I brought Peni inside to a nice clean box stall my grandpa and I had fashioned just for this occasion.  No sooner had I put her inside and Peni went immediately into labor.  Soon a perfect chestnut filly was born!  Coni had tons of visitors that day since everyone was eager to see the newborn foal, ( I think this is why she liked people so very much, all that socialization...)  Coni was named in honor of her birthdate, Confirmation.... who knew??
   Every morning before school, I would head up to the barn to let Peni and Coni out on the lawn for some grazing,  Coni loved to run and buck and jump and drive her mamma nuts with her antics. 
    Her formative years were fairly uneventful,  I trained her to drive as a 2 yr old, and started her under saddle as a 4 yr old, she was a dream to ride, so smooth so energetic...  We spent a lot of time just riding around the neighborhood.
    In 1988 before moving to another city many miles from home, my little brother and I went on an adventure, our parents hauled our horses and all our supplies to a local state park 16 miles from home, we camped out for the weekend, enjoyed the time with our horses.  We took them swimming and then trail rode until evening, then after bedding them down would make our supper and sleep in our little pup tent.  We packed up our supplies and headed for home at the end of our weekend,  it was a very long ride for a little 7 yr old boy, and by the end he was completely beat, but we did it!  Our grand adventure!
     I rode Coni on many trail rides put on by our local saddle club, and one of the old timers there told me they were taking bets to see how long I would be able to stay on my horse, see Coni had developed some of her mother's habits, she didn't like the reins held too tight and would shake her head in this little temper tantrum whenever it happened.  She never liked to just walk on the trail, she was always jigging, and I didn't know any better than to just let her do it.  It didn't matter, Coni was always safe for me to ride and didn't buck me off so I don't know who won the bet...
      Our saddle club also rode in many parades in those days as a precision drill team,  Coni was only allowed to participate in practice since there were so many riders at that time, that our abilities were not  needed.  She learned the drill though and we were always available to "pinch hit" on the chance that someone would be unable to attend a parade.

    Coni was my friend and solace growing up, many times throughout high school when I was feeling friendless, all I had to do was go over to Coni and she would stand by me and allow me to cry my hurt feelings out on to her mane.  Oh she always smelled so wonderful!!!  That special scent only my good friend carried... I can almost smell it now..

     One of our many trail rides together just she and I led to another adventure, we were riding alongside a county highway, when along came some of my partying friends, they were roadtripping and offered me a beer, what a nice treat after riding for miles... I learned that Coni did NOT like the sound a can makes when you breathe into it before taking a drink ( you know the sound?  that faint tinny whistle?).  Needless to say, the beer and I parted company quickly, but I stayed on my horse!

   Coni and I were riding fence one spring day checking to make sure the fence was intact ( the horses lived in a 25 acre pasture), when we had to cross a creek that ran through our pasture, somehow she stumbled and I was thrown forward over her head, into the water and was instantly submerged with a horse coming down upon me, somehow Coni avoided crushing me under her by curling her forelegs up and jumping forward,  it was a miracle I wasn't drowned with a horse on top of me, but she knew it was me under her legs and wasn't going to hurt me.
    When Coni was 11 yrs old there was a pasture accident, and she lost the sight in her right eye.  She adjusted well to her blindness and we were always careful to talk to her when we worked on that side.

   In 1994 at the age of 33, I lost her mother Peni Fadda.  I was heartbroken, but knew I still had Coni for solace.  Coni was always my rock my stability point.  She was so special to me...
   In August 1997, my dad passed away, just after I learned I was pregnant and my fiance and I had just broken up.  Coni once again was a rock for me, my reason to live, my solace... Many more tears were shed into her solid body, she allowed me to cry out my heartbreak and always gave me comfort.  When my son was born, I would take him to the barn with me to do chores, Coni absolutely loved her baby!  Her eyes would get all soft and she would blow softly into his face just drinking in his baby smell!  You could see how much she loved babies, any babies... human, dog, cat, chicken, she would pull me over to baby strollers to see babies, and I always held the baby chicks and kittens up to her face so she could blow at them.  It wasn't an alarmed blow, it was a tender sigh I could always see how much she enjoyed babies and allowed her that pleasure. 

     On the off chance Coni ever got out of her pasture, she didn't go anywhere except up to the house to wait in front of the door for me to see her and put her back into the pasture.  I used to allow Coni to graze loose back home because she never left the yard.  Coni had so MUCH  personality!!  She was loved by all who met her, she would just charm her way into your heart without much effort on her part...

   Coni loved her treats, carrots were a favorite as well as sugar, and the peppermint horse treats.  In her last hours I was able to feed her carrots, she relished those, it was my pleasure to give her what comfort I could at the end. 

   In 2000 we were introduced to a young friend who was looking for a horse to lease for 4-H, I had 3 horses at that time, Coni, Shom, and Nabila, and she was allowed her choice of horses.  She chose Coni, my silly sweet mare.  They went on to a semi successful show career culminating in a trip to the State 4-H horse show in 2001.  Coni took it all in stride, until the time came to ride the Saddle Seat classes in the Coliseum... as soon as she entered that huge arena, she was black with sweat, but  as scared as she was, she still tried for my young friend... she was 21 at the time, and it was a relief to bring her back home unscathed from that adventure.

    Coni was named Champion Pleasure Mare at our county Fair that year, and my young friend came home with a large trophy that she proudly displayed for all to see,  I was quite surprised with her win because I though personally, I was showing the winning horse ( shows how much a judge's opinion differs from mine...).

    Many young people learned to ride on my sweet Coni, and then moved on to horses of their own, currently one young friend is riding the Arabian circuit and has done very well with the horse she is currently leasing, I personally think Coni is responsible for that young lady's continued foray into the Arabian horse world give her the sole credit.

   After my fall from a horse a couple of years ago, Coni was the first horse I got back up on, it was like slipping into a pair of comfortable old shoes, we meshed so well, I knew I would always be safe on her back.

   This summer I had no time for riding with the weather, and my job but I continued to always have time to pet and love on my horses, even if only for a few minutes.  Coni always loved having her butt scratched and would make her way up to me to beg for some scratches with her soft nickers.  I only had to call her from the living room window, and she would nicker back begging me to come out and give her some scratches or a treat... it was always so nice to come out of the house and know Coni would be there to call for me if she heard or saw me coming.
   I don't know what happened that Wed a week after I lost Promise, but I only know Coni was fine in the morning when I did chores, and in the evening when I came out to do chores something was very wrong with my precious baby.  She couldn't walk straight on her hind legs, it was like she was drunk, swaying and crossing her hind legs as if she didn't know where they were.  The vet was out the next day to examine her, initially he thought EPM, but the symptoms didn't add up... she had no lethargy, no drooping of her face, her spirits were good, she was the same old Coni with the exception of her hind end.  We fought valiantly for her to improve and one minute it would seem like she was better, then next she was having a set back again.  I had another vet come out who did acupuncture on her, and he also thought EPM possibly, and I was trying to get her into a new drug trial when the bottom fell out of our plans.  Coni fell for the last time on Sunday night, she couldn't rise again on her own.  I called my brother for help and he built a sling for her and we tried to lift her with an engine hoist, we were able to get her up but her hind legs just couldn't support her, and I realized I was going to have to say good bye to my good friend.  We lowered her for the last time, and I called the vet.  I was unable to even say the words, "put her to sleep" but he knew it was time, just from the tone of my voice.  I can't believe how hard that was, to tell him we were giving up the fight, but it was time and in my heart I knew it.  I gave her several carrots and sat with her telling her how much I loved her, and that she wasn't going to suffer any longer, she wanted to live, but her body was failing her.  As the vet gave her the medicine to put her in a forever sleep I was there at her head talking to her comforting her... it was soooo hard to say goodbye... my baby, my heart horse...
   Coni was buried with dignity and care next to her friend Promise.  I never, ever expected to have to say goodbye to 2 horses this soon, and most especially not my Coni, my sweet girl...  

     I am still crying myself to sleep at night, and I dread coming home from work knowing I will never see her wonderful face peeking out at me through the fence, I will never hear her welcoming nicker greeting me as I step out the door.  I know I did the best I could for her and I know she had a great life with me, but this knowledge brings me no comfort.  I know time only will help the hurt heal, and I know I will see her again in Heaven, but at this time, I would give almost anything to have my Coni back...

   I hope in my grief I have been able to convey the love and trusting bond I shared with this special mare,  I know it probably sounds disjointed I am trying to get through this in my enormous grief, my time with her just seemed too damn short...

    As you read this, if you have a special heart horse, perhaps you could go out and give them a hug and know that I would be doing the same thing with my heart horse, she will always live inside of me.

Rest In Peace my sweet Coni


Unkept Promises July 5 1985 - July 28 2011

I put my 27 year old mare Promise to sleep 07/28/2011, she has been rapidly declining over the past few weeks.  Please allow me to share with you the precious time we had her in our care.
   Promise was part of a group of 3 horses I bought in 2003 for the total amount of $475 for all 3 horses.   She was a sweet mare who had not had anything done with her most of her life.  Georgene Holasek of Rock Isle  Arabians purchased her somewhere in in Indiana, and I was extraordinarily pleased with my detective skills when I was able to find her breeders and in my excitement called them to talk about her and perhaps find out a little history on this wonderful mare that had come into my life.  Their response sadly, was to warily inquire as to how I had gotten their telephone number, they had no interest in learning that their 19 year old mare had landed in a place that would happily give her a forever home, and would love her and take the best care of her I possibly could.
   Needless to say I was quite disappointed in their response, I was curious to know what all this mare might know and where she had been for the previous years ( I could trace her from the time she got to MN).  She was a gorgeous wild bay color with an exotic dried clearly Arabian head, her conformation was quite nice too although she wasn't a big mare by any means ( 14.2-3).  Mainly Polish bloodlines she was quite exotic looking.  She had this quirky way of swinging her head when she wanted to see something, although her sight was fine in both  eyes.  Although to my knowledge she had no formal training of any type, I taught her to stand for a halter class, and entered her in the county fair once.  She was so afraid before we entered that arena that she stood quietly next to me and trembled.  She trusted me though and I think she knew I wouldn't let any harm come to her.  Anyway, we took home the Champion Pleasure Mare trophy as well as the Best of 3 pleasure mares class.  It was quite an exciting year for the Erickson household!  I didn't ask Promise to show again, she had more than proved her worth at that show.  I knew there was a chance she was in foal because my stallion had pasture bred her a couple of times in the spring.  By the end of Sept 2004 it was clear she was in foal.  I started checking her to see if I could feel the baby kicking in her.  Low and behold, I could!  This was more cause for celebration, so we invited our friends over for "feeling the baby kick" parties... She was a champ through all of this.  Not knowing when she was officially bred ( and not wanting to spend the money to check), in Jan of 2005 I hauled her over to a good friend's house to foal her out ( she was already starting to bag up.)  Her filly was born March 28th.  I already had plans for Promise's foal, I gave her to a very good friend of mine for her 21st birthday ( that is another whole story).  Promise was a terrific mother, but a terrible stall horse, she walked and walked and walked, made Darcie crazy, I am sure she was delighted when we finally brought Promise home...
   Promise lived the life of Riley here on the farm, she was an Alpha mare who got along with everyone.  She loved "cookies" ( horse treats, esp the peppermint ones)  All I had to do was call for her saying Promise, want a cookie?  and she could be at the end of our 6 acres and she would come a runnin... it was so delightful to watch her get her "groove on" and do that beautiful floaty trot Arabians in all their glory are so good at doing.  Her tail flung over her back, hocks and knees pistoning,  neck proudly arched... majestic to watch.... spellbinding.  Promise had her own winter blanket, and the past couple of years has loved when I headed outside with her blanket to cover her for the winter.  I remember one night coming home to do chores and Promise was standing so still, I couldn't figure out why until I got near her, since it was dark I couldn't see that she had her back legs wrapped in wire, she could have panicked but she didn't, she waited for me to quietly untangle her legs from that mess of wire.

       Tonight I grieve the loss of a great teacher for children wanting to learn about horses.  She always loved attention, and when the Girl Scouts asked if they could come out and learn something about horses, she was one of the first horses I thought of for learning to handle a horse on the ground.  She was an angel about having her feet handled, and for clipping, I allowed people to practice their clipping skills on Promise because she was so good about having her head muzzle ears and legs handled.  I have so many, many pleasant memories of Promise over the past 8 years,  I only wish I had more pictures... Tonight I grieve,  the loss of my friend my beautiful bay girl, the girl who surreptiously  ripped the hood off my chores coat one day when I was giving her scratches.  My heart is hurting so much right now,  I know I gave her a good life and I didn't allow her to suffer at the end of it, but even this knowledge doesn't make the pain any easier to bear. 

   I understand that live here on Earth is short, and for our animal friends it is even shorter, My son and I have been slammed in just a short time with the loss of 2 very beloved pets, live is short... Please if you pray, please include my small grieving family in your prayers it is appreciated....

Good bye Banjo

Banjo, an older Sheltie that was a beloved member of our family was put to sleep 07/24/2011.  Our hearts are so sad, it is amazing how quickly our animals worm their way into our hearts.  Banjo and his mother Maggie were older when they came to live with us.  Banjo was 9 and loved to jump on my bed and completely mess it up, the further my pillow was from the head of the bed, the happier he was.  It was so fun to watch him bounce happily down the Luce Line as we took our walks.  He was always in competition with our Cocker Spaniel Betsy to catch up to Barkley ( our Black Lab/Basset cross).  His loyalty to me was amazing, he always came when he was called, and didn't stray off our property.  Last fall, we lost Banjo for several hours.  I let them out before I went to work, and Banjo disappeared, I called and called for him but he didn't appear, I jumped in the car and drove up and down the highway looking for him ( thinking he got scared and ran down the road), no sign of him.  So I called the sheriff's office, the neighbors, the radio station,and the police station with his description and when and where he disappeared.  At noon that day I headed home to look for him again, and there he was sitting on the top steps, shaking like a leaf ( he was very frightened) waiting for someone to let him into the house.  I don't know what happened to him or where he disappeared to, but I do know he found his way back home and waited for someone he loved to rescue him.( Personally I think he got under our house and couldn't find his way out).  His incredibly cute button eyes could charm even the most hardened soul.  He loved going for rides in the car even if it ment going to the groomers ( which he never was particularly fond of).  All I ever had to do was ask, "Wanna go for a ride?" and the noise that accompanied that question was decibel breaking...  He loved the other critters we share a life with, including the chickens and ducks, he never attempted to hurt any of them even when he first arrived here with his mamma.  He enjoyed tormenting his mamma sometimes, trying to take away her lazer light or getting ahead of her when running down the trail.  He and Betsy would chase each other in circles when they were feeling frisky.  They were so funny to watch!
  Banjo developed a bladder tumor that was diagnosed in Feb of this year,  the vet offered to try to surgically resect the tumor, but given Banjo's age ( 11) and the size of the thing, I declined the surgery, the vet wasn't sure he could even resect it and thought if he couldn't he just wouldn't wake Banjo up.  This was unacceptable to me, and I promised Banjo he would live peacefully until the time came when he was in pain.  That day arrived this weekend, he stopped eating and drinking ( he had been getting pickier with his food over the past couple of weeks), he spent his time sleeping in my bedroom or on the floor in the living room.  Banjo always loved to snuggle with us on the couch and on my bed.  I gave him a death with dignity and Matthew and I buried him on our farm near my garden. It is close to the creek he loved to run to in order to get a drink from a clear bubbling spring.
  Our hearts are broken, we have both shed so many tears this weekend, it is a very incredibly hard way to end a sad weekend fraught with disappointment and heartbreak.  I just want to take this time to jot down my memories of Banjo and how loved he was among our little family.  Banjo will be greatly missed,  we will see him again someday in Heaven, this I truly believe and the little comfort it gives me now is something I am trying to console my brokenhearted 13 yr old son with also.  Thanks for listening( reading).