Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A Perfect Place, Perfect Way, Perfect Day & Perfect Horse

 "I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted." 


I Wannabe A Cowboy

March 7, 1995-November 21, 2023

For many, many years I was obsessed with Cowboy. We spent over 20 years of our lives together. He taught me to be strong and live again. He was an orphan, and I was his fifth owner, so I promised him he would always have a home with me. I would never let him go.

I think he can hear
My head turn toward him,
Even in dreams.

As time passed, he had various health challenges, a broken P3 (which is when I adopted Beautiful Girl and Leah) and Equine Headshaking Syndrome (which is when I started riding Leah on the trails). He survived both of those things, and my longtime farrier nicknamed him the "Comeback King." 

We had many extra, glorious years together that I did not expect, but in time, arthritis and old age led me to plan for his retirement and bringing little Tumbleweed into my life as Cowboy's trail rides were phased out. This also gave Cowboy 5 years to imprint on Tumbleweed, and 2 1/2 on Epona.

Cowboy died the way he lived, on his own terms. When we had planned to put him down 17 years ago for his P3 fracture, we let him run one last time, and he went wild bucking, running, and spinning around the pasture. He told us he wanted to LIVE, and so we took the chance on him, and he did.

His passing was not much different.

Three days ago, Little Joe died in our pasture. It was another glorious fall day, sunny, and 48 degrees. We had let the herd out to graze, and that is what he was doing when he passed. It was sudden, unexpected, and surprising, even though Little Joe was in his late 20's, and hadn't been getting around like he used to.

Here is a photo of Little Joe playing with Cowboy.

(the last photo I took of Little Joe is below on November 7th, 2023.)

Finding Little Joe made me realize it was time to put Cowboy down. And I was set on it...until last night, when I started to waiver again. Cowboy seemed as if he was ready. There was a difference in him, but the weather was so nice, too,...and it was just a hard decision to make when you don't absolutely have to. I told my husband and daughter that I had changed my mind.

And then morning came. My husband went out to feed the horses and Cowboy was down. He came back and told me, and I went straight out to Cowboy. He had decided to lay down outside of his stall, in his turnout, and he couldn't get up. He didn't even really want to try. 

It appeared he had tried before we got there, but he wasn't sweaty, and he wasn't stressed. I brought him some grain and he ate it from my hands and licked my palms when it was all gone. We said goodbye to each other.

So, that is the end to one of the best chapters of my life.

I will not have to worry about him suffering in the cold or getting down when I am not there to help him back up.

He has left a hole in my heart.

But I was thinking afterward, what a perfect ending for the perfect horse. He died in the perfect place, out in the early morning sunshine, the perfect way, at peace and able to say goodbye, and the perfect day, an absolutely beautiful November 21st: sun, clear skies, and all around us, heaven.

And he took the decision out of my hands. His final act of love.

Here are some of the photos we took through the years. So many adventures! Yet, never enough.

Three horses in this photo have now passed away: Little Joe (center/front), Penny, (behind Little Joe, you can barely see her neck and tail), and Cowboy (center/back.)


  1. Awwww Linda....
    what a perfect horse he was for you. It's very special that he took his ending into his own... hoofs? to save you the heartbreak of making "the call". We all dread that moment.
    What a beautiful bond you had with him. Thank you for sharing the photos of him. (((hugs)))

    1. The way he relieved me of the call was truly his final, noble act. Thank you, Shirley.

  2. What a beautiful tribute. It made my eyes water. I am so sorry for such a difficult loss Linda. Two special horses, and so close together. Your barn/pastures are going to feel different. So many beautiful photos & memories to help hold your Cowboy near. Your bond will live on forever. Sending love and {hugs} your way.

    1. Thank you, Aurora. You read my mind about the barn. I’ve been thinking how empty it feels. Whenever I needed cheering up, I’d go see Cowboy, and now he’s gone. The two older geldings required a lot of extra time and attention, too. Now I feel a little untethered. The photos were all from previous blog posts. I went back over the blog from now until back when it first began in 07. So much life passes.

    2. Cowboy is still with you, and always will be. In a different way. Your photos are stunning, as is the life lived together. I completely understand the heartache and empty feeling. Sorry friend. I am thankful you have Tumbleweed, Epona and the others to cheer you up when needed.

    3. Very true. A new generation. Today I am grateful for all my blessings: past, present, & future. Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and your herd.

  3. I am so sorry that this beautiful soul has passed on. I am happy that you had your time together and that he let you know it was time. As you know, Irish was also a horse that had far more years then we expected. Letting them go in love is such a gift.

    1. Thank you. Yes, there were strong similarities between Irish and Cowboy. We just have to be grateful for the bonus years! Wow, was I lucky to get a lot of those. ❤️

  4. Oh Linda, I'm so sorry to hear about Little Joe and Cowboy. They were both special but I know Cowboy was your special heart horse. I'm glad you had so many wonderful years with this beautiful boy. He was a horse to admire for all his wonderful traits and will be missed but will always remain with you in your heart and your memories.

    Where to Bury a Horse

    If you bury him in this spot,
    this secret place you already have,
    he will be there with you when you need him,
    when only he can fill the emptiness of his leaving.
    And he will come, as he always has,
    from the far, dim, clouded pastures of death,
    to console, to heal, and once again,
    give you the blood of royalty only found upon his back.
    The horses you now ride through life,
    shall not shy from him, nor resent him coming.
    They understand it is his rightful place as you and he were one,
    in a far away place, long, long ago.
    Show pity to those who scoff,
    who see no blade of grass bent by his hooves,
    who hear no nicker pitched too fine for the deafened ears of ego.
    For they will never know the fulfillment of loving a horse,
    and having that love returned.
    So bury him deep, and keep that part,
    Forever sacred, within your heart.
    ~author unknown

    1. That poem! Oh my goodness, every line rings true, as if it was written for me. I can’t believe how perfectly it captures all of it. Whoever wrote those words understood what it means. I will have to frame that in my new barn space.

      Thank you, sweet friend, for stopping back by to share it with me.

      “Only he can fill the emptiness of his leaving.” I’ve thought that, but didn’t have the words. When he first passed, and I was at my saddest, I kept thinking, I need to go out and see Cowboy. Then I’d instantly remember he was the reason I was sad, which made me sad, because his memory should only make me happy.

      That is starting to change now, and I’m beginning to feel happiness again when I think about him.

      I had a lesson with Tumbleweed here at home today, and these words are what I was feeling :

      “The horses you now ride through life,
      shall not shy from him, nor resent him coming.
      They understand it is his rightful place as you and he were one,
      in a far away place, long, long ago.”

      That is a poem I plan to read over and over. Thank you.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.