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My Horse By Amanda Stagnetto

I’ve just come back from having to say goodbye to who has been my best friend for 18 years. He was my beautiful horse Doloreńo although I nearly always called him Dolly Boy. He was a bay (with dappled bits on his rump) Criollo ex-polo pony who arrived in Spain when he was 10 years old from Argentina. He had previously been used for 9 years as a stud and then castrated just a year before they put him on the plane – the two things must have been a great shock for him!!

At the beginning he was quite a handful. He had been broken in Argentinean style which is quite a harsh and inconsiderate way but I wont go into all the details albeit to say that he didn’t really trust men at all and was always trying to outwit them as even though they had tried to break him they had never broken his character and spirit which he maintained right through to the very end.

He had been used for a polo pony for about a year and as he was so strong they had used him for the 1st and 4th chukka and he had decided that everyone was abusing of his virtues so he began to wage a ‘go slow’ campaign. This meant that in the 4th chukka no matter how much he was whipped he would just put his brakes on and there was nothing anyone could do to make him go faster – I think that’s why they decided to sell him on as the players must have got too frustrated seeing how they never seemed to get to the ball in time because of his sluggishness – he was clever!!!! So anyway when I first got to ride him he was still in this frame of mind and so it was quite frustrating to be kicking him all the time without him taking a blind bit of notice – he would just go at the pace that he wanted to and that was it.

The other thing was that you couldn’t even raise your hand slightly in front of him and the mere sight of a whip was a sure way for him to start reversing away from you, – these problems were all as a result of the bad treatment that he had received in Argentina.

He was also the biggest troublemaker around. Every now and then all the horses at the stables would be let out in a field for a few days to relax and it was always Dolly Boy who would round them all up (fighting with anyone who got in his way) to find an exit to their field and lead them all out to a neighbours’ fields who had better grassland !!!

Having said all this you might wonder why on earth I started to become attached to this obstinate animal but he was so different to most of the other horses that I had ever been with who just did what they were told as if they were puppets. This one had a mind of his own and he reacted in a way that could almost always be understood – or maybe that was the other thing – it was that I understood him and we ended up having a kind of telepathy between us. Whenever I was happy he would really liven up and give me a hell of a ride and when I was down he would wander around very respectfully.

Anyway, I decided he was worth it and once he was mine I began to try and help him over his problems and start building up a trusting friendship. It took me about a year to get over the first problem, which I started doing by stroking his legs very gently with my hand. Then I would take it further up his leg to his shoulder, then the tummy and back and eventually I managed to stroke his face and even over his eyes. It is a very rewarding feeling when you actually get him to accept all this but it also takes a lot of patience. It was through lack of patience that he got in the state he was in the first place. I then did the whole thing all over again with a whip and that too worked.

He started to get much more relaxed with me and in doing so much happier and so then a new problem developed – he would get his head over the bit and run off with me on these wild gallops all through the countryside and the more I pulled the faster he would go and so I was not at all in control. I think he was starting to enjoy life again because he preferred rides in the country to charging up and down a polo field and I must have been much lighter to carry than any polo player!!

Well I thought about the problem for a while and then decided to take away the gag bit, the side reins, breastplate and martingale and dropped noseband that he had and just leave the basics – a saddle and a snaffle bit with a single reined bridle. Some of the Spaniards here thought I was crazy because they said that if he had always been ridden with all those bits it was because he had a very hard mouth and they were needed in order to stop him. The first day I have to admit that I was a bit nervous because I felt as if I was going too fast in a car that had no brakes. But I had to keep to my plan which was to let go of the reins completely as soon as he took off and like that he wouldn’t feel that we were having a tug of war fight (which he was always going to win anyway because of his strength) and he would find himself quite off balance as he no longer had my hands to lean on and consequently have to bring his head down a bit and get back into some sort of semi-collection!!!

It did work and things got better and better until I realised that it had worked completely - he was comfortable and happy knowing that I would never pull at him again and to feel the gentle pressure from my hands through to his mouth without trying to fight it and we at last began to ride together!!! We went on to have such beautiful times together, times that still bring a smile to my face when I think of them and I remember so distinctly that while I was riding him I used to say to myself ‘I will never forget this moment’ and I never have forgotten one single moment that I was able to share with him.

After two years of Doloreńo arriving in Spain the most fatal disease to horses, which was African Horse Sickness, hit the area. To this day they have never confirmed how it got here, but it caused real damage as hundreds of horses died and the main focal point was at our stables. The disease, as its name denotes, comes from Africa and is spread by mosquitos of which we have many here.

I had been exercising another horse that day and found that she was suffering from lethargy and difficulty in breathing, and got back to the stables to find our vet Carlitos (who had arrived in Spain at the same time as Doloreńo) looking very worried. When I told him about the ride, he told me to put the horse away and to leave her in the stable without exercise for a few days.

Well that was the beginning. The next day another 2 horses came down with lethargy, the following day 5, then 10 and so on. And after the lethargy there were high temperatures, frothing and bleeding from the mouth and other orifices, rolling on the floor and eventually dying. Death usually happened within three or four days from the onset of the first symptoms and there was nothing anyone could do as there is no cure or treatment. I do remember though one night going round with the vet to help him inject all the horses with anti-biotics but it was a futile attempt doing no good at all but I suppose at least making us humans feel as if we were doing something.

It was really horrific and over the following two months about nine hundred horses out of the thousand at the stables died and had to be buried underneath the cork trees near the bull-ring. It was such a sad time and every owner was dreading when their horse would come down next.

Needless to say the mare that I had been riding was one of the first to go. I then started to worry so much about Doloreńo. I sprayed his stable twice a day with an anti-mosquito solution, covered him in all sorts of lotions and rigged up some fine mesh netting over the front of his stable. I would come and see him three times a day to put on his lotions and all the time be looking out for any signs of the disease and I began to hate mosquitos more than ever.

Well after two months the disease came to its end and there was Doloreńo amongst the ones that had not only survived the disease but he had not even had a hint of it. He was strong and he was lucky and that luck stayed with him (and me when I was on him!!!) through many episodes.

When I was at last given permission to take him out of his box, after having been cooped up in it for over six weeks, he was like an electric live wire. And I had a real problem just leading him from the box to the nearest corral that I could find. But it was such a joy to see him again running free and bucking all over the place for joy. We the owners of the survivors had all decided that after what they had been through they deserved to have two weeks just relaxing and unwinding from all the tensions that they had been through.

But the ordeal regarding that event wasn’t quite over as the authorities had decided in an attempt to control the disease to first vaccinate all the surviving horses and then to brand the ones these with a cross on their shoulders. It was awful for me to see them put the hot iron into the fire and then pierce the fur and flesh of the horses. The smell was foul and the horses had to be held down quite forcibly. I hated seeing it and I hated the idea that it would have to be done to Doloreńo as well.

But luckily one of the vets was a friend of mine and he said that he would do mine for me himself and not brand him deeply – in order words just place the iron on him very briefly and just enough for the brand to show lightly. So at least I could be a bit grateful for that because the other horses were having a much harder time. If the brand didn’t show up enough they would go over it again and again and really push the brand deeply into the flesh until the cross showed up clearly.

After that we had just under a year of peace and tranquility at the stables until a new outbreak of African Horse Disease was suspected. Well this time I was so frightened by the whole thing and determined that my beloved horse wouldn’t catch it that I decided to secretly leave the stables very late at night without anyone knowing where I had gone. But I left a note so that they wouldn’t think that he had been stolen. We had to get on to the main roads and travel about one hour to get to a neighbouring farm that had very few horses and so I reckoned that he would be much safer there.

As always with every move that we did he would always be very nervous and I would spend about an hour in the new box with him trying to settle him down with lots of stroking and talking. I had already got to the point in our relationship when he was happy if I was with him and when I left the box and walked round the stables his eyes wouldn’t leave me. The grooms would tell me that he could even recognise the sound of my car from the others and would neigh whenever he heard it arrive.

I always thought that the life of a stabled horse was never very exciting and apart from his health was always very worried about the state of his mind and always tried to do interesting things with him. Apart from riding him in the mornings I would go in the early evenings and take him on the halter down to the river to graze on nice grass or through the orange orchards where I could let him loose. He was fine to let loose as he would always come back to me when I called him.

Well that was another thing that I forgot to mention which is that at the beginning he was absolutely impossible to catch and there again all my patience had to be used. I decided to get him used to carrots (which he loved) and then every day when he was in the corral I would go in (with no intention of catching him at all) to give him carrots and when he came make a big fuss of him and then let him go back to his friends. He would eventually come to me when he knew that I was going to give him something and not take him out of the corral.

And after doing that quite often he would come to me in the end whether I had carrots or not!!! The only thing is that whenever I went into the corral he wouldn’t let any of the other horses come near me. In the early days I thought it was because he didn’t want them to have his carrots but over the years when I stopped overfeeding him with carrots and didn’t carry them any more I realised it had nothing to do with that. I was his and he didn’t want any of the others to share me.

We stayed at that farm for about five years and had the most fantastic rides ever while learning new things together all the time (they say that you never stop learning from a horse). The farm had acres and acres of shady cork trees with soft sandy paths winding through them with luscious green ferns on either side of them. There were also large grazing fields for the cows and calves that also lived on the farm. And the farm’s boundaries ended at this long sandy beach which had views of Gibraltar and Africa. Many mornings we would go down to the beach with the sun glistening on the water and with masses of seagulls resting on the shore in the distance.

Well one of his favourite games would be to start galloping towards them, speeding up as we neared them so that they would all fly up in the air all around us and Dolly would give two or three bucks with the joy of it all. It was really exhilarating to feel the fun of this horse. We would go up and down the beach about four times and he would still have energy for more, but I didn’t, even though I was much younger then!!! But he was an amazingly strong horse and no matter what I did I would always take him back to the stables almost as fresh as when we had left.

He would love playing games with me as well and one of his favourites would be that when he was loose in the jumping arena I would run on the outside and he would follow me from the inside trotting beside me, and turning when I turned. Then when I stopped he would rear up at me and do two laps of the arena galloping and bucking as he went.

I remember one day my father being there to film this game on video but unfortunately when it got to the part that Dolly reared up at me my father got frightened for my safety and he stopped filming. I was so upset that I didn’t get that on film but my father didn’t realise that this was just a game and very safe as Dolly would never harm me. He would even let me crawl beneath his stomach when he was in the stable and as he knew I was there he wouldn’t budge an inch, not even if a fly was annoying one his legs.

In all the years that I rode him he only threw me twice and neither one was his fault. One occasion was on one of our beach rides when we were galloping full pelt along the firm sandy beach when all of a sudden we hit a soft slushy bit. His front legs sank right into it and his back legs flipped right over catapulting me into the sea in the process. Well when he eventually got up and shook all the sand off him he just stood there staring at me in the water and waited for me while I walked back to him with my boots and jeans all squelching. I had a very uncomfortable ride back to the stables!!

The second time was when we were going through the sand dunes near the beach which had a lagoon (filled with insects) and I don’t know which one bit him, but quite a nasty one. And he began bucking and bucking like these rodeo horses that you see and after about the sixth or seventh buck I just didn’t have the strength to stay on any more and came flying off, luckily again into a soft landing of sand. Again he just stood there and waited for me to regain my composure. The other thing we loved doing was rounding up the cows. That was fun for both of us.

We had to get about 50 cows to go through quite a small gate which was made out of about six poles held together with wire and then close it after they were all. He became very good at closing gates - he knew just where to put me so that I could grab the end pole and then he would reverse with me holding the pole so that I could wind a loose wire, that was on the other side of the fence, round the pole. We would start very gently by walking near the cows and trying to get them to all move in close together and once done keep them moving in the right direction. Every now and then one smart cow would try to leave the herd and Dolly would head it off so that it would have to return to the others.

Except for one or two, once the first cow went through the gate most of the others would follow. We would have to gallop after and force the strays to turn back towards the gate being ready to head them off should they just go past it without going in. This was something that was helped a lot by his polo training as he was able to turn on a sixpence if need be to go after the cows.

I started volunteering to herd the cows after a hairy incident that we had had and I thought that the best way of getting him to get over it was to work closely with them. We had been riding out when a chain of events happened. First we passed by a whole herd who were peacefully grazing and then passed a house where someone knocked over a dustbin which in turn set off a dog barking like crazy.

Well all the cows, some of them with bells, began a stampede and Dolly just went off like a shot and there was nothing that I could do to stop him, he was galloping like a 'bat out of hell' as they say. We galloped for about 10 minutes through trees, bushes, hills, the lot, and I just remember saying to myself 'just hang on with all your might until we get back to the stables', and I managed to do this by gripping really tight with my thighs and keeping my head close to his neck so that no over-hanging branches from trees could knock me off! We did manage to get back to the stables intact but I remember that Dolly was a nervous wreck, breathing and puffing as if he had no breath left in him and I was as white as chalk and could hardly talk for about an hour. It was quite an experience.

As in the other stables I again would give him a holiday about once a year when he would get let loose into the countryside with about three other horses and they would be left to roam and fend for themselves amongst the cows for about two weeks.

Every day I would walk the countryside to go and find him and make sure that he was okay and to let him know that I was still about. Sometimes I would find them all grazing together or just resting, each of them head to tail (so that they could swish the flies of each other) underneath the shade of the cork trees. And other times I would find them all lying down. It was lovely then as none of them would get alarmed or even get up when they saw me approach and Dolly would very contentedly let me sit on the grass beside him while he carried on day dreaming. These were very special relaxing moments for all of us and the feeling of peace was total. All I thought of in those moments was that I felt I was in heaven and happier than anywhere else in the world.

I had been married for about 10 years when I got Dolly (in fact he is supposed to have been born the year I got married) and things were getting really bad between my husband and me. Like all young people, when I first got married I thought I was in love and that he was the right man despite my parents being dead against the marriage. But as they say ‘love is blind’ and when the mad passion dies down you then get to see the real person in front of you and the one I saw was somebody I didn’t like and through the following years I got to dislike him more and more. Well Dolly was my salvation through all this. Whenever I was feeling low I would go to visit him, be it day or night and he would give me an unconditional love which my husband never did.

My husband was a weak man who made himself feel stronger by putting me down all the time and saying that I was stupid and useless. And on top of it all as I had no financial means of my own he would make it clear to me that I had no other choice but to stay with him because how would I manage on my own. It was such a frustrating feeling to be tied to someone you didn’t like just in order to survive. I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for this horse I was so miserable that I might have considered doing something about an exit (if you get what I mean). But I suppose the love for Dolly was a substitute love for the child that I never had and in the same way as a mother would never leave her children who depended on her I would never leave Dolly - and that’s what kept me going.

A young friend of mine called Antonio used to tell me that Dolly was the medicine that kept me going. Antonio was fourteen when I first met him and was the most gentle and sensitive boy of his age that I had ever met. He simply adored horses and to tell the truth I think he also adored me and had a sort of crush on me. Well he used to come and see Dolly and me at the stables every day and was longing to come out for a ride with me. So eventually we started to go out riding together, him on his grey mare Furia and me on Dolly, and I learnt so much from that boy.

He was so natural, honest and wise. We had great times together and were always discovering new rides all over the countryside. And he would chatter away to me non-stop all about his pets, about his family, about girls and about life. Then one day he was much quieter than usual and when I asked him he told me that he had to go into hospital to have a growth of bone that had grown on his knee removed and of course he was a little frightened. I told him that I had more or less the same operation a year before when they had had to take some chipped bones out of my right knee. This had happened when I galloped into the stables (because I was being chased by a lecherous stable hand) and hit my knee on the iron gate as we hurtled past.

Anyway when he came out of hospital the worst was confirmed – he had cancer of the bones and it had started to spread to other places. First they had to remove some bones from his leg which left it almost paralysed needing the use of crutches and then they began to give him chemotherapy, which made him lose all his hair, lashes and brows and suffer great bouts of nausea. He used to have to go to the hospital in Seville for two weeks at a time to be kept on this anti-cancer cocktail drip and then he would be given two weeks off to recover before the next attack on his body.

During that period he didn’t have the energy to ride and so instead of riding Dolly I would take him to graze so that Antonio could walk beside us and talk. By that time Antonio was nearly sixteen and I think he knew that he was going to die. He would tell me things like the only thing that worried him was how would his parents be after he was gone, would they be all right etc, etc. The thing is that although I knew it too, I kept up the pretence with him all the time that he was going to get better and that we were going to do lots of things together.

(I have thought about this sort of white lie quite often and at the beginning felt a bit guilty about it, but not any longer. To have hope in life one must always be optimistic even if it means kidding yourself or others.)

After about six months they thought they had it all under control and so we tried to get back to a sort of normality. He was very down as because of his leg he thought he would never be able to ride again, but I told him that that was no obstacle. Lots of people who are paralysed in both legs can ride so he could too and we just had to find an easy way for him to get up onto his horse. We managed to teach Furia to get down on her knees so then Antonio would put his bad leg on one side of her and then swing the good leg over the saddle onto the other and then she would stand up and Antonio was already in the saddle. All we had to do then was lightly secure the bad leg with some light twine that would have broken should it had needed to in the event of an accident.

The look of joy on that boy’s face was never to be forgotten when he eventually found himself back up in the saddle. So with his baseball cap on to hide his bald head we set off to ride again. He had never galloped before (only walked and trotted) and so was a bit nervous about doing it but I told him that we were going to do it in a very safe and easy way. I found a long upward hill that wasn’t too steep, but steep enough to keep Furia from going like a bat out of hell up it (which being a young mare she was quite capable of doing. But there again Furia knew Antonio was ill and she nearly always did her utmost to behave). I told him I would go first and so should she get out of control I would be there at the top to stop them. I also told him to hold on with his hands, lean forward and just go with her. Well when he got to the top of the hill where I was waiting he was just ecstatic.

He said that it had been the biggest thrill that he had ever had and I am so glad that I was able to help him achieve it. I then went on to take him down to the beach for a gallop along the sea shore and again his face lit up like anything. We also went up to the pine woods which were high up in the hills and we could view the whole of the surrounding area. Views which were really breathtaking with the sun all crimson and turquoise setting in the distance. During the three years that I knew him, my father was dying of the same thing (i.e. cancer). And in between trying to cheer Antonio up I used to have to fly off to London for two weeks every now and then to be with my father who was also going through all sorts of difficulties.

He was nearly seventeen when he suddenly took a turn for the worse very suddenly. The cancer had reached his lungs and very soon he didn’t even have the energy or breath to come to the stables to see me with his crutches, let alone come walking or riding. So I would cancel my ride and go and sit and talk to him by his bedside. We would watch animal documentaries on the television and look through all the books that he had on animals. He had a Dalmatian puppy which would come into his room every now and then and he was dreaming of getting a Persian kitten. Within a few weeks he needed oxygen in order to breathe and my heart was breaking seeing him like that. I would hold his hand and tell him of a new ride that I had found and that when he got better we would go on it together. I tried to describe all the scenery that I had seen there and tried to give him the will to keep on fighting.

Then I was called urgently to London because my father had taken a turn for the worse as well and I had to say goodbye to him. On my last visit his last words were whether we could go on that ride soon and I replied honestly that we would go soon – I knew he would get there in spirit. I kissed him on his fragile forehead for the last time and left with the sound of his forced breathing and the gurgling of the oxygen machine still in my ears. Two days after I got to London to find that my father was really bad and also having difficulty in breathing as well as speaking as he now had a tumour in his brain, they called me to say that Antonio had died. I wondered how much sadness I was meant to endure.

Antonio died eleven years ago in April but every 3rd March, which is his birthday, I take some winter jasmine to put on his niche. I just stay there a few minutes to thank him each time for being such a wonderful person, and to tell him that I miss him. My father died two months later with me by his side on 3rd June and I now hope that Dolly is being looked after in heaven by him and my father - The two most sensitive people that I have ever known.

My father had taught me how to ride at the age of 12 while we were living in Lagos, Nigeria where we stayed for about 9 years up until I was 21. He was very into polo, but had bought me a three year old colt who was being taught how to be ridden, and I was being taught how to ride my father, and in his usual innocent way he thought that the two of us would be able to hit it off together. Well ‘off’ was the right word there. That horse had me ‘off’ and on the floor more often than I care to remember, and only because at that age we are more flexible I was lucky to never really get hurt.

He soon realised that this original idea of his wasn’t working and so he put me on a lovely 22 year old horse that he had called ‘Santa’. Santa worked very hard at trying to get my shattered confidence back, which he did very well and after a year I was riding all the other polo ponies that my father had. My father and I used to ride nearly every day together having races around the polo fields or sometimes we would set off very early in the mornings with some other friends to have what were called ‘jungle rides’. There was an island in Lagos which was quite uninhabited and was full of luscious jungle surrounded by sandy white beaches. We would get to it by crossing a bridge and once there ride through the island to a point where some friends with a jeep had already gone on ahead and were already in the process of cooking a slap up breakfast of eggs and bacon. These rides were really magical as the colours and sounds of that ‘bush’ as the jungle is sometimes referred to were really impressive. Once in the heart (the lead rider would have to clear the paths for us with a ‘machete’ – a curved sword) you saw every shade of green and yellow to be imagined. The red ‘tierralita’ earth always smelt damp and musty in the steamy heat of the early morning.

There was every kind of coloured bird and all of them singing a different tune with such a volume that it was almost deafening. Every now and then we would come out on a clearing of flat open grassland and then we could always have a fantastic gallop. I remember that one day I was riding a horse that was a little too strong for me and as we were galloping across the grassland I realised that I was completely out of control. This horse had a mouth made of iron and I started screaming for help as we were heading towards another thick area of ‘bush’. My father told me not to worry, to just sit back and relax because the horse wasn’t stupid and would stop when we got there. Well my father obviously didn’t realise that he had a stupid horse because this one charged right through the bush with me burying my head in its neck to avoid being scraped off by all the branches, twigs and leaves that we hurtled through. He did stop eventually but not until we were well inside and he realised that the others weren’t behind !!! When we stopped I came out with all sorts of vegetation in my hair and my father didn’t stop laughing for ages !!!!

Life in Lagos was fantastic and I got to ride and make friends with lots of different horses. They were all stallions there as there was no vet to geld them and so they decided not to have any mares about in order to avoid making the situation even more difficult. ‘What you don't see you don’t miss’ or that was their theory. I would spend most of my mornings riding, then going to the beach or pool during the afternoons, watch polo in the early evenings and then at night, as there were so many embassies there, I had a great bunch of international friends who were forever giving original parties. Sometimes we would have beach parties, other times we would have fancy dress ones like all going as hippies, romans, or the one that was the funniest was when we swapped sexes – it was just great seeing the boys dressed in their mother’s clothes !!! We also had some very elegant parties at the various embassies, where all the tables were set out on the green lawns that sloped down towards the lagoon and we would be served by elegant waiters wearing gloves and all dressed in white. All of us were dressed in our finest clothes, the sky filled with a million stars and the sound of crickets buzzing in our ears.

But all in all my life in Nigeria was really fantastic and most of my memories are really good ones and I think I was very lucky to have lived there in those days. Unfortunately it is no longer the same and people have said that it is now a very dangerous place to live in. The very house that we used to live in which had an open ‘in and out’ half moon crescent drive that swept past manicured lawns has now been walled in with barbed wire on the top and a guard with machine gun outside on watch.

Life changes so much over time. You think that it will always be the same, that you will always live in the same place and know the same people but for me it has never been like that. Nearly all the people that I knew in Nigeria have moved to other parts of the world and we began to keep in touch at the beginning but then the contact slowly dwindled –they have changed their life style as have I and what we had in common before is no more there. It is very sad to say it like this but truthfully that is how it is as I have already experienced it.

The day Doloreńo died they had rung me from the stables at nine in the morning to say that they had found him in his box thrashing around with colic pain and when the vet arrived he diagnosed a twisted gut. Well without saying it aloud I knew from that moment that this was probably it but I just didn’t want to admit it neither to myself nor to the vet, and he was equally trying not to acknowledge that this was for real. (The only way to even attempt to save a horse with this type of colic is with a massive operation to cut out the twisted piece of intestine and then sew the rest all back together.

Even a young horse has trouble surviving this sort of surgery and Doloreńo was 28). So the only other way was to walk him as much as possible to see if the gut would untwist itself on its own which was more or less praying for a miracle. So I spent nine hours walking him all over the countryside in the mid-day sun and talking to him to try and ease the pain but it was no good. The only thing good was that he knew I was there with him and trying to help and we were able to walk through all the areas where we used to ride. By the evening he was in great pain and so the vet told me to leave him loose in a corral and I stayed in there with him but he just wouldn’t leave my side. If I walked – he walked, if I turned – he turned and if I stopped – he just stayed there beside me with his head nuzzling my side. I think he reverted back to how foals are with their mothers and he felt that I was his mother and he was hoping that I could help him.

Anyway by 1.30 in the morning his body had gone into shock and his intestines were beginning to collapse in places and so we had no other choice but to put him down. Even the vet loved this horse and said it was one of the hardest things that he had had to do but he didn’t want me to be there when it happened so that I could always remember him alive, which I do. He told me to say goodbye, which I did with one last hug around his lovely neck and that was it. I left and went home and cried for two whole hours having lost one of the most precious friends who had always given me unconditional love.

Contributing Story Teller   Amanda Stagnetto, is an English living in Spain. She has been writing since I was 18 years old (I am now 55)

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