The Downside to a Long Life

Humans have often searched for immortality, and a long, fruitful life is thought to be a reward for godliness, good luck, or whatever social virtue is in vogue.  Seldom, however, do people seem to consider the downside—outliving your friends and family.

Bars’ two best friends for the majority of his life were his brother, Tecate, and our friend’s horse, Sierra.  Bars & Tecate were together for most of their lives and were pretty well inseparable.  Tecate died two years ago at the relatively young age (for a Morgan) of 27.  All who knew him agreed that Tecate was a special horse, the kind that would gently carry around a beginner on his first ride, and yet challenge a more experienced rider.  He was my husband’s horse for the last 15 years of his life, and the four of us did a lot of fun things and covered a lot of miles together.  We all three still feel his loss acutely.

Sierra belonged to a woman at our boarding stable who became one of our best friends, and she and Bars were also good pals.  She was a part-Morgan little mare, and, like Tecate, took excellent care of her people.  After Tecate died, she was there to fill part of the void he left in Bars’ life.  We started turning them out together as well as riding together, and they grew ever closer.  Sadly, Sierra died last year as well.

Being alone is no fun, but it’s especially terrifying for a horse.  Horses are herd animals and they form strong emotional bonds with the others around them, much as we do.  Horses that have to go it alone in the wild don’t often survive long.  For Bars, having his two best friends gone from his life forever has made everything just a little bit more challenging, and especially this transition to the new boarding stable.  Luckily, there was a familiar face there in the shape of another mare who once lived at our previous establishment, and she and Bars now are spending a lot of time together.

It’s hard to know for sure, of course, but part of me thinks that Bars has been pretty lonely since Sierra died, especially in the previous barn, which got pretty empty toward the end.  Luckily, Bars is blessed with an outgoing and pretty charming personality, and both other horses and people tend to like him.  Jasmine and Bars were never particularly close buddies when they lived in the same barn before, but now Jasmine “talks” to Bars whenever we come back from a walk or ride, and Bars objects most strenuously when Jasmine gets to go out and he is left behind.

I had hoped that his ability to make new friends would make things a little less lonely for him in the new barn, and so far he seems to be settling into this new ‘herd,” making new friends, and adjusting.  So, maybe that’s really the secret to a long and fruitful, happy life—the ability to make new friends.  Because it’s really no fun to be the last horse left in the barn.

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