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