(Editor’s note: In the Jan. 4 column, Boardman Police Officer Kim Kotheimer was incorrectly referred to as “Jim” in one sentence. Farm and Dairy sincerely regrets the typographical error, which was ours, not the author’s.)
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Compared to the myriad calamities, tragedies and losses around the world, our personal traumas are like grains of sand.
But because our losses are personal, we are not able to be objective and therefore reel as each one takes our breath away and leaves our hearts aching. The world’s ills and our nation’s ills are out of our individual hands and while we do recognize them – all the horrors are spread before us nightly on the television news – there is nothing we can do about them and we do not weep.
Even as I still weep for Ori, my beloved Dalmatian who left me Nov. 25, today I must weep for N’ahli, my beautiful gray Arabian mare of 26 years, mine since she was an 8-year-old, she who kept me riding into my 84th year, she whose gentle spirit endeared her to everyone who rode her or knew her.
And many did. I had kept her at Judy’s for probably 16 of the 19 years I had her so I could ride indoors, and when one of the ladies who came to ride in the dressage clinics there – held three times a year – had a problem with her horse, or needed a foolproof mount on which to work out a special problem, N’ahli became the teacher.
N’ahli allowed me to learn the basic intricacies of true dressage when I was in my late 60s, although in my 40s I had mastered many haute ecole – literally high school – maneuvers with Noon Tide, a beautiful dapple gray who was born here and died here. I treasure the ribbons I won with N’ahli in the first little shows in which I was brave enough to participate.
My pre-adolescence years were spent loving a gray mare named Alice, which I rented for $1 an hour, and although I have always loved all horses, I have a special love for grays.
I had not had one since 1977 when Noon Tide died and when N’ahli was given to me by Dr. and Mrs. Louis Bloomberg in 1987, I felt as though I had come home, so to speak.
Over the years, N’ahli and I had wonderful playtimes and rides together. I’d sing to her and she’d flick her ears back and forth and we’d just mosey along with her on a loose rein. It didn’t pay to be too relaxed, as Arabians are known for seeing “ghosts” to shy at. I have a video of us taking a dressage lesson, and she was young and vibrant but ever so careful of her not-so-young rider.
There was a time when she was not at all careful and I went flying, but that was because of a female problem that sent her to Ohio State University Veterinary School. After that was fixed, she was a different horse.
She had an especially imperious whinny, and she was mostly very brave except when it came to thunder and wind. She and Judy’s warmblood mare, Fillie, have been pasture buddies, but best you bring them in when the weather threatened.
The last few years I haven’t ridden very much because of age-related stiffness, especially in my knees, but I have made it a point to ride on my birthday, beginning with my 80th and continuing until my 84th. I have the photographs to prove it. I was anticipating my 85th.
Last Oct. 15 was one of the few pleasant autumn days, and I turned my back on chores and went to Judy’s to ride. My knees were agreeable, probably because the weather was warm, and we had a lovely time together, even did a little trotting.
Little did I know that was the last ride I would have on her, and now I will never be able to ride again. No other horse would take such good care of me.
Judy, who took such exemplary care of her all these years, is even more distraught than I am, because she lived with N’ahli 24/7, knew her every breath, every nicker. I could not make myself be there. I am still ragged from staying with Ori.
But Judy stayed, and Dr. Robbie Maro eased the brave little mare to green pastures Jan. 3 after being unable to dislodge an impaction which he believes was caused by the same growths that sent Pinkie to heaven. She could not be allowed to suffer.
The ladies from the dressage clinics who have all become dear friends to me sent two dozen roses in her memory.
Another friend wrote to me about Ori, and what she said applies to all the beloved animal companions who leave us: ” … what joy they bring to our lives and hopefully they’ll be running through the clouds waiting for us on the other side.”